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Week Ending March 14, 2015

The Illinois General Assembly adjourned on March 12 following a full week of committee action. Two weeks remain to consider substantive legislation in committee. Both chambers return to session on Tuesday, March 17.

State Relations Weekly Legislation Report

Dr. Killeen Meets with State Legislative Leaders and the U of I Caucus in Springfield

President-Designate Tim Killeen was in the State Capitol on March 10th and he met with all four legislative leaders (Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, Leader Radogno, Leader Durkin), as well as the Appropriations Chair Kotowski, Sen. Bennett from Champaign, and Senator Rose from Mahomet. In addition, he had productive conversations with the DCEO Director, Governor’s Chief of Staff, and the Governor’s Secretary of Education. Each meeting focused on the value of the University of Illinois to the state, and how we can help improve the state economy and environment through higher education.

The University of Illinois caucus also met that evening at the Sangamo Club. Our alumni legislators were very pleased to meet the new President and look forward to working with him in both the state Capitol and in their communities throughout the state.

Solution for FY 2015 Deficit Remains Elusive

Talks continue regarding a possible solution for the $1.6 billion deficit in the state budget for the current fiscal year (FY 2015, which ends June 30) but there is not yet an agreement.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has sought broad authority to make programmatic cuts, but Democratic legislators have thus far opposed granting the new governor that power. One option under continued consideration would involve sweeping dollars from numerous state funds dedicated for special purposes.

The Rauner administration, in the meantime, has been examining ways to trim state spending. On Wednesday, Gov. Rauner suspended all state grants for park district construction projects; the spending moratorium affects park construction projects throughout Illinois. Most of the projects are funded through the state’s Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) program.

On Wednesday, hundreds of opponents to the governor’s proposed cuts to human services in the next fiscal year protested at the Capitol. The crowds gathered outside the governor’s office and briefly disrupted the House session.

FY 2016: Revenue Forecast is $1.96 Billion Less

The state’s general funds revenue will drop an estimated $1.96 billion in FY 2016, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the General Assembly’s fiscal arm, reported Tuesday.

The revenue forecast “reflects the annualized impact of the lower income tax rates per statute along with continued diversion of income tax receipts to the Fund for Advancement of Education and the Commitment to Human Services Fund,” the commission reported. The commission’s report is online.

Pres. Cullerton at City Club

Last Monday, Senate President John Cullerton addressed the City Club in Chicago. He sharply criticized Governor Rauner’s proposed FY 2016 budget and said that the governor had not yet convened a meeting with legislative leaders to determine how to close the FY 2015 budget gap, although he did indicate staff-level discussions are taking place. Both President Cullerton’s address and his presentation are online. Governor Rauner’s spokesperson responded that negotiations between the two offices have been ongoing and accused the senate president of “undermining a bipartisan agreement to clean up the fiscal mess that Senate Democrats created.”

High Court Hears Argument in Pension Case

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral argument over the constitutionality of a 2013 state law that overhauled the state’s public pension systems. The law was intended to reduce the state’s unfunded pension liability, estimated now at $111 billion, by curbing cost of living adjustments, among other provisions. Last year, a Sangamon County circuit judge ruled the law unconstitutional.                               

Video of the oral argument and a reaction from interested parties, as well as news coverage of the argument and the high court’s consideration of the case, are online from a variety of sources: WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times Article #1Chicago Sun Times Article #2 and Chicago Sun Times Article #3.

Meanwhile, the high court announced on Friday that it will hold a special evening session of oral argument on March 17, and that Gov. Rauner and all members of the General Assembly are invited to attend and observe. The case, People v. Richardson, is to decide whether or not a defendant who was 17 years old when he allegedly committed a crime should be tried as an adult or in juvenile court.

In its news release, the court said it “is uncertain when an evening session was last held in the Illinois Supreme Court Building, but it is believed to have been more than a century ago.”

Chief Justice Rita Garman explained, according to the news release, “that the special evening session is an opportunity for members of the General Assembly to observe first-hand the interaction of the functions of the three branches of government and the operation of the checks and balances essential to our system.”


The Senate and House both reconvene on Tuesday, March 17th.

Committee Activity

The House and Senate will spend the next few weeks considering legislation at the committee level. Meanwhile, appropriations committees will begin reviewing and holding hearings on the governor’s proposed FY 2016 budget.

University of Illinois State Appropriations

The University of Illinois will testify before both the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations II Committee on Thursday, March 19th. Leading up to these Appropriations committee hearings, Illinois Connections has sent to call to actions to faculty, staff, students, and alumni asking them to speak out against the proposed budget cuts. State Relations has a webpage with important information for this call for action.

University of Illinois Committee Schedule

State Relations Weekly Legislation Report

2015 State Relations’ Events, Save the Date
  • March 19th House and Senate Appropriations Hearing
  • March 30thto April 13th Legislative Spring Break-District visits
  • April 15th Student Day at the Capitol (U of I caucus invited to lunch)
  • April 30th Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol
  • May 5th PELP meetings with caucus Chief of Staffs
  • May 6th May Alumni in Government reception (U of I caucus invited to reception)
  • May 7th UI Day at the Capitol with BOT
  • May 31st Adjourn
99th General Assembly 2015 Legislative Calendar

Senate Committee schedule

House Committee schedule

Illinois State Senate 2015 calendar

Illinois House of Representatives 2015 calendar

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