After months of bipartisan negotiations, the Senate and House came together to overwhelmingly approve a balanced budget that cuts spending and does not require a tax increase to implement. The budget now moves to the Governor for consideration.
Also during the week, the Senate honored a police officer who stopped a school shooting May 16 in Dixon, a bipartisan Higher Education Working Group announced reforms, and the Governor presented an $11 billion construction plan to build and improve the state’s transportation infrastructure.
Senate passes balanced budget, without tax hike
On May 30, the Senate voted 56-2 to pass a $38 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2019. Much of the credit goes to the budgeteers who spent many hours hammering out the details, and to the legislative leaders who worked together to support the compromise. The House vote on May 31 was 97-18 to pass the budget.
If you would look back at all the partisan bickering of the last three years, it would seem that passing a balanced budget for Illinois is impossible. Well, guess what … we just passed a balanced budget that does not require a tax increase to implement. Many times this year, I have asked my colleagues to look at bills based on their merit, not just partisan politics. If it is a bad bill, vote against it. If a bill makes sense, vote for it. This budget makes sense, so we voted for it.
The budget passed by the Senate cuts more than $1 billion in spending; delivers $350 million more in K-12 school funding through the evidence-based model; boosts early childhood education by $50 million; cuts $445 million in pension liability; and rejects a proposed pay increase for lawmakers.
This budget also includes needed capital:
- Fully-funds the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2019 capital program.
- Includes $2.5 billion for IDOT’s road program, which will create jobs and improve roads.
- Provides $500 million for the University of Illinois Discovery Partners’ Institute (DPI).
- Includes $53 million for first-year costs to construct a new Quincy Veterans Home.
- Allocates $600 million for statewide deferred maintenance, with $100 million of this amount going toward needs at institutions of Higher Education.
A supplemental spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018 will also fund agency operations, including $405 million for the Department of Corrections. It also includes $63 million for AFSCME back pay.
The bipartisan passage of a balanced budget represents major progress, and I look forward to a continued spirit of cooperation in working to pass commonsense government and business reforms that will help boost economic development and jobs in Illinois.
Fiscal Year 2019 runs from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
Senate honors Dixon officer who stopped school shooting
Honoring the quick thinking and brave actions of the Dixon, Illinois, school resource officer who thwarted a school shooting two weeks ago, Governor Bruce Rauner proclaimed May 30, 2018, Officer Mark Dallas Day in Illinois.
The Governor and local lawmakers met with Dallas and his family, and members of the Dixon Police Department and Lee County Sheriff’s Office, on May 30. The Senate and the House of Representatives also introduced Officer Dallas in their respective chambers, thanked him, and presented him with a legislative resolution and proclamation.
On May 16, Dallas confronted an armed former student who had fired a gun at Dixon High School where students were gathered for a graduation rehearsal. As a result of Dallas’ decisive action, no students were harmed.
Dallas has 24 years of law enforcement experience, serving 15-years on the Dixon Police Department and the last five years as the school resource officer for Dixon High school.
Bipartisan working group announces higher education reforms
After months of study about the future of Illinois’ higher education system, the Higher Education Working Group announced a package of comprehensive reforms on May 29.
Illinois is fortunate to have a system of public universities and community colleges that provide world-class educational opportunities at very competitive costs. However, higher education in Illinois is facing many challenges, including: college costs; enrollment shifts resulting from increasing out-migration and changing needs of college students who are older, parenting, and working; establishing effective and forward-looking governance of Illinois’ higher education system.
The Working Group has developed a series of legislative initiatives to strengthen Illinois’ colleges and universities, making them more attractive and affordable for students across the state for many years to come.
Governor announces $11 billion infrastructure plan
On May 29, Governor Rauner announced a plan today to invest more than $11 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year. Locally, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has allocated more than $25.85 million for construction projects in the 25th Senate District during Fiscal Year 2019. Six local projects are included in the state’s Highway Improvement Program for Fiscal Year 2019, which starts July 1, 2018. The six-year plan also includes additional funding of more than $121.1 million for local projects.
Local projects for Fiscal Year 2019 include:
- $12,500,000 for bridge replacement and re-profiling on Illinois 56 at Hankes Road.
- $8,100,000 for intersection improvement, traffic signal installation, and bridge replacement on Illinois 47 at Main Street, south of Elburn.
- $2,400,000 for resurfacing 7.96 miles on Illinois 64/North Avenue, from east of Illinois 47 to east of Randall Road.
- $1,800,000 for preliminary engineering costs for a project on Illinois 47/US 30, from Cross Street to south of Galena Road.
- $900,000 for construction engineering costs for a project on Illinois 56 at Hankes Road.
- $150,000 for utility adjustment costs for a project on Illinois 56 at Hankes Road.
IDOT’s Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.
Based on current funding levels, the FY2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the state. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.