A new fiscal year began on July 1 without a state budget in place, a situation Illinois has been in before. On July 1, 1991, the state faced a similar budget stalemate that came to an end only when legislative leaders and then-Governor Jim Edgar worked together to reach a compromise.
While the Governor and legislative Republicans have remained open and willing to work toward a permanent solution on the budget, this week Senate Democrats approved a temporary, one-month budget that the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget cautioned is out of balance.
Gov. Rauner said “no” to cost-of-living pay increases for legislators this week, issuing an amendatory veto on Senate Bill 1354.
The majority of a capital plan that will invest in Illinois’ public infrastructure was approved this week by Gov. Rauner; however, he also used his line-item veto authority to remove several projects contained in the proposal.
Heavy rains continue to drench fields and pastures across Illinois, putting farmers further behind as they attempt to harvest wheat and hay. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Illinois farmers only had an average of 1.1 days rated as suitable for field work last week, though many fields were still too wet for work during the limited sunshine.
On June 25, Gov. Rauner vetoed 19 budget bills that combine to create a deficit of nearly $4 billion “… in order to protect Illinois taxpayers from an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.”
Democrat leaders finally began sending pieces of their unbalanced budget proposal to the Governor. While the entire Democrat budget represents a $3+ billion underfunded spending plan, the education portion actually appropriates less money for schools than the Governor’s proposal. Nonetheless, it represented a slight increase from FY2015 funding, and the Rauner said he signed the measure into law to, “ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded.”
On Tuesday, June 16, the Senate held another “Committee of the Whole” meeting to discuss mandatory sick time and increasing the state minimum wage. Both topics brought employees and members of the business community to talk about their views on the topics. No legislative action was expected or taken on either subject.
Lawmakers in the Illinois House failed to pass legislation to create a 40 day delay before the Chicago Public School District’s $634 million pension payment is due.
The Illinois House passed a measure to create a new, private Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The idea was initially proposed by Rauner, inspired by successful private programs in several other states.
Statewide rainfall averaged 3.61 inches, 2.5 inches more than normal, leaving just 0.8 days rated as suitable for fieldwork according to United States Department of Agriculture. Continued precipitation has kept the fields wet as well, with topsoil moisture rated as 56% surplus and subsoil moisture as 43% surplus.
Though tens of thousands of people rallied behind the Chicago Blackhawks after their Stanley Cup championship win on June 15, Illinois’ 13 million citizens are probably not going to be throwing a championship-style parade for the two majority legislative leaders any time soon. The state’s fiscal year comes to an end in less than two weeks and lawmakers and the Governor are not any closer to a final solution to the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.
This week the Senate met for another “rare” Committee of the Whole to discuss higher education affordability.
Illinois Auditor General Bill Holland announced his intention to step down as the state’s chief fiscal watchdog on December 31. Auditor General Holland has held the position for 23 years and has been a well-respected staple of Illinois government during the tenure of five Governors.
Rainy weather continues to hamper farmers’ efforts to get back into the fields to finish planting soybeans and harvesting hay. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, statewide precipitation averaged 3.24 inches, leaving only 2.3 days rated as suitable for fieldwork. The average temperature last week was 75.8 degrees, which is 4.6 degrees higher than normal.