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Week Ending March 20, 2015

The Illinois General Assembly adjourned on March 19th following a full week of committee action. One week remains to consider in committee substantive legislation in its originating chamber. Both chambers return to session on Tuesday, March 24.

Given the volume of legislation still pending at the committee level, deadline extensions likely will be granted for at least some of the bills not receiving a hearing before Friday’s deadline.

Immediately following the committee deadline, the General Assembly will take a two-week spring break. Both chambers will then return on Tuesday, April 14.

The deadline to file Senate committee amendments to substantive legislation was at noon on Friday, March 20th. The deadline to file House committee amendments to substantive legislation is at 3 p.m. Monday, March 23.

State Relations Weekly Legislation Report

U of I House and Senate Appropriations Committee

President Easter testified in front of both the House Higher Education Appropriations committee and the Senate Appropriations II Committee on Thursday, March 19th. He was joined by the three Chancellors and three Vice Chancellors for Student Affairs, as well as VP/CFO Knorr and VPAA Pierre. President Easter explained what a 31.5% budget cut would mean for the University and our mission to serve our students and the state of Illinois. A team from UIS made a video of the hearing to underscore and share the testimony.

Leading up to these Appropriations committee hearings, Illinois Connection has sent to call to action to faculty, staff, students, and alumni asking them to speak out against the proposed budget cuts. More than 825 alumni and friends of the University sent 24,152 emails.  We will contine this advocacy campaign throughout this legislative session.  

Financial Aid for Undocumented Students Passes Committee

On March 18th, members from the UIC undocumented student taskforce testified in support of the financial aid for undocumented student legislation, HB3528. In response to their testimony, the bill passed out of the House Higher Education committee with a vote of 10-5-0. The legislation will now go to the House floor for a vote in the upcoming weeks. The University is asking members of the House of Representatives to support this legislation allowing undocumented students to receive state-based financial aid.

Chairman McMillian and Trustee Cepeda in the Capitol

On March 17th, Chairman McMillan and Trustee Cepeda were in the Capitol to visit with members of the Senate Executive Appointments Committee. They met individually with each member and thanked them for their support in the Senate confirmations hearings. Trustee Smart will be in the Capitol on March 24th, to also meet with the Senators.  We expect the three new trustees’ appointments to be confirmed in the next few weeks.

Senator Introduces Bill to Privatize Public Universities

Sen. Brady (R-Bloomington) has introduced SB1565, SA1. It is posted to be heard in Senate Higher Education Committee.  We have reached out to staff, the sponsor, and member of the committee, and plan to keep a close eye on how this issue progresses. 

The legislation would call on the BOT would create a six-year plan for a transition of the U of I and other Illinois public universities to nonpublic universities.  The plan as currently outlined would include: A date for the transition to be completed; the appointment of a governing board; list of all state property required to be transferred to the university; how employee benefits are to be addressed; recommendations for changes to statutes to aid transition. Beginning in 2021, institutions would receive no state appropriations.  Between 2016-2020, an increasing percentage of the FY15 total state appropriation to public universities would be transferred to an ISAC grant program. 

No Agreement on FY 2015 Budget Deficit

An agreement on a plan to reconcile the $1.6 billion deficit in the budget for the current fiscal year remains elusive, with some legislative sources casting doubt on the idea that an agreement is close or that the administration and lawmakers have fully settled on a framework. We might see some movement this week before the lawmakers adjourn for a two week Spring Break.

One possible scenario would entail a 2.25% across-the-board spending reduction, including $97 million in cuts to General State Aid funding for schools, a $50 million cut to local government revenue sharing, and $160 million in cuts to the Medicaid program (which would result in forgoing $80 million in federal matching dollars). The package would purportedly include $250 million in sweeps from the state’s Road Fund to help close the deficit.

The proposal would direct $660 million in spending to cover shortfalls in the state’s childcare program and payroll for correctional workers, a $90 million lump sum to fix payroll gaps, and $40 million to the Illinois State Board of Education to plug holes resulting from the General State Aid cut.

Pressure is mounting to resolve the FY 2015 budget shortfall before lawmakers break from session for two weeks and to enable the General Assembly to more fully concentrate on consideration of the FY 2016 budget. Funding for some of the underfunded programs will begin to run out at the end of this month. An agreement, if reached before break, likely will be moved quickly through the legislative process and sent to the governor.

House and Senate appropriations committees continue to take testimony on the governor’s FY 2016 budget proposal. Last Monday, speaking at the City Club in Chicago, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said that “Republicans will not be supporting any revenue in this next General Assembly, and that includes the governor and also the House and Senate Republicans.”


The Senate and House both reconvene on Tuesday, March 24th.

Committee Activity

The House and Senate will spend this next week considering legislation at the committee level. The deadline to hear bills in Committee is March 27th. They will then go on legislative spring break beginning March 30th, and will return April 14th.

University of Illinois Committee Schedule

State Relations Weekly Legislation Report

2015 State Relations' Events, Save the Date
  • 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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