Illinois lawmakers completed another week of deliberations concerning the state budget and elements of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s “Turnaround Agenda.” Both chambers reconvene on May 18, with the House meeting at 1 p.m. and the Senate starting at 3 p.m.
Friday, May 15, was the deadline for committees to consider substantive bills originating in the opposite chamber. However, several bills remain under consideration with extended deadlines, and more extended deadlines are expected. Friday, May 22, is the deadline in both chambers for third-reading consideration of bills originating in the opposite chamber. Two weeks remain until May 31, the scheduled end of spring session. Beginning Monday, the House plans to meet continuously through May 31; the Senate has not scheduled session for next weekend, May 23 and 24, but otherwise plans to meet every day through the end of the month. With many weighty and difficult issues yet to be fully considered, especially the state’s next budget, the prospects of an overtime session grow more apparent.
We continue to work on bills that we are both opposing and supporting on the floor. Below are link to all of the bills we are tracking this session. 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.
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
President Killeen Meets with U of I Caucus
President Killeen and senior university officials met with members of the University of Illinois Caucus to discuss Dr. Killeen’s plans for the University and how we can work with the state. These conversations will be ongoing as the state comes to an agreement on the budget, and Dr. Killeen starts work to implement his vision.
House Continues Consideration of Governor's Turnaround Agenda
The state budget for FY 2016, which begins July 1, is chief among several complex matters unresolved at the Capitol. Gov. Rauner has said his “Turnaround Agenda” must be approved before he will consider additional revenues for the FY 2016 budget. The state faces an estimated shortfall of more than $6 billion, which the governor proposed closing through a combination of spending cuts and further, unspecified changes to state employee retirement systems. Democratic majorities in the General Assembly have pushed back against core components of the governor’s plan.
On Thursday, the House defeated legislation reflecting the governor’s concept for local right-to-work zones. Following a heated debate in which Democrats chided the substance of right-to-work and Republicans criticized the process of the measure’s consideration. Democrats all voted against the bill and all but one Republican voted present the measure is House Amendment 2 to HB 1286.
On May 21, the House plans to vote on measures relating to both the workers’ compensation system and the civil justice system. Gov. Rauner has called for wholesale reform of both as part of his “Turnaround Agenda,” but without proposing specific legislation. In a statement announcing the upcoming vote, Speaker Madigan “encouraged the governor to file his legislation in anticipation of the votes next week.”
Over the last two weeks, the House held separate Committee of the Whole hearings concerning the state’s civil justice and workers’ compensation systems.
Meanwhile, a House committee advanced four measures that would freeze local property tax rates, another priority of the “Turnaround Agenda.” The House on Friday debated the issue, but did not move for final passage, as a vote on the adoption of a substantive property tax freeze amendment to the underlying shell bill revealed only mixed support, with most Republicans voting “present” and a mix of Democrats and Republicans voting no; the final action deadline for all four of the bills was extended to Friday, May 22. The bills are HB 677 and HB 695 and HB 696 and HB 699 .
Gov. Rauner’s “working groups” comprised of his aides and select lawmakers appointed by the four legislative caucus leaders, continue to meet behind closed doors to discuss the key prongs of his agenda. On Thursday, the governor said his administration had “taken a number of things off the table” and that “everybody’s gonna have to compromise.”
Continued Focus on Unfunded Public Pension Liability
In the week following the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision striking down a 2013 law intended to reduce the unfunded liability of the state’s public pension systems, Gov. Rauner continued to advocate for his proposal to shift state workers to a less generous retirement plan. Gov. Rauner’s budget plan for FY 2016, which begins July 1, proposed that the state could realize more than $2 billion in savings by moving existing state workers into a less generous retirement plan, a so-called Tier III level that would preserve benefits already earned and establish a 401(k)-style plan for workers’ future benefits. Since 2011, new state employees have been placed in a Tier II system that provides reduced benefits and requires workers to contribute more of their salaries.
President Cullerton has long pushed for an approach to public pensions that would offer workers legal “consideration” – a choice between certain benefits they now enjoy – and he has renewed his push for that alternative in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.
The state’s five public pension systems collectively have unfunded liability estimated at more than $100 billion, and the 2013 law was intended to help close that hole by cutting benefits promised to workers and retirees. On Friday, May 8, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that law violated the state’s constitution.
Joint Senate Hearing Concerning Analysis of Governor's Budget Plans
The Senate’s two appropriations committees have rescheduled a joint hearing concerning Gov. Rauner’s FY 2016 budget plans. The hearing is planned for 4 p.m. Monday, May 18, in Room 212 of the Capitol. The subject-matter hearing will focus on an analysis of the governor’s proposed operating and capital budgets by the Civic Federation’s Institute for Illinois' Fiscal Sustainability. The Civic Federation, based in Chicago, is a largely corporate-funded research organization focused on Illinois government finance.
2015 State Relations' Events, Save the Date
- May 19th & 20th 4-H in the Capitol
- May 31st Adjourn
99th General Assembly 2015 Legislative Calendar
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