A $3.8 billion spending plan cleared the Illinois Senate Thursday along party lines.
The Democrat-backed measure -- which comes amid the long-running state budget impasse -- would cover higher education and various other services that have gone unfunded during the monthslong standoff. It now goes to the House for consideration.
"Right now 90 percent of Illinois government is moving along on autopilot because of court orders and consent decrees. The other 10 percent is on the verge of shutting down. That 10 percent is just as vital as the other 90 percent," state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said in a statement. "What's being allowed to happen in Illinois is completely irrational and patently unfair. We need a spending plan, we need to hammer out a way to pay for it and we need to do what's right for Illinois before it's too late to recover."
The proposal is similar to one passed by the Democrat-led House earlier this month authorizing $3.7 billion in spending for higher education and social services. The Senate version includes additional spending for things like Amtrak service.
Senate Democrats acknowledged that the proposal does not include revenue to cover the spending. But they pointed out that the 2016 fiscal year k-12 education budget Rauner signed, for example, didn't come with revenue either.
Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly released a statement after the spending bill's approval in the Senate.
"Senate Democrats today admitted that this bill would do nothing to help higher education, MAP students or social services because there is no money to pay for it," she said. "Rather than adding billions to our debt and risk further delaying payments to social service providers, the General Assembly needs to stay in Springfield and negotiate a balanced budget alongside structural reforms that create jobs and grow our economy."
Senate Democrats proposed the spending plan at a time when the Illinois Department of Human Services owes $198 million to some 800 private firms for their work, the agency's secretary said Wednesday. The overdue DHS payments have accumulated as a result of the budget impasse.
On Thursday, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said the state's $7.6 billion bill backlog is on track to hit $10 billion by June, the last month before the new fiscal year.