SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - In a rare flash of state Capitol cooperation during the protracted budget standoff, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a stopgap measure Monday to backfill local government coffers, pay heating bills for the poor, keep domestic violence shelters open and even resume writing checks for lottery winnings over $600.
The Republican governor took action just hours after the Democratic-controlled Senate sent him the legislation on a 53-0 vote. The conservative businessman has steadfastly opposed "piecemeal" spending during the deadlock now in its sixth month but reached a compromise on the matter with Democrats last week.
"What you see with this bill is, frankly, evidence that the governor can reach across the aisle and you can reach back and we can all get on the same page and do things together," said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican. "Let's hope that this is an example that produces more similar outcomes as we come into 2016."
Rauner has resisted interim budget measures - although he signed spending legislation to allow public schools to open and went to court to see that state employees continue to get paid. Both of which, untended, could have forced the hand of one side or the other in the battle over a budget that should have taken effect July 1.
But on Monday's plan, he compromised when he was allowed to add $410 million to the plan for public safety and police training, which he emphasized, and regular government operations, which he didn't.
Of the $3 billion provided for in the proposal, $28 million comes from the general revenue account fueled by income and sales taxes. The bulk comes from "other state funds," money already collected by the state in specific service fees or taxes. The plan sends $583 million in taxes on motor fuel to cities and counties for road maintenance, for example, and $154 million in cellphone-call taxes to support emergency dispatch centers.
The lottery gets $1 billion to begin paying winning ticket holders. Democrats also added grant funds of up to $165 million to finance the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program for needy residents.
General revenue spending includes $18 million to keep 52 domestic-violence shelters operating and $10 million for expenses in the secretary of state's office. Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger said despite a $7 billion bill backlog in the general revenue fund, she is directing staff to make payments to domestic-violence shelters a priority.
The fiscal finagling drags on because Rauner wants far-reaching changes to reduce the cost of running business, curbs on union power, and confidence-restoring political overhauls before talking spending. Democrats say those issues can wait and Springfield must tackle a multibillion-dollar deficit, with a tax increase and spending cuts.
Rauner had no comment Monday. He acknowledged last week the quick fix adds to the budget deficit but said it will be worth it in the long run when he gets the "structural change" he seeks.
Sen. Thomas Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat who sponsored the proposal, shared Murphy's optimism that the breakthrough could signal a sea change.
"We're getting a little bit better at working together, getting a little bit better at bringing all of our teams together to actually negotiate good solutions," Cullerton said. "I see this as a hugely positive step forward with more to come."
The bill is SB2039