Legislative Update

FY15 Budget Solution and Forecast for FY16 Budget 

The Illinois House and Senate took a tough, but necessary vote to fix the $1.6 billion gap in the FY15 budget.  The bill passed with bi-partisan support and was signed by Governor Rauner.  If immediate action had not been taken, the State would have been unable to make payroll at prisons, low-income working families would have lost their child care assistance, court reporters would have been laid off, and money for services for the mentally ill and the developmentally disabled would have  run out come April 1st.

In addition, inaction would have further delayed and perhaps jeopardized critical categorical school funding.  While education takes a minor funding reduction, the Governor will have discretionary funds available to ease the burden on schools. Granting emergency budget authority to the Governor is not without precedent, and given my faith in Governor Rauner and his commitment to holding the line on spending, this was the right thing to do.

The FY16 budget will be a challenge in its own regard. The House Revenue and Finance Committee heard testimony for the spending period that will begin on July 1, 2015. Just like the $1.6 billion gap in the FY 15 budget, legislators will have to work around the continuing phase-down of the “temporary” January 2011 income tax increase.  Estimates show that the State’s cash intake from the income tax increase is dropping by nearly $5 billion over the two-year period starting in FY14 and leveling off in FY16. FY16 budget negotiations have begun and will continue to be discussed as the May 31st deadline approaches.

Effingham native Jim Schultz brings entrepreneurial spirit to state agency

As reported in: The State Journal-Register
By: Seth A. Richardson
March 28, 2015

Jim Schultz learned the business trade from getting beaten up by his older brothers. “I was born the sixth of eight children,” he said. “I learned at a very early age how to negotiate in a collaborative cooperative fashion. In other words, if I didn’t, as the sixth of eight, I’d end up with bloody nose or on the ground.”

Now, the newly appointed director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity wants to draw on those lessons that started so long ago to improve Illinois’ economy. To read more click here.

Stop bestowing student loans upon all who ask

As reported in: Chicago Tribune
By: Megan McArdle
April 2, 2015

A group of student-loan borrowers has declared that they’re not going to repay their student loans, and they are asking the Department of Education to cancel their debt.

They are former students — perhaps I should say “victims” — of a for profit college operator that lost eligibility for federal student loans last year and has been purchased by a company that specializes in … collecting student-loan debts.  The students claim that before the denouement, the school did everything but turn them upside down and shake the loose change out of their pockets.  They’re now deeply in debt, with degrees that don’t seem to be worth much. And that’s those who graduated; those who didn’t are in even worse shape.  So they want the Department of Education to forgive their loans and allow them to get back on their fee.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about the topics discussed in this newsletter, or any other part of state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (815) 547-3436 or email me at sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.