House approves paying Lotto winners and municipalities, but money still on hold

SPRINGFIELD — While Republicans and Democrats made a rare joint effort to send some long-awaited state money to mayors and Illinois Lottery winners who have been begging for it, the money might not be coming soon.

In a bipartisan vote, Illinois House lawmakers approved a measure to send gasoline and gambling tax money to communities that have missed out during the ongoing state budget impasse, an idea Gov. Bruce Rauner endorsed.

The proposals would mean millions of dollars in money that has been delayed since the state blew past July 1 without a budget in place.

But because the Illinois Senate still needs to approve the measure — and isn’t scheduled to meet again until next year — the check isn’t yet in the mail, and might not be for a while.

Mayors have complained that without that tax money, their budgets have been hampered and buying road salt for the winter, for example, could be more difficult.

The dynamics of the budget stalemate in Illinois haven’t changed for months, but some lawmakers saw reason for optimism in Rauner’s willingness in recent days to compromise on the plan and on a program that helps low-income families pay for day care.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, said talk between the sides seems like progress. But he said Rauner giving ground on a day care program he unilaterally cut shouldn’t be considered compromise.

Rauner wants pro-business laws that curb union power, while Democrats say he should deal on increasing revenue for key programs before tackling “non-budget” issues.