Springfield was buzzing this week with the inauguration of Governor Bruce Rauner and both the Illinois House and Senate. Republicans under the dome have a new sense of confidence while democrats seem to be ready to work with the new governor. Both Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan pledged to work with Rauner on a professional level. Both said the number one issue is the $5.1 billion dollar deficit that Illinois faces in the coming year. Both also cited education as a top priority. Neither got into details as to what that means.
General Assembly Inauguration
The Illinois Senate and House of Representatives officially took office for the 99th General Assembly at 12 noon on Wednesday, January 14th. Legislators met for the first day of session on Thursday, January 15, and will resume on Wednesday, January 28th. View the Senate and House schedules for 2015.
Governor Bruce Rauner, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Leslie Munger, and Treasurer Michael Frerichs were sworn into office on Monday. Governor Rauner spoke briefly about education in his inaugural speech, emphasizing "investing adequately in every neighborhood," and supporting good teachers.
Former State Senator to Lead the Illinois State Board of Education
Former State Senator Rev. James Meeks has been nominated by Governor Rauner to chair the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Rev. Meeks, a Chicago Democrat and pastor of the Salem Baptist Church, served in the legislature from 2003 to 2013. Meeks' appointment will require Senate approval.
State Board of Education to Meet January 21st
Using statutory authority that allows appointees with expired terms to continue to serve for 60 days, the Illinois State Board of Education will meet on January 21st. The new board chair, Reverend James Meeks, will chair and Andrea Brown, Dave Fields, and Vinni Hall will participate to ensure a quorum. The meeting agenda includes approval of the FY16 ISBE recommended budget.
Budget Issues Imminent
The newly seated General Assembly and Governor Rauner have many budget issues to face as the former temporary income tax increase was not extended by January 1. The official kick-off of budget season begins on February 18th with the Governor’s budget address. In the meantime, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), the Governor’s Office, and agencies will begin to meet to review and discuss available revenue, anticipated spending, and program priorities to develop budgets that reflect the core priorities of the agency.
Session resumes Wednesday, January 28.