While no progress was made on reaching a FY 2016 budget agreement this week, both chambers have now approved SB 2040, an emergency 30-day budget bill that would provide pay for state workers through August 1 and funding for critical services that the low-income, mentally disabled, and others rely on. The Governor has indicated he will veto the bill.
Here are the highlights of this week’s legislative action:
Emergency budget awaits Governor’s signature
The Senate passed SB 2040, legislation that provides for an emergency, one-month budget to fund $2.2 billion in essential state services and includes a provision to pay state employee salaries until August 1. The bill passed the House last week so it now moves to the Governor’s desk. Despite his insistence that public employees be paid during the budget impasse, the Governor has vowed to veto the bill.
Senate overrides vetoes
The Illinois Senate took action to override several of the Governor’s vetoes this week on budget-related bills, includingSB 2031, SB 2032, SB 2034, SB 2036, and SB 2037. The bills provide critical funding to support the operations of numerous state offices and programs, including the Illinois State Police, Illinois State Fire Marshall, and the departments of Revenue, Human Rights, Public Health, and others.
House members adjourned this week without taking action on the bills. If the House does not vote to override them, the Governor’s vetoes will stand.
Senate rejects property tax proposal
Lawmakers in the Senate fell four votes shy of passing SB 316, sponsored by Sen. Cullerton (D-Chicago). While the bill did not contain the harmful anti-worker measures the Governor has been insisting upon, it would have frozen property taxes for two years. The IFT, CTU, and most other education groups opposed the bill because a freeze would reduce overall education funding and hurt local municipalities.
House Committee questions Governor’s pension plan - IFT cites Rauner’s hypocrisy
The House Personnel and Pensions Committee heard testimony this week on the Governor’s 500-page pension reform plan. The IFT and our partners in the We Are One coalition testified vigorously against the unconstitutional proposal, which would force all public employees into lesser, Tier II plans and eliminate collective bargaining rights.
IFT President Dan Montgomery called the proposal “illegal, hypocritical, and a stunning display of the Governor’s priorities”in light of the recent revelation in the Chicago Tribune that the Governor is providing a special cash stipend to the new State Superintendent of Education to make up for the lesser Tier II pension benefit he receives as a new state employee. .
The State Government Committee has scheduled a hearing next week to learn more about those unfair pension perks.
Update on state employee pay lawsuits
As expected, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed appeals this week to block a Circuit Court order requiring the Comptroller to pay state employees in full despite the budget impasse.
The AG has asked the Fifth District Appellate court to overturn last week’s St. Clair County Circuit Court ruling to pay employees in full and on time. Madigan’s office also filed an emergency motion with the Illinois Supreme Court seeking consolidation of the conflicting orders issued last week in St. Clair and Cook County, where a judge ruled that without a FY16 budget, only certain employees can be paid, and payments cannot exceed the minimum wage pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act. The IFT, AFSCME, and other unions appealed that decision last week.
In the interim, Comptroller Munger has processed state employee payroll pursuant to the St. Clair Circuit Court order, and most state employees will be paid on time.
Our union coalition has until July 20 to respond to the motions. Watch ift-aft.org for updates.
House committee discusses workers’ compensation
The House Labor Committee held another hearing to discuss a report by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). According to the IWCC, insurers report a 19 percent decrease in benefit payments in the last four years. The IWCC report also cites a study showing that Illinois saw the largest savings on workers’ compensation insurance and the largest decrease in medical payments per claim. Unlike last week, the Chairman of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission was present to discuss the report and plans to appear before the Committee next week as well.
A look ahead
The House will be in session next week. The Senate will reconvene at the call of the chair.
Various House committees will meet next week, including the State Government Committee, which will hear testimony from the Governor’s office about the hypocritical pension-perks provided in the contract for the new Illinois State Superintendent of Education.
Watch Under the Dome for updates.