State Roundup: Rauner on cost shifts, Madigan schedules votes

From Illinois News Network

Illinois’ Governor is sounding off on the possibility of shifting costs to local governments saying it is an issue that is sure to arise given the state Supreme Court’s recent decision on pension reform.

During a conversation with the Large Unit District Association Superintendents in Springfield Friday Rauner said he thinks there will be pressure to shift the cost of pensions to local districts.

Rauner said a cost shift will exacerbate the need for increased reliance on property taxes. But the Governor said there are a lot of local decisions that impact the total financial picture.

“The school districts are making a lot of decisions that drive pension costs but the school districts don’t pay the pensions. And so there’s a disconnect, it’s actually a big problem. It’s a very serious problem.”

Senate Appropriations Committee to hear from Civic Federation

The Civic Federation will provide their thoughts about the state’s fiscal problems and offer analysis of the Governor’s budget for the coming year with a hearing scheduled Monday afternoon in Springfield.

Senators in the Appropriations committee will hear from The Civic Federation’s Institute for Illinois’ Fiscal Sustainability where they’re expected to discuss the state’s growing pension liability and the coming fiscal year with revenue down more than $6 billion dollars from last year.

The next fiscal year begins July 1.

Madigan schedules vote on workers’ comp, tort reforms

Meanwhile Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) has scheduled a busy week for lawmakers in the House.

The leading Democrat has scheduled votes on workers’ compensation and civil justice reforms.

These are things that working groups of leading lawmakers and staff from the Governor’s office have been hashing out, but Madigan has already jumped the gun on those closed-door working group discussions with a vote on several different budget bill amendments restoring proposed reductions or eliminations in human services programs for the coming fiscal year and a contentious vote last Thursday on right-to-work zones.

Madigan issued a press release last week stating the closed-door meetings need to be brought out in the open.

Constitutional amendments could be focus

Several constitutional amendments have been recently floated from high ranking government officials. Firstly there’s pension reform changes Governor Rauner has proposed that he says would make the state constitution define between already earned and future benefits.

Rauner has also pushed for a constitutional amendment to bring about term limits for state legislators and constitutional officers.

Meanwhile Speaker Madigan announced he will have legislators in the House vote to put his proposed amendment that would ask voters if the constitution needs to change to charge a tax to people making over $1 million.

Other than having the General Assembly vote to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voters, a voter initiative is also possible but that takes hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, which can get tied up in logistics and court hearings.

Tamms prison remains closed despite call to reopen

A combination of a reputation for harsh treatment of prisoners and hopes to reduce Illinois’ prison population are reasons why an effort to reopen a southern Illinois supermax prison may be stalled. That’s according to a report from the Associated Press.

The Tamms prison was shuttered by Governor Pat Quinn in 2013 because of budget cuts but legislation from Representative Terri Bryant to urge Governor Bruce Rauner to get the prison up and running is still in committee with just a few weeks before the end of the legislative session.

House Resolution 233 could come up in a House Judiciary committee sometime early this week.

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