Legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner met to talk Illinois budget late Tuesday, and on the agenda was money for the troubled Quincy Veterans Home.
Lawmakers have two weeks to pass a balanced budget with simple majorities. After May 31, a supermajority vote is needed to pass a budget. With the time crunch, Republicans say they want things to be resolved in a more timely manner.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said things are progressing, but the GOP and the governor have asked for capital funds for the Quincy Veterans Home, where 13 have died of a legionnaires disease outbreak since 2015.
“So that’s the first that I’ve heard of the capital request,” Cullerton said. “We’re going to look into that and find out if there’s other veterans homes that need money and if there’s other requests from members of our caucus.”
The estimate for the Quincy home project, which includes relocation to a temporary facility with a new facility to be built over several years, has been north of $200 million.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said the home needs to be taken care of, and would be dealt with as a standalone bill, but the budget process needs to speed up.
“I know the governor is anxious that we don’t run into the same problems that we have in the past,” Brady said. “So the pace needs to pick up. We need to do that.”
Cullerton said during part of the meeting, leaders discussed a letter from the Department of Revenue that estimated revenue of $33.6 billion next year. He wanted more clarity on what the number included.
“We don’t know if the sale for the Thompson Center (in Chicago) is included or not,” Cullerton said. “The governor had proposed that we reduce the money that we send to local governments and the money that we send to public transportation. We don’t know if that’s included.”
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said when you include federal funds and transfers, that matches the number Republicans have been looking to certify.
“We’re at about $37.8 billion that we have to spend,” Durkin said. “That’s basically the reaffirmation of a revenue estimate.”
Cullerton said a revenue estimate resolution could be agreed upon “as long as the governor agrees to the number himself.”
When asked if Democrats know how much they’re looking to spend, Cullerton said that’s still up for discussion.
“We’re trying to resolve how much money we have and how much money we need to spend and to narrow the gap,” Cullerton said. “That’s what the budget guys are doing.”
The budget deadline is May 31.