Update from the Capitol 6-29-15

Governor Rauner signs education budget bill, vetoes the rest of the unbalanced budget

Governor Rauner this past week signed the elementary and secondary education component of the Fiscal Year 2016 State budget, taking our children’s education out of the crossfire in Springfield.  While House Bill 3763 does not increase education spending by as much as the governor’s proposal, it does increase K-12 education funding by $244 million and early childhood education funding by $25 million. I am glad that education won’t be caught up in the Springfield stalemate and that our school children will not be held hostage over this budget battle.  Schools will open on time, teachers will be paid and education will get a needed boost in funding.  

After signing the education funding bill, the Governor promptly vetoed the bulk of the unbalanced budget (19 additional budget bills) that the Democratic-controlled General Assembly sent him, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins on July 1st. As I’ve written before, the budget speaker Madigan passed, as a whole, spends $4 billion more than the state is expected to take in in revenue, which is how we got into this mess in the first place. We can’t continue to spend money we don’t have.

Governor Rauner continues to insist on “structural” changes to the business and political climates in Illinois before dealing with the opposing party on spending.

Speaker Madigan and many in his caucus want another tax increase.  Just a few years ago they passed the largest tax increase in Illinois history which brought in $26 billion in additional revenue at the expense of working families. They said the income tax increase would solve our budget problems. What happened? Jobs and families left Illinois. Unemployment is up, we still have a $5 billion backlog of unpaid bills and the worst funded pension systems in the nation. The tax increase cost working families $26 billion and left our economy and our budget in worse shape than before it was passed. It makes no sense to repeat that mistake. Reforms must come first.

AFSCME and Governor’s Office announce one-month contract extension

Contract negotiations between the Administration and AFSCME are coming down to the wire, but last week both sides agreed on a bit of breathing room. In a joint statement, the Governor’s office and AFSCME Council 31 announced that they have agreed that there will be no strike or labor lock out for one month while negotiations continue.  That’s good news for everyone.

AFSCME’s current contract expires on June 30. The agreement preserves all legal and contractual rights for the one month extension, and most importantly, it allows negotiations to continue without the threat of disruption to services local families depend upon.

Poker run bill gets approval by both houses of General Assembly
House Bill 3538 will help to smooth the licensing approval process for poker run fundraisers in Illinois.
Current law creates local snags in the ordinances that groups use to win poker run licenses, but the new legislation will smooth over the snags by placing poker run licenses in the hands of Illinois county boards (except Cook County).  The bill also clarifies that all bona fide nonprofit groups are eligible to seek to operate a poker run.  The Illinois House voted last week to concur with the Senate amendment, readying the bill to be sent to the Governor for final approval.

Helping with the tornado recovery

At least nine twisters were reported on the evening of Monday, June 22, in Grundy, LaSalle, Lee, and Will Counties south and west of Chicago.  Substantial damage was reported.  Damage was especially intense from an EF-3 twister in Coal City. 160 mph winds were reported, and the interstate highway was temporarily blocked at Reed Road. 

Early Tuesday, Governor Rauner activated the State Emergency Response Center, an operational clearinghouse that coordinates the activities of State and local emergency response teams. 

Last week I toured the damage, and it was devastating.  But it was heartwarming to see so many good people from surrounding communities pitching in to help! That’s what our communities are all about.