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  • Senate President urges optimism on state budget deal after first leaders meeting in months (VIDEO)

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  • Senate President urges Republicans to end the impasse (VIDEO)

    Senate President John J. Cullerton

    The state’s lingering budget stalemate could end quickly if Republican lawmakers would prioritize a balanced budget deal over their political allegiance to Governor Bruce Rauner, Senate President John J. Cullerton told reporters on Friday.

    “This could all be over if the will is there,” Cullerton said at a Capitol news conference. His comments come as the state creeps ever closer to a third year without a budget under Rauner, who the Wall Street Journal recently dubbed ‘Governor Junk.’

    “The pressure is really on the Republicans in the House, and I think they really want to get this done as well,” said Cullerton.

    The Illinois Senate approved a balanced budget and reform plans last month, but the Illinois House has not yet reached agreement on the budget plan. With the initial May 31 deadline past, it now requires 71 votes in the 118-member House to approve a budget deal. That gives the political minority Republicans a share of the driver’s seat.

    If Republicans could reach a bipartisan deal with Democrats in the House, that deal could be added onto the framework the Senate already passed and quickly approved, perhaps even in a day. Instead of negotiating a deal, Rauner and his Republican allies have focused on a new series of proposals that not only require far longer to get approved but are also inherently out of balance since they forgot to file any proposal to pay for the spending.

    Cullerton called for “an intervention” among Republicans in the House to work on a balanced budget and get it approved before the state’s budget year runs out next week.

    The Senate President also derided as a “political stunt” a series of Special Sessions the governor ordered to force lawmakers back to the Capitol, even though the Senate already addressed all the issues he listed.

    “Everything the special session would do, we have done in the Senate,” Cullerton said. “I think they were unfortunately designed to be a political stunt to give the governor cover.”

    Cullerton also criticized the governor for again intervening and pulling Republicans out of a planned meeting of legislative leaders. The Senate President said these meetings are key because the four leaders have a history of being able to work together to get results.

  • Senate budget leaders: GOP plan offers no revenue

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  • Senators react to governor’s call for special session

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  • Harmon: The most meaningful reform is a balanced budget (AUDIO)

    harmon 031517SPRINGFIELD – The most meaningful reform Gov. Bruce Rauner can sign into law after two years of gridlock in Springfield is a balanced budget, Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said.

    “Citizens and businesses in Illinois need predictability, stability and certainty, and Senate Democrats are offering that with a balanced budget,” Harmon said. “They’ll know what they are in for, they’ll know the state will pay its bills, and they’ll know that the state will be here to provide the services that everyone relies upon us to provide.”

    Harmon elaborated on a series of reforms the Senate passed last week in conjunction with a balanced budget at the behest of Gov. Rauner and others to make the state more business friendly. The reforms include workers’ compensation reform, procurement reform, local government consolidation reform and school funding reform. Senate Democrats also have indicated a willingness to enact a two-year property tax freeze.

    “Nobody likes property taxes. We’re proposing a freeze in property taxes. We’d like to hit the pause button so that we can implement state financial reforms and protect local property taxpayers from increase at the local level,” Harmon said.

    He noted that the Senate most recently enacted major reform of the state’s workers’ compensation system in 2011.

    “Those reforms are paying dividends, but we aren’t seeing those benefits being passed down from the insurance companies to the local businesses that buy their insurance,” he said. “The reforms we’re advancing this session will attempt to deal with that, will attempt to ensure that the premiums, the rates people pay for their workers’ compensation reflect the strides we’ve made in reforming the system.”

    Sen. Harmon talks about the budget:

     

  • Universities finally get state funding under Senate Democrats’ budget

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  • Facts: Balanced budget has big spending cuts, responsible revenue, stability

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    It’s been an entire session in the making – a responsible balanced budget for the first time in well over two years. Never before has Illinois, or any other state in contemporary history, gone without a finalized budget for such a long period of time. And, after untold hours of negotiation, compromise and conciliation, Illinois Senate Democrats grew weary of Governor Bruce Rauner’s forced slow-walk toward a resolution. With the clock ticking, millions of Illinoisans facing the prospect of continued and frustrating uncertainty, Senate Democrats passed a balanced budget with an historic $3 billion in cuts.

    Here are the facts:

    Capping Governor Rauner’s Spending Number

    In February, Governor Bruce Rauner unveiled a tremendously out of balance spending proposal that sets next year’s spending at $37.3 billion. The fiscal year 2018 begins on July 1, 2017, and Rauner’s plan was $4.6 out of balance.

    Senate Democrats’ plan closed the massively irresponsible gap and set provisions in place to ensure that spending doesn’t exceed Rauner’s $37.3 billion recommendation. This means, even though Governor Rauner has asked for major increases in spending, government can’t spend more than the $37.3 billion he proposed.

    A $3 Billion Spending Cut

    To balance the Governor’s irresponsible, multi-billion dollar out-of-balance budget proposal, Senate Democrats engaged in an intense process of slashing spending. These are cuts that Governor Rauner was unwilling to offer his support for, but Senate Democrats passed the measures with little to no GOP support.

