* Here’s the outline…
Schools would get about $515 million more, though $148 million of that boost would be used for long overdue school construction payments, negotiators said. Classroom spending would be lower than last year’s extraordinary boost of about $550 million.
Chicago Public Schools would get about 20 percent of that total, or slightly more than $100 million, under the proposal, said Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), the lead Senate Democratic negotiator. Mayor Richard Daley had asked for $180 million more, but school officials acknowledged earlier this week they could live with an extra $130 million.
Trotter said spending overall would go up $2.1 billion in the proposal, but questions still exist over how to pay for the sizable increase. Despite a dismal economy putting a damper on tax revenues, lawmakers hope to collect as much as $1 billion more in the next fiscal year.
The new spending would be supported in part by an auction of the state’s long-dormant 10th riverboat casino license, from which they hope to reap as much as $575 million. But support for some pending measures to help avoid budget shortfalls is in doubt.
But the big question that remains is whether it’s in balance. […]
Trotter says if those revenue measures don’t pass, an out-of-whack budget could be sent to Governor Rod Blagojevich for possible big cuts.
llinois House committees Friday approved major parts of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s public works construction program, including a massive expansion of gambling and leasing the Illinois lottery.
However, the fate of the plan is still uncertain as lawmakers drive to pass a budget and adjourn by Saturday. Time may run out before the capital plan can be approved. And one key lawmaker said Blagojevich must still convince legislators that he can be trusted to ok construction projects in their districts before the capital plan will be approved.
“I think the governor has a lot of work to do convincing people he can be trusted,” said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, who is sponsoring the gambling expansion bill. […]
Some committee members said they voted for the bill only to get it to the House floor where all representatives would have a chance to vote on it.
*** UPDATE 1 *** There’s a leaders meeting at 5:30 to discuss the capital plan. The caucuses were given te final capital language at noon today and they’ll discuss any changes they want. The bill is huge and complicated, so some House Dem members are saying that passing that gigantic thing at this late date probably wouldn’t be prudent. Others say the issue is too important to put off until November. It’s highly doubtful that the plan will pass by tomorrow, but there will likely be some fireworks.
*** UPDATE 2 *** This is pretty basic stuff, but here’s more on what the governor faces with the budget deal…
But the deal could force Blagojevich to be the bad guy.
Legislators haven’t come up with a way to pay for the proposed new spending. If they pass an unbalanced budget, Blagojevich either would have to veto the whole thing - potentially triggering months of gridlock - or pick and choose which programs to cut.
He might have to slash programs for important constituencies, close prisons or scrap health care expansions. […]
“Will the governor have to make some reductions? More than likely he will,” Trotter said.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Clean Car bill update…
Supporters of a bill to impose California’s stringent emission standards on cars sold in Illinois are hoping for a showdown vote before the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled adjournment Saturday.
Although Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, is one of the bill’s co-sponsors, it’s unclear whether a vote will happen during the end-of-session rush. “I don’t do predictions,” said a spokesman for the speaker. “It’s on the calendar, but it’s obviously controversial.” […]
The auto industry and its allies are fighting hard to keep the bill bottled up as legislators rush to finish bigger issues, such as next year’s state budget and long-term funding for infrastructure improvements. […]
Environmental groups claim to have 45 solid votes for the bill, including 37 co-sponsors, and they count about 40 likely votes against it. That leaves about 33 undecided or uncommitted, with 60 votes needed for a majority. The auto industry spokesman declined to comment on that assessment of the bill’s support.
The process would start all over in the Senate, however. It’s taken since February of 2007 to get this point, which isn’t very far.
*** UPDATE 4 *** Capital bill grows by almost $3 billion..
State lawmakers are now trying to push through a construction-spending spree that’s swelled to nearly $34 billion in the final hours of their legislative session. […]
A breakdown provided by the governor’s office shows the state would come up with $21 billion, the federal government would provide nearly $10 billion and local governments would contributed $3 billion for an unofficial total of $33.7 billion in spending over at least the next five years.
The preliminary breakdown shows $2 billion for school construction and another $165 million to provide $50,000 maintenance grants to every school district in the state. Public universities would get $1 billion, community colleges and private universities would get $300 million apiece.
Check out what’s at the bottom of the story…
But billions more in spending remains unspecified, at least to the public, at this point. For instance, there’s $1 billion set aside only for “revitalization” to be distributed by the Illinois Finance Authority.
*** UPDATE 5 *** The Statehouse has been evacuated because of the tornado warning. Members are in the basement.
*** UPDATE 6 *** The leaders meeting wasn’t started when the tornado evacuation order was issued. Most are in the tunnels under the capitol complex. No idea yet whether the meeting will go on as planned, or whether the General Assembly will reconvene tonight.
Hail has been reported, but no touchdowns or even sitings of tornadoes have been confirmed.
*** UPDATE 7 *** The SJ-R is live-blogging the storm. You can also listen online or on your radio to Jim Leach do the play-by play on WMAY.
*** UPDATE 8 *** The alarms have been turned off at the Statehouse, but people are still being advised to stay sheltered. The first storm is passed, but another big one is on the way. It’s not expected to produce a tornado, but high winds are likely.
*** UPDATE 9 *** A third storm has been spotted in Morgan County, and there are signs of rotation.
*** UPDATE 10 *** The House has canceled session for the rest of the evening. As of now the Senate is still waiting it out.
*** UPDATE 11 *** The leaders meeting will convene at around 7:45 tonight.
*** UPDATE 12 *** The Senate is in recess for committees. It is uncertain whether or not they will reconvene tonight.
*** UPDATE 13 *** The Senate has canceled any more floor activity for the night. However they are still in committee.
*** UPDATE 14 *** The leaders meeting has ended.
Officially they are expressing optimism. However, the House Democrats are saying that they have not had adequate time to review the Capital Plan. They are not promising or even speculating yet as to a vote.
Also, it appears that a 12th river boat license may be on the table.
*** UPDATE 15 *** 9:10 P.M. Senate President Jones, Senate Minority Leader Watson, and Governor Blagojevich are still currently meeting.
They are trying to hash out significant differences between Jones and Watson on the bill.