More on Senate Bill 2042 which the Governor has now pulled his support and the Ligas proceedings from today’s Chicago Tribune. 


$5B in federal aid runs into political roadblock
Springfield dispute ties up funding for social services

By Monique Garcia and Kim Geiger Chicago Tribune

SPRINGFIELD — Federal dollars to support programs such as counseling for domestic violence victims became entangled in Capitol gridlock Tuesday, after Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan tacked on extra spending against the wishes of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

At issue is legislation passed by the Senate that would free up nearly $5 billion in federal funds for social service providers on the verge of running out of money as the state enters a second month without a complete spending plan.

While Rauner previously said he would sign the measure, he pulled his support Tuesday and threatened to veto the proposal after Madigan added an additional $1.5 billion in spending. Rauner took specific issue with $585 million in funds that would come from the state’s general checking account.

Most of that, about $480 million, would go to help poor families pay for child care — a direct shot at Rauner after his administration has tightened eligibility standards and left families without child care. Democrats tried but failed to overturn those changes through an obscure rule-making process Tuesday.

An additional $82 million in general revenue funds would pay for early intervention programs for young children with developmental disabilities, and $22 million would go toward cancer screenings and meals for the elderly. Madigan also wants to tap into $452 million in specially earmarked funds to pay for energy assistance for the poor and literacy programs.

“After examining the legislation passed by the Senate, which Governor Rauner expressed his support for, we were contacted about additional programs of vital importance to the health and well-being of families across Illinois where the state and federal governments both provide funding ,” Madigan said in a statement. “We believe funding for these programs, which can be delivered despite the lack of a state budget in place, is needed before the measure is sent to the governor.”

But Rauner’s office called the changes a “poison pill” and argued it was a back-door effort to put in place the out-of-balance budget Democrats sent the governor in the spring, which he later vetoed.

“Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan continues to play games with taxpayer money and is trying to force through higher state spending with no budget,” Raunerspokesman Lance Trover said.

Democrats pushed the measure through a House committee Tuesday, and it could go to the full floor for a vote as soon as Wednesday.

Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, said the move amounted to the state spending “funny money,” while Democrats shot back that the GOP is focusing on numbers and not people.

“He doesn’t like anything that is for poor people,” Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, said of the governor. “That has been made very clear.”

Also Tuesday, the Rauner administration agreed to release funds to pay for all Medicaid services for the developmentally disabled. The state had previously said that it could pay only for services to certain people covered under a court order that predates the budget mess in Springfield.

That meant providers would receive only partial payments during the budget impasse, and advocates for people with disabilities took the matter to a federal judge, arguing the partial payments would violate the court order.

One provider, for example, runs a four-person home at a cost of $20,384 per month. But services for three of the four people were not covered under the state’s initial interpretation of the court order, meaning the provider would be paid just $3,620 per month to run the home.

The administration reversed course Tuesday and said it would pay for all services. Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman gave the state 48 hours to put that promise in writing.

Kim Geiger reported from Chicago.

Tony Paulauski
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The Arc of Illinois
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