By Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network
SPRINGFIELD – Of the more than 8,000 bills set to expire at the close of the 100th General Assembly, more than half will die in House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Rules Committee.
The 100th General Assembly has two more days of lame-duck session in 2019 before the next class is seated. In the past two years, lawmakers in the House and Senate filed more than 9,300 bills. They passed nearly 1,300 bills.
Of the 9,300 bills filed, nearly 5,400 are set to expire in the Rules Committee. Madigan is expected to continue in as House Speaker next year. The position affords him broad powers to control which bills advance, who votes on them and when they are called for a vote.
Outgoing Republican state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, said lawmakers passed many bills but failed to address “the big stuff that needs to be accomplished in the state of Illinois.”
“Look we still have a budget that’s bigger by $3 billion than when I came,” Ives said. “We have a pension debt that is over $30 billion more than when I entered 6 years ago.”
State Rep. Robert Martwick, D-Chicago, said there were some major accomplishments. One was ending the historic 30-month long budget impasse by bringing several Republicans to join Democrats in overriding the governor’s veto of the budget and an income tax increase in 2017.
“During that budget impasse we were denying critical services to our most vulnerable seniors, people living with disabilities, people with addiction problems, people with autism and epilepsy,” Martwick said.
Ives said that $5 billion income tax increase failed to address the state’s structural problems, including its backlog of bills and pension liabilities.
“From sales taxes to property taxes to income taxes, when you look at it in totality we have the highest tax burden for any individual across the United States,” Ives said.
Martwick also heralded the bipartisan efforts to change how the state funds K-12 schools.
Ives said that too was a failure because it took from the suburbs “their share of state money and bails out Chicago and quite frankly even downstate areas where the need was not as great as some made it out to be.”
Ives, who won’t be part of the 101st General Assembly because she was ineligible to run again for the statehouse because she ran in the GOP primary against Gov. Bruce Rauner, also criticized the state’s billion dollar bailout of Exelon, and the lack of bringing about substantive and meaningful business reform.
Martwick, D-Chicago, will be in the next General Assembly. He said he hopes they address two issues that he said go hand-in-hand.
“We need to address our pension debts, and how we are going to manage that going forward and we need to address our high taxes here in the state of Illinois,” Martwick said.
Martwick has been pushing for a progressive income tax with rates based on how much you make. That idea is supported by the incoming Democratic governor J.B. Pritzker who campaigned on a progressive tax but never did or has since election revealed any rate structure.
Even if the supermajority Democrats agree to put the question to voters, it would still require 60 percent of a statewide ballot initiative to change the state constitution’s flat tax to a progressive structure, and that wouldn’t be possible until the 2020 general election.
Lawmakers will be back for two days of lame-duck session Jan. 7 and 8 just before the 101st General Assembly will be seated to begin the next two years of legislating with Democratic supermajorities and a Democrat in the governor’s office.