state budget

Peter Medlin

Illinois state representatives from both sides of the aisle came to Northern Illinois University this week. They fielded student questions, debated state budget issues and discussed the challenges of the political process.

The Illinois House of Representatives boasts dozens more Democrats than Republicans. But Representatives from both parties said they were encouraged by bipartisan action they saw when working on the budget.

Low-income college students in Illinois got some good news today. The state's Monetary Award Program — which provides MAP grants to help pay for tuition — will be able to give more grants with more money, thanks to the largest appropriation in the fund’s history.

Lynne Baker, with the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, says the agency approved a new formula that will boost grants by an average of $220 and cover at least 6,700 more students.

Members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education are satisfied with how higher ed fared in the new state budget passed by Illinois lawmakers.

For several years, Illinois higher ed officials have been fighting their way out of the hole dug during the two-year budget impasse.

But they say the budget, passed by the General Assembly, is a big improvement. Nyle Robinson is the Higher Education Board’s Interim Executive Director.

“...major steps in repairing the damage," he said. "In fact, this is arguably the best session for higher education in a generation."

Friday is the last day of the Illinois General Assembly’s scheduled spring legislative session, and lawmakers still have a long list of things to do.

BRIAN MACKEY / NPR ILLINOIS

A national study of state government budgeting gives Illinois low marks.  

It's no surprise to see Illinois fare poorly when it comes to finances.  A two year budget impasse created even more problems.

"It's hard to gauge the success of the budget in Illinois when you didn't have one," said Bill Glasgall with the non-partisan Volcker Alliance, which conducted the analysis titled "Truth And Integrity In State Budgeting: What is The Reality?"

EIU

Illinois has tapped nearly $700 million in existing funds to make the first payment to colleges and universities they've received in seven months.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza announced the payment Thursday.

It includes $327 million owed for the needs-based Monetary Award Program for 110,000 college students for the past school year.

The Democrat made the announcement in Charleston. She presented a nearly $6 million payment to Eastern Illinois University President David Glassman.

"cheque" by Flickr User Tina Franklin / (CC X 2.0)

The state of Illinois has officially given human resources departments the information they need to start deducting more from workers' paychecks.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois Department of Revenue on Tuesday issued a release with specific details of implementing changes that accountants and employers need to enact the income tax hike that lawmakers approved last week.

The individual income tax rate is now 4.95 percent, up from 3.75 percent. Corporations will pay 7 percent instead of 5.25 percent. It is retroactive to July 1 of this year.

Wikipedia

The controversial override vote Thursday was delayed by about two hours when the capitol was put on lockdown, due to reports of a woman throwing or spilling an unknown substance near the governor’s office and other locations.

The woman’s name has not been released, but she is well-known to several people in the statehouse, and is an education advocate.

That’s according to Letitia Dewith-Anderson, a lobbyist who says she has known the woman for a couple of years; she bumped into her being escorted by police out of an elevator.

Jenna Dooley

The Illinois Senate is expected to vote on a full budget today.

That’s after the House passed a spending plan and a tax increase over the weekend to try and end the two-year long impasse.

In the House, 15 Republicans went against Gov. Bruce Rauner and voted yes.

But it’s not a given that the Senate has the votes to pass it.

Senate Democrats already passed a budget. It included more spending than the plan they’re set to consider today.

Senate Republicans opposed that budget - and the question now is whether they’ll oppose this one too.

Jenna Dooley/WNIJ

Illinois lawmakers are back to work after a dramatic vote in the House to increase income taxes.

Attention turns Monday to the Senate, where lawmakers will consider the budget measures approved by the House a day earlier.

