Illinois Energy Deregulation Saved $37 Billion: Illinois electricity consumers – resident, business and government – have saved $37 billion since 1998 as a result of deregulation according to a new comprehensive report released this week by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association in concert with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, State Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Business Roundtable. Since the law took effect, Illinois’ electric rates dropped from the 13th highest average price in the nation to among the ten lowest.
IMA Testifies at House Tax Reform Hearing - Representatives of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association testified again before a joint committee hearing featuring members of the House Revenue & Finance Committee and State Government Administration Committee. This week’s hearing primarily featured representatives of the business community who outlined strength and weaknesses of Illinois’ current tax system and its impact on employers.
House Tax Reform Hearings Continue - This week, the House State Government Administration Committee and Revenue & Finance Committee held their second public hearing to discuss Illinois tax policy and tax incentives. As the IMA reported previously, this week’s hearing exclusively featured testimony from the Department of Revenue, Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Office of the Comptroller and the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).
Governor Quinn Provides State of the State Address - Standing before a joint session of the General Assembly this week, Governor Pat Quinn provided the annual State of the State Address noting that he’s strived to rebuild Illinois “one step at a time” in the five years following the impeachment of former Governor Rod Blagojevich. Before launching new ideas, the Governor noted that his administration has been “getting the job done” while touting passage of Workers’ Compensation and Medicaid reform, gay marriage, the capital infrastructure program, and most recently the pension reform package that is estimated to save $145 billion over the next thirty years.
Joint Committee Begins Tax Hearings - Last week, members of the House Revenue & Finance Committee and State Government Administration Committee launched the first of four public hearings to debate state tax policy. Seventeen witnesses presented testimony at the first hearing in Chicago including the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association that noted tax policy matters when companies are making decisions about where to invest capital and create jobs.
Pension Reform Delayed… Again - State lawmakers once again delayed taking a vote on pension reform this week citing the need to get an actuarial analysis on newly proposed changes. While the legislative leaders have intimated that they plan to return to the Capitol during the first week in December, it is extremely disappointing that the General Assembly has once again left town with no solution to the greatest challenge facing the state.
Pension Reform Movement - For several months, a ten-member Pension Reform Conference Committee has been meeting and making some progress on reaching consensus on pension reform resulting in both short-term and long-term savings. The bipartisan group made significant progress but was not able to reach a resolution. So this week, the four legislative leaders took ownership of the issue and have been meeting privately without involvement from the Governor’s office in an effort to reach agreement that can pass the General Assembly.
Pension Reform - For those familiar with football terminology, this week’s pension reform effort could be considered “three and out” followed by a punt. Originally scheduled to be in session for three days, the General Assembly cancelled the final day of session and took no action on pension reform. Members of the bipartisan and bicameral conference committee continued to meet with small progress reported.
Fall Veto Session Arrives - Members of the House of Representatives and Senate return to the Capitol next week for the first week of the Fall Veto Session. Lawmakers are scheduled to convene on October 22-24 and November 5-7 with many items on the calendar but none more important than pension reform. Pension Reform Update - For the past several months, the ten-member Pension Reform Task Force has been meeting both publicly and behind closed doors in an effort to reach consensus on a plan that can pass the General Assembly with bipartisan support. With only days remaining before the start of the Fall Veto Session, prospects for a resolution to the greatest challenge facing Illinois are slim.
ICC Proposes Higher Taxes - In a move that could hit the pocketbooks of Illinois residents and businesses, the Illinois Commerce Commission is proposing a new funding plan that would increase taxes on electricity, water, telecommunications, and natural gas to pay for their operations. According to the ICC, for the past four years the Public Utility Fund has had“insufficient” funds for operations despite a twenty-five percent reduction in staffing due to higher costs associated with group insurance, union contracts, and retirements while revenue has remained relatively flat.