SPRINGFIELD – Due to stalling by Democrat leaders, the first week of the fall veto session ended early without any real action on the state budget. Republican lawmakers joined the Governor in urging their Democrat counterparts to work with them on crafting a balanced state budget and transformational reforms, underscoring that the appropriations authority required to pay for many state operations, human service providers, and state vendors will run out on December 31.
Also during the week, Secretary of State Jesse White unveiled the new Illinois license plates that will soon go out to motorists.
Democrats slow-walk budget negotiations
House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton began the first week of the fall veto session by boycotting a budget negotiation meeting scheduled by the Governor. Despite their attendance at later meetings, no significant progress was made on balancing the budget and passing any reforms to streamline state government and reduce costs.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) reiterated the need for a full budget solution to provide stability to residents and businesses, while protecting vital state services and schools.
The urgency of the matter was underscored when the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget released its annual long-term budget projections. The publication estimated that the current budget year deficit is nearing $5.3 billion, which will likely push the bill backlog to $13.5 billion by the end of the fiscal year. With no changes to the status quo, the backlog could reach $47 billion by Fiscal Year 2022.
While the stopgap budget that passed over the summer funds K-12 schools, transportation, and some higher education spending, the spending authority for much of the budget will expire on Jan. 1, meaning no more money is appropriated for the state’s already struggling colleges and universities, some human service providers, state vendors and operations (including utility bills for prisons and state facilities), and healthcare for state employees.
Despite the state’s budget crisis, both Madigan and Cullerton decided to cancel Thursday’s session in their respective chambers, leaving only three days left in the annual fall veto session to deal with the budget.
Democrats add $100+ million in spending
Despite the serious fiscal problems facing the state, two vetoes were overridden by Senate Democrats that would add more than $100 million in spending each year.
While Republican lawmakers noted the proposals were well-intentioned, the hefty price tag of the proposals made them impossible to support.
Senate Bill 2536 requires non-relative providers in the child care assistance program to participate in orientation pre-service trainings. Additionally, it requires the non-relative providers to be paid $15 an hour for their time spent at the trainings. This legislation would cost $28.4 million for training and $1.9 million for insurance, annually.
Senate Bill 2931 increases wages for personal assistants and individual maintenance home health workers to no less than $15 an hour. The total cost of this bill is estimated at $86.6 million annually.
Senate Republicans re-elect Leader
Due in large part to her years of fighting to protect the rights of Illinois residents and improve the state’s economic outlook, as well as her leadership during the current budget crisis, Senate Republicans unanimously re-elected Senator Christine Radogno as the leader of their caucus.
Leader Radogno said that she is excited to continue in her leadership role as the caucus works to find compromise with Democrat lawmakers to balance state spending with revenue, while working to make state government more accountable, efficient, and responsive to the residents of Illinois.
Sen. Barickman honors education champion on Senate floor
Streator Woodland’s Luceille Werner was recognized on the floor of the Illinois Senate for her 69 years of championing the cause of education throughout the nation. Werner was a guest of Woodland alumni State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
“We all know that a good education gives our children the best chance of a successful and happy life,” said Senator Barickman. “Luceille has worked tirelessly for almost seven decades to make that a reality for students everywhere.”
Luceille was recognized for her contributions to education, including:
-Decades teaching, starting in a one-room schoolhouse in 1943.
-Serving as an administrator for Woodland-Streator’s elementary program.
-Launching a county institute in the mid-1960s to help prepare teachers.
-Serving as curriculum consultant for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).
-Running a federally-funded consulting operation for the Early Prevention of School Failure Program, and implementing the program in 6,000 schools nationwide.
-Developing and copyrighting hundreds of education materials, from which much of the proceeds were used to help support school programs.
Werner was also honored with a proclamation from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner that stated in part that, “Lucille Werner has invaluably benefitted schools, students, and teachers in Illinois through her educational materials and programs.”
“I’ve been an educator for 69 years, and I thought it was important to come here and learn more about our government and get a better idea about the budget,” said Luceille Werner during her visit to the Illinois Capitol, adding, “I’m hoping to leave them all with a few ideas as well.”
-Photo: State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) welcomes Luceille Werner and her family to the floor of the Illinois Senate on November 16th.
Werner (top, standing) is recognized in the Illinois Senate on November 16.