In this issue:
- A quick update as adjournment nears
- Working to improve Illinois’ business climate
- COVID emergency declaration finally ends
- Illinois headlines
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter. For the latest news from state government or to share your ideas and opinions, please visit my legislative website at repbunting.com.
End of session draws near
The House is scheduled to adjourn on Friday, completing the spring legislative session. As we move toward the end of session, some issues have been addressed, while some others remain unresolved. One bill of local interest which I regret to report passed this week, was the proposal to extend taxing authority for the Central Illinois Regional Airport to all of the taxpayers of McLean County.
Here is a quick recap of where we stand. Check next week’s newsletter for a more thorough recap.
No action yet on budget, ethics
The state’s new fiscal year begins on July 1, so we must have a budget passed and signed into law by that date. So far, however, with just a few days left until the legislature is scheduled to adjourn and leave town, we have not seen a budget proposal.
It is extremely reckless to put a budget together behind closed doors, with little to no transparency, and then rush it through at the last minute. Illinois has done this kind of shady budgeting for far too long, and it is the primary reason the state has had the fiscal problems it has had over the years. I hope that we will see a balanced budget proposal soon and will have adequate time to review it before voting.
So far we have also not seen any action on ethics, in spite of the glaring need for reform. The new Legislative Inspector General was re-appointed to a full term last week, but without reforms to strengthen the powers of his office, we will not see the kinds of improvements we need. Republicans have proposed several ideas for reforms. There is still time to bring those bills up for a vote.
Proposals would improve Illinois’ business climate
Illinois has lagged behind many other states in job creation for several years, largely due to an unfriendly jobs climate that makes it harder to attract and retain job creators. This spring, a group of House Republicans has been working on a plan to improve the business climate and create more jobs here. A few days ago they rolled out their proposals.
The Reigniting Illinois’ Strong Economy (RISE) working group has proposed a series of reasonable reforms to “lower taxes, decrease regulation, control litigation and assure reliable and affordable energy.” In total, the working group has developed two workers compensation reform bills, two bills to attract new investment in Illinois, a pair of energy bills, three more dealing with litigation reform and four to reduce taxes.
COVID emergency declaration finally expires
It took 1155 days, but the COVID-19 emergency declaration has finally come to an end.
For more than three years, Illinoisans were living under executive orders, partial economic shutdowns, mandatory stay-at-home orders, facial covering requirements and other such instructions. Illinois was one of the last states in the nation to declare and end to the pandemic emergency. When our emergency declaration expired, 44 other states had already lifted theirs.
Now is the time to look back on what was done right and what was done wrong, and to consider legislation to prevent the kind of unilateral rule we saw during the worst days of the pandemic. Should some similar disaster ever strike in the future, legislators and local elected officials need to be more involved in the response.
Our current bill backlog
When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $1,432,722,255. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $2.2 billion in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.