State: $40M in federal funds could be ‘recaptured’

Tens of millions of dollars in federal funding for public housing programs in Illinois are in jeopardy because of a missed appropriation.

Earlier this month the Department of Revenue presented its budget to a Senate appropriations committee. Charlotte Flickinger, legislative affairs director for the Illinois Housing Development Authority, said because the state hasn’t appropriated its share of funds, up to $40 million dollars in federal funds may have to be returned to the federal government in the next couple of months. That lack of federal pass-through money will make things more challenging than they already are.

“We’re very concerned that some of these projects will never be built and some of the organizations that we have worked with over the years may go out of business,” Flickinger said, “not to mention that people may not be housed.”

Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans acknowledged that because of a glitch, the funding wasn’t included in a recent bill to appropriate matching federal funds. Flickinger said her agency is working with the Rauner administration to produce a standalone bill to fix the problem.

Dept. of Revenue pushing for legislative proposals

Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Revenue is looking at two legislative measures it hopes will assist the department and taxpayers in the coming year.

The first, Director Connie Beard said, would allow the Department of Revenue to charge local governments a 2 percent administrative fee for 11 different local taxes they administer.

“Without this reimbursement the department is forced to utilize its (General Revenue Fund) tax administration appropriation to perform these tasks for local governments,” Beard said.

Beard also said the department hopes to create a sales and excise tax refund pool to deposit less than two-tenths of a percent of tax receipts to pay sales and excise tax overpayments.

“It should not negatively affect General Revenue Funds in the long term because this is money that the state does owe to the taxpayers,” Beard said.

Beard said the fund would be limited to hardship cases while other, less severe cases would be given credits for overpayments.

Thursday, the senate passed a $3.9 billion spending bill it says will allow universities and social service agencies to get in line for payments. As of Wednesday, Illinois’ unpaid bills totaled $7.46 billion.

–Greg Bishop, Illinois News Network

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