Springfield, IL. – Praising current bipartisan efforts in the Senate, Gov. Bruce Rauner asked all lawmakers Feb. 15 to work with him to pass a balanced budget and structural reforms that will revitalize Illinois’ economy and grow jobs, according to State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).
In other budget news, a St. Clair County judge ruled Feb. 16 against Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion to dissolve the court order that mandated the state pay employees without an appropriation.
Also during the week, legislators and health advocates gathered in the Capitol to spread awareness of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign.
Gov. Rauner outlined budget options to a joint session of legislators in the House of Representatives, during his third annual Budget Address Feb. 15.
The Governor said that for two years has asked lawmakers to work with him to fulfill a state constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget. Yet he said his efforts have been met with resistance and a lack of cooperation, much to the detriment of Illinois citizens. Encouraged by budget talks in the Senate, he is once again is asking lawmakers from both chambers, both parties, and all regions of Illinois to come together and resolve the fiscal impasse.
On Feb. 16, a St. Clair Circuit Judge Robert LeChien ruled against a motion filed by the Attorney General to reverse his July 2015 order that said state workers had to be paid even with no budget in place. Attorney General Madigan has filed a motion Jan. 26 state court seeking to stop state worker pay until legislators and the Governor approve a spending plan.
Budget data show need to resolve impasse
Senator Syverson said he is working with the Governor and his fellow lawmakers to put aside the divisive rhetoric and make the kind of tough decisions necessary to pass a balanced budget and enact the critical reforms that will provide stability and growth to our state.
Recent budget data show the need to quickly resolve the impasse.
Illinois goes $11 million further into debt each day state government continues to spend without a budget in place.
It is estimated that under the status quo, with no spending or revenue changes, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget is $5.3 billion out of balance and the state will end FY 2017 with a bill backlog of $13.5 billion.
The state is projected to run annual budget deficits of $6 to $7 billion over the next five years without changes to the status quo – increasing the backlog of bills to $47 billion by the end of FY 2022.
The State’s Group Health Insurance program has not received a General Funds appropriation in two years. Providers are owed nearly $4 billion – delaying payments by two years. If the impasse continues through FY 2018, the accrued interest in the program will surpass program liability.
The Comptroller estimates the state will pay $700 million in interest payments on over-due bills in FY 2017 alone.
Mandated Categoricals and Early Childhood Education programs have not received payments in FY 2017 due to the backlog of bills.
Growing bio-based economy
Legislation has been introduced to grow Illinois’ bio-based economy, building upon the state’s strong agricultural base and seeking to provide new products and markets derived from grain commodities and their by-products.
Senate Bill 1656 provides incentives to Illinois businesses to produce and sell new renewable products made from biomass and other renewable sources.
The emergence of this technology represents a historic opportunity to reverse job losses in the chemicals and plastics sectors, increase energy security, replace fossil fuel-derived chemicals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, maintain U.S leadership in clean energy and chemistry, and build domestic renewable chemicals and bio-based production facilities.
Iowa and Minnesota have already established these state incentives and legislation is pending in Congress to establish a similar credit at the federal level.
Fighting heart disease
Illinois legislators, representatives from the state Department of Public Health, and health advocates gathered in Capitol Feb. 15 to spread awareness of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, and to encourage Illinois women to unite in the fight against heart disease and stroke.
Go Red For Women began in 2004 with the mission of educating women on their risk factors of heart disease and empowering them to take control of their heart health. More than one in three women are living with some form of cardiovascular disease; it remains the number one killer of women.
More information about the Go Red For Women campaign is available at https://www.goredforwomen.org/.