The Illinois House of Representatives approved an increase in the state income tax Sunday that will bring the personal tax rate to 4.95 percent. Corporations would pay 7 percent instead of 5.25 percent.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

The budget measure, Senate Bill 6, voted on in the Illinois House Friday, while not yet the final word, outlines funding for all aspects of state government operations, goods, services, grants, projects and more.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

The partisan divide in Springfield seems wider than ever as Illinoisans brace for the start of another fiscal year without a budget. Lawmakers adjourned Wednesday without a spending plan. In this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens asked Rockford University Economics and Political Science Professor Bob Evans how we ended up here again.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Governor Bruce Rauner is now accusing Illinois House Democrats of killing a deal to end the budget impasse.

When the so-called grand bargain failed last month - Senate Democrats said it was because Rauner had pulled Republican votes away from the compromise.

Rauner shared a new accusation; he claims House Democrats sent leaders of special interest groups to attack Senate Democrats in order to blow up the grand bargain.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

A new poll says Illinois voters are divided on what to do about the state’s financial problems.

The poll puts Illinois' deficit at $10 billion, and gives voters three choices for how to fix it: raise taxes, cut "waste and inefficiency," or both.

Cuts were the most popular answer at 45 percent. Just 11 percent favored only raising taxes; about a third said do both.

Paradoxically, when you ask voters about specific areas to cut, most are rejected. Support was strongest for spending on education, poor people, and individuals with disabilities.

Jenna Dooley

Governor Bruce Rauner is predicting companies would flee the state if Illinois changed its income tax structure.

Currently the personal income tax rate is 3.75 percent.

Some Democratic candidates for governor are starting to campaign on changing to a graduated income tax rate - so wealthy people pay more.

Rauner says that proposal would result in business owners leaving Illinois.

If we double their tax rate, which could happen under some sort of a graduated scheme, we’ll see the flood of businesses go to a torrent out of Illinois.

"Dentist" by Flickr User Travis Wise / (CC X 2.0)

With no budget, Illinois has racked up a $12 billion tab in unpaid bills and that number is growing. Among those still waiting for their checks: Dentists.

Dr. Ronald Lynch runs a family dentistry in Jacksonville. He says the money he’s waiting for is up to $170,000. How far behind is Illinois in paying Lynch?

“We are approximately at November of 2015," Lynch said.

That means a state worker went to see Lynch just after the Kansas City Royals won the World Series, and Lynch has only recently gotten paid for it.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois moved a few inches closer to having a budget Tuesday. The state Senate began voting on its so-called “grand bargain.”

The deal has changes to business law long favored by Republicans, and a tax hike members of both parties have said is necessary to balance the state budget.

But none of that was called for a vote yet; instead, senators passed relatively easier bills, like those meant to make state and local government more efficient.

State of Illinois

Members of the Illinois Senate return to Springfield Tuesday. They’re once again expected to vote on a deal meant to end Illinois’ budget stalemate.

  

The top Republican and Democrat in the Senate have been working on this compromise since December.

It has changes to Illinois law meant to help businesses, higher income taxes meant to begin balancing the state budget, and a property tax freeze.

Senate Republicans have been reluctant to seal the deal — wanting to make sure they were getting enough of their priorities in exchange for their votes on a tax hike.

Gov. Rauner's Third Budget Address, Annotated

Feb 15, 2017
NPRIllinois

 

Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his third budget address Wednesday to the Illinois General Assembly. Here is his speech in its entirety, plus analysis of some of his points by reporters specializing in Illinois politics. Thanks to Illinois Public Radio, WBEZ, NPR Illinois, and Chicago Tonight for their expertise.

Loading...

iit.edu

About 200 students protested in the Illinois Capitol rotunda Wednesday.  They’re part of the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education.

The group wanted to show lawmakers the importance of funding colleges and universities, as well as MAP grants for students.  

One of the protestors was Kiasee Ray,  a freshman at Dominican University in River Forest. She says the MAP grant is the reason she's in college today.

State of Illinois

Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says the way to settle the controversy over state-employee pay is to approve a state budget.

The Chicago Democrat spoke to the City Club of Chicago Monday. He urged support for a compromise budget plan that includes appropriations for worker pay.

He says the Senate will take up the package this week after failing to OK it in January.

Feuding between Legislative Democrats and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has prevented a budget agreement since July 2015.

Brian Mackey / Illinois Public Radio

Top leaders in the Illinois Senate continue to negotiate on a "grand bargain" to end the state's budget standoff.

They left the Capitol on an 11-day break Thursday without voting on the proposals.

Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, is negotiating with his Republican counterpart.

He told his colleagues: When the session resumes next month, come back ready to vote.

"The problems we face are not going to disappear. In fact, they're going to get more difficult every day,” Cullerton said.

Opposition Arises To State Senate Budget Plan

Jan 25, 2017
Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

The Illinois Senate is putting the brakes on a compromise budget plan, but a key Democrat says there still could be a floor vote this week.

Oak Park Sen. Don Harmon, President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Democratic Executive Committee Chairman, says some members weren't ready to vote on the massive proposal designed to break a nearly two-year budget deadlock with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat, says he understands their narrow concerns.

"City Graveyard" by Flickr User David Joyce / (CC X 2.0)

Since the Illinois temporary spending plan ended in December, even more services are disappearing. One of them is state aid to provide funerals for families that can’t afford them.

Drew Edwards became a funeral director in Danville in the '90s. Back then, when a family didn’t have the money to pay for their loved one’s funeral, the state would provide help.

 

“You’d fill out an application, send it to the public aid office, and the state would give an allotment to pay funeral homes to help have a dignified either funeral or cremation for the family,” Edwards said.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Illinois Senate leaders are sticking to their word that they plan to vote on a compromise budget deal next week.

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago and Minority Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont told the Chicago Tribune editorial board that they plan to put the proposal to a floor vote Wednesday.

It would raise income taxes, borrow to pay off overdue bills, expand casino gambling, and freeze local property taxes.

Cullerton says the Senate must act quickly in part to fend off lobbyists lining up to kill parts of the plan.

State of Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner's office estimates a Senate proposal to break a nearly two-year Illinois budget deadlock would still leave the treasury billions of dollars in the red.

The review obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press shows tax increases floated in the Senate plan would increase revenue by $1.7 billion. But it says it adds more than $4 billion in spending.

"Electronic Stethescope" By Flickr User Ted Eytan / (CC BY 2.0)

A Springfield medical group is requiring patients insured by the state to pay half of their expected surgery bills up front.

The State Journal-Register reports that the requirement from the Orthopedic Center of Illinois comes at a time when payments for the care of state workers, retirees and dependents insured through the State Employees' Group Insurance Program total $3.66 billion - and are overdue a year and a half or more.

Those delays have grown amid the lack of a permanent state budget.

"Window" By Flickr User Sam Howzit / (CC BY 2.0)

Organizations that help victims of domestic violence are about to stop receiving money from the Illinois state government.

That’s because there’s no full budget.

Individual domestic violence programs are getting some federal money, but they’re still figuring out what they will do without state support, like whether to borrow money until there’s a deal in Springfield.

Or whether to make cuts to the number of people they serve.

Vickie Smith is with the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Flickr user Jim Bowen / "Illinois State Capitol" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner are succeeding more at frustrating each other than at striking a deal to end an 18-month budget impasse that's damaging the state's fiscal health every day.

The relationship between ruling Democrats, Republican leaders, and Rauner has only grown more toxic after several meetings in recent weeks where both sides are more likely to lash out at each other than to report meaningful progress in passing a full budget. 

"Window" By Flickr User Sam Howzit / (CC BY 2.0)

Those who work for Illinois organizations that provide services to survivors of domestic violence say the fact there’s no funding for them in the state’s soon-to-expire spending plan was an unfortunate surprise.

 

The stopgap budget doesn’t have a line item for domestic violence programs, but directors say they thought they would be paid out of the Department of Human Services' budget.

 

Pages