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  • Lightford: Lottery dollars should serve as a supplement to education

    LotterySPRINGFIELD — When the Illinois Lottery was established, its purpose was to provide extra revenue for schools, but those funds have been often used to replace funds from other sources. Reliance on lottery revenue to fund local schools could soon come to an end under a proposal that was approved in the Senate today.

    House Bill 213, led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), ensures that any money transferred to the Common School Fund from the State Lottery Fund shall serve as a supplement, not a replacement for, any other money due to the Common School Fund.

    “It is time we used lottery money as it was intended,” Lightford said. “Our school system is underfunded, and we cannot continue to allow our children to lose out on vital resources they need for success.”

    Currently, 24 percent of lottery ticket revenue is deposited into the Common School Fund. In fiscal year 15, that amount was $679 million of the total $2.85 billion in lottery sales.

    The measure will now head back to the House on concurrence.

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

    budget compare carousel

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

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  • Policymakers Speak about Experiences Legalizing Marijuana at Hearing Held by Steans, Cassidy

    mjhearing 041917

    Recreational use in other states has increased revenues, created jobs

    CHICAGO –As the movement to legalize recreational marijuana gains popularity in Illinois, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) heard testimony addressing best practices for regulation and taxation on Wednesday, April 19 from experts around the country. This hearing was the first in a series that will address the wide variety of concerns regarding their legislation that would allow Illinois residents to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and purchase marijuana products at licensed and regulated facilities.

  • 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.

  • Feedback will shape efforts to legalize recreational marijuana

    Sen. Heather Steans

    Feedback from community groups, advocacy organizations, public safety officers, medical professionals and the public will be pivotal in shaping efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. At a press conference today, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) announced plans to hold the first subject matter hearing on the topic at 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the Bilandic building.

    “Rep. Cassidy and I are committed to gathering feedback about how legalizing recreational marijuana would affect the state from a large variety of interest groups,” Steans said. “We have received overwhelming support for this legislation but do not plan to move forward hastily. We want to ensure that there is ample time for organizations and individuals to present testimony and for us to adjust the legislation based on information presented in hearings.”

    Barbara Brohl, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Revenue will testify on how legalizing recreational marijuana has affected Colorado during the first hearing on this subject. Karmen Hanson, the program director of the Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, will also testify on what other states have done around legalizing marijuana.

    “Senator Steans and I strongly believe that it’s time that Illinois had a new drug policy,” Cassidy said. “Legalizing recreational marijuana will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state. We’re discussing all sorts of proposals to end the budget impasse, and we thought this should be part of the conversation as well.”

    The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy organization devoted to ending marijuana prohibition, has estimated that legalizing recreational marijuana would generate between $350 million and $700 million in new revenue for the state of Illinois. Under the Steans-Cassidy proposals, the revenue would go to support the State Board of Education; treatment and education programs about marijuana, alcohol and tobacco; and the state’s General Revenue Fund.

    Currently, six groups and organizations have come out in support of the legislation due to the fiscal impact it would have on the state and their belief that Illinois needs a new drug policy.

    “It is time for Illinois to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, a spokesperson for the Coalition for a Safer Illinois, a newly formed alliance of doctors, law enforcement, clergy and other organizations committed to updating marijuana legislation in Illinois. “Our current policy causes more harm to the individual and society than cannabis consumption, and a majority of Illinois voters are ready for a better approach. We believe these bills are exactly what Illinois needs.”

    The two legislators will also seek feedback from residents at a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in their district.

  • 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

  • Steans seeks to mend budget woes by legalizing marijuana

    legal marijuanaCHICAGO – Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) seeks to create a new revenue source for the State of Illinois by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana. Senate Bill 316 legalizes the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana and will allow facilities to sell marijuana products.

    “Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” Steans said. “In a regulated system, the money would go into the cash registers of licensed, taxpaying businesses. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state. Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it.”

  • Senate sends local funding measure to governor

    sb2039 passes

  • You pay at the pump, why is Springfield keeping your money?

    You pay at the pump, why is Springfield keeping your money?

  • Lame-duck appointments ban becomes law

    morrison biz license webSPRINGFIELD – A law to prevent future governors from engaging in last-minute patronage takes effect today.

    State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) introduced the proposal after former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a political operative to a $160,000-per-year state job at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority a month after he lost his election last year.

    Her plan affects any director appointed to a governor-controlled board or commission after the governor loses an election. They will be limited to 60 days in the position, allowing the newly elected governor to find the best person for the position. Morrison’s legislation extends beyond the ISFA to include similar government organizations.

    “People are sick and tired of Illinois public officials abusing their positions,” Morrison said. “We shouldn’t need this law, but Gov. Quinn made it clear that we do. Fortunately, now this loophole is closed forever.”

    The Illinois Sports Finance Authority – a government entity – owns U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, and provided the majority of the financing for the renovation of the Bears’ Soldier Field. It receives subsidies from the state and the city of Chicago, income from the White Sox rental agreement, and revenue from a 2 percent tax on all hotel rentals in Chicago.

    The legislation was originally House Bill 4078.