SPRINGFIELD, IL – A last-minute political maneuver by Senate Democrat lawmakers derailed negotiations that had been underway to find a financial solution to address the immediate shortfall in the state’s current budget. Good-faith discussions had been going on between the Governor and legislative leaders in trying to come up with solutions to address the $1.6 billion budget hole created by the passing of former Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget. This delay in addressing the shortfall is creating financial uncertainty for many in the state, particularly those families who are dependent on the state’s childcare program, and for the courts that may have trials delayed.
“The elections are over and it time the legislative leaders put the constituents they serve above partisan politics,” said State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford). “Solving a budget problem of this size, caused by 10 years of overspending, will not be easy. Painful decisions must be made, but if it’s done right and all share in the sacrifices, then all can benefit when we come out of this stronger than we were before.”
Senator Syverson receives YMCA Legislative Hero award
The Illinois Alliance of YMCAs has named State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) their 2015 “Legislative Hero.” The award is given to a member of the General Assembly who has helped to advance the mission of the YMCA organization, which is to nurture the potential of kids, promote healthy living and foster a sense of social responsibility.
“It is incredible to be by honored by such an amazing organization,” said Senator Syverson. “The YMCA has contributed immeasurably to the health of Illinois residents, while providing wonderful programs for youth throughout the state.”
According to the Belvidere Family YMCA’s Jen Jacky, she nominated Senator Syverson for his tireless support of the YMCA and its operations and community work. She added that he has consistently and fiercely advocated for the YMCA Child Care Assistance Program, demonstrating the Senator’s belief in the value of the program.
“Even with the tight budget constraints we currently find ourselves experiencing, we have to support the types of programs, like those provided by the YMCA, that truly make a difference in people’s lives,” said Senator Syverson. “I thank them for this recognition and look forward to continuing to serve as an advocate to protect and promote their valuable services.”
Senator Syverson receives the “YMCA Legislative Hero” award from Belvidere Family YMCA’s Jen Jacky.
Senator Syverson meets with ABATE members Ed and Juanita Triplett from Winnebago County.
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Hearings
The Senate’s Appropriations I and II committees heard testimony during the week on projected budgetary needs from several state agencies, boards and commissions. The hearings provide lawmakers and the public with specific information on state fiscal matters, and insight into what Illinois’ final budget blueprint will look like.
On March 3, the directors of the state’s retirement systems gave a bleak forecast about their agencies and they provided updates as to the current fiscal health of the State Employee Retirement, State University Retirement, General Assembly, and the Judge’s Retirement Systems.
Also during the week, several legislative support service agencies provided their budget requests, while the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget presented their overall assessment on the Fiscal Year 2015 and 2016 budgets and the need to scale back spending.
“While the Governor mapped out the framework for a budget during his budget address, until the core issues of pension reform, business reforms, and the status of the temporary tax are resolved, no real picture of a final budget will truly be known,” said Senator Syverson.
Rauner begins IDOC and criminal justice reform
The Governor has set up a new commission to review and address ways to reduce the state’s prison population. Illinois’ prison population hovers at just shy of 50,000 inmates in a system that was originally intended to house no more than 31,500 inmates. Illinois taxpayers have shelled out an additional $320 million over the past five fiscal years in overtime costs, even as the security workforce for the state’s 25 correctional facilities has reached a near-record low.
Additionally, the Office of the Governor formally dismissed the former head of the Illinois Department of Corrections whose tenure was plagued by controversy. Former Director Salvador Godinez was implicated in 2013 by the Office of the Executive Inspector General for the questionable circumstances surrounding the hiring of a former Congressman’s son.