Friday, November 01, 2013
With no vetoed bills left on the agenda, and uncertainty over whether other major issues will be acted on, State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) said when lawmakers return to Springfield November 5 for the final week of the annual fall veto session it is not known what legislative action will take place.
Righter explained that a complicating factor is a provision in the Illinois constitution imposing a higher vote requirement on measures that pass between July 1 and Dec. 31. Bills passed during those months must have a 3/5 majority vote to go into effect immediately. Come January 1, the clock resets and only a simple majority is required. As a result, lawmakers may choose to hold off voting on more controversial issues until the New Year.
Governor Wants More Money
Lawmakers could potentially consider about $221 million in new spending Governor Quinn is reportedly seeking to add to the current fiscal year budget. The Governor’s request could fall on deaf ears as some in the legislature believe the Quinn administration should find the money in existing agency budgets rather than add funds to the budget.
Approximately half of the revenue, or $112 million, would be used to pay back wages owned to about 25,000 state workers as a result of a lawsuit the administration lost. Arguing that the legislature’s failure to include the money in a previous budget allowed him to skip the payments, Quinn had refused to pay workers raises required under the state’s labor contract
The administration also wants to add about $40.5 million to the Illinois Department of Corrections budget. This request is also likely to be controversial since the Governor closed several correctional facilities last year insisting it would save the state money. Another $34 million is being sought by Quinn in order to implement the state’s new Right-to-Carry law.
Tracking Local Government Finances
It is now easier to track local government finances thanks to Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s release of an online public information website called the “Warehouse.”
This site compiles more than 9,200 financial reports from local units of government across the state. The site was designed to increase accountability measures for local spending in counties, municipalities, and special taxing districts.
Study Finds Agreement on Spending Priorities
While the Governor seeks to up state spending, a new study shows major agreement among Illinois citizens, regardless of party, on what the state’s budget priorities should be.
The study, from the Center for Innovation & Public Value (CIPV) sought to identify the outcomes that Illinois taxpayers want from government and how they want their tax dollars spent.
The Public Value Monitor survey directed respondents to assume the role of state budget director and allocate tax dollars according to their preferred outcomes. Those responses revealed that Democrats and Republicans both ranked increased employment as the top priority for the state. Closely following attracting and growing business was ensuring public safety and improving infrastructure.
Perhaps surprisingly, the sample of approximately 1,000 Illinois residents showed that member of both parties want to spend less on education and healthcare outcomes and basic government support functions.
New Chief Justice for State Supreme Court
Illinois has a new Chief Justice for the state’s Supreme Court. Justice Rita Garman of Danville was sworn in as the new Chief Justice Oct. 28 at the Vermilion County Courthouse in Danville.
Garman has served on the state Supreme Court since 2001 and is the first of the state’s top jurists to have served in virtually every judicial capacity on circuit, appellate and Supreme courts. She began her legal career with the Vermilion County Legal Aid Society and has been a judge since 1974.