* Sun-Times editorial…
We’re still pushing for the passage of an actual state budget between now and July 1, the beginning of the next fiscal year, because we’re hopelessly naive that way. In the meantime, here are 10 bills, all largely independent of the budget stalemate, that the governor can sign into law now.
* Bob Reed…
For the second time this year, an influential group of Chicago-area business leaders is openly challenging the Trump administration’s tough anti-immigration policies.
But this time around, the more than 170 corporate CEOs, midsized-business owners, neighborhood entrepreneurs and investors are pressing Gov. Bruce Rauner to join their crusade.
This week, the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition sent a letter to Rauner urging him to sign the Illinois Trust Act, which recently was passed by the General Assembly. The bipartisan measure seeks to provide increased legal protections to immigrants.
Rauner should sign this bill into law, despite the possibility of political blowback or maybe a nasty tweet from President Donald Trump. It will boost the state’s economic fortunes, while enabling Illinois to chart a realistic approach to dealing with the complex issue of immigration, particularly its impact on labor and business.
* Andy Shaw…
Meanwhile, I’m pleased to report that, despite the budget blues, legislators were once again capable of getting important things done. Last year they passed 23 local government reform bills that accelerated the long march to the open, accessible, honest and efficient government taxpayers are entitled to.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed all but one—he vetoed automatic voter registration—but this year he’s promising to sign a new and improved AVR measure that could legally put thousands more Illinois residents on the voter rolls. That’s a major civic engagement victory that can strengthen our fragile democracy.
We’re also asking the governor to sign 11 other good-government bills making their way to his desk—measures that would give the reform fight even more momentum by increasing local government transparency and accountability, and one group of bills in particular with the potential to be game-changers:
Lawmakers finally approved “smart streamlining” proposals that, among other reforms, would enable all 102 Illinois counties to begin “consolidating”—merging or eliminating overlapping and arguably unnecessary units of government, including many of our 1,400 antiquated townships.
Further complicating the job of paying the stack of unpaid bills, which stood at $14.8 billion at this writing, is an out-dated state law which makes it impossible to be certain how many financially wounded state creditors are out there and how much the debt to them will end up costing taxpayers.
Currently, state agencies are only required “to report the aggregate dollar amount of any bills held at the state agency on the previous June 30 to the Office of the State Comptroller.” As a result, often huge piles of overdue bills are dumped on the comptroller all at once.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done about our state’s checkbook balance without a state budget, and we continue to urge lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner to end the political gamesmanship and do their duty before the start of the July 1 fiscal year.
Fortunately, however, something can be done immediately about the comptroller’s inability to accurately estimate how much the state owes and to whom. Gov. Rauner has only to sign the long-overdue Debt Transparency Act passed by the General Assembly this spring.
* Tribune editorial: Why an elected Chicago school board is still a bad idea