December 2015 ILAA Government Affairs Committee Session Update

12/09/2015 10:31 PM | Anonymous

Session update

December 2015

Illinois Academy of Audiology

By:       Jessica Nardulli & Tom Ryder

Legislative Leaders met with the Governor

The Legislative Leaders of each chamber of the General Assembly have met with Governor Rauner twice this month. Before these meetings, they had not met as a group since May. There was very little expectation that these meetings would produce any compromises, let alone an agreement on the budget, but the fact that they are talking is progress. Illinois is now into the sixth month of the fiscal year without a budget.

Leading Democrats in the Illinois statehouse oppose key elements in the governor’s proposed agenda as going against both parties’ core principals. Republicans deny this claim. During public remarks prior to the first meeting, House Speaker Michael Madigan reiterated measures the governor is advocating to allow local governments to circumvent prevailing wage or collective bargaining are contrary to his core principles “because the advocacy of these issues by the governor would reduce wages and the standard of living for the middle class families and force injured workers to welfare and the emergency room.” But leading GOP Senator Christine Radogno said Republicans also have core principles and Madigan is mischaracterizing the opposition to reforms.

We are hearing Speaker Madigan has dug in his heels and is unwilling to negotiate. During these private meetings, he sits and does not speak. Until the Speaker and the Governor come to an agreement, Illinois will continue without a budget.

Practically, due to court orders and continuing appropriations, Illinois has been spending money at approximately 80% to 85% of last year’s budget. Last year’s budget was $4 billion out of balance and also included a 5% income tax, not the 3.5% income tax we currently pay. As a result, Illinois is currently spending more money than it is taking in, even without a budget. For a while, it was anticipated that we would have a budget agreement by January. Now it isn’t looking like there will be an agreement until after the March primaries, at the earliest. Some are so pessimistic as to suggest there will not be a budget for this fiscal year.

Governor Rauner signed a small funding bill

A bill to get some tax money into the hands of local governments and pay lottery winners sailed through the Senate on Monday and gained the governor’s almost-immediate signature. By a vote of 53-0, the Senate gave its nod to House amendments to Senate Bill 2039, sending the measure to the governor’s office, which then announced Gov. Bruce Rauner had signed it.

While the state remains without an overall budget, the bill does authorize $3.1 billion in spending. It includes about $2 billion in purpose-collected cash for costs such as local road work, 911 centers and the like. It frees up the local shares of video gaming and riverboat casino money. Further, the legislation authorizes $1 billion to pay state lottery players, who’ve had to accept vouchers for winnings larger than $600. Additionally, the measure authorizes the use of about $28 million from the state’s general funds to pay for items including energy bill assistance for the needy.

Senate Bill 2039 also covers certain state government costs, most notably for the secretary of state. That office handles major, statewide services such as driver and vehicle licensing and processes volumes of sensitive data. Secretary Jesse White’s staff had warned of lapses in cyber-security should the state be unable to meet its obligations to tech vendors and they were to stop providing services. Among other things, the bill also helps fund the operations of Illinois State Police and the agency’s crime labs, as well as to pay for certain statewide police and fire training and shared services.

Illinois Academy of Audiology (ILAA)                      
4000 Westgate
Springfield, IL 62711 
Phone: (217) 691-1506 

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