Greetings all, I just thought I would provide a quick update on what happened during this week of session in Springfield.
The governor addressed a joint session of the General Assembly (GA) on Wednesday, Jan. 25, where he highlighted what he believes to be the successes of his first two years in office. The successes he highlighted were mostly centered on government efficiency and education. He called on the GA to pass legislation that would allow term limits and redistricting reform on the ballot, and to come together to end the year and a half-long budget impasse. He did not lift his insistence on reforms - an insistence which has contributed to our 18-month long budget impasse.
Though the speech offered very little that was new, Rauner did go on record as supporting efforts in the Senate to find a comprehensive “Grand Bargain” that addresses the state’s budget crisis and other structural issues such as worker’s compensation reform, increases to the minimum wage, and tax reform and increases. Though he stopped short of endorsing the plan, he implored the senators to keep working to find compromises.
For AFC’s full response to the speech, please click here.
There was a lot of talk of votes on the Grand Bargain taking place in the Senate before the week was out, but as details of the plan emerged, there appeared to be a disappearing of consensus. Because of that, the parties continued to talk, votes were delayed, hearings were held to discuss portions of the deal, and new proposals were put in place. No votes were held on any portion of the plan, though the Senate continued to work to find a compromise. The House and governor are still not taking part in the negotiations.
With the start of the new GA, the House and Senate took the necessary steps to organize themselves to begin legislative work. Committees were formed and their representation announced. As with the previous GA, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) will be chairing the House Appropriations – Human Services committee, Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) will be chairing the House Human Services Committee, and Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) will be chairing the Senate Appropriations - I committee that deals with human services budgets. Replacing Senator Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) as chair of the Senate Human Services committee will be Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield).
Following the end of session on Thursday evening, Attorneys General Lisa Madigan (D-Chicago) filed suit challenging the St. Clair County court order that allows state employees to continue to be paid despite the lack of appropriation authority being passed by the GA and signed by the governor. That court order has been in place since the summer of 2015. The case will go to the Illinois Supreme Court, who will decide whether or not to continue paying state employees without a budget in place. Both the governor as well as AFSCME, the union which represents many state employees, decried the action of AG Madigan. How the Court decides this case may have a large impact on the state budget impasse moving forward. Stay tuned.
Both the House and Senate are not in session next week. The Senate is scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday, Feb. 7 and the House is scheduled to return Wednesday, Feb. 8. The Governor’s Budget Address, where he delivers his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, is scheduled for the following Wednesday, Feb. 15.
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.