The Governor has taken action on several hundred bills. He still has time to sign the remaining ones that were passed by the General Assembly. Some of the billed signed into law include the following:
Clean up and revisions to the Community Mental Health Act were included in House Bill 475. With significant input from ACMHAI, this legislation benefits 708 Boards. This bill includes language defining authority for establishing the budget. This also benefits some of the newer Boards that have had difficulty establishing adequate levies/budgets and cleans up some of the language around Board member appointments.
The 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Workgroup Act is in House Bill 1364. This also extends the CESSA Act’s effective date to July 1, 2024, providing additional time for the Statewide Advisory Committee and Regional Advisory Committees to continue the implementation work. Requires DMH to submit quarterly reports on its progress to implement the Act.
Senate Bill 57 is the Behavioral Health Professional Loan Repayment Program. Increases the funding amounts based on outstanding debt reported by the program applicants and the need for key provider types and is funded at $5 million for FY 24.
State Revenues Give Slight Cushion for Fiscal Year
State revenues once again reached a record high in the fiscal year that ended June 30, creating what Gov. JB Pritzker called a “one-time” budget surplus of over $700 million.
The $50.7 billion in base general revenues that the state collected in fiscal year 2023 – which exclude one-time pandemic-related federal funds – was $726 million beyond what was projected by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget in its most recent estimate adopted in May during negotiations for the fiscal year 2024 budget.
In recent years, the state has dedicated surpluses to paying down long- and short-term debt, making pension payments beyond the amounts required in law and providing one-time temporary tax relief. Pritzker indicated he’d continue to be cautious when considering spending priorities for one-time revenues, echoing his budget office, which noted that revenues have fluctuated wildly from month to month in recent years.
Still, COGFA’s report noted that “many economic forecasters still have a recession in the short-term as a distinct possibility.” It also noted the investment bank Goldman Sachs reduced its projected odds of the U.S. economy entering a recession in the next 12 months to 25 percent from 35 percent.
The governor’s office has noted its FY 2024 budget, which plans for $50.6 billion in revenue, anticipates a “mild recession.”
Illinois Pension Systems to Be Reviewed by State Panel
Illinois’ pension contributions have grown to over 20 percent of the State’s available general funds revenues. This limits other critical investments in education, social services and infrastructure, all of which are vital to the State’s growth. An Illinois House Committee is reviewing the systems and ways to address funding and benefits.
Illinois House Personnel & Pensions Committee Chair State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit, (D-Oswego), and Minority Spokesperson Steven Reick (R-Woodstock) recently hosted the first of many hearings regarding Illinois pension systems. The July hearing provided an overview of Illinois’ systems, as well as discussion regarding long-term outlook of the state’s systems. The hearing was a platform to discuss the necessary expenses and revenues required to achieve a sustainable pension system.
“We recognize the urgency of addressing the pension situation in Illinois, and the Personnel & Pensions Committee has invested significant time in listening to experts and understanding the challenges posed by our Tier 2 pension system,” said Kifowit. “This hearing is part of an ongoing series of conversations between stakeholders that will update the public on where we currently stand and how we can improve things moving forward.”
While acknowledging that fixing the pension system will come at a cost, Kifowit emphasized that the longer the issue remains unaddressed, the greater the financial burden becomes for Illinois and its employees.
Future subject matter hearings hope to address a multitude of pension issues including fixes to Safe Harbor related to Tier 2 retirees, buyouts/DROP, potential closure of General Assembly and Judicial Retirement systems. Future hearings also may be reviewing retirement age proposals, public safety and university hiring related to benefits. These hearings will continue throughout the summer and into the fall. RTAC will be kept apprised of the discussion as well as the need or opportunity to provide input if it is relevant. The next hearing will focus on Tier 2 benefits, shortfall and potential solutions.
SAFE-T Act Upheld by State Supreme Court
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled the provision of the SAFE-T Act ending cash bail to be constitutional in a recent ruling. The landmark decision paves the way for Illinois to become the first state in the nation to eliminate cash bail.
The 5-to-2 vote comes six months after the state Supreme Court itself halted this particular provision of the SAFE-T Act from taking effect in response to legal challenges that had been filed against it.
The Pre-Trial Fairness Act, which includes the no cash bail provision, was the most controversial part of the SAFE-T Act. The cash bail provision was to go into effect Jan. 1, but it was challenged by lawsuits from prosecutors and sheriffs across the state. It will now take effect on September 18, 2023.
“Skip the Line” at Secretary of State’s Office
Illinois’ Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias will begin implementing a Skip-the-Line program starting next month. Beginning Sept. 1st, 44 driver services facilities around the state will require appointments for things like renewing a license, updating a license to meet Real ID requirements or taking a driving test.
The Skip-the-Line program includes:
Simplified Online Services — Customers are encouraged to take advantage of the many services offered online at ilsos.gov, including renewing their driver’s license or ID card and license plate sticker online.
Appointment Scheduling — Customers will be required to make appointments for in-person visits at 44 of the busiest DMVs including all Chicago and suburban locations and some central and downstate DMVs for those seeking REAL ID, driver’s license and ID card services, and in-car driving tests.
Those seeking vehicle-related services, such as title and registration or renewing their license plate sticker, do not need to make an appointment and can just walk in.
Air Pollution Action Day Program Expanding Statewide for Air Quality Alerts
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) have established new Illinois-specific guidelines for issuing air quality messages to the public to provide additional guidance for public health measures. The Illinois EPA is expanding the Air Pollution Action Day program beyond the Chicago Metropolitan Area. These air quality messages are a call to action for residents to protect their health and for residents and businesses to reduce local contribution to air pollution.
Like the weather, air quality can change from day to day. Residents are encouraged to subscribe to Free air quality forecasts and alerts through the EnviroFlash program and to monitor daily and hourly air quality conditions at www.airnow.gov.”
State Tax Interest Waivers for those Facing Storm Damage
Gov. JB Pritzker announces that individuals and businesses devastated by the severe weather and tornadoes on June 29th through July 4th may request waivers of penalties and interest on state taxes if they cannot file their returns or make payments on time.
The counties covered by the Disaster Proclamation include: Calhoun, Christian, Clark, Coles, Cook, Cumberland, Dewitt, Douglas, Edgar, Hancock, Logan, McDonough, Macon, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Sangamon, Scott, Vermilion, and Washington.
New State Senator Named
Local Democratic leaders selected Natalie Toro to fill the Illinois Senate seat that’s been vacant since Cristina Pacione-Zayas left office to join the administration of Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson. Sen. Toro is a Chicago Public School kindergarten teacher. The 20th district is on the northwest side of Chicago.
New Senate Vacancy to Be Filled
Senator Patricia Van Pelt announced that she is retiring from the Senate after serving since 2013. The 5th district includes parts of the West Side, the Fulton Market area, the West Loop among other neighborhoods, has served in the state Senate since 2013 and was reelected to a four-year term last year. Party leaders will meet soon to name a replacement.
October 24-26, 2023 Veto Session
November 7-9, 2023 Veto Session