The Illinois House and Senate on Thursday approved a stopgap budget that would keep state government afloat for six months, ensure schools open this fall and provide help to struggling Chicago Public Schools after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats who control the General Assembly struck a deal amid intense political pressure with the November election looming.
The overwhelming votes followed two days of closed-door negotiations, the first meaningful round of give-and-take on the budget as the state was about to enter a second straight year without a full spending plan come Friday.
Without a temporary budget in place, schools faced the possibility of not opening this fall, thousands of construction workers could spend the summer off the job, and the state’s unraveling network of social service programs faced further decimation.
“I suspect the reality is everybody wanted to get someplace and get us on the road to solving these problems. So I think the governor was very anxious to have a program in place to fund public education, so was everybody else,” said Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat and top lieutenant of House Speaker Michael Madigan. “So I think there was pressure everywhere you looked to do something, and I think this is that something.”
But amidst the back-patting and words of compromise, House Speaker Mike Madigan couldn’t resist taking a shot at the Republican governor.
After the stopgap budget passed his chamber 105-4, Madigan said that problem with passing budgets has been Rauner’s insistence on including “his personal agenda that hurts families.”
“Many previous efforts to implement a more comprehensive budget failed due to the governor’s insistence on the inclusion of his agenda that would drive down middle class wages and standards of living,” Madigan said.
“The difference today is that the governor has dropped his demand that his agenda be considered before a budget could be approved.”
Republican House Leader Jim Durkin said it would’ve been “atrocious” and likely spur a public revolt if lawmakers finished another fiscal year without a budget. He noted that even with the compromise, the ongoing budget standoff between Rauner and Democrats who control the Legislature will be an election-year issue.
“Mark my word that it will be articulated in the fall by various entities,” he said.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Rep. Kelly Cassidy had a pretty good constituent update, so I’m going to use it here…
This week we returned to Springfield and today passed a package of bills representing a compromise with the Governor and Republicans on a stop-gap budget for fiscal year ‘16 and the first six months of fiscal year ‘17. Most significantly there are no turn-around agenda items included in these bills and State operations will continue. Here is a summary of what is included:
Increases General State Aid by $361 million
Equity Grant to assist high poverty schools
$75 million increase to early childhood education
Full year of funding for fiscal year ‘17
$1 billion in funding for universities, community colleges, MAP Grants, adult education, career & technical education, Illinois Math & Science academy operations
Covers FY ‘16 & first half of FY ‘17
Developed by members of the budget working group
Includes $667 million in funds from the Commitment to Human Services Fund for programs not currently operating under court order
Covers 65% of full funding for the 18 month period
Includes programs that were suspended, such as immigration services, autism programs, Teen Reach & other youth programs.
Funded from the Budget Stabilization Fund ($275 million), General Revenue Funds ( $448 million) and Commitment to Human Services Fund ($31 million) for operational expenses. These amounts will pay for expenses such as utilities, FOID, medical care, gas, etc.
The bills include appropriations for IDOT projects, EPA projects and other development projects that have had to shut down mid-construction
Other State Funds
Includes items such as federal funds for the Area Agencies on Aging, LUST fund reimbursements, emergency response appropriations and other similar programs
These items are funded using existing funds only. We remain far short of what is needed for full operations and we will need to address our revenue short-fall before the end of the first six months of this fiscal year. Agencies that have gone without payments or contracts while providing services should expect to begin receiving payments under this plan.
Other items addressed today:
SB2822 Chicago Pension Parity - This bill will establish a one year (FY ‘17) requirement that the State make a contribution of $205 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, creating parity with downstate and suburban teacher pension funds.
SB 318 Chicago Property Tax Increase for Teachers Pension Fund - This bill would re-establish an annual property tax levy for the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund. This levy would be capped at a rate of 0.383%, which is estimated to generate $250 million. The proceeds of the tax would be paid directly to the pension fund. The additional tax rate would not be subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (the tax cap).
