GODFREY — A group of 41 mayors in Illinois threw their support behind a bill that was one of many proposed to temporarily fix the state’s budget.
In an editorial signed by Godfrey Mayor Michael McCormick, local government officials called out state lawmakers for letting politics get in the way of things like education funding, road projects and social services, including the jobs at stake if they’re halted.
“While every district has their own unique situation, many will be forced into providing diminished educational and extracurricular opportunities for students, staffing reductions or even the possibility of not opening in the fall. We cannot allow our children's futures to be threatened by partisan politics in Springfield,” the editorial states.
To McCormick, negotiation and compromise is part of life as an elected official.
“They’re at a stalemate up there,” he told the Madison County Record before the legislature passed a stopgap budget. “I don’t think we’re doing enough negotiating at the state level. We’re putting a lot of projects in jeopardy.”
The lack of a budget will damage the economy, he said.
McCormick and others who signed the editorial support a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Durkin and Sen. Christine Radogno that would fund early childhood, elementary and secondary education for the school year.
“Unlike previously floated education plans, this proposal is fully funded and would not require any additional revenues or add to the state's ever-increasing bill backlog,” the letter states. “Additionally, the bill contains a hold-harmless provision which ensures that any school which would have lost dollars under the current funding formula will at least receive the same amount as they did last year.”
Godfrey students attend Alton schools. While McCormick doesn’t know the exact state of funding for Alton, he said it could be in the boat with other Madison County districts that could run out of funding in the middle of the school year. He feels that potential threat personally because his granddaughter is a high school senior.
“I don’t want to see her senior year interrupted. We want her to get into college next year and chase the American Dream,” McCormick said.
The same pair of state lawmakers introduced another bill aimed at keeping the government running and protecting public health, welfare and safety, according to the editorial. Called a stopgap budget, the bill would fund the state’s road construction plan for 2017. It would fund capital projects that paused this year because money ran out, including those at public universities and colleges. It also funds utilities, food and medical services at state prisons, mental health centers and veterans' homes.
The mayors support the legislation because the plan includes funding that local governments are counting on.
“This common-sense plan serves as a bridge that allows schools to open, protects public safety and avoids a government shutdown,” they wrote. “This plan is fiscally prudent and fully funded, contrary to the numerous unfunded, out-of-balance spending plans we've seen come out of the legislature this session.”
Ultimately, the legislature passed a stopgap measure that contained parts of numerous bills and Gov. Bruce Rauner signed off on it on June 30.