April 22, 2016
Today marked the deadline for moving bills out of their chamber of origin. Of course, legislation that received a deadline extension remains viable despite not yet having been passed out of the original chamber. The House and Senate have adjourned until May 3. Upon returning, the House will begin to consider Senate bills, and the Senate will begin to consider House bills.
The budget impasse, now in its tenth month, will soon affect state legislators. Comptroller Leslie Munger announced that, beginning with their next paycheck, legislators would find themselves in the same payment line as any other person or entity owed money by the state. Delayed payments could result in lawmakers going without pay for two months.
Behind-the-scenes efforts to resolve the budget impasse are reportedly making at least a modicum of progress. While progress in discussions does not guarantee resolution, it’s at least encouraging that discussions are occurring without impediments.
Bi-Partisan Plan Approved to Fund Higher Education
Two competing proposals emerged this week for delivering much-needed cash to each of Illinois’ public universities as a short-term funding solution. A proposal put forward by Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) and Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) included $558 million for university operations and MAP grant funding by leveraging revenues available in the Education Assistance Fund. Additionally, the plan proposed cost savings by relieving universities of the requirements established within the Procurement Code. The proposal intended to provide a few months’ worth of higher education funding to serve as a bridge until tuition payments begin in August.
Another plan introduced by Representative Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) proposed to provide funding to only a handful of universities with each institution receiving more money than what was proposed in the Fortner-McGuire plan. Under the Mayfield plan, $166 million would have been shared among five universities. No money would have been provided to the other universities, or to fund MAP grants.
SB 2059 was amended to strike a compromise between the plans and provide much-needed short-term funding to Illinois’ public universities and community colleges. Under this plan, universities would share $356 million and community colleges would share $74 million. Chicago State University would receive the largest amount at $20 million. Approximately $170 million would be spent on MAP grant funding.
The bill appeared on its way to House passage on Thursday evening before being abruptly pulled from the record with an announcement that a vote would be deferred until Friday. It later emerged that the hold-up was an effort to pressure Republicans into adding hundreds of millions in social service funding. The Senate had already cancelled its Friday session day, but reversed this decision in order to vote on the temporary funding plan.
SB 2059 was ultimately approved in the House by a vote of 106-2 and in the Senate by a vote of 55-0 on Friday. Social service funding was not included in the bill.
Social Service Funding Solution Sought
As with higher education funding, a bipartisan effort is underway to reach an agreement for a short-term social services funding solution. The plan centers on using $400 million in available human service funds to provide payments to social service providers. Another option being floated would involve the forgiveness of a $454 million inter-fund loan that was part of the FY2015 budget patch approved last spring.
On Friday, the Senate did approve a bill (SB 2047) that included short-term higher education and social service funding by a vote of 55-0. Because it is a Senate bill, the House was unable to vote on the legislation that same day. Consequently, there remains no short-term funding solution for social services.
House Approves Property Tax Freeze Bill Affecting Non-Home Rule Taxing Bodies
HB 696 (Rep. Franks, D-Harvard) would, beginning with the 2015 levy year, apply the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) to all non-home rule taxing districts. Beginning with the 2015 levy year, the extension limitation under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law is 0% or the rate of increase approved by the voters. The bill was amended on the House Floor and approved by a vote of 71-31-5. HB 696 will next be considered by the Senate. Senate President Cullerton (D-Chicago) is the Senate sponsor.
IML staff immediately began conversing with legislators and the Governor’s Office following House passage to discern intent and to further convey our opposition. We remain reasonably assured that the Senate is unlikely to advance the bill in its current form, but we will keep our members apprised of any developments.
It should be noted that HB 696 differs substantially from a property tax freeze bill approved by the Senate last year. The Senate version, SB 318 (Sen. J. Cullerton, D-Chicago/Rep. Currie, D-Chicago) would impose a temporary two-year property tax freeze on both home rule and non-home rule taxing bodies, includes exemptions for public safety costs and bond payments and adds education funding for Chicago, as well as a provision to reform how schools are funded statewide. That bill has remained in the House Executive Committee for several months.
The difference between the bills suggests the House and Senate may have conflicting ideas about property tax freeze policy. The IML opposes any legislation that would impose a permanent property tax freeze and that does not include exemptions for public safety costs and bond payments. Following House passage, the Governor’s Office expressed opposition to HB 696 because the property tax freeze would not apply to all taxing bodies, and the bill does not include the cost-saving reforms sought by the Governor for local governments.
IDOR Tax Allocation Error
Earlier this week we notified our membership that the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) announced that a misallocation to the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) Fund caused an error that has resulted in overpayment of an estimated $168 million to the taxing districts that receive CPPRT disbursements. Read more about the overpayment issue here.
Legislation Advanced During the Third Reading Deadline Week
A list of IML-tracked bills that advanced out of the House or Senate during the past week can be viewed here. We encourage our members to review the bill summaries for a general awareness of the bills that remain viable and of interest to municipalities.
IML Tracked Bills
A list of bills that affect or are of interest to municipalities is available on our legislative website. These bills are searchable by number or by issue category.
Another great way to track bills of interest is by downloading our legislative app. If you do not yet have the app, it is available for iTunes and Android users.
If you have questions or information about any of our tracked bills, please contact the IML staff member through the e-mail link available within the digital bill page and app, or e-mail us at IMLLegislation@iml.org.