Friday, February 15, 2019

Alliance Legislative Report 101-04

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE PASSES HOUSE
In an unusual flurry of activity for early February, the House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1 (Lightford, D-Maywood) which increases the minimum wage across the State of Illinois to $15 dollars per hour by 2025. For more information on SB 1, click here. Governor JB Pritzker made it clear during his campaign that raising the minimum wage is a top priority. The Governor was on the House floor as members voted 69-47-1 to send the bill to his desk. SB 1 is expected to be signed into law before the Governor gives his budget speech next week.

GOVERNOR TO DELIVER BUDGET ADDRESS
As required in the Illinois Constitution, the Governor of the State of Illinois must present a budget that details the financial outlook for Illinois. The Governor's Budget Address is scheduled for February 20, at noon. Unfortunately, as it has been in many recent years, the financial outlook at this point is negative. By most reports, the Governor is expected to describe a state looking at a $3 billion deficit with an additional backlog of bills that is nearly $15 billion. It is expected that Governor Pritzker will suggest ways for the General Assembly to change laws to increase revenues. Many of those changes could revolve around taxing items that are currently untaxed or "under" taxed, and taxing items that are currently illicit in Illinois such as sports gambling and recreational marijuana.

One of the biggest policy issues Governor Pritzker campaigned on was the need for Illinois to adopt a graduated income tax. However, the Illinois Constitution states that the income tax must be at a "non-graduated rate". Even if the Constitution is successfully amended, and a graduated income tax becomes law, additional revenues from a graduated income tax would not be realized in Fiscal Year 2020. The groundwork is being laid to move Illinois in that direction for the future.

Another clear message from the Governor's office in the lead up to the budget address is that they will present a transparent budget that will not rely on revenues that have been unrealized in the past. One of the main tactics used by previous administrations to present what appeared to be a balanced budget, was the sale of the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. While the sale of the Thompson Center is still a desire of Governor Pritzker, he said he would not count the projected sale towards overall revenues.

In the education transition report release by the Governor's office earlier this month, a clear emphasis was made on equitable and adequate funding. The report calls for Illinois to "aggressively" fund K-12 education with a goal of full funding by 2027. It is expected that during the Budget Address, Governor Pritzker will highlight those same issues and push for additional funding to go into the Evidence-Based Funding Model. You can watch the budget address at www.ilga.gov. After the speech, Alliance lobbyists will be reacting to the speech and taking questions on www.facebook.com/ilprincipals/.

Click here to read the complete Alliance Legislative Report (101-04), including other bill action from the past week and bills scheduled for committee next week.