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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Illinois lawmakers make budget progress, but is it enough?


Above / Did you know? The immense dome atop the Illinois State House is supported by a circular foundation, 92-1/2 feet in diameter, set on solid rock 25-1/2 feet below the grade line. The walls supporting the dome, made from limestone quarried at Hancock County, are 17 feet thick from the foundation to the first floor. The State Seal used prior to the Civil War appears in the top of the dome, 361 feet high from the ground line.

This week in Illinois…

On Thursday, June 30, before the end of Fiscal Year 2016, Democrat and Republican lawmakers in the Illinois General Assembly overwhelmingly passed a spending plan, and just hours before the start of the new fiscal year, Governor Bruce Rauner signed, SB2047.

The bill provides temporary stopgap funding for six months. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle acknowledged compromises to achieve this stopgap measure, but many representatives in Springfield, county and local government officials as well as the Daily Herald editorial board (Lawmakers made encouraging budget progress, but we need and expect more), corporate leaders and small business owners consider the deal still falls short of a constitutionally mandated full and balanced budget for the entirety of FY17.

During a press conference on June 27, five mayors, including Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, stood behind Governor Rauner urging state legislators to get the budget deal signed.

Throughout the week prior to the vote Thursday and afterward, news releases and video clips appeared in PN’s inbox from Springfield at a time when Illinois residents and the nation are preparing for the Independence Day weekend.

Trying to keep up, your PN editors and photographers were busy preparing to cover Exchange Club of Naperville Ribfest and the Thursday night Naperville Municipal Band Concert, two of many local traditions that pay tribute to the spirit of America.

Plan to pay attention to the important votes and other happenings in Springfield before heading to the polls for the General Election on Nov. 8, 2016.  More than the election of the leader of the free world, the election will have impact on the State of Illinois, DuPage and Will counties, local school districts that serve Naperville and much, much more.

This land is your land. Think about it, especially on Independence Day weekend.


Governor Rauner signs 13 bills June 30, 2016, effective immediately

Governor Bruce Rauner took action on June 30, 2016, on the following bills concerning revenue, state government and government:

Bill No.: HB 694, an act concerning revenue; Bill No.: HB 3748, an act concerning state government; Bill No.: HB 4630, an act an act concerning government; Bill No.: HB 4678, an act concerning State Government; Bill No.: HB 5598, an act concerning revenue; Bill No.: HB 5736, an act concerning regulation; Bill No.: SB 10, an act concerning State Government; Bill No.: SB 185, an act concerning courts; Bill No.: SB 318, an act concerning government;  Bill No.: SB 1529, an act concerning elections;  Bill No.: SB 1810, an act concerning State Government;  Bill No.: SB 2047, an act concerning appropriations; and Bill No.: SB 2241, an act concerning State Government.

From Ron Sandack, State Representative from Downers Grove, 81st District 

Ron Sandack (Downers Grove, 81st District) led the Republican debate on the five bills in the budget compromise package. (Photo courtesy Rep. Sandack)

Democrat and Republican lawmakers approved a clean, 12-month K-12 Education bill, and a six-month temporary budget for other budget areas, including higher education, human and social services, prisons and road/bridge construction projects. The $50.6 billion budget includes $8.6 billion in general funds, $33.6 billion in other state funds and $8.4 billion in federal funds.

House Republican Floor Leader Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) led the Republican debate on the five bills in the budget compromise package, and called the bills “a definite and incremental step in the right direction.”

“Republicans have stood for fiscal sanity from the beginning, and today we saw, for the first time in a very long time, balanced budgeting in Illinois,” said Sandack. “I’ll stop short of calling this a victory, because the terms were not extended over a full year for most budget areas.”

SB 2047, approved in a 105-4-1 vote, includes:

•        The largest 12-month allocation toward K-12 education in Illinois history

o   More than a $520 million increase in funding over FY16, for a total of $7.2 billion

o   100% funding of the school formula foundation level for the first time in seven years

o   A hold-harmless provision that guarantees that no school district will receive less money than in FY16 due to declining enrollment or increased property values

o   A $250 million equity grant to be allocated to the state’s most low-income districts

o   A $75 million increase for early childhood education programs

o   No Chicago Public Schools bailout; but permission granted to the City of Chicago to raise local taxes for their public schools

o   Potential for CPS to receive a $205 million “pension parity” grant in the future (tied to the approval of pension reform in the General Assembly)

•        Six-month bridge funding

o   $1 billion for higher education (on top of the $600 million already approved through a stopgap measure in the spring)

o   $729 million for critical State government operations (IL Department of Transportation, mental health centers, prisons, veterans homes)

o   $701 million for critical human services not currently paid through consent decrees or court orders

o   $8.4 billion to allow Illinois to take full advantage of matching federal funds

o   $53.7 billion for the continuation of road/bridge projects, school construction grants and local water/sewer improvements, debt service payments and lottery payouts

“This comprehensive plan is the result of good faith negotiations from leaders from both parties, and while not perfect, it provides stability. Like any good negotiation, there are parts of this plan I like and there are parts of it I don’t like. But this package ensures every school will open on time with full funding of the foundation level, and provides a half-year of funding for other agencies and service providers that have really been struggling,” Sandack said. “This is not a home run. This is a base hit.”

