State: Budget deal with reforms coming together?

Several media outlets report a bipartisan group of lawmakers is working behind the scenes on a package of compromises that address reforms, spending and revenue.

Politico Illinois reports the compromise includes proposals for taxing retirement income over $50,000, allowing all school districts to bargain for 3rd party contracting, layoffs, class size, and more, and substantial workers compensation reforms along with property tax freezes.

Meanwhile, Crain’s Chicago Business reports a political consultant released proposals including suggested spending and budget reforms, business and regulatory reforms, revenue, local control and pension reform, among others.

Illinois is now more than four months into the current fiscal year and there’s still no budget.

ICPR to governor: Drop first hour of introductions

A group of civic and reform organizations are urging Illinois’ governor to drop the hour of introductory statements at next month’s meeting between the chief executive and legislative leaders.

The latest in a series of letters from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform about the meeting, which has been postponed to December 1 in Springfield, urges the governor to quote “dispense with the hour of individual statements and proceed directly to a public and open discussion of the various comprehensive bipartisan budget proposals that have been recently released.”

The letter says the groups believe their requested approach will enable all participants to collectively discuss their priorities. The governor’s office said they had quote “no comment on this one.”

Unfunded mandates and government consolidations task force

A list of ten proposals to be considered Thursday during an Unfunded Mandates and Government Consolidation Task Force hearing features mergers, a constitutional amendment ending future unfunded mandates and more.

According to an agenda for the afternoon meeting in Springfield, task force members are expected to vote on proposals ranging from school consolidations, to merging downstate and suburban public safety pension funds, and merging certain general township and road and bridge districts. Other proposals include eliminating minimum manning from collective bargaining, using the federal definition for catastrophic injury for the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act and allowing arbitrators to use existing financial parameters of local government as a primary consideration during interest arbitration.

The task force was created by Governor Bruce Rauner and is chaired by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

BGA: Consolidating governments will cut down on corruption

Consolidating some of the thousands of units of local government in Illinois can help cut down on corruption. That’s according to the Better Government Association, which plans to testify at Thursday’s Unfunded Mandates and Government Consolidation Task Force hearing. Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association tells WMAY Springfield the BGA plans on testifying on the issue because it’s critical to helping Illinois battle corruption.

“Every unit of government has an opportunity to engage in nepotism, cronyism, graft, corruption of one sort or another and it’s very hard to call it out because there are so many of them.”

Another barrier to government consolidation that Shaw says the state must overcome is the necessary legislative action allowing for mergers. Thursday’s meeting is the second-to-last meeting scheduled this year before a final report with recommendations is due to the governor.

Phelps and Rauner square off on Olive Branch

The governor’s office and a downstate Democratic representative are squaring off over a measure filed just this week to free up money from the Capital Development Fund.

Democratic Representative Brandon Phelps filed House Bill 4339 Tuesday he says would give $5 million dollars from the Capital Development Fund — a fund separate from the General Revenue Fund — to the Department of Natural Resources to help relocate residents from Olive Branch, a community rocked by floods four years ago. Phelps said Olive Branch residents aren’t just his constituents, they’re also Governor Bruce Rauner’s constituents.

Phelps says he’s simply fighting for his district: “I’m just doing this because I see things that are happening. Hardin County, I did this just because I heard the governor wants to shut it down by January the first. So I’m just doing everything I can, using every bullet in the gun so to speak.”

The Hardin County Work Camp is also in Phelps’s district and he filed a bill earlier this month that would keep the facility open. Phelps says he hopes targeting the work camp and holding relocation money isn’t political.

Governor Rauner’s office says Phelps is choosing to politicize a project Democrats failed to include in an out-of-balance budget. The governor’s office says the Olive Branch relocation project was included in two bills of Rauner’s introduced budget, neither of which were called for a vote in committee.

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