Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Budget stalemate persists;
legislative action possible today

Today is the first day of the new State fiscal year, and there is still no budget in place. Despite all of the annual chatter about the legislative session adjournment “deadline” which is usually set for the last day of May, that, generally, is a self-imposed guideline set up by the legislature. The real line in the sand is July 1 when the State fiscal year begins anew and a new budget must be in place in order to run the government.

With the current stalemate between Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature, there has been no agreement on a spending plan for the new year despite the fact that the legislature has met weekly through the month of June. Without something in place soon, some type of “government shutdown” is likely.

The legislature met Tuesday, June 30 and held what has now become routine meetings of the “committee of the whole” in both the Senate and House of Representatives. These exercises have been futile as members discuss rather generic items related to the budget but never target a specific bill or take any votes.

Today, Wednesday, July 1, there may be legislative action as several amendments have been filed in the Senate by Democrat leaders. SB 316 would place all counties under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) and set the limit at zero percent for extension increases for two years (but exempts the city of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools (CPS). It also would make the current teacher pension payment for CPS and in the future would eliminate the CPS block grant but continue making the pension payments. Finally, the bill would establish a General State Aid Funding Commission to propose a revised funding formula for all Illinois schools.

Many components of SB 316 have been proposed by the Governor in some form. but this specific bill was drafted without input from the Governor and will likely be opposed by his administration.

SB 2039 would increase the new General State Aid supplemental grant for the neediest school districts by $159 million. The education budget bill signed by Governor Rauner (HB 3763) created this new budget line item and funded it at $85 million.

SB 2040 contains a one-month temporary State budget that would allow for the continued operation of State government through July while legislators work on a final budget compromise.

SB 316, SB 2039, and SB 2040 will be considered in committees today. The Senate Appropriations Committee began at 9:00. The Senate Executive Committee will meet at noon.

-- Ben Schwarm, IASB Deputy Executive Director

Posted at 10:15 am, with reposts at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.