State Roundup: Governor signs budget fix bills

From Illinois News Network
ilnews.org

It didn’t take long for Illinois’ Governor to sign several bills to plug the $1.6 billion hole in the state’s budget for the current fiscal year. Hours after a bipartisan group of state Senators voted in favor of the measures Thursday, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bills.

The bills that originated in the House includes three-hundred-million taken from the Road Fund. There will also be a reduction of $150 million to primary and secondary schools. The package also includes nearly across the board state budget cuts of 2.25 percent.

Another measure in the package lets the Governor move around more than $90 million as needed for the remainder of the fiscal year. The money will be used to fund the Child Care Assistance Program, and payroll for court reporters and Department of Corrections staff. The current fiscal year ends June 30.

Auditor’s proposed budget could impact office functions

There’s no increase in how much the Auditor General’s office could get in the coming fiscal year and that means there could be a different review process.

During a Senate Appropriations committee hearing Thursday Auditor General William Holland says the proposed 10 percent reduction in Governor Bruce Rauner’s FY 16 budget will have an impact on the audit product, including changing from annual review of some agencies to biannual reviews, among other possible tweaks.

“In conducting our compliance examinations of correctional centers, mental health facilities and veterans homes on a departmental basis rather than a facility by facility basis.”

Statewide financial statements could be delayed, something Holland says could impact the state’s borrowing ability.

“In order to go to the markets and borrow money you have to have audited financial statements. So I will tell you that that impact will be severe and have repercussions.”

The Auditor says he will still be able to fulfil his constitutional responsibility, but the product could be diminished. The next fiscal year begins July.

Auditor and U of I at odds on some findings

There’s disagreement of almost all the findings the Auditor General published about the University of Illinois.

The Auditor says the University does not consistently complete cost transfer documentation, reported expenditures in the incorrect accounting period for several departments, and had inadequate performance and supervisory review documentation for federal programs. The published report indicates the University disagreed with the Auditor’s findings.

However, for the areas of lacking internal controls over contracts and leases, and failure to identify and remove inactive hourly employees from the payroll systems in a timely manner, the report says the University agrees with the findings and is working on corrective actions.

Moody’s: Task force on governmental units is credit positive

The Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force recently created by Illinois’ Governor is a credit positive act, according to Moody’s Investor Service.

In the Weekly Credit Outlook for Public Finance report the ratings agency says Illinois has nearly seven-thousand units of local government, which is more than any other state, and any reduction in the number would lower overall costs supported by the state’s taxpayers.

The task force was given the job of finding ways to lower the number of governmental units with a report due at the end of the year. After that, the task force will be disbanded.

However, Moody’s says the Governor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year reduces state aid to certain units of government which could negate some of the possible financial benefits of reducing those governments. Moody’s says credit positive does not impact the actual credit rating, which Illinois remains at A3/negative outlook.

Report: No agreement on fair share between union and Governor

There’s no agreement of a deal to keep the Governor from implementing an executive order he issued last month to withhold fair share dues from employees unions.

The Capitol Fax blog reports an internal union e-mail suggesting Governor Bruce Rauner’s lawyers told the union they were rethinking their position and were willing to agree that they should be enjoined from following through.

But, the blog also reports Rauner’s administration twice said “There’s no agreement.” Rauner signed an executive order in February that keeps fair share dues from the unions in a move the Governor said is an effort to restore workers’ First Amendment rights of free speech.

Since then, more than twenty unions sued and Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion to intervene in the case. Meanwhile, earlier this week three state employees joined Rauner’s side saying they support the Governor’s efforts to block the fair share payments. Rauner says he ultimately wants the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the case.

AFSCME touts increased membership

The state’s largest union says they’re experiencing something they’ve never seen before–100 percent full membership.

In a blog this week posted to AFSCME’s national website, Pablo Ros says around a dozen fee payers saw recent actions from Governor Bruce Rauner as an attempt to divide the union so they became full-paying members.

The blog contends the Governor’s actions of withholding fair share dues and his call for right-to-work zones helped turn the tide in their full-fledged membership count.

The Governor says he is not anti-union, though critics say his calls for right-to-work zones and a move to end fair share dues signals a different tone.

BASSET training before law effective date

The next time you’re at your favorite Chicago tavern, ask your barkeep for their BASSET card. If they don’t have one, they better get one.

The Beverage Alcohol Sellers/Servers Education and Training law, or BASSET, takes effect July 1 in Cook County. That means servers, bartenders and bouncers within the County must get state mandated training or they could lose out on some wages.

Terry Horstman, Spokesperson for the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, says the purpose of the law is to provide information to sellers and servers of alcohol abuse.

“And to provide the necessary skill development techniques to identify and/or intervene with patron use problems with the goal of reducing the incidents of patron misuse.”

Free classes are being offered in Cook County, where the BASSET training is mandated by the state.

Approximately 200 municipalities outside of Cook County have instituted their own BASSET requirements, according to Horstman. There are also training courses offered through the Illinois Restaurant Association, but those could cost upwards to $75 for non Association members.

The Wine Sellers and Distributors of Illinois says they support the state-mandated educational efforts to provide better training to the industry’s front line staff.

Servers or bartenders that don’t have a license or have an expired license could face revocation or suspension, which could lead to lost wages. A list of available classes is online at ILCC.Illinois.gov.

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