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Summary of the Governor’s FY 17 budget address

2/18/2016
In his budget address on Feb. 17, Governor Rauner gave lawmakers two narrow options:  implement his “structural reforms,” including changes to collective bargaining rights, in exchange for a $36 billion budget or give the Governor unilateral authority to make $4 billion in cuts through executive actions.

The legislature is now tasked with taking the Governor’s proposal into consideration and passing a bill by May 31. Absent from the Governor’s speech yesterday was the fact that many agencies and state funded entities are on autopilot and are only receiving their Fiscal Year 2016 funding through court order or consent decree.

Here are some of the details of Rauner’s proposed FY17  budget:

Pre-K-12 education funding

The Governor’s proposal calls for more funding for public schools, including additional funding to support increases for early childhood education and General State Aid to schools. But without a budget plan and with spending obligations that far exceed the tax revenues coming in to pay for them, it remains to be seen how he will make that happen.

House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) said as a way to pay for the increased education spending, Rauner should consider Madigan’s plan to add a surtax to incomes over $1 million per year, which the Speaker said would raise $1 billion annually.

General State Aid funding
The Governor’s recommended FY17 budget funds General State Aid at $4.7 billion, a $55 million increase over last year; the majority of the increase in funding however is coming from folding in "loss limit grants" that were distributed to the districts hit hardest by proration, as well as from local resource calculations.

Sen. Andy Manar(D-Bunker Hill), who has worked for more than two years on school funding reform, said Rauner’s proposal is doomed to fail. “Unfortunately, the Governor is putting himself into the same trap as his predecessors,” Manar said. “He’s backing himself into a corner. The poorest districts in the state are going to have to wait until the wealthy are comfortable.”

Mandated categoricals
The Governor recommended $1.7 million General Revenue Fund (GRF) for programs mandated by statute (special education, free lunch/breakfast, and transportation). While the proposed appropriation is level with the FY16 funds for these programs, many line items will remain prorated under this proposal.

Student assessments
The Governor recommended level funding for student assessments in the FY17 budget. Absent any funding in the current fiscal year, it’s anticipated that additional funds will be needed to cover FY16 assessments that haven’t been paid for.
 
Eliminated programs
The Governor’s budget eliminates numerous programs within the Illinois State Board of Education budget for a reported total savings of $19.9 million, including:
 
  • Intervention Funding
  • Advance Placement
  • Arts/Foreign Language
  • Agricultural Education
  • After School Matters
  • National Board Certified Teachers


Higher education

After more than eight months without a state budget, some universities are already on the brink of collapse. Yet buried in the Governor’s proposal is his recommendation to eliminate numerous programs and cut funding by 25% or more from the FY15 budget levels. MAP grants and community colleges will be funded at the FY15 level. Illinois Community College Board funding will include $10 million for Performance Based Budgeting.

 Higher education programs Rauner would eliminate:
  • Quad Cities Graduate Center – a program designed for students whose work and family responsibilities make traditional on-campus study difficult.
  • University Center of Lake County- a program that offers select courses from 20 of Illinois’ top colleges and universities on two campuses.
  • Diversifying Higher Education Faculty in Illinois – a program aimed at increasing the number of minority full-time tenure track faculty and staff at Illinois’ two- and four-year, public and private colleges and universities.
  • Grow Your Own Teachers Program – a program that seeks to achieve equity, excellence and diversity in the new teacher pipeline.
  • Higher Education Cooperation Act (HECA) Grants – a program that seeks to promote effective use of resources though cooperation among institutions.

During a press conference, IFT member and Chicago State University professor Gabriel Gomez highlighted the long-term damage Governor Rauner is doing to our state by failing to enact a complete budget that adequately funds public colleges, universities, and students in need.

 “It makes me angry that the Governor would allow these students – who so many have given up on – to suffer, all because he refuses to ask the very wealthy to pay a dime more. High school students and their families can’t plan for the year ahead. They don’t know if they’ll have MAP grant tuition assistance – or even a college that’s open for business.”

State Group Health Insurance, pensions, and employee compensation

Full details of the Governor's proposal in these areas are not yet available, but the Governor alluded to working with the legislative leaders, specifically Senate President Cullerton, on a pension proposal. He also reiterated his crusade to undercut the rights of injured workers by demanding worker’s compensation overhaul, and recommended $565 million in cuts to State Group Health Insurance funding. He would cut employee compensation and overtime by $400 million.

IFT President Dan Montgomery and Chicago State University professor Gabriel Gomez issued press statements in response to the budget address. Read Under the Dome for the latest legislative updates.

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