Editor’s Note: SB 2047 was approved in a 105-4-1 vote. No votes were Jack Franks (D-Marengo, 63rd District); David McSweeney (R-Barrington, 52nd District); Tom Morrison (R-Palatine, 54th District) and Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton, 42nd District). Present was C.D. Davidsmeyer (R-Jacksonville, 100th District).  Six excused absences included Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville, 41st District).

From Stephanie Kifowit, State Representative from Oswego, 84th District 

Kifowit Votes to Fund Schools, Universities, IDOT Projects and Human Service Providers 

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit

State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego) issued the following statement Tuesday after voting to fully fund K-12 Education which will allow schools to open on time, in addition to provide emergency funding for Universities, Human Service providers along with IDOT projects and various other programs and services.

“During this ongoing budget crisis, I have fought to protect vital services for our seniors and disabled residents and have been urging both sides to compromise and pass a complete budget. While we currently do not have a complete budget, this stop gap emergency funding is important to the residents of the State of Illinois.  I again stood up for my district today by voting to ensure schools open on time and are properly funded, services are provided by our social service organizations, and Universities can open.

“In addition, it was important to ensure construction workers stay on the job as we continue making infrastructure improvements we need.  While I am pleased we were able to provide emergency funding to agencies and organizations, I am frustrated Illinois still does not have a complete, balanced and responsible full year budget.  I encourage the legislative leaders and the Governor to continue working towards a balanced and responsible full year budget.”

NACC Legislative Alert! Rauner signs stopgap budget

Nicki Anderson

The Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has called for a full and balanced budget for the state, “because continued fiscal insecurity is damaging our economic growth potential and places our Member organizations at risk,” said Nicki Anderson, President and CEO.  Read the statement from the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce here.

“SB2047 provides some much needed relief, especially for social service providers who have borne the brunt of the impasse,” wrote Anderson to the NACC membership. “However, it does not solve the fiscal insecurity that is plaguing our state.  We note that Moody’s downgraded local state universities in part based on “challenges due to uncertainty around the amount and timing of state funding” on the same day a partial budget is announced.  Our Member organizations deserve better.  Join us in asking our lawmakers for a full and balanced state budget as required by the constitution.”

Overview of SB2047 provided by NACC

Human Services

  • Approximately $670 million for social services
  • Payments may begin to many contracted service providers of some immigration services, autism services, and youth programs that have not received funding from the state for services rendered over the past twelve months
  • However, the $670 million appropriated represents approximately 65% of total payments due, and it remains unclear how that will be apportioned exactly

K-12 Education

  • Unlike the remainder of the deal, K-12 schools are funded for the entirety of FY17
  • All school districts held harmless, will receive as much or more money than they received in FY16
  • $80 million additional funds for early childhood education
  • $250 million for a poverty grant for districts that serve low income students

Higher Education

  • Approximately $1 billion will be paid to higher education
  • Of that, $655 million for state universities and $114 million for community colleges
  • Universities will be repaid for many FY16 expenses left unpaid and are funded for the first six months of FY17

Government Services

  • Approximately $750 million for utilities, FOID, medical care, local roads projects, bridge inspections, and other IDOT construction program
On June 30 the General Assembly passed a stopgap funding plan that will serve as a bridge to a comprehensive budget for Fiscal Year 2017. The legislation would provide a full year of funding for K-12 schools and road construction projects. The package also includes six months of funding for higher educationand state-operated facilities, such as prisons and veterans’ homes.

From Mike Connelly, State Senator from Lisle, 21st District

State Senator Mike Connelly

Senator Mike Connelly (R-Lisle) issued the following message regarding the short-term budget deal:

“Although a short-term deal isn’’t ideal, it was necessary to ensure our schools open in the fall and critical projects and services remain operating. This legislation is both responsible and affordable and moves us in the right direction until a more comprehensive budget is reached.

“Also under the legislation, school districts will be funded at 100% foundational level for the first time in seven years. All districts will be held harmless and a vast majority of them will receive more money than they did last year. This is a record high level of funding for elementary and secondary education. For the first time in years, students will no longer be victims of proration.

“The funding package also includes $1 billion for higher education on top of the $600 million already approved in Fiscal Year 201. This measure ensures that universities are able to open on time and complete a full fall semester. It also allocates $151 million in funding for MAP grants for the spring semester of 2016 and provides community colleges with $114 million.

“Additionally, transportation, human services and other critical government services will also receive funding to keep projects and services running.

“In the past couple days Republicans and Democrats have come together and negotiated in good faith. It is my hope that our bi-partisan efforts continue as we work to create a fully balanced budget with much needed reforms.”

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” —Plato

Thanks for reading. Thanks for paying attention during this campaign season when some members of the Illinois State Senate and all members of the House are up for election on Tues., Nov. 8.

God bless America. Have a happy and thoughtful Independence Day. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Celebrate safely.




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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.