Following another week of deliberations concerning the state budget and intensifying discussion about the elements of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda,” the Illinois Senate and House adjourned last Thursday, following a full week of committee hearings in the opposite chambers. Both chambers are scheduled to reconvene May 5th. May 8th is the House deadline to pass Senate bills out of committee; May 15th is the Senate deadline for committees to consider House bills. Four weeks remain until May 31st, the scheduled end of spring session.
We continue to work on bills that we are both opposing and supporting on the floor. Below is a link to all of the bills we are tracking this session and a State Legislative Report Highlights is also below. These are bills that we are working on and/or keeping a close eye on for movement. You will see that we are working on a number of amendments, and have already stopped a number of bills that are not helpful to the University from moving forward.
Again, we appreciate the support and assistance from the subject matter experts on our campuses. If you have any questions on a specific piece of legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Government Relations for more information.
State Legislative Report Highlights
State Relations Weekly Legislation Report
UI Students and Faculty Meet with the House Higher Education Appropriations Working Group
Dr. Jorge Villegas (UIS) and student representatives from UIUC, UIC, and UIS met with members of the House Higher Education Appropriations committee working group to discuss how the Governor’s proposed budget cuts would affect their education at the University of Illinois. The committee was joined by appropriation staff from all four caucuses and the Governor’s office. Dr. Villegas and all of the students’ personal stories seemed to make an impression on the committee members and invoked an in depth discussion on the University of Illinois budget.
UI Research Day in the Capitol
Thirty students from the UIUC, UIC, and UIS presented their work at the second annual University of Illinois Undergraduate Research Day at the Illinois State Capitol on Thursday, April 30th. The students’ work was displayed in the first floor south corridor of the Capitol building. They made poster presentations about their research and answered questions from lawmakers and the public.
University of Illinois Caucus co-chair, Rep. Ron Sandack passed HR407 declaring April 30th U of I Research Day.
Governor Rauner Highlights the Work of the U of I at the Innovation Breakfast
Governor Rauner and UI Research Park Director Laura Frerichs both spoke at the DCEO/ISTC Innovation Breakfast. During his speech, Governor Rauner highlighted all of the impressive work being done at the University of Illinois around innovation and economic development.
Governor's Working Groups Meeting with Legislators
Working groups organized by Gov. Rauner’s administration met with legislators over the last week to consider the policy changes proposed as part of the governor’s “Turnaround Agenda.” The subject-matter working groups are Unemployment Insurance, Pension Reform, Budget Implementation, Capital Plan, Transforming Government, Economic Growth, and Taxpayer Protection. They are expected to continue meeting throughout the remainder of the session.
Revenues Improve for Current Fiscal Year
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the General Assembly’s fiscal forecasting arm, reported last week that revenue in the current FY 2015; fiscal year could be $300 million to $500 million higher than previously expected.
According to the governor’s office, the realization of additional revenue will allow the Rauner administration to restore the $26 million it cut on April 3 for spending on human services related items, including autism programs, indigent burials and a smoking quit-line, plus forego additional cuts to the budget for FY 2015.
The deficit in the budget for FY 2016 is estimated to approach $6 billion, thanks largely to the expiration of higher personal and corporate income tax rates at the start of this calendar year (midway through the fiscal year). The public backlash resulting from the $26 million spending reduction on human services in the current fiscal year will heighten the pressure that lawmakers feel to combine spending cuts with revenue increases for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Last week, the Senate Democrats released a memo questioning $5.8 billion of the projected savings in the governor’s proposed $32 billion FY 2016 budget. According to that analysis, much of the savings will be difficult if not impossible to realize in the upcoming fiscal year because items such as an overhaul of pension benefits likely will face litigation and changes to Medicaid would require federal approval.
Meanwhile, the House Budget Oversight Committee last week continued discussing the FY 2015 cuts and grant freezes with the Rauner administration. The panel is scheduled to meet again on Wednesday, May 6.
House Committee of the Whole to Address Workers' Comp
House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-22/Chicago) on Friday announced the House will convene at noon Tuesday, May 5, in a committee of the whole to discuss matters related to workers’ compensation.
“Proposals to change the compensation received by men and women injured at their workplaces will have a significant impact on the financial security of middle-class families throughout Illinois,” Madigan said in a statement. “Changes that limit workers’ ability to provide for their families if they are hurt on the job will have an adverse ripple effect throughout our economy. The committee of the whole offers us an opportunity to discuss how proposals would impact individuals who have been hurt and their ability to be fairly compensated for their injuries and lost wages.”
Gov. Rauner has promoted changes to the state’s workers’ comp system as part of his “Turnaround Agenda,” though no specific legislation has been introduced.
When the House meets as a committee of the whole, every member of the chamber is a member of the committee and, thus, has the opportunity to pose questions to witnesses. The committee will meet on the House floor.
2015 State Relations' Events, Save the Date
- 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 19th & 20th 4-H in the Capitol
- May 31st Adjourn
99th General Assembly 2015 Legislative Calendar
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