Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Still work to be done to finalize state budget

IASB Deputy Director Ben Schwarm
IASB Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm details the final steps needed to enact a state budget for Illinois schools.

The Illinois legislature worked through most of the weekend and the Fourth of July holiday in a bid to bring closure to a state budget. Through flurries of frenetic activity and periods of inactivity, budget bills were approved and sent to the governor. However, there are still several steps to take before a Fiscal Year 2018 budget will be in place for schools and all of state government.

A package of three bills were approved by both chambers: SB 6 containing appropriations for a full FY 2018 budget; SB 9 containing increases in the individual and corporate income tax rates; and SB 42, the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). The bills were sent to the governor Tuesday, and he immediately vetoed all three and sent them back to the Senate. The Senate, also on Tuesday, voted to override each of the vetoes and sent the bills over to the House of Representatives.

The House has yet to take up the override motions, but that action is expected to happen on Thursday. SB 9 passed the House by a very slim margin and it will require all House members who originally voted for the bill to be in attendance in order to override the veto of the governor. Since a couple of House members were unavailable Tuesday and today (Wednesday), the override motions were not called for a vote. Once word spread that there would be no votes on those two days, many members returned to their districts. The House did not conduct business Tuesday or Wednesday for lack of a quorum.

Though the bill received the 3/5 vote necessary when it passed the House, there is no guarantee that everyone who voted for it originally will vote to override the veto.

Other issues remain as well. Both the Senate President and the House Speaker continue to state that they are working toward an agreement with Republicans on the governor’s other requests, like property tax relief, workers’ compensation reform, and school funding reform. SB 6 and SB 42 are crafted in a way that if there is not a new evidence-based funding formula signed into law, no formula funding will be available for K-12 schools in FY ’18. SB 1, which contains language for a new formula, has been approved by both chambers but the governor has vowed to veto the bill unless there are further changes.