- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers on Thursday passed plans to finance at least some of the state services not being paid for during the state budget stalemate - emergency food assistance, help for children with developmental delays and prizes for big lottery winners. But those moves seem likely to run into the continued objections of Gov. Bruce Rauner as he and Democrats in the legislature disagree over state spending.

A plan by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to address some of that city’s financial troubles through a property tax increase, part of which would need state approval, received a chilly reception at the Capitol, too.

The House Executive Committee passed a human-services funding bill, sending the $3.8 billion spending plan to the full House. Federal court orders require billions of dollars to be paid for such service programs. The money also includes $1 billion from the state lottery fund to pay out winners who currently aren’t getting paid because of the budget stalemate.

Later the House passed an amendment to another bill that would, among other things, provide $116 million to identify and help children with developmental delays.

Rauner’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Republican governor has promised to veto the human-services bill. He has also repeatedly criticized Democrats who control the General Assembly for trying to push through spending bills while the impasse over the budget that was due July 1 continues.

It also isn’t clear when the House could act on any of the legislation. The House met weekly over the summer during what Speaker Michael Madigan has said would be a “continuous session” while the budget disagreement lasts. But the next House sessions are now set for Oct. 20 and Nov. 10.

Rep. Greg Harris, one of the human-services bill’s sponsors, told committee members Thursday that passing the bill was more fiscally responsible than allowing state agencies to rack up bills for services they’re not currently able to pay.

“We have providers who are doing work that can’t even get paid now. For a lot of people this is very real in their lives today,” the Chicago Democrat said.

But some lawmakers questioned the wisdom of the bill before it was approved.

“I think it’s unfair to pass an appropriations bill that doesn’t have the revenue with it,” added Rep. Michael Tryon, a Republican from Crystal Lake. “I think it’s disingenuous to tell our providers that ‘Everything’s going to be OK, we passed an appropriations bill.’”

Earlier Thursday, hundreds of yellow-shirted backers of the money for children with developmental delays rallied in the Capitol.

Emanuel’s plan to shore up Chicago’s finances through a $543 million increase in property taxes over four years would require state approval for an exemption the mayor wants to prevent the increase from affecting anyone whose home is worth $250,000 or less.

No legislation has been introduced to provide that exemption, but Deputy Mayor Steven Koch pitched the ideas to the House Revenue and Finance Committee.

“The lion’s share of the burden would be borne by our thriving central business district,” Koch said, estimating that a quarter of the money raised would come from businesses in the Chicago Loop and surrounding areas.

But business groups said adding to the tax burden already carried by businesses might lead some to decide against adding staff, expanding or even being located in Chicago at all.

“Businesses already pay their fair share,” said Michael Reever, vice president of government relations for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. “We cannot stand for a greater shift of the property tax burden onto commercial and industrial property.”


Sophia Tareen and Sara Burnett of The Associated Press contributed from Chicago.

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