Illinois state senator warns of more stopgap state budgets

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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

By Bob Okon | Morris Daily Herald, Ill.

JOLIET — Illinois may be operating on stopgap budgets into 2019, a local legislator warned last week.

“I want to be blunt with you,” state Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, told the Joliet Junior College Board of Trustees at their Sept. 13 meeting. “I hear from more and more of my colleagues that we might force Illinois to subsist on stopgap budgets through fiscal year 2019.”

McGuire was giving a legislative update to the JJC board, which has already cut back spending to deal with unreliable state funding.

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“For you, it would mean more unpredictable funding,” McGuire told the board while discussing the prospect of ongoing stopgap budgets.

He said the forecast for more stopgap budgets is based on a belief that Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner will continue to attach his turnaround agenda proposals to full-year budgets. Democrats have opposed the Republican governor’s turnaround agenda.

JJC and other colleges typically would get annual funding at somewhat predictable levels. But the political standoff in Springfield has led to stopgap funding, such as the six-month budget that was passed at the end of June.

MORE: SIUC chancellor outlines budget concerns at university address

The college closed its Small Business Development Center this summer because of unreliable state funding and has let many positions go unfilled when employees leave or retire.

“Everything is in limbo with the state,” JJC controller Jeff Heap said Sept. 15. “We’re just being really conservative. When positions come open, we’re being very selective.”

With no state budget in place past December, JJC does not know what funding it will get for the second semester, Heap said. State funding amounts to about 10 percent of the JJC budget.

JJC last school year advanced more than $1 million to students depending on Monetary Award Program grants from the state. But the practice stopped this semester.

The state has fallen behind on MAP funding, so that the grants come one semester late.

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(c) 2016 the Morris Daily Herald (Morris, Ill.)

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