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State

Director: Illinois prisons need more money

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Illinois lawmakers need to approve a supplemental spending bill to ensure the Department of Corrections can get through the rest of the fiscal year, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

The governor’s new budget director, Hans Zigmund, gave lawmakers an update on the state’s finances on Wednesday. Zigmund said the income tax hike enacted over Rauner’s veto in July is bringing in more money than expected. But he says that there are still looming issues.

Zigmund said that the administration wants lawmakers to approve a total of $1.1 billion supplemental spending bill to cover “unappropriated liabilities” from the previous fiscal year. About 85 percent of the request is for expenses for the Corrections Department and for Medicaid.

The supplemental spending bill would assist in paying the bills being run up by the department.

“Right now, we are having to very actively manage [the bills] that are going over to the comptroller, to do things like make sure the prisoners are fed, make sure the garbage is taken out, make sure the water and lights are running,” said Zigmund.

After the hearing, Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, who chairs one of the Senate Appropriations committees, said that after lawmakers approved the budget to cover the 2018 fiscal year, it appeared the department had used the spending authority to pay bills run up the previous year when there was no budget. As a result, the department is running short of the spending authority it needs to get through the rest of this fiscal year, which ends in June.

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