PEORIA, IL – Lawmakers will return to the State Capitol next week, although a Nov. 18 legislative leader meeting is expected to yield more details on when the budget impasse will be resolved, according to State Sen. Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria).
Also during the week, a Reuters News Service report found that Illinois’ low bond ratings are having a negative impact on local governments’ ability to build or expand facilities; two state fiscal reports show very bleak economic results; the state mourns the passing of retired Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald; and Illinois’ harvest continues to come in at a healthy clip as farmers hope for more moisture to relieve slightly depleted water reserves.
Legislative session and leaders’ meeting scheduled
November 10 and 18 are two key dates that legislative observers will be watching closely as Illinoisans await a final resolution to the state’s ongoing budget impasse. Senate Republicans continue their call for the state to enact a balanced budget and pass critical reforms needed to boost Illinois’ economy and create more jobs.
The spring legislative session yielded few vetoed pieces of legislation and as a result, most of the legislation has been acted on, with many of Gov. Rauner’s vetoes standing.
The Nov. 10 session will feature a handful of House of Representatives Committees and another full House Committee of the Whole, which will hear testimony from Illinois’ higher education stakeholders. The Senate is expected to take action on some legislation.
Meanwhile, the Governor is inviting the leaders of the four legislative caucuses to discuss the best way forward for Illinois, at a meeting Nov. 18.
Senate Republican members are hoping the Democrat legislative majorities will begin to negotiate in good faith, so progress can be made on reforms needed to right the state’s fiscal ship and move Illinois forward.
Reuters: Illinois fiscal woes cost local governments
Illinois’ bond rating, which hovers slightly above “junk” status, is now being credited for stalling out local government work. Multiple school districts across the state are feeling the effects of Illinois’ failure to follow through on promises of state construction monies. The Reuters report highlights Algonquin District 300’s inability to finish its construction on the unit’s new facilities.
Additionally, the region’s Metra system is also having problems keeping up with their expansion and maintenance schedules because of bonding issues. The report notes that Illinois has not placed bonds for sale since May 2014, which places even more strenuous restrictions on the state’s now 11-year old school construction list.
The state’s fiscal woes also extend to the 2009 “Illinois Jobs Now!” construction plan, which is on schedule to leave more than $4 billion in bonding authority on the “table.”
Illinois Comptroller releases First Quarter Report
Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger’s office issued its Fiscal Year 2016 First Quarter report.
In the report, the “general fund payables” increased by more than $825 million versus the same quarter for the previous fiscal year. More importantly, Illinois started the new fiscal year with a checking account deficit of $3.013 billion, which does not bode well for the remainder of the fiscal year which ends in June.
Overall income tax revenues are down 22 percent for individuals and 24.5 percent for corporate revenues compared to the first quarter of FY 2015. Sales tax revenues showed a positive trend by ticking up 0.9 percent. Additionally, revenue shares from the federal government were up 9.9 percent.
Illinois has also increased spending on its Medicaid program by 74 percent during the first quarter of FY 2016.
COGFA reports show mixed economic signals
The legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability produced its October report, and the results are mixed. Illinois’ economic expansion was slowed during the month and as a result, the percentage of growth in the Gross Domestic Product fell to 2 percent for the year. During the summer months, Illinois’ economic output was hovering just shy of a healthy four percent.
September’s economic results showed an 11.5 percent decline in home sales, but economists stressed that Illinois home sales are still strong. That’s due to an uptick of 2.1 percent for the first nine months of 2015. Gas and fuel receipts are down by 19.7 percent due to the downturn in fuel prices. Conversely, it appears that Illinoisans are investing more money into higher expenditures for automobiles, furniture, and home furnishings.