The new fiscal year began on July 1, and Illinois is still without a state budget.
As noted last week, the Governor signed the PreK-12 education budget for FY 2016, but funding for higher education and some essential public services remains uncertain. State services will be in increasing jeopardy as we approach mid-July if lawmakers don’t approve a budget.
It’s difficult to predict when a complete budget deal might be reached. Until then, lawmakers are continuing their efforts to reach a compromise while rejecting Governor Rauner’s proposals that would harm every day men and women and our most vulnerable citizens.
Here is an update of legislative highlights from this week:
Senate passes emergency budget
Recognizing the dire situation the State is facing as we enter FY16 without a budget, on Wednesday the Senate passed SB 2040, sponsored by Sen. Steans (D-Chicago) by a vote of 37-0-11. The legislation provides for an emergency, one-month budget designed to fund $2.2 billion in essential state services. The House acted on an identical proposal (HB 4190) sponsored by Speaker Madigan (D- Chicago), but the measure fell four votes shy of passage.
The Illinois Department of Central Management Services has released a series of questions and answers for state employees regarding their benefits during the FY16 budget impasse.
House rejects property tax freeze proposal - again
The House voted on HB 693, a property tax freeze bill sponsored by Rep. Bradley (D-Marion), that includes contentious side issues demanded by Gov. Bruce Rauner. Like the five previous property tax freeze proposals, this bill was defeated. Amendment #2 to HB 693, which contains language to restrict collective bargaining, failed to get a single "yes" vote.
Cullerton proposes property tax freeze compromise, allows CPS to short pension payments
Senate President Cullerton (D-Chicago) introduced SB 316 this week, which seeks a compromise with Governor Rauner on the property tax freeze issue.
The measure would:
Place a two year property tax freeze on all local governments (except Chicago);
Require the state to make the employer contribution for CPS teacher pensions. Currently Chicago taxpayers cover those costs;
Phase out Chicago block grants by 2017 – a loss of $400 million to Chicago schools;
Start a commission to study a new school funding formula;
Create a new distribution of supplemental funds to schools with children in greatest need;
Allow the underfunding of the Chicago Teacher Pension Fund (CTPF) over the next 2 years by approximately $1 billion; and
Shift normal costs (about $400 million) of CTPF to the state over the next 2 years.
A property tax freeze would harm all Illinois school districts, and the elimination of Chicago block grants would result in a massive funding losses for city schools. The IFT, CTU, IEA, and AFL-CIO strongly oppose this measure.
The bill was approved by the Senate Executive Committee and awaits consideration by the full Senate.
Additional money for the supplemental poverty grant approved
SB 2039, sponsored by Senate President Cullerton (D-Chicago), would provide an additional $74 million in poverty grant dollars to school districts for FY16, bringing total funding to $159 million. SB 2039 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee and is pending a full Senate vote.
A look ahead
The House will reconvene on July 8. The House Labor Committee will meet to discuss a FY14 Illinois Work Comp Commission report. The House Executive Committee will consider SB 2038, which would provide back wages owed to many state employees, and SB 2040, the emergency budget bill. The House Revenue Committee will hold a hearing about salaries in the Governor's office.
The Senate will return on July 14.
Visit Under the Dome weekly for the latest updates on legislative action throughout the summer.