SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers cleared up a number of fiscal issues Tuesday with the passage of a budget reallocation bill that keeps seven state institutions open through next spring, reimburses the University of Illinois $15.8 million for the operation of scientific surveys and increases funding for grants to college students.
The 50-5 Senate vote for the reallocation was its last before the chamber adjourned, possibly for the year, shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday.
All four area senators -- Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, Dale Righter, R-Mattoon; Shane Cultra, R-Onarga, and Bill Brady, R-Bloomington – voted for the measure.
"The legislation was needed to avoid an additional 1,900 citizens from being on our unemployment rolls based on a faulty policy decision by Governor Pat Quinn," said Cultra. "I am in full agreement that we need smaller government, but when we make it smaller it must be smarter. It was clear from the first day that the plan to close the seven facilities was not well thought out."
Earlier, the House had OK’d the reallocation, 92-20, with Reps. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign; Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet; and Roger Eddy, R-Hutsonville, voting against it.
A number of downstate Republicans voted against the bill because it did not include transportation for school districts.
But the bill will keep seven state prisons, mental health centers and developmental services centers open through June 30, 2012. They had been slated for closure over the next few weeks, a move that would have resulted in more than 1,900 layoffs.
It also restores $30 million in funding for community-based mental health centers, $28 million for substance abuse programs and $8 million for indigent burials.
For higher education, the bill means more than $33 million more for Monetary Award Program grants. financial aid that goes to college and university students, plus $15.8 million to the University of Illinois' Urbana campus.
The money for the UI is to repay it for the operation of the scientific surveys on campus that have operated since July 1 without a state appropriation. Legislative budget makers said the lack of funding for the departments, which include the state water, history and geological surveys, was an oversight made during the closing days of last spring's legislative session.