While today’s actions represent real progress, my wish would have been for us to have passed a full budget with sufficient revenues to operate for a full year. I will continue to advocate for a truly responsible solution to restore stability and fiscal health to the State.
* Legislators haven’t been paid since late March because Comptroller Leslie Munger decided to throw their paychecks into the pile of unpaid bills along with everyone else. It was, she said, a way of showing lawmakers how their inaction on a state budget was impacting social service providers, many of which were struggling to keep their doors open.
Legislators will likely receive their April paychecks next week because the state payments for bills from the end of April will also be going out the door.
Munger’s chief of staff just told me that the office will now look at the just-passed stopgap budget package and “reassess” Munger’s decision. He said they’ll be looking at upcoming payment delays and “who’s going to be waiting when,” with a particular emphasis on social service providers. If they think they’ll be able to catch up, then Munger could release the hold on paychecks.
* This has been a huge topic of discussion for legislators who don’t have outside jobs, independent wealth and/or employed spouses.
Sen. Kimberly Lightford spoke out today on the Senate floor, saying legislators are not vendors, they’re employees of the Senate and House. All other state employees are being paid by court order, of course…
Lightford: "as legislators we should get paid for the work that we do," it's "wrong for our income to be held for months."
Illinois traditionally trends Democratic in presidential election years, and Silver’s polls-only forecast shows the state would be the 10th-most lopsided of states going to Clinton, favoring her by at least 18 percent and putting her odds of winning its 20 electoral votes at 97 percent.
In electoral-vote rich states of California and New York, Clinton’s odds are rated even better, at close to 99 percent. But if the election were held today, Silver said, Clinton’s odds in her birth state of Illinois would be 98.7 percent.
No surprise there. What’ll be most interesting to people like me is how Trump will do in contested legislative and congressional districts.
* Sneed exclusive: Ditka politely declines Trump’s invitation: In an email to the Trump folks, Sneed stated, “Mike Ditka said he’d love to speak although he hadn’t heard from you guys yet, how about a few words from your boss. It could be great!” Thus, in a three-way conference call orchestrated by Sneed at 2:15 p.m., Trump officially invited Ditka — a huge Trump fan — to speak at the Republican convention next month.
We got some snippets of information about the education bill that looks like it’s coming together and wanted to provide an update. (But keep in mind that we haven’t seen bill language for the formula changes and that none of this is a done deal until they pass it to the Governor’s desk and he signs it into law.) […]
First, the (as-yet-unseen) bill would give every school district the same amount as they received last year through the formula. Then, $250 million would be distributed through an Equity Grant, which would flow to districts based on their poverty concentration. Finally, every district would get at least what it would have received if the formula were fully funded next year, even if the first two pieces didn’t get them quite there. My math shows the total increased cost would be $328 million.
This isn’t a long-term solution to fix the deeply inequitable funding disparities in Illinois. Illinois’s school formula is one of the most regressive and unfair system in the country and we desperately need a comprehensive solution. But, without an education budget in place, the neediest students in the poorest districts will suffer the most. The Equity Grant proposal takes a step toward equity while giving the legislature time to come up with a new funding structure.
Below are two charts. The first shows where new dollars would be allocated if the current General State Aid (GSA) formula were fully funded. The second shows how the Equity Grant proposal increase is allocated. Funding the current GSA system results in a trendline that has no correlation to district need. The Equity Grant trend shows more dollars being delivered to schools with higher rates of poverty – exactly the direction that Illinois needs to move in.
The bill was released after the above was written. It’s an amendment to SB 2047.
Want to know more details about what this means for your own school district? Here’s our best guess. Keep in mind we haven’t seen language and there are a few variables that could change. (In fact, one variable will definitely change – we need to revise this using net GSA numbers for last year instead of gross GSA. It’s not a huge difference, but we’ll dig that up ASAP and update this.) In general, lower-income districts across the state will see the biggest per pupil gains, from Antioch far up north (+$788 per pupil) to Anna-Jonesboro far down south (+$600) and from Brooklyn in the Metro East (+$650) to South Holland in the South suburbs (+$491). Chicago Public Schools has the 111th biggest per pupil gains (+$291).
Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil has been tracking heroin deaths for a long time, and sounded the alarm several years ago when he believed the problem was reaching epidemic proportions.
Initially, he saw five or six deaths in a year, but then he saw those numbers double, triple and quadruple.
This year, the county could have its worst year ever as far as deaths due to heroin and opiate overdoses. The reason? Fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opiate, blamed in the recent death of musician Prince, that is cheaper than heroin and is often mixed with it, or offered to an unsuspecting buyer in the guise of being heroin.
Last year, Will County recorded 53 overdose deaths linked to heroin and fentanyl — more than the 51 deaths caused by traffic accidents in the county. The numbers were even worse in Cook County, where the 526 heroin and fentanyl deaths last year were more than double the 240 traffic fatalities. […]
The state’s Heroin Crisis Act, which took effect Jan. 1, will, in part, increase access to naloxone, which local police departments and paramedics have credited with saving lives.
Without the access to naloxone — the new law also requires it be made available at pharmacies — Will County could “easily have over 300″ heroin related deaths, O’Neil said.
A small and obscure law firm backed by powerful forces sympathetic to what critics say is Gov. Bruce Rauner’s anti-union agenda is on the front lines of a groundbreaking government vs. labor mêlée underway in Illinois.
The Liberty Justice Center in Chicago is representing the Village of Lincolnshire in two lawsuits brought by organized labor against the municipality’s passage of an ordinance declaring a “right-to-work zone” for the private sector. In such designated areas, employees cannot be forced to pay union dues, even if a workplace within the zone is unionized.
Labor unions vehemently oppose right-to-work zones and top legal experts question the concept. As a result, municipal leaders trying to implement such zones are in for prolonged and costly legal battles at taxpayers’ expense, experts say.
Lincolnshire officials, however, took that risk because the Liberty Justice Center promised to represent them pro bono, says the northern Illinois suburb’s village manager.
Liberty Justice Center is also providing pro bono representation in a case with potentially even greater labor ramifications: Challenging unions’ right to collect “fair share” dues from state workers who opt not to join a public employee union.
Liberty Justice Center is funded by and shares offices with the Illinois Policy Institute, a self-professed free-market-oriented and fiscally conservative non-profit organization. The law center was founded in 2011 by IPI’s CEO John Tillman; conservative talk radio host Dan Proft; and Hinsdale real estate developer and attorney Patrick Hughes.
The Board of Directors that oversees a 72-bed shelter for homeless men in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago voted last night (Wednesday) to close its doors on July 31st because the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services said it was unable to process a contract until the State of Illinois passes a budget for the fiscal year 2017.
The shelter is run by the Interim Housing Program of North Side Housing and Supportive Services which was founded in 1983. It is located in the Peoples Church at 941 W. Lawrence Ave., and has been in operation for several years. It is open 365 days a year; and in the past year, more than 320 different men spent a total of 18,000 nights at the shelter.
Over half of the shelter’s funding, or about $255,000 per year, is provided by the Illinois Department of Human Services through contracts with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.
Richard Ducatenzeiler, Executive Director of North Side Housing and Supportive Services was notified by the City of Chicago that, “…until we know what is going to happen to the state budget we are not at this time processing the IDHS contracts.”
North Side Housing and Supportive Services, is a non-profit social services organization. In addition to the Interim Housing Program (shelter), North Side also provides case management, permanent supportive housing, and other supportive services for the homeless.
“Our other programs are funded by donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies,” Ducatenzeiler said. “We have no extra funding. Without the state funding for the shelter, we are forced to shut it down until replacement funds can be found. The program will cease to operate on July 31st if no contract is executed.”
As flawed as it may be, that stopgap budget needs to pass.