House adopts Emergency Budget: Rep. Wheeler votes to protect child care, funding for disabled, mental health

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House of Representatives voted 69-48 on Tuesday to approve an Emergency Budget Bill (HB 318) to close a $1.6 Billion funding shortfall for the current FY 15 budget, which runs through June 30. State Rep.’s Keith Wheeler (R-50th), John Anthony (R-75th) and Mark Batinick (R-97th) were among those voting in favor of the bipartisan agreement negotiated between Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders.

Under the provisions of HB 318, over 80% of the funding gap will be filled by utilizing unused money in various special state funds not needed for what they were allocated for during the current fiscal year, amounting to approx. $1.3 Billion. The remaining amount comes from an across-the-board spending reduction of 2.25% across all state programs through June 30; excluding payments for pensions, state employee health care, and funding for services for the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and autistic children. Child care funding for low-income families will also continue for the duration of the current fiscal year.

“Inaction would have further delayed and perhaps jeopardized critical categorical school funding,” said freshman Rep. Keith Wheeler. “This bill provides Governor Rauner with the flexibility he needs to bring balance to the unbalanced budget he inherited. By taking this vote, we demonstrated that both parties can in fact work together in Springfield to fix the state budget and get our priorities back in order.”

“It’s time for somebody to stand up and be the adult in the room,” added fellow freshman Rep. Mark Batinick. “My priorities in resolving this crisis included protecting vital funding for mental health and doing away with unnecessary spending on medium-speed rail, a luxury we cannot afford during these tough budget times. This all comes down to prioritization. That’s what we did today and what I intend to keep doing moving forward.”

“If immediate action isn’t taken, the State will be unable to make payroll at our prisons; low-income working families will lose their child care assistance, court reporters will be laid off, and money for services for the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled will run out,” said Rep. John Anthony. “Today we avoided that calamity by stepping up, setting priorities and getting the job done.”

House Bill 318 now goes to the State Senate for approval.

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