Illinois governor signs higher education stopgap funding bill

CHICAGO Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday signed into law a bill to send $600 million to cash-starved state universities and community colleges, calling the measure “a first step toward compromise between Democrats and Republicans.” 

An impasse between the Republican governor and Democrats who control the legislature has left Illinois without a budget 10 months into fiscal 2016.

In bipartisan votes in the House and Senate on Friday, lawmakers approved $600 million, or 34 percent, of the $1.7 billion Democrats had earmarked for higher education spending for the whole fiscal year, which began July 1.

“Now is the time to build on this bipartisan momentum and focus on enacting a truly balanced budget for fiscal years 2016-2017 alongside meaningful reforms that create jobs and free up resources for education, social services and infrastructure,” Rauner said in a statement.

Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger said on Friday that her office would immediately start processing payments for the universities, colleges and for college student grants funded by the legislation.

(Reporting by Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney; Editing by Paul Simao)

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