SPRINGFIELD — After months of bipartisan negotiations, the Illinois General Assembly came together to overwhelmingly approve a balanced budget that cuts spending and does not require a tax increase to implement
Also during the week, the Senate honored a police officer who stopped a school shooting May 16 in Dixon, a bipartisan Higher Education Working Group announced reforms, and the Governor presented an $11 billion construction plan to build and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.
Senate passes balanced budget, without tax hike
On May 30, the Senate voted 56-2 to pass a $38 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2019.
“This is a big deal for a state that has been passing out of balance budgets for decades,” said Syverson. “I’d like to thank Governor Rauner and his team for helping us to get to this point.”
The budget passed by the Senate cuts more than $1 billion in spending; delivers $350 million more in K-12 school funding through the evidence-based model; boosts early childhood education by $50 million; cuts $445 million in pension liability; and rejects a proposed pay increase for lawmakers.
“We were able to obtain record levels of school funding and Medicaid dollars headed to our area,” said Syverson. “This budget, while not perfect, will provide stability to vital services while slowing the growth of government expenses.”
This budget also includes needed capital:
Fully-funds the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2019 capital program.
Includes $2.5 billion for IDOT’s road program, which will create jobs and improve roads.
Provides $500 million for the University of Illinois Discovery Partners’ Institute (DPI).
Includes $53 million for first-year costs to construct a new Quincy Veterans Home.
Allocates $600 million for statewide deferred maintenance, with $100 million of this amount going toward needs at institutions of Higher Education.
Provides $1 million to start a port redevelopment effort in Cairo.
A supplemental spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018 will also fund agency operations, including $405 million for the Department of Corrections. It also includes $63 million for AFSCME back pay.
Fiscal Year 2019 runs from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
While the passage of a balanced budget represents major progress for Illinois, Syverson noted that there are still several other issues hanging that he hopes can be addressed later in the year.
“It’s extremely disappointing that House members weren’t allowed to vote on a gaming expansion that we’ve been working on for two years,” said Syverson. “Unfortunately the people of the Rockford area will likely now be waiting another year for the economic growth and jobs that this plan would bring.”
Senate honors Dixon officer who stopped school shooting
Honoring the quick thinking and brave actions of the Dixon, Illinois, school resource officer who thwarted a school shooting two weeks ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner proclaimed May 30, 2018, Officer Mark Dallas Day in Illinois.
The Governor and local lawmakers met with Dallas and his family, and members of the Dixon Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office, on May 30. The Senate and the House of Representatives also introduced Officer Dallas in their respective chambers, thanked him, and presented him with a legislative resolution and proclamation.
On May 16, 2018, Dallas confronted an armed former student who had fired a gun at Dixon High School where students were gathered for a graduation rehearsal. As a result of Dallas’ decisive action, no students were harmed.
Dallas has 24 years of law enforcement experience, serving 15-years on the Dixon Police Department and the last five years as the school resource officer for Dixon High school.
Bipartisan working group announces higher education reforms
After months of study about the future of Illinois’ higher education system, the Higher Education Working Group announced a package of comprehensive reforms on May 29.
Higher education in Illinois is facing many challenges, including: college costs; enrollment shifts resulting from increasing out-migration and changing needs of college students who are older, parenting, and working; establishing effective and forward-looking governance of Illinois’ higher education system.
The Working Group has developed a series of legislative initiatives to strengthen Illinois’ colleges and universities, making them more attractive and affordable for students across the state for many years to come.
Governor announces $11 billion infrastructure plan
On May 29, Gov. Rauner announced a plan today to invest more than $11 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.
Based on current funding levels, the FY2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the state. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.