SPRINGFIELD – Two weeks after giving his initial assessment of the challenges facing Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a tough, but necessary plan to put the state’s fiscal house in order.
Also during the week, Senate members worked to meet a Feb. 20 deadline for filing their bills.
On Feb. 18, Gov. Rauner outlined his $31.5 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget proposal to a joint session of Illinois lawmakers. His plan eliminates $6.2 billion structural deficit; relies on no tax increases or borrowing; includes $500 million to pay down unpaid bill backlog; increases K-12 education spending by roughly $300 million; increases early childhood education funding by $25 million; provides the most money for education general state aid in Illinois history; focuses on core functions of government and delivers essential services.
Senator Barickman said many of Gov. Rauner’s tough budget decisions stem from the cumulative effect of 12 years of tax-and-spend government under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former Gov. Pat Quinn.
“Governor Rauner’s words serve as a sobering reality check on the true fiscal condition of Illinois,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “This is the result of years of a state government that has lived beyond its means, due in large part to 12 years of Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn in the Governor’s office. Governor Rauner is now trying to clean up our state’s financial mess. His proposals serve as the beginning of a long, difficult process to reach a bipartisan agreement by May 31st. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a balanced, constitutional budget on time, while ensuring our state’s core services are protected.”
Lawmakers will now review the Governor’s budget, and begin working with the Administration to negotiate the state’s fiscal blueprint for FY 2016, which runs from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.
Senator Barickman listens as Governor Bruce Rauner presents his budget address.
In other action, Senate members worked to meet their Feb. 20 deadline for filing legislation.
State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) has filed legislation that would help school districts in the state by fully funding the state’s “Foundation Level.” Senate Bill 1341 would require the Foundation Level grant within the state’s General State Aid formula be funded at 100 percent before directing education dollars to any other grant lines or programs. For example, this year’s budget, passed by Democrat legislative leaders and signed by former Gov. Quinn, prorates funding at 89% of what’s called for in state law.
State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) has introduced Senate Bill 689 to clarify that a licensed nurse who provides hospice services or who provides home health services to a person may lawfully possess controlled substances prescribed for the patient.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) is introducing legislation that would allow auto dealers to sell car on Sunday if the dealer is a person who observes a religious day of worship other than Sunday.
Legislation also continues to move through Senate committees, with the following bills approved during the week:
Farmers Market Provisions (SB 49): Clarifies that regulatory provisions regarding Farmers Markets do not apply to the entire Food Handling Enforcement Act. This clarifies a law that imposed regulations on farmers markets and cottage food operations pertaining to local government authority, food samples, shutting down vendors, and other issues.
Annual Report (SB 688): Directs the Board of Higher Education to require all public and private institutions of higher education to submit an annual report by April 15, 2016, and by April 15 in years thereafter, about procurement goals and actual spending for female-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, and small business enterprises in the previous calendar year.
Consumer Debt Education (SB 672): Requires consumer educations classes to cover consumer debt, higher education loans and identity theft security as part of the curriculum.
Student-Teacher Background Checks (SB 706): Requires student-teacher applicants to submit to a fingerprint analysis performed by the Illinois State Police and FBI. Additionally, school districts must verify that the applicant is not listed on registries for sex offenders, child murderers or violent offenders against youth.
High School Innovators (SR 53): Designates May 8 as High School Innovators Day and May 4-10 as High School Innovators Week.
School Zoning Compliance (SB36): Provides that a school district is subject to, and its school board must comply with, any valid and applicable local government zoning ordinance or resolution.
Uniform Interstate Discovery (SB45): Provides procedures for the issuance of a subpoena to require deposition testimony or discovery production in this state in connection with litigation pending in a foreign jurisdiction.
Family Law Updates (SB57): Abolishes actions for alienation of affections, breach of promise to marry, and criminal conversation.
Foreclosure Special Representative (SB 735): Expands the list of situations where, in a foreclosure action, the court will not be required to appoint a special representative to defend the action on behalf of a deceased mortgagor. All of these situations involve cases where the title has been transferred prior to or upon the death of the mortgagor and there is a living person to defend the action.
Cook County Drug Field Test Program (SB 720): Creates the Cook County Drug Analysis Field Test Pilot Program that allows officers to use drug analysis field test devices for use in the Circuit Court of Cook County to determine whether a recovered substance is illegal cannabis, cocaine, or heroin.
Food Handling Regulation (SB 46): Requires any individual seeking a food service sanitation manager certificate or a food service sanitation manager instructor certificate to receive a passing score on the examination. Brings the exam score requirements food service managers and instructors in line with the Conference for Food Protection or its successor organization.
Dental Emergency Responder (SB 748): Clarifies the certification of dentists that are qualified to respond to emergency situations. Changes name from “dental emergency responder” to “dental responder” in order to cover a dentist or dental hygienist who is appropriately certified in disaster preparedness, immunizations, and dental humanitarian medical response.
SURS-Administrative (SB 777): Amends the State Universities Article of the Illinois Pension Code. Defines “Plan Year” as the 12-month period that begins on July 1 and ends on the following June 30.
Attorney’s Admission to Bar (SB 23): Asks the Illinois Supreme Court to grants law licenses to non-citizens provided certain conditions have been satisfied related to the recently enacted federal “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. Provides that no person shall be prohibited from receiving an attorney’s license solely because he or she is not a U.S. citizen.
Minimum Wage Employers Negotiations (SB 38): Allows a collective bargaining unit to negotiate and contractually exempt themselves from the hourly wage requirements imposed by the Act. Instead, the union can agree to an alternate shift schedule as allowed under federal law. Currently, the Minimum Wage Law requires all employers to pay 1½ times the regular rate of pay when working over 40 hours in a week.
At-Large School Board Elections (SB 82): Provides that a proposition to change to an at-large school board can be approved by either a majority of those voting in each congressional township in the area comprising the school district, or by two-thirds of those voting in the election.
Gaming Licenses (SB 655): Gives the Gaming Board discretion to issue a license to an applicant previously convicted of theft and who is subsequently convicted of driving under the influence if that conviction occurred more than 10 years prior.
High Speed Rail Oversight (SB 675): Creates the Springfield High Speed Railroad Oversight Commission to monitor, review, and report on contracting and employment related to the planning, organization, and construction of the High Speed Rail Project.
Renewable Energy Law (SB 51): Changes the repeal date of the Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Coal Resources Development Law of 1997 from Dec. 12, 2015, to Dec. 12, 2020.