    Part of the spending cuts include reducing operational spending by 5% for the bulk of government agencies. While these cuts often don’t impact programs and services to the public, they are aimed to streamline the government bureaucracy.
     

    Cuts and Savings

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    A Responsible Revenue Plan to Set a Path for Stability

    Every credible economic expert, sensible business leader and even Governor Rauner and his tightly controlled GOP allies have agreed that Illinois can’t simply cut its way out of the massive crisis we face. Revenue must be included. And, Senate Democrats also approved a responsible revenue package to establish certainly and stability for Illinois’ communities and our economy.

    $5.5 billion in revenue:

    Personal income tax: Raises the rate by 1.2 points - to 4.95 percent from current 3.75 percent.

    • Generates $4.453 billion annually.
    • This is a 1.2 percentage point increase, or a bit over a penny per dollar.

    Corporate income tax: Increases to 7 percent from 5.25 percent.

    • Generates $514 million annually.


    Eliminates three corporate tax loopholes worth a combined $125 million a year:

    • Eliminates the domestic production deduction (decouples Illinois from federal tax law; Wisconsin and Indiana already did this.)
    • Repeals the non-combination rule
    • Eliminates loophole exempting areas outside of standard U.S. from taxation, “outer continental shelf”

    A modernized revenue stream for services. Total: $55 million

    • laundry and dry-cleaning - $4 million
    • storage (cars, boats, property) - $18 million
    • pest control - $4 million
    • private detective, alarm and security services - $5 million
    • personal care: only tattoos, piercing (not haircuts, not hair coloring, not hair waxing or nails) $16 million


    Cable/Satellite/Streaming services will be taxed but through a franchise tax, not a sales tax. $54 million

    Democrats Excluded Many of the Republican Tax Increases

    During negotiations, Republicans floated a variety of taxes that would impact Illinois’ working families disproportionately when compared to the state’s wealthier citizens. Democrats eliminate the GOP’s plan for a $44 million tax for the repair and maintenance of cars, homes and other personal property, as well as a $14 million mowing/lawn care service tax.

    Additionally, Senate Democrats eliminated a GOP tax plan that would cost small businesses $83 million in rebates they currently receive.
     

    Investment & Balanced Spending for Stability

    budgetThe Senate Democrats’ FY18 budget invests heavily on elementary and secondary education, but also restores reasonable investment into higher education – a system Governor Rauner has slashed by billions in the past two years.

    P-12 Education:

    Includes more than $330 million in additional funding over current levels.

    • $286 million in new dollars to put toward new school funding formula
    • $35 million in additional funding for Early Childhood programs

    Includes funding for other grant programs such as:

    • $15 million for after school programs
    • $2.3 million for agriculture education
    • $500,000 for AP classes


    Higher Education:

    Provides full year funding for universities and community colleges for first time in two years

    • Funding is restored to Fiscal Year 2015 levels (last full higher education budget) and then cut by 10 percent to help balance overall spending.

    MAP grants are funded at the FY 2015 budget level of $364 million.

    Includes state funds for federal matching requirements for:

    • Career and Tech education
    • Adult education

    Human Services

    Provides full year of funding for following programs:

    • Community Care Program
    • Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings
    • Addiction Treatment
    • Early Intervention
    • Domestic Violence Shelters
    • Mental Health programs
    • Child Care Services

    Reinstates grant programs eliminated in Rauner’s budget:

    • $15 million for Youth Employment
    • $6 million of immigrant services
    • $13.4 million for Teen Reach
    • $4.3 million for autism support
    • $5.5 million for community youth services
    • $1 million for addiction prevention programs
  • Bennett ensures Senate budget includes funding for Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy

    bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD – The budget passed by the Illinois Senate includes funding for a popular program managed by the Illinois National Guard, according to one Illinois state senator.

    The Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy, funded through the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, is a youth intervention program based in Rantoul at the former Chanute Air Force Base. The academy seeks to help high school dropouts gain job and life skills that will lead to a better future.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) represents Rantoul and voted for the budget in large part to keep programs like the ChalleNGe Academy open.

    “Some of the young people who go Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy just need a second chance,” Bennett said. “The best way for the state to guarantee at-risk youth have a future chance at success is to invest in programs like the Academy that give them the necessary skills to do so.”

    Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy was started as a pilot program after the passage of the 1993 National Defense Reauthorization Act. Currently, 29 states have ChalleNGe Academies.

    The Rantoul-based facility will also receive funding to prevent another shutdown of their facility upgrade, saving taxpayers the expensive costs of restarting the project. The academy employs a number of people in Rantoul.

  • Senate Black Caucus delivers full balanced budget

    blk caucus 052517With the end of session looming, the Senate Black Caucus led the charge on presenting and passing a full balanced Senate budget. When it became apparent that partisan lines were drawn and the governor wanted to further hurt our state’s most vulnerable populations, the Senate Black Caucus stood together to provide the necessary votes.

    Assistant Majority Leader Caucus Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), joint chairwoman of Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said in a statement, “We made an effort today to prevent the governor from causing more suffering to our most vulnerable populations with a plan that gives our state stability.”

