House and Senate Committee Deadline Passes - As the State of Illinois enters it’s 10th month without a budget in place the Spring legislative session is in full swing this past week, and has hit an important milestone. Today marks the deadline for bills originating in the House and Senate to be considered by committees of their respective chambers. It was a busy week as legislators considered a host of issues including tax policy, educational initiatives to help address the skills gap, new environmental and insurance regulations and a host of bills calling for mandated paid and unpaid leave for workers.
Illinois Election Results - On Tuesday, millions of Illinois voters took the polls and cast ballots in Republican and Democrat primary elections for a slate of candidates running for a range of offices from President to the state legislature. A statewide voter turnout of nearly 40 percent caught many election officials unprepared with many counties extending voting hours after running out of ballots at polling places. The large turnout can be attributed to a new law allowing same day voter registration along with the fact that for the first time in many years, no candidate in either major political party had secured the presidential nomination before the March primary election. As a result, Illinois was in play and many candidates visited the state to make their case to the electorate.
Illinois voters took to the polls yesterday in an historic turnout expected to be near 40 percent. An unexpected wave of voters took advantage of a new law allowing same day registration at individual polling locations that resulted in some havoc when more than dozen counties ran out of ballots in certain precincts and had to extend voting hours into the night. Perhaps the real winner of the primary cycle was big money with 2016 being the most expensive in Illinois history. Independent expenditure PACs and traditional political action committees combined to spend excessive amounts of money including more than $6.4 million in one state representative race. Many presidential campaigns were also the beneficiary of tremendous amounts of money spend to support their candidacies or target their opponents.
Senate Committee Debates Unbalanced Budget Response Act - In late February, Governor Bruce Rauner addressed a joint session of the General Assembly and provided his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year. In that speech, the Governor outlined two possible budget scenarios for the legislature to consider including his preferred compromise proposal entailing budget cuts, increased tax revenue and major structural reforms designed to improve Illinois’ economy. However, if the legislature is unable to reach consensus on a compromise package, Governor Rauner requested that he be given authority and wide latitude to make the necessary and painful cuts to bring state spending in line with revenue.
IMA Creates Advance Illinois Manufacturing Coalition, Pushes for Tax Incentives Joined by Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Chicago) and more than a dozen partners, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association hosted a press conference this week to roll out the Advance Illinois Manufacturing (AIM) Coalition that will serve as the unifying voice pushing for permanency of four critical manufacturing tax incentives including the Research & Development tax credit and Manufacturers Purchase Credit.
State Fiscal Year Starts Without Budget, Blame Game Starts - After months of wrangling, finger pointing and political theater over competing budget proposals, Illinois started its new fiscal year on July 1 without a state budget in place. As the IMA reported previously, Democrats in the General Assembly approved a $36 billion state budget in the final days of May while publicly acknowledging that the budget was unbalanced. Their budget had a multi-billion dollar deficit because state revenues are estimated to be only $32 billion following the expiration of the “temporary” income tax at the beginning of the year.
IMA Hosts Governor Bruce Rauner in Bloomington - The IMA and member company bopi (Bloomington Offset Print Inc.) hosted Governor Bruce Rauner for a visit this week in Bloomington to discuss his Turnaround Agenda. bopi is a small, family-owned printer that faces many of the same challenges negatively impacting other companies such as tax policy and workers’ compensation.
IMA Leads Testimony at Enterprise Zone Hearing - Members of the House Revenue & Finance Committee invited the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association to testify at a subject matter-only hearing this week to discuss the Illinois enterprise zone program. In 2012, the IMA spearheaded a coalition that successfully pushed for a 25-year, long-term extension of the EZ program (Public Act 97-0905). Enterprise zones use a combination of state and local tax incentives to encourage economic development in distressed areas of the state.
Energy Policy Proposals Unveiled - Over the next several months, lawmakers will weigh two competing proposals that make major changes in Illinois’ energy policy that could have a significant impact on energy-intensive sectors such as manufacturing. The IMA plans to heavily engage in the energy debate this year as it winds through the legislative process.
Governor Rauner Offers Budget Blueprint - This week, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered a dose of tough medicine to a joint session of the General Assembly when he gave his inaugural budget address that cuts spending by $6.2 billion from last year’s budget that totaled more than $38 billion. Under the new budget blueprint, Illinois will have $32 billion in tax revenue to spend next year largely as the result of the reduction in income tax rates that occurred when the temporary income tax expired at the end of 2014. While critics chafed at reductions to spending cuts in nearly every state agency, it’s important to recognize that this is the first volley in the annual budget battle.