- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Latest on legislative action from lawmakers in Springfield (all times local):

4:00 p.m.

Illinois Senate Democrats passed a $3.8 billion funding bill for colleges and social services despite Republican objections that the state doesn’t have the money to fulfill the proposal’s promises.

Democrats used their considerable majority in the chamber Thursday to easily pass the bill on a 39-18 vote. The bill would appropriate nearly $1.9 billion to colleges and universities that have not received funding since July 1, when the current year budget should’ve taken effect.

The Democrats’ standoff with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has led to layoffs at higher education institutions and the loss of tuition aid for low-income students.

Thursday’s funding bill would allocate $472.3 million to a variety of social service programs, including mental health and youth employment.

The governor’s budget office says the state doesn’t have the money to pay for the proposal.


1:00 p.m.

Senate Republicans are calling on Democrats who control the chamber to join them in supporting Gov. Bruce Rauner’s call for full funding of elementary and secondary education.

Christine Radogno (ruh-DOHN’-yoh) of Lemont is the Senate GOP leader. She says the Republican governor’s proposed increase in general state aid of $55 million will meet the recommended per-student spending of about $6,000 a year.

Democrats say the formula used to pay for public education is long past due revision. Underfunding has created wide disparities in available resources for schools in areas with robust property-tax revenues compared with those in poorer areas.

Republicans agree but want more money upfront. But Rauner and legislative Democrats have bickered for nine months over a budget plan and the state has no spending authority.


12:00 p.m.

Illinois’ overdue bills are actually 16 percent higher than previously reported and could top $10 billion by end of the fiscal year.

Comptroller Leslie Munger told a state Senate appropriations committee Thursday that the state owes $7.6 billion to private service-providers whose work is required by court orders.

But there’s about $1.3 billion more that’s owed to vendors who signed contracts with the state but whose work is not subject to a federal consent decree.

That represents money owed for income-based college tuition grants, other university spending and social services.

The state has no authority to spend money because Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative Democrats have bickered for nine months about a fiscal plan.

Munger expects the pile of backlogged bills to hit $10 billion by June 30.

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