$53 billion budget passes Illinois House but Chicago Bears come up empty

The sun rose Wednesday morning before House lawmakers finished their business, passing a $53 billion budget.

The budget will provide more funds for municipalities, schools, road projects, and migrant organizations. However, the Chicago Bears will not receive any public funding for their stadium plans.

The $53 billion budget plan includes $350 million in new money for public schools across the state, $187 million for the migrant crisis, and an additional $400 million for migrant healthcare. New revenue will come from $200 million in new taxes on sports gambling and $526 million from capping the amount of money businesses can write off. The document was passed largely along party lines.

Governor JB Pritzker praised the budget, stating, "We've balanced the budget for six years in a row now, we've paid down all of our short-term debt, and credit rating agencies say we're in a much better situation now than we've been in many years."

However, the situation is not as rosy for the Bears. The General Assembly did not take up any legislation related to public funding for a new domed lakefront stadium. Senate President Don Harmon explained why the Bears failed to move the ball.

"There's really no appetite to put public taxpayer dollars into sports stadiums benefiting billion dollar franchises, and to date, nobody has made a compelling argument why this is good for the city or good for the state, not just for the Bears or White Sox," Harmon said.

The Bears responded in a statement, "We continue to have productive conversations since we unveiled our vision to invest more than $2 billion of private money to a new, publicly owned enclosed stadium which will create 43,000 construction jobs and more than 4,000 permanent jobs."

"We look forward to continuing to meet with elected officials, community leaders, business leaders, residents and fans to collaborate on ways to make this massive economic development project for Illinois a reality," the statement concluded.

Any further action on a Bears stadium will have to wait at least until the fall when lawmakers return for their veto session, and bills require a three-fifths majority to pass.