Rauner attends Governor’s Day at State Fair

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Senate has approved House changes to legislation that opens the gate for $5.4 billion in federal money to flow to Illinois.

The Senate voted 52-0 Wednesday to OK additions the House made to the plan, which allows spending on social programs even though there's no state budget.

The issue momentarily became a focus last week of the budget disagreement between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic-controlled General Assembly.

The money is available as soon as lawmakers authorize spending it. They hadn't done that because they hadn't agreed on a state budget that was supposed to take effect July 1.

House Speaker Michael Madigan attempted to add some state spending authority to a Senate plan last week, but then backed off.

Rauner supports the measure.

Also Wednesday, Rauner celebrated first Republican Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair in more than a decade. He says Democrats have "created a mess" during years of one-party rule.

Rauner says the Republican party in Illinois is "coming back."

Rauner's harshest words were for House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Rauner blamed Madigan for cuts to social services, saying the Chicago Democrat "has ice water in his veins." He also says Madigan "picked a fight with the wrong guy."

Early in the day, Rauner arrived at the fairgrounds on his Harley motorcycle.  He was greeted by protesters, many members of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois union. An SEIU spokesman said 500 picketers attended.

Illinois Republican leaders say they're solidly backing U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's bid for a second term.

Kirk was scheduled to appear in Springfield on Wednesday for Governor's Day events at the Illinois State Fair. But his campaign said he couldn't attend because he's participating in a briefing regarding President Obama's proposed Iran deal.

It's unusual for the candidate at the top of the ticket not to attend the fair's political events.

Democrats will hold their rally at the fair Thursday.