ALLIANCE LEGISLATIVE REPORT (100-9) - SENATE BUDGET PACKAGE STALLS AGAIN
Last Tuesday, the Illinois State Senate deliberated on the Senate floor on some of the components of the “grand bargain” comprehensive budget package. A number of votes were taken and several bills were approved, including making appropriations for state government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017 (SB 6), expanding gaming by adding six new casinos including one in the City of Chicago (SB 7), and providing an appropriation for Chicago Public Schools teacher pensions (SB 5). Bills regarding local government consolidation (SB 3) and procurement reform (SB 8) have also been approved by the Senate.
But like on Feb. 8, when a vote was taken on the pension reform proposal, a pension bill (SB 16) was again defeated on the Senate floor. This brought some question to the future of the “grand bargain” package, but Senate leaders vowed to continue with votes on the rest of the package on Wednesday.
However, when the Senate reconvened for session Wednesday afternoon, a noticeably frustrated Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) announced that no further votes would be taken as Governor Bruce Rauner had asked for further negotiations on bills left in the compromise package. Cullerton stated that “the ball is in his court now,” referring to the governor. Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who seemed equally frustrated, spoke on the Senate floor and stated that she is still optimistic that a budget deal could be completed.
Items left on the budget list include school funding reform (SB 1), revenue enhancements (SB 9), new state borrowing authority (SB 4), Workers’ Compensation Act reform (SB 12); a property tax freeze with some mandate relief for schools (SB13); and a minimum wage increase (SB 2).
The property tax freeze proposal has yet to be called for a vote in the Senate. The latest version reportedly included a two-year freeze on the property tax extension with a referendum option to extend the freeze for three additional years. No language has ever been filed on SB 1 – the school funding reform proposal – so no one yet knows what that new formula will look like.
Both chambers of the General Assembly will return to the Capitol this Tuesday to resume session.
Read more of the Alliance Legislative Report, including bills scheduled for committee hearings.