  • Tom Cullerton votes to support DuPage residents

    tc 052417SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to protect Illinois taxpayers, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) voted against a premature tax increase.

    Senate Bill 9 increases the state income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

    “I cannot support a tax increase until we cut more waste, fraud and abuse in state bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “The governor’s administration entered into a $2.4 million leasing deal on the taxpayers’ dime; yet folks are asking DuPage residents to help balance the budget. This is unacceptable and something I cannot vote in favor of.”

    Cullerton and State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) are urging for a bipartisan investigation by the Illinois Audit Commission to examine the sweetheart deal Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration gave to political insiders.

    Last week, the Illinois Senate passed structural reforms, such as Cullerton’s government consolidation plan, procurement reform and school funding reform.

    The school funding plan does not cut funding to schools in DuPage County. All schools will receive the same amount of funding they received this school year. However, struggling districts such as School District U-46 and Queen Bee School District 16 would receive an increase in funding to put them on an even playing field with neighboring schools. 

    “I would never support a plan that would pit children against each other,” Cullerton said. “None of our schools will receive less funding than the year before. However, we will move toward a system that is fair and gives all children, regardless of their ZIP code, a chance to succeed.” 

  • Senate Dems pass budget for state's stability and certainty

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  • Manar: If state can find emergency cookie dough money, why not emergency roof money?

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  • New facility would help women returning to communities after incarceration

    Sen. Dave KoehlerSPRINGFIELD – A new Department of Corrections facility would help women who have been incarcerated return to their communities under legislation being considered at the Senate.

    The facility, known as the Peoria Women’s Community Transformation Center, will provide housing, case management, social and educational services, hands-on training in construction skills and other types of vocational training, plus a pool of jobs created through the work of the Community Transformation Institute and its partners.

  • Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017 (VIDEO)

    jjc elmhurst2Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.

    The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

  • Senate President talks about real problems to solving state’s budget woes

    Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton is often invited to speak to groups and organizations about the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget. This presentation was put together to help illustrate the real pressures from both the budget and the growing backlog of unpaid bills.

    The following slides walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

     

  • Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017

    Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.

    The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

    Read more: Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017

  • Video: Manar still looking for budget answers from Rauner administration

    manar 031617Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a key Senate budget committee, explains the status of budget negotiations at the Capitol, including prospects for the Senate’s so-called “grand bargain,” the Rauner administration's reluctance to suggest cuts and examples of apparent mismanagement of the state by the governor.

  • Services for developmentally disabled threatened by budget impasse

    devel dis 030717Stories pop up every day all across Illinois about the effects of the budget impasse. Those stories range from facility closures to students who may be on the hook for thousands of dollars for their education. One story in the 18th District shows that the developmentally disabled are especially at risk during the budget impasse.

    “Sertoma Centre is just one example of the crisis that the state is facing,” Senator Bill Cunningham said. “We need real governing to ensure that we can end this fiscal crisis that is doing real harm to our community.”

  • Hastings looks for answers to address governor’s $5 billion budget hole

    hastings 011017SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) spent the week asking Illinois agencies to address Governor Bruce Rauner’s nearly $5 billion budget deficit.

    The $5 billion budget deficit would in turn mean a 20 percent budget cut across the board for Illinois agencies and programs.

    Hastings, chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law, brought in agency directors from the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Corrections to directly ask them where the 20 percent state agency cuts would come from.

    Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin did not appear in front of the committee or notify the committee of any scheduling conflicts.

    “The director of the Illinois Department of Corrections did not bother to notify the committee of his absence,” Hastings said. “It is offensive for directors to not come to Senate committees unprepared to answer questions. However, it is unimaginable for a director to not even bother to show up to committee. Come to work, do your job and explain the budget.”

    The Illinois State Police (ISP) is hoping for additional state funding to meet public safety needs. ISP needs to train additional cadets to fill workforce needs and keep Illinois safe.

    Governor Rauner did not seem to consult with the ISP while developing his proposed budget.

    “There is a void in leadership,” Hastings said. “The governor needs to lead our state forward, not obstruct progress. We are going on year three without a budget. We know our people are hurting. Governor, you need to step up and do your job.”

    ISP and IDOC did not list any potential budget cuts to meet the governor’s nearly $5 billion deficit.

    Hastings is looking forward to meeting with the Director Baldwin during Senate appropriations hearings.

  • McGuire: Governor’s unbalanced budget lacks specifics

    mcguire 030917SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, issued the following statement Thursday to address concerns with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s unbalanced budget proposal, which spends nearly $5 billion more than projected revenues.

    “This week, leaders of our nine state universities told of jobs lost, programs eliminated, reserves exhausted, furloughs imposed, and tuition rates increased,” said McGuire, Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Yet, the Governor’s proposed budget not only cuts Illinois higher education again. A nearly $5 billion hole with no plan to close it makes planning impossible for schools and families.”

    McGuire joined several other Democrats in the Illinois Senate at a press conference today in Springfield to speak about the governor’s unbalanced budget proposal. In a week of testimony before various Senate committees, agency heads were unable to identify any specific reductions to their departments that would help close the $4.6 billion deficit in the governor’s proposed budget.