Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: March 10 – 17

Springfield, IL. – Senate lawmakers were busy in legislative committee hearings this week, advancing more than 200 proposals out of committee in anticipation of a March 17 deadline.

As Senate negotiations continue on a full-year, balanced state budget, legislation was considered this week that would give the Governor the tools to manage the budget in the event a budget agreement cannot be reached.

There was good news for recipients of EDGE tax credit incentives this week, when the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity announced a recently launched online portal for business and taxpayers to access their EDGE agreements online anytime.

As a reminder to those celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) is reminding motorists to drive safely or plan ahead for ride arrangements if consuming alcohol.

Senate Committee debates Unbalanced Budget Response Act

Making it clear the best approach would be to continue to work toward a full-year, balanced state budget for Illinois, lawmakers debated legislation in the Senate Executive Committee this week that would offer the Governor a plan of action in the event no accord can be reached on a state budget. 

While budget negotiations continue in pursuit of a comprehensive, balanced budget, Senate lawmakers agree it is crucial to have a plan in place if budget talks come to a stand-still. For that reason, Senate Bill 2063, the Unbalanced Budget Response Act (UBRA), has been introduced which would give the Governor the tools he needs to balance the budget and meet the state’s obligations.

UBRA is the less preferable route to a state budget say Senate Republicans, who emphasize that bipartisan cooperation and compromise on a budget plan is the ideal approach. The Senate has had a fair amount of success working toward a bipartisan budget approach for Illinois, and Senate Republicans lawmakers continue to be hopeful an agreement can be reached so the House of Representatives and the Governor’s office can be actively brought in to the negotiations.

Senate Bill 2063 would enable the Governor to manage state funds, modify rates, payments and transfers, and potentially delay payments—with some exceptions. Though similar measures have been approved to assist previous Illinois governors, and more than half a dozen other states have some form of the UBRA proposal, the measure failed to garner enough support from Democrat lawmakers in the Committee to advance for a hearing by the entire Senate body.

Senate Committees approve bills by March 17 deadline

Senate committees approved more than 200 pieces of legislation this week in anticipation of the March 17 deadline to pass all substantive Senate bills out of committee. The topics ranged from education and criminal law to pensions and gaming.

The deadline for the third reading of Senate substantive bills is April 28. Read more about the legislation that cleared committee this week at the Senate Action Page.

New legislation to protect property owners’ rights from utility company installations

To provide greater protections for private-property owners when utility companies seek to install power lines, legislation was introduced to slow the process and give property owners more rights.

Proponents of the proposal note the electric grid needs to be expanded due to energy demand increases around the state and country, but underscored that need should not come at the expense of landowners and their rights. Senate Bill 777 would inject a greater measure of due process for where electric lines are built so landowners’ rights are protected. 

Senate Bill 777 would require that utilities provide and identify a proposed primary route and at least one alternative route for their proposed project at the first public meeting in each county the transmission line would go. In addition, the general public would be given the opportunity to ask questions and offer concerns on the proposed routes.

The legislation also requires utilities when constructing their lines to preserve the land they are on, take mitigative actions and repair the land if they damage it during construction. Also, the Illinois Commerce Commission would extend the number of days beyond the current 45 days to consider issuing an eminent domain order against a landowner.

Currently, landowners are often confused and frustrated when dealing with a proposed electric line, particularly the lack of information and the speed of the process. Senate Bill 777 will clarify the process, slowing it down to enable them to work with the utilities so landowners aren’t caught off guard.

EDGE Tax Credit Program agreements are now available online

In an effort to achieve better government and transparency for taxpayers and businesses, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Rauner Administration recently announced the online publication of EDGE tax credit incentive agreements.

EDGE agreements are now available on the DCEO website. The portal is still in its early stages and will be updated with more information. Agreements signed prior to the Rauner Administration will also be posted online, including special EDGE deals.

EDGE is an Illinois tax credit program that provides incentives for companies to relocate their business to Illinois or expand their operations within the state—rather than moving out of state to a competing location. For more information on eligibility, visit the DCEO EDGE Program page.

Since its launch, the Rauner Administration has made several reforms to the EDGE program, including awarding incentives to companies for jobs creation, only allowing one EDGE agreement per project site and requiring all companies maintain a statewide employment baseline for the duration of the agreement. Additionally, DCEO no longer supports special EDGE agreements, which guaranteed incentives to companies even when they engaged in significant layoffs.

According to DCEO, following these policy reforms, the average cost per new job created is now $22,000, compared to $68,000 under the previous administration. In addition, businesses in 2016 committed to create over 14,000 new jobs, compared to just 2,000 in 2014.

IDOT reminds you to drive safely this St. Patrick’s Day

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) reminds motorists not to try their luck by drinking and driving this St. Patrick’s Day. If planning to celebrate with alcohol, motorists are urged to designate a driver, call a cab or ride-sharing company, or take public transit.

The Illinois State Police (ISP) and law enforcement agencies will be on the lookout for impaired drivers, and police will be conducting roadside safety checks and seat belt enforcement zones.

Impaired driving puts everyone on the road at risk of a crash, or even death. IDOT encourages motorists who plan to imbibe to plan ahead for a safe trip home and celebrate responsibly.  

Dave Syverson

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