2017 Illinois Session Recap

by Kevin Riggs | Jun 02, 2017

For the third time in a row, the year’s session has come to an end without a State budget.  At the heart of the continued impasse is the Governor's Turnaround Agenda which calls for greater worker's compensation reform, property tax freezes, collective bargaining, term limits, and various cuts.  As a result of not compromising to pass another budget it is expected the State's backlog of bills will now increase to $14 billion by the start of next fiscal year on July 1.  The Democratic majority in both the House and Senate feel strongly the Governors agenda items are non-budgetary issues but the Governor and Republicans contend that the State economic climate can be repaired quickly if his reforms are instituted.  

The Speaker passed a resolution stating the House will continue to meet and work through June in hopes of trying to develop an agreement on a spending and revenue plan for the budget.  However, since an agreement could not be met by May 31, now it will take three-fifths super majority to pass anything in both Chambers, which is eleven more votes in the House and six more votes in the Senate.  This will certainly add more political theater to an already challenging task. 

Bills of Interest

The Senate voted to pass several budget bills from the "Grand Bargain" which consisted of revenue increases and authorizes spending.  The bills were passed on a partisan basis, with the majority of Democrats voting for them and Republicans not voting for the bills.  Over the past week Senate President Cullerton, felt he and has caucus had negotiated and had compromised with the Senate Republicans. 

Senate Bill 9 (Rep. Davis D-Hazel Crest & Sen. Hutchinson D-Olympia Fields)
This bill increases the state income tax and expanding the sales tax to certain services. The bill increases the personal income tax rate to 4.95% from the current 3.75% and raises the corporate income tax rate to 7.0% from the current 5.25%.  It expands the sales tax to laundry and dry cleaning services, as well as storage and other services to bring in $55 Million. The bill also raises $54 Million in cable and satellite TV taxes and closes corporate loopholes up to $125 Million. Passed the Senate not called in the House.

Senate Bill 42 (Rep. Harris D-Chicago & Sen. Manar D-Bunker Hill)
This this the Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP), it gives the State the authority raise the needed revenue to pay for expenditures and various state agency operations. Passed the Senate not called in the House.

Senate Bill 6 (Rep. Harris D-Chicago & Sen. Steans D-Chicago)
This is the $37.3 Billion budget bill.  Senate Democrats contend this plan matches up with the spending level provided by Governor in his budget address.  The bill also provided for spending authority for the Motor Fuel Tax, Video Gaming, Use Tax and 9-1-1 service funding.   Passed the Senate not called in the House.

Senate Bill 1 (Rep. Davis D-Hazel Crest & Sen. Manar D-Bunker Hill)
This bill is the comprehensive education funding reform bill that would change the funding system in Illinois to reflect the evidence based model. The bill would ensure no school district will get less money than it currently receives.  Any additional money put toward K-12 education in the future will be distributed using the new formula that will direct more money to districts most in need, such as those with high concentrations of students from low income families.  Republicans strongly contend this is not a fair bill because 70% of the funding will go to Chicago Public Schools. Passed both Chambers.

Senate Bill 482 & Senate Bill 484 (Sen. President Cullerton D-Chicago)
These two bills are property tax freezes aimed at giving relief to Illinois homeowners.  SB 482 would freeze property tax levies for school districts, but they would be able to seek a waiver from the Illinois State Board of Education.  SB 484, would freeze taxes for government bodies with exemptions to allow them to pay down debt and contributions to employee's pensions.  The Governor has demanded a four-year freeze and then a permanent freeze.  Senate President Cullerton and the Democrats are concern a permanent freeze would cripple local governments but they are open to adopt a new freeze after two years if it is working for local governments.  Passed the Senate not called in the House.

Senate Bill 2525 (Rep. Hoffman D-Belleville & Sen. Raoul D-Chicago)
This bills amends the Employer's Liability Rates Article of the Illinois Insurance Code for Workers Compensation. Provides that a rate is excessive if it is likely to produce a long run profit that is unreasonably high for the insurance provided or if expenses are unreasonably high in relation to the services rendered. Repeals provisions regarding presumptions that a competitive market exists, determining whether a competitive market exists, and disapproval of rates under specified circumstances. Provides that accidental injuries sustained while traveling to or from work do not arise out of and in the course of employment. Defines "in the course of employment" and "arising out of the employment". Permits an employer to file with the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission a workers' compensation safety program or a workers' compensation return to work program implemented by the employer. Provides that the Commission may certify any such safety program as a bona fide safety program after reviewing the program. In a provision concerning compensation for the period of temporary total incapacity for work resulting from an accidental injury, provides that (i) injuries to the shoulder shall be considered injuries to part of the arm and (ii) injuries to the hip shall be considered injuries to part of the leg. Contains provisions concerning repetitive and cumulative injuries; permanent partial disability determinations; electronic claims; annual reports by the Commission concerning the state of self-insurance for workers' compensation in Illinois; and duties of the Workers' Compensation Premium Rates Task Force; and other matters. Passed both Chambers.

Senate Bill 81 (Rep. Guzzardi D-Chicago & Sen. Lightford D-Maywood) 
This bill will raise the state minimum wage to $15 per hour over five years.  Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25.  Under the plan, workers age 18 and over would see the wage increase in increments until 2022, while workers under age 18 will receive a smaller increase to $12 per hour by 2022 as well. Passed both Chambers.