Two weeks after giving his initial assessment of the challenges facing Illinois, Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled a tough, but necessary plan to put the state’s fiscal house in order.
Also during the week, Senate members worked to meet a Feb. 20 deadline for filing their bills.
On February 18, Governor Rauner outlined his $31.5 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget proposal to a joint session of Illinois lawmakers. His plan:
• Eliminates $6.2 billion structural deficit;
• Relies on no tax increases or borrowing;
• Includes $500 million to pay down unpaid bill backlog;
• Increases K-12 education spending by roughly $300 million;
• Increases early childhood education funding by $25 million;
• Provides the most money for education general state aid in Illinois history;
• Focuses on core functions of government and delivers essential services.
Many of Governor Rauner’s tough budget decisions stem from the cumulative effect of 12 years of tax-and-spend government under former Governor Rod Blagojevich and former Governor Pat Quinn.
Lawmakers will now review the Governor’s budget, and begin working with the Administration to negotiate the state’s fiscal blueprint for FY 2016, which runs from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.
In other action, Senate members worked to meet their February 20 deadline for filing legislation. More than 1,800 bills have been filed in the Senate alone, including several measures I am sponsoring this spring. I will be providing summaries and updates about these bills as they proceed through the system.
One of my bills introduced during the week is Senate Bill 1780, which would repeal the 30-year prohibition that has prevented Illinois consumers from being able to buy cars on Sundays.
I filed similar legislation in December 2013 and a Federal Trade Commission analysis has determined that such legislation would “provide significant benefits for Illinois consumers.”
Since 1983, car dealerships in Illinois have been forbidden to be open on Sundays under penalty of a $1,500 fine. A majority of states allow automobile sales on Sundays, and car dealers in Illinois should be free to choose whether they wish to be open or closed on Sundays without government interference. We should never allow government to be used to prevent competition in an industry as has been the case here.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Policy Planning Bureau of Competition/Bureau of Economics analyzed my proposal and sent its findings in a letter dated March 26, 2103. The letter’s conclusion states, in part,
“Repealing the Sunday sales ban would ensure that the competitive process, not legislative directive, determines auto dealers’ hours of operation and the availability of other related services. The current law makes it more difficult for Illinois consumers to comparison shop and raises their search costs, which may lead to higher prices, less favorable terms of sale and lease, reduced output of sales and service, and a market that is unresponsive to consumer preferences.”
Also during the week, I introduced legislation that would allow religious choice in business decisions. Senate Bill 1706 would allow auto dealers to sell cars on Sunday if the dealer is a person who observes a religious day of worship other than Sunday. This is similar to legislation that passed in Wisconsin, and is an alternative to Senate Bill 1780.