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BudgetWatch: As the legislative session ends today, the budget situation is a bit of a mess

May 31, 2016

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by Dan Frey, Director of Government Relations

Good afternoon everyone, just a quick update on the situation occurring down here in Springfield. Today is the last day this year that legislation can be passed with a simple majority.  Starting tomorrow, a super majority, meaning 3/5 of representatives and senators, will be needed to approve any substantive or appropriative legislation. First, we’ll look at our substantive legislation and how those have fared before moving onto the more convoluting budget news.

Substantive Legislation

  • On Sunday, the Senate voted unanimously, 50-0-0, to approve HB 4554, our legislation that requires Illinois Medicaid to cover PrEP and its corresponding program. This is a great development that was passed with the support of the Department of Healthcare & Family Services.  It will now be sent to the Governor, who I expect will sign it.
  • On Monday, the House voted 90-27-0 on SB 2397, which extends to 2025 the Quality of Life Lottery fund that fund HIV prevention programs in the community. The bill will now be sent to the Governor.
  • Also on Monday, the House Human Services Committee voted to concur with two amendments that came over from the Senate with HB 6213, which seeks to Improve health literacy of Medicaid managed care enrollees and make provider directories and prescription drug lists reliable, useful and accurate. The concurrence motion will be voted upon today in the full House, where it is expected to pass. It will then be sent to the Governor, whom is expected to sign it.

Budget News

The budget situation here is unfortunately a bit of a mess. So let’s start from the beginning:

A few weeks ago the General Assembly passed SB 2038 which is a stopgap measure for human services in FY 16 (the current fiscal year). Line items were appropriated at roughly 40% of their FY 15 levels. Late last week that bill was sent to the Governor for his signature or veto. He has yet to take action upon it, though has made indications that he will not sign it.

Last week, the House passed SB 2048, an appropriations budget that funded all state programs at the same levels as the spending plan passed by Democrats last May (and vetoed by Governor Rauner, besides the K-12 budget, last June). The bill DID NOT include funding for any program or line item that is being mandated by court order, such as Medicaid. In terms of HIV our favorite budget lines, they were funded at the following levels:

  • HIV Lump Sum: $23 million;
  • African American HIV/AIDS Response Act: $1.25 million (from General Revenue Fund); and
  • Supportive Housing: $11 million.

This budget bill passed the House 60-53-1. The bill has been sent to the Senate, who have yet to take it up for a vote, and it is unclear whether they will do so before adjourning today. The Governor has pledged to veto it entirely should it reach his desk.

Now things get a little more confusing. Late last week, Senate President Cullerton floated an idea to the press he said he had in the shower that morning that perhaps the General Assembly should work on and pass a short term budget to get some money out for FY 17 (which begins on July 1) while a more comprehensive solution could be negotiated. Governor Rauner came out vehemently against such an idea, saying it was more of kicking the can down the road.  Speaker Madigan later also said that he would be against such a measure.

And then last night, the Governor’s Budget Director leaked to the media a plan for a short term budget that would get the state through the end of the calendar year. The plan contained no specifics in terms of presenting line items, but it was stated it would cover all appropriations, would not include cuts to Chicago Public Schools, and would not include any Turnaround Agenda items. It also included stop/gap funding for FY 16. This complete reversal of opinion on a short term budget was then presented to the four legislative leaders (Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, and Minority leaders Durkin and Radogno) at a meeting with the Governor this morning. At a press conference afterwards, the Democratic leaders said they were open to negotiating such a measure, and said it would be referred to the Governor’s budget working groups. Speaker Madigan made it clear that such a budget would not be heard on the floor today.

Up Next

Perhaps the Senate will take up SB 2048 today, though perhaps not. What is becoming clear is that there will likely not be a grand bargain in place today for FY 16, FY 17, or even part of FY 17. The Speaker has stated that the House will again be in continuous session through the summer, and has so far scheduled session days for every Wednesday for the month of June. The Senate has yet to indicate when or if they will be in session moving forward, though it is expected they will also convening throughout the summer.

About the blog

BudgetWatch is a weekly update from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago's on-the-ground team in Springfield about the state's longstanding budget impasse. Follow along at aidschicago.org/budgetwatch.

Categorized under BudgetWatch.

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