The Senate held another mind-numbing Committee of the Whole meeting
June 23 on the topics of minimum wage and mandatory paid sick time, but
no legislative action was taken on either subject or on the budget. The
House of Representatives shot down a bipartisan measure aimed at
delaying a pension payment of more than $600 million that will soon be
due for the Chicago Public School District.
On June 24, Governor Bruce Rauner took action to ensure that Illinois
students won’t be used as pawns in the continuing gridlock, by signing
one budget measure that makes sure schools are able to open as planned
and teachers will be paid. However, the next day, he vetoed the rest of
the Democrats’ budget, recognizing that their overall plan is unbalanced
In a June 24 op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune,
Governor Rauner underscored that Illinois “cannot accept the status quo
of throwing more taxpayer money into a broke and broken system.” He
emphasized that his plan to enact “reasonable and balanced” reforms
isimperative to reverse the state’s economic decline.
The Governor is advocating for a property tax freeze, workers’
compensation and lawsuit reforms, term limits and redistricting reform,
and he also indicated his commitment to comprehensive pension
reform—though he emphasized that pension reform is “not a prerequisite
to signing the budget.”
The Governor stressed “We will work day and night with members of the
General Assembly to reform state government, modernize our tax code and
enact a balanced budget as part of a truly comprehensive solution.”
Governor signs education funding
the entire Democrat budget represents a spending plan that is
underfunded by more than $3 billion, the education portion actually
appropriates less money for schools than the Governor’s proposal.
Nonetheless, it represents a slight increase from Fiscal Year 2015
funding, and Governor Rauner said he signed the measure into law to
“ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded.”
The Governor’s action will make it much more difficult for Democrat
leaders to hold schools hostage by threatening that the schools wouldn’t
open without a budget in place.
The current budget prorates General State Aid at 87%. The legislation Governor Rauner signed will raise that level to 92%.
Governor vetoes budget bills
June 25, Governor Rauner vetoed 19 budget bills that combine to create a
deficit of nearly $4 billion “… in order to protect Illinois taxpayers
from an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.” In his veto
message, Governor Rauner stated:
“The Speaker of the House and President of the Senate have admitted
that the General Assembly’s budget is unbalanced. The Governor’s Office
of Management and Budget concurs, calculating that this budget is nearly
$4 billion out of balance.
For too long, the State of Illinois has made spending promises that
exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets
appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push
costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors.
This has generated significant backlogs of unpaid bills and a crushing
debt burden of well over $100 billion. Because of past fiscal
mismanagement, Illinois is experiencing the worst fiscal crisis in
America, highlighted by Illinois being assigned the worst credit rating
of any state.
The State of Illinois will be forced to pay more than $6 billion in
debt payments in Fiscal Year 2016 due to years of fiscal neglect and
overspending. A balanced budget is the only way to responsibly protect
taxpayers and put the State on a path to once again using its resources
for important public services rather than interest and debt service.
A balanced budget is not just good practice, it is a constitutional
requirement: “Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds
estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.”
Ill. Const. art. VIII, sec. 2(b). Although the General Assembly has
chosen to disregard its constitutional obligation, as Governor I cannot
approve a budget that violates this fundamental principle.”
Senate hears testimony on mandatory sick time and minimum wage
On June 23, the Senate met as a Committee of the Whole to discuss
mandatory sick time and increasing the state’s minimum wage. Employees
and members of the business community presented their views on the
The hearing was poorly attended with several Senators noticeably
absent. No legislative action was expected or taken on either subject.
The Committee of the Whole was just another day of political theater,
where no progress was made on passing pro-job reforms or a balanced
state budget. The current fiscal year ends on June 30. If no budget is
in place by July 1, there will be no spending authority for many vital
state agencies and programs.
Instead of working to make sure state employees get paid and important
programs can keep their doors open, Democrat leadership wasted another
week by refusing to work with the Governor to grow jobs and balance the
House rejects pension payment delay for Chicago schools
House lawmakers failed to pass legislation to create a 40-day delay
before the Chicago Public School District’s $634 million pension payment
is due. The bill was requested by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to give
the city more time to figure out how to make the payment. The proposed
delay would have meant the bill wasn’t due until August 10, when the
first state-aid payment is due and after some city revenue would have
The Chicago Teachers Union had some strong criticism for the bill,
saying that the school district was deliberately undermining its
financial position while negotiating an expiring labor contract.
House passes DCEO privatization bill
The House did pass a measure to create a new, private Department of
Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The idea was initially proposed by
Governor Rauner, inspired by successful private programs in several
Before passage however, Democrats inserted several amendments that may
kill the effort, including a three-year sunset provision. Many experts
believe that three years simply isn’t enough time for the agency to
Tornadoes rip through northern Illinois
Multiple tornadoes and severe thunderstorms ripped through northern
Illinois June 22, damaging homes, taking down trees and power lines, and
destroying other property. The National Weather Service says at least
five tornadoes touched down in the region, in Will, Kankakee, Lee,
Grundy, and LaSalle counties.
Governor Rauner has issued a state disaster proclamation for Lee and
Grundy counties to make available a wide variety of state resources that
can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The
Governor also directed the deployment of Illinois Task Force 1, an
80-member search and rescue team, to assist local responders with search
and rescue efforts. For updates, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.ready.illinois.gov.