Early Intervention payments will be made.
Comptroller, DHS agree EI
services fall under active consent decree. Comptroller Leslie
Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that her office is setting up
accounts and will immediately begin making payments to Early
Intervention providers as soon as it receives vouchers from the
Department of Human Services (DHS).
Munger learned from her
Nonprofit Advisory Council last week that Early Intervention services
were "slipping through the cracks" of consent decrees requiring
payments during the budget impasse, and she contacted DHS officials to
discuss what payment options were available. After looking more
closely at several active consent decrees, DHS and the Comptroller
agreed that Early Intervention services were covered and they
immediately began setting up the processes for making payments to
"I know the tremendous benefits that Early
Intervention services can provide to our delayed and disabled infants
and toddlers, and I was extremely concerned when I learned many
providers would likely be suspending their vital therapeutic services
at the end of this month," Munger said. "My office is working today to
set up the accounts and we will immediately begin making payments to
Early Intervention providers as soon as we receive vouchers from DHS
so we can avoid further hardships."
providers, who work on development strategies with disabled infants
and toddlers, are the latest group in a growing list of organizations
to be penalized by the ramifications of the budget impasse, now in its
third month. Munger announced last week that the current $6.2 billion
bill backlog is expected to grow to $8.5 billion by the end of
December if the impasse continues.
"It is time for members of
the General Assembly to sit down with the Governor to find common
ground and pass a balanced budget so we can fund our critical
priorities," Munger said.
Other states besides Illinois have
also not passed a working budget for current fiscal
as of Monday, September 14, without a twelve-month budget include
Alabama, Illinois, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Large, urbanized states such as Illinois and Pennsylvania are proving
to be especially vulnerable to budget pressures, especially when the
Governor’s office and the state legislature are in separate
In both Illinois and Pennsylvania, Republicans have proposed
significant reductions in State spending trajectories and the
so-called “structural deficit,” and their proposals have been rejected
by Democrats. Long-term spending pressures, especially in urbanized
states, tend to be driven by Medicaid health care costs, pay and
benefits for public-sector workers, and the costs of taking care of a
chronologically older and slower-growing population
Chicago – Property Taxes Mayor
Rahm Emanuel proposes largest property tax hike in city history.
Funds from the proposed $500 million/year levy would be
allocated to unfunded public safety pension liabilities and to school
construction and renovation. The property tax hike proposal would be
part of an overall tax
increase package that is also expected to include increased levies
on garbage collection and new taxes on e-cigarettes and ride-sharing
Even prior to enactment of the Emanuel property tax proposal, the
average Chicago homeowner is already facing property tax bills that
are approximately 50 percent higher than 5 years ago in 2010.
Furthermore, residents of many Chicago-area suburbs have faced their
own substantial rounds of increases and currently face substantially
higher property tax bills than homeowners in Chicago. The nonpartