Friday, April 7, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report 100-14

The Illinois House of Representatives passed what is being described as a “lifeline” budget on Thursday. House Bill 109 (Harris, D-Chicago) was passed mainly along party lines with 64 in favor of the measure. HB 109 would provide $800 million in funding to social service providers and higher education. While these two areas have been some of the hardest hit without a state budget, opponents believed that this measure would only delay a vote on an actual budget. The supporters of the bill, stated they were giving a “lifeline” to institutions of higher education that have faced unprecedented cuts and instability, as well as social service agencies that may have shuttered their doors without receiving funding from the state of Illinois. While Governor Bruce Rauner has previously agreed with the stop gap budget approach, he has been on record as opposing any future stop gap measures. The bill was passed after the Senate had already adjourned for the two week legislative spring break. It is unlikely that HB 109 would see the governor’s desk until early May. The 64 affirmative votes in the House would not be enough to override a predicted Rauner veto.

The House of Representatives expedited passage of a bill containing its version of property tax relief. HB 156 (Mussman, D-Schaumburg) was amended on Tuesday, passed out of the House Revenue and Finance Committee and passed out of the House of Representatives, Thursday to be considered by the Senate upon its return after the spring legislative break. The bill would:
  • Expand the Homestead Exemption for Veterans with disabilities to any veteran who is 75 or older, changes the levels of exemption per percent of disability and adds extending the exemption to surviving spouse in the case of death of the disabled veteran.
  • Increase the Senior Citizens Homestead Exemption from $5,000 to $6,000
  • Create a new Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption for those receiving Supplemental Security Income beginning in taxable year 2017 for property improved with a permanent structure and disallows a person receiving this exemption from receiving the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze or the new Long-time Occupant Homestead Exemption.
  • Increase the General Homestead Exemption from $6,000 (all other counties) and $7,000 (Cook) to $8,000 for all counties
  • Create a new Statewide Long-time Occupant Homestead Exemption providing an additional exemption based on the length of time a homeowner has resided at a residence. The exemption would be $2,000 for 8 years of residency up to $4,800 for 21 years or longer.
  • Increase s the Senior Citizens Real Estate Tax Deferral limit from $5,000 to $6,000

The legislative spring break is a great time for school board members and administrators to reach out to local legislators to advocate on behalf of local schools. During the next two weeks, legislators will be in district seeking input from constituents on a variety of issues. Make sure your voice is heard on the pressing issues for your school district during this important advocacy time. Provide your legislators with data demonstrating the impact of property tax relief measures, newly proposed mandates, and other important pending legislation.

Click here to read the entire Alliance Legislative Report 100-14.