|Social services operations are coming down to the wire in Illinois, and there is still no budget in sight. Social services providers rely on about $3.1 billion per year in state funding, without which they will need to start laying off staff and shutting down – soon. Some organizations have already closed, and countless others have laid off as many workers as they can. A rehabilitation association based in Springfield estimates that those of its member organizations that have not already exhausted their reserve funds and credit lines will need to file notice of mass layoffs before the end of August and will not be able to make payroll by early September. Read more here and here.
A new case filed against the state today claims that, despite a 2011 Consent Decree requiring the State to fund services for residents with developmental disabilities and a recent acknowledgement that this funding would continue throughout the budget impasse, the State is only funding services to a specific group of beneficiaries. Read the motion here.
A Senate bill would distribute the remaining $4.8 billion in fiscal year 2016 federal money that would otherwise be stuck in Springfield, leaving programs like supplemental nutritional assistance, community block grants, and several others with no resources to run on. Even though the money is from the federal government and requires no state funds, the state is still responsible for distributing it. The Senate bill would allocate $98.7 million to statewide Area Agencies on Aging, which provide services including ombudsmen, elder abuse prevention, and home meal delivery. The bill passed the Senate this week and has the governor’s publicly stated approval, but the House is not set to debate it until next week. Read more.
Senate President John Cullerton’s property tax freeze bill also passed the Senate, but its future in the House is not clear because of the funding for Chicago Public Schools’ pension payments, which Speaker Madigan did not support in the past. He may be warming up to the bill, though.
A workers’ compensation reform bill passed the Senate, but Republicans and business groups were opposed because it did not go far enough. Gov. Rauner, however, said, “As with our property tax freeze proposal, substantial common ground exists among the various workers’ compensation reform ideas that have been proposed.” This could signal the potential for compromise in the near future.
Mayor Emanuel expressed frustration with Gov. Rauner during a speech focused on Illinois’s manufacturing industry. “I understand the Governor has an agenda. But having your agenda should not come at the expense of running down either the city or the state you’re out there promoting,” he said. Gov. Rauner is now accusing Mayor Emanuel of being “unwilling” to help persuade Democrats to rally behind the governor’s agenda. Read more here and here.
Sen. Darin LaHood sponsored a constitutional amendment to abolish the position of Lieutenant Governor starting in 2019, and Sen. Kwame Raoul sponsored separate oneto eliminate the office of the Comptroller as of 2018 and transfer those duties to the state Treasurer.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan successfully filed for an extension to the deadline for an appeal of the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling that declared a pension reform law unconstitutional in May. Madigan has not indicated yet whether she will file an appeal, but she now has until September 10th to decide. Read more.
Chicago Public Schools is launching an Independent Schools Program this year, which will allow 25 school principals more autonomy over their budgeting, training, and school oversight. Principals who have achieved “proficient” or “distinguished” ratings for the past two years and served in their roles for at least three years are eligible to apply before theAugust 10th deadline. 312 out of 520 principals will be eligible. Read more.
US Rep. Tammy Duckworth, who is running to oust US Sen. Mark Kirk, may face trial for a ten-year-old complaint alleging workplace retaliation while she led the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. The case was dismissed by a federal judge in 2008, but after several appeals and narrowing the scope of the suit, a judge heard the complaint this week and tentatively scheduled a trial for April 2016. Read more.
Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin may also join the race, which some speculate could take votes away from Andrea Zopp and help Rep. Duckworth’s bid.
Illinois’s pension crisis is nothing new, but it sure is complex. If you have a few minutes, check out this long read from Crain’s Chicago Business on the origins of the crisis up to today.