Registration is now open for this year’s Employer Action Day. This year’s event will take place on Wednesday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Wyndam in Springfield. The event will feature a keynote from Gov. Rauner, members from ALEC and the US Chamber, Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, and more! Don’t miss this opportunity to add your voice to the business communities largest lobby day in Illinois. Register now!
This week the U.S Chamber of Commerce honored 266 members of the U.S House of Representatives and 55 members of the U.S Senate with its annual Spirit of Enterprise Award, given in recognition for pro-growth policies in the second session of the 114th Congress.
Winners from the Illinois Delegation include:
During the second session of the 114th Congress, the Chamber scored members on 8 Senate votes and 14 House votes related to access to capital for small businesses, ensuring our workforce has the skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow, and helping American manufacturers compete in a global economy. In addition, votes in support of building the U.S. water infrastructure system, protecting intellectual property, and updating energy policy also factored into scoring.
A poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last fall found that 72% of voters supported the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps. House Republicans again called on House Democrats to respect the wishes of Illinoisans by allowing redistricting reform, House Joint Resolution Constitution Amendment 17 (HJRCA 17), to be called for a vote.
HJRCA 17 would allow voters to decide if the Illinois Constitution should be amended to create a special commission for the purpose of drawing legislative districts. House Republicans reiterated that the current process of allowing the majority party to draw districts has failed the State and the lack of fair representation has led to legislators not being accountable to the people they represent, which is why the Illinois General Assembly has not passed a balanced budget in ten years.
New jobs created; economists continue to point to Illinois’ lagging job growth. The Illinois Department of Employment Security’s February 2017 unemployment report, showed the Prairie State’s jobless rate dropping from 5.7% to 5.4%. The current number was measured by the widely-followed U-3 ratio; other methods of measuring unemployment and underemployment also count people in other categories, such as involuntary part-time employment. These alternative metrics show much higher jobless numbers in Illinois.
Illinois has not created nearly as many new jobs as have neighboring and other U.S. states. In a pattern of lagging recovery from the severe recession of 2009-10, Illinois has created only 47,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs over the most recently measured twelve-month period – job growth of 0.8%. Poor numbers are concentrated in many Downstate communities and metropolitan areas, with unemployment of 11.1% posted for January 2017 in greater Rockford, 7.7% in the Decatur area and 7.0% in Carbondale. In fact, Illinois has virtually the same number of nonfarm payroll jobs as the number of employment positions that were posted and paid more than 16 years ago, during the previous job peak of September 2000.
New ID cards for persons with disabilities. The ID cards, which eligible persons can show to law enforcement, contain an official notification that the bearer is age 16 or older and has a medical condition that may impair his or her ability to communicate with others. The new ID cards will be made available at all Drivers Services facilities operated by the Illinois Secretary of State.
The ID card was developed by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Approximately 100,000 of the cards have been printed for distribution, matching estimates of the number of Illinois residents who may face challenges if encountered by police officers and other first responders. Persons who are eligible for the card include persons with physical, developmental, visual, hearing, or mental challenges and disabilities. The card application must be cosigned by a physician. An application for the specialty ID card can be found here.
Plan retains reliance on standardized test metrics, but moves away from “No Child Left Behind.” The new plan approved by the Illinois State Board of Education creates a revised grading system to assess public school districts on their performance. While “No Child Left Behind” was widely criticized for its concentration on imposing proficiency guidelines on challenged school districts, the 2017 ISBE plan concentrates on academic growth metrics. Schools and school districts will be positively reinforced for showing healthy movements, including movements from a challenged or low baseline.
The ISBE plan follows the replacement of No Child Left Behind by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. Illinois, like other states, has been asked to adopt a plan that sets long-term goals, determine metrics for measuring progress towards these goals, and create a system to identify and support challenged schools and school districts. By 2032, the ISBE plan looks forward to at least 90% of children and adolescents meeting a series of age-appropriate goals. At least 90% of high school graduates should leave school in a state of readiness for college and career.
The ISBE’s reliance on standardized tests will continue to be key factors in determining whether these age-appropriate goals are being met. The ISBE will continue to use standardized tests to determine whether third graders are reading “at or above grade level” and fifth graders are “meeting or exceeding expectations” in math.
COGFA presents budget projections and revenue estimate. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) presented FY17 and preliminary FY18 budget projections to the House Revenue and Finance Committee this week. COGFA presented a revised revenue estimate of $33.1 billion in FY17 general funds inflows, representing a significant reduction from the FY17 preliminary estimate of $33.9 billion published by COGFA in July 2016.
COGFA’s report that revenues are falling short of projections by approximately $800 million adds to the fiscal burdens facing the State. COGFA also warned House Revenue Committee members that further extensions of these fiscal trends could further worsen this picture in FY18, the fiscal year that starts on July 1, 2017. Fiscal trends listed in this context include disappointing income tax receipts due to high unemployment and stagnant Illinois job growth, disappointing sales tax revenues, rising pension costs due to low interest rates and revisions to pension fund rates of annual return, and continued increases in the costs of Medicaid and health care for state employees.
House Republicans offer comprehensive pension reform proposal and CPS relief. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin today called on Speaker Michael Madigan and the House Democrats to join the House Republicans in passing comprehensive pension reform that would provide significant savings for taxpayers and $215 million to the Chicago Public Schools for a one time pension parity payment.
According to Durkin, the legislation is modeled after legislation introduced in a bipartisan manner in the Senate. Specifically, HB 4027 includes:
“With this legislation, we estimate the State of Illinois will realize short-term savings of $2.25 billion dollars from the general funds and a substantial step towards closing the deficit gap. This is a significant step towards achieving a balanced budget but also saving our pension systems.”
“I have secured 25 House Republican co-sponsors for this legislation. With our 26 votes the House Republicans have provided their pro-rata share of support for a structured roll call vote on this important issue. This means we will provide our fair share of votes. The Speaker needs to provide his 34 votes to move this legislation to the Senate. This legislation will earn the Governor’s signature. Speaker Madigan and I have worked in the past on pension reform and I am calling upon him to help secure passage of this legislation. This reform is a major piece of the puzzle for breaking the budget impasse,” said Durkin.