FY19 budget passed with bipartisan support and signed into law. Last Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget.
The bulk of the FY19 plan was laid out months ago when the Governor gave his budget address to the General Assembly on Valentine’s Day. It was there that he framed his chief goals for the upcoming fiscal year. The General Assembly adopted many of the Governor’s key agenda items.
The budget was contained in two separate bills. HB 109 appropriates the $38.5 billion contained in the State’s general funds spending plan for FY19. HB 3342, the FY19 Budget Implementation (BIMP) bill, contains changes to the State’s statutory laws necessary to enable the State’s spending to be carried out within the overall $38.5 billion framework.
A major credit rating house, Standard & Poor’s, followed up on the budget enactment by reaffirming Illinois’s investment-grade credit rating. The two bills represented the first bipartisan, balanced budget enacted by Illinois in 15 years. Both HB 109 and HB 3342 were approved by final action of the House and sent to the Governor for signature. HB 109 (now P.A. 100-586) was approved by a vote of 97-18-00, and HB 3342 (now P.A. 100-587) was approved by a vote of 100-14-0. Both votes took place on Thursday, May 31. The two budget bills were signed into law on Monday, June 4.
House adjourns 2018 spring session. Following more than four months of committee and floor action, the Illinois House adjourned on Thursday, May 31. This was the second and final main session of the 100th General Assembly, which was sworn into office in January 2017. As of May 31, the House members of the 100th General Assembly have sponsored 5,913 bills and 1,166 resolutions. In addition, state senators have sponsored more than 5,000 bills and resolutions. Many of these bills have been passed by both houses and sent to the Governor to become law.
The House and Senate look forward to returning to Springfield on Tuesday, November 13 for Veto Session, which is the six-day period set aside for consideration of the Governor’s vetoes of bills passed by both houses. In addition, committees and task forces of lawmakers will continue working throughout the summer and fall, and will hear witnesses offer testimony and guidance on key and ongoing State issues.
Legislation to improve treatment for child sex abuse victims heads to Governor’s desk. Landmark legislation to improve access to emergency room treatment for pediatric sexual assault victims cleared the General Assembly.
Access to pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) and physicians is extremely limited—particularly in downstate rural areas–and this bill seeks to address that. House Bill 5245 sponsored by State Rep. Mike Unes, will ensure that pediatric sexual assault victims are able to receive timely care from health care professionals who specialize in providing treatment for children victimized by sexual assault.
Under recently signed settlement, coal pollution controls to be fitted to Illinois generating plants. Generating plants that are affected by the NRG/Midwest Generation legal settlement include plants in Romeoville, Waukegan, and Powerton near Pekin in Downstate Illinois. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is a party to the May 2018 settlement agreement. Holding company NRG – the owner of the Midwest generation fleet of generating plants – has stated that it has invested more than $500 million to modernize and add environmental controls to its Illinois assets.
House Democrats pass tax-hike resolution supporting a graduated income tax. HR 1025 was adopted 61-52-0, with House Republicans voting unanimously in opposition. Opponents pointed out that as a resolution that does not amend the flat-tax mandate in the Constitution of Illinois, HR 1025 was pure political posturing with no legally-binding impact. The resolution was adopted on Tuesday, May 29.
Illinois has the highest effective state and local tax burden in the nation – driven largely by some of the nation’s highest local property and sales tax rates. The consequences of this tax burden are evident through families leaving Illinois in droves – Illinois had a net loss of more than 874,000 residents from 2007 – 2016.
Instead of addressing the high tax burden and trying to reverse the decade-long trend of out-migration of Illinois residents, House Democrats’ and Speaker Madigan’s plan is to raise taxes even higher.
They are proposing an “Unfair Tax”, a graduated income tax, to force middle class Illinois families and small businesses to fork over even more of their hard-earned money to the State.
We need to be growing our economy by creating new, good paying jobs. The only way to do that is by being competitive with our neighbors and creating an environment of certainty for businesses to invest here.
An “Unfair Tax” would do the complete opposite – it would introduce a new level of uncertainty for families and businesses by making tax brackets subject to change at the whim of the legislature and Governor from year to year. And it would add to our already highest state and local tax burden in the nation.
General Assembly passes bill to raise tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21. SB 2332 will phase out the current ability of Illinoisans aged 18, 19, and 20 to buy cigarettes, chewing tobacco, rolling tobacco, and other tobacco products in Illinois. Persons of this age who have drivers’ licenses are already required by law to carry distinctive license identification cards as part of the universal practice of “carding” adults when they buy alcohol. The House vote was 61-49-1 on Wednesday, May 30. The bill had already been passed by the Senate and now goes to the Governor for final action.
Gov. Rauner announces $11 billion State infrastructure plan. Gov. Bruce Rauner has announced a plan to invest $11.05 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year. The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.
The governor announced the plan’s release at Peoria’s McClugage Bridge at eastbound U.S. 150, which will be replaced in 2019 at a cost of $205 million with the completion of the final design this year. Based on current funding levels, the FY2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the state. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.
Other plan highlights include:
- $26 million toward the reconstruction of U.S. 20/Rockford Bypass in Rockford
- $36 million to replace and repair the Third Street exit and ramps to Martin Luther King Drive in East St. Louis
- $12.7 million for additional lanes on 4.5 miles of Interstate 57 from Johnson City to West Frankfort
- $148.4 million for bridge work and other improvements on Interstate 80 through Will County
This multiyear plan is the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) first to embrace asset management strategies that commit to smaller repairs avoiding the higher costs of deferred maintenance. Using this approach, IDOT will realize savings over multiple years to eventually invest in other projects throughout the state. The plan also builds upon the latest in data-driven tools to help identify projects that provide the most value to the public while improving quality of life and regional mobility.
Multiple announcements show progress made on Illinois freight, infrastructure projects. The primary announcement made by Gov. Bruce Rauner was the receipt of $142 million in federal financing to underwrite the 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project, a program to build a new railroad flyover, road underpass, junction replacement, new grade separations, and new track age. The Corridor is scheduled to comprehensively rebuild and revamp a section of track age on Chicago’s South Side that currently includes several busy at-grade crossings where trains have to wait for each other.
Federal help for the 75th Street Corridor makes this project one of the largest single Illinois-project recipients of discretionary grant money in the history of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Corridor project is part of the CREATE Program, a multi-agency project to unsnarl and speed up railroad logistics throughout greater Chicago. In the Corridor section of Chicago railroad track age, trains have had to wait for each other to pass through since Abraham Lincoln’s day. More than 2 million freight cars pass through the Corridor annually.
In addition to this announcement, Gov. Rauner also announced the completion of a financing package to invest $241 million in overall Illinois freight mobility. The investments will rebuild a key Interstate highway interchange near Joliet, separate train and road traffic at a choke point near Decatur, deploy a truck parking-availability app, and make many other improvements that are part of the current Illinois State Freight Plan. The State Freight Plan is a multiyear program within IDOT to create jobs by renewing and expanding Illinois’s system of freight infrastructure. IDOT operates approximately 2,185 miles of Interstate highways, which are used to move more than 664 million tons of annual freight traffic each year.
General Assembly places construction of new Quincy Veterans Home on fast track. The original Quincy Veterans Home, a skilled-nursing-care facility set aside for exclusive use by Illinois veterans and their spouses, was built in 1886 to house veterans of the American Civil War. The facility is reaching the end of its useful life and its plumbing system is failing. Some of the residents have fallen ill, and some have died, from the bacterium “Legionella” that can live in older pipes and HVAC systems. In a two-pronged process, SB 3128 provides for immediate remediation of the continuing problems at the existing Veterans Home, including the digging of a new well for clean water. At the same time, SB 3128 starts a fast-track process to construct a completely new Veterans Home at Quincy. The bill contains procurement language intended to make sure that the design and building of the new Home start as soon as possible. The House vote on Thursday, May 31 was 110-3-0.
Are you going on a vacation this summer? Are you looking for an educational experience? Please contact my office for information about free passes to several museums located in Illinois. You can find more information about Museums in the Park here.