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.
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.
House Republicans call for vote on fair maps. Members of the House Republican Caucus called on House Democrats to respect the wishes of Illinoisans by allowing redistricting reform, HJRCA17, to be called for a vote immediately.
“This is one of the strongest statements we can make about reforming Illinois,” said State Rep. Tim Butler. “This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, so it’s time for the Democrats to decide if they stand for the status quo or for a stronger, better Illinois for generations to come.”
HJRCA 17 would allow voters to decide, by statewide referendum, to amend the Illinois Constitution to create the Independent Redistricting Commission for the purpose of drawing legislative districts. A poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last fall found that 72% of voters, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, supported the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps.
Members noted that redistricting reform is directly tied to the state budget and the failure of having unbalanced budgets for more than 10 years.
“When people are no longer able to hold their representatives accountable due to the political leanings of their district, the people have lost,” said State Rep. Tom Demmer. “That’s especially true when it comes to the fiscal issues of this state. Instead of being held accountable for taking vote after vote after vote to spend money that the State doesn’t have, far too many elected officials get a pass as soon as they go home for no other reason than the letter behind their name on the ballot.”
“Democrats in Illinois like to tout that they and they alone stand for the little guy, but how can they say that with a straight face when it’s clearly not the case,” said State Rep. Keith Wheeler. “It’s time for Illinois Democrats to stop hiding and letting ‘surrogates’ fight this crucial constitutional amendment. The question that House Democrats now need to answer is who do you stand with? Do you stand with a million reform-minded Illinoisans or Mike Madigan?”
Illinois House Education Task Force holds first meeting. The 26-member bipartisan Task Force has been asked to develop proposals that can be offered to the General Assembly as legislative language to implement the recommendations of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. Earlier this year, the Reform Commission proposed that Illinois take steps to reduce the dependence of Illinois school districts on property tax revenues. Many Illinois lawmakers, citizens, and taxpayers believe that the current pattern of means used to fund Illinois schools is outdated in relation to other states.
The panel held its first meeting on Tuesday, March 14. Representative Bob Pritchard, the House Republican spokesman on the Task Force, called for key revisions to the Illinois school funding formula. The House Education Task Force is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, March 21.
Bill backlog hits all-time high of $12.8 billion. The Office of the Comptroller reported this week that Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills has reached $12.8 billion, representing $1,000 for each of the 12.8 million men, women and children who call Illinois home.
Money owed by the State and awaiting payment includes monies to Illinois health service providers, institutions of higher education, providers of social services, and many other program service providers. The last full Illinois General Assembly budget expired on June 30, 2015, and the last partial Illinois budget ceased to operate on December 31, 2016. The Illinois General Assembly is currently debating budget action for FY18, starting July 1, 2017. Challenges facing Illinois budgeteers include a pattern of flat Illinois tax revenues, reflecting few new jobs created, and rising Illinois spending commitments, particularly commitments relating to medical services provided under Medicaid and other programs.