The Illinois Senate returned to the Capitol January 13 to start the 2016 legislative session with many of the issues from 2015 still unresolved.
Earlier in the week, Senate Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont addressed the state’s long-term fiscal challenges, and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) produced a sobering report about manufacturing in Illinois and the state’s tax receipts.
In other action, Senate Republicans are taking a stand against the scourge of human trafficking by boosting worldwide awareness efforts.
Senate Leader Radogno addresses the City Club
On January 11, Senator Radogno discussed the challenges facing Illinois during a speech at the City Club of Chicago. Despite the state’s seven-month budget impasse, Democrat majority legislative leaders are failing to negotiate on much-needed reforms and are cancelling legislative session days.
Senator Radogno said the fiscal forecast for Illinois is “bleak” if the legislative majorities refuse to come to the table. With no meaningful reforms or revenue enhancements, Illinois is projected to have a $5 billion hole in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget and by June 30, the state could have $9 billion in unpaid bills. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget recently released three-year fiscal projections mandated by state statute, and those numbers are even more disturbing.
Illinois’ current “auto-pilot” budget – the result of a number of court orders and consent decrees – will move the state’s backlog of bills to $25 billion by June 30, 2020. Radogno also said she believes House Speaker Michael Madigan will do anything to maintain the “status quo” despite the catastrophic fiscal damage, if no action is taken.
Radogno’s speech to the City Club of Chicago can be seen by clicking here.
Manufacturing numbers in Illinois continue decline
COGFA released its December report showing a number of disturbing trends with Illinois’ economy and the state’s fiscal health. COGFA’s report shows that Chicago manufacturing indicators are falling to lows that have not been witnessed since the initial aftermath of the 2008 Great Recession.
Chicago unemployment numbers ticked up slightly during the fourth quarter of 2015, but are still down in comparison to the same final quarter of 2014. The most ominous observation from the monthly report was that “corporate income tax and sales tax have failed to meet even modest expectations.”
The COGFA report can be seen by clicking here.
Human trafficking awareness efforts
January 11 was observed as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
In the greater Chicago area, between 16,000 and 25,000 women and girls are estimated to be exploited by human trafficking each year. The average age of entry into the commercial sex industry in the U.S. is 12 years old. Ninety-five percent of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking.
My Senate colleagues and I took part in a video discussing the tragic effects human trafficking has on its victims.
Senator Karen McConnaughay of West Dundee has taken the lead on these issues by working with several of her legislative colleagues to host several town hall meetings across suburban Chicago.
Twenty-one Senators from both sides of the aisle are sponsoring House Bill 2822 to create a state task force that will address ways to combat human trafficking and the negative effects it has on communities throughout Illinois. The task force will submit a report to the General Assembly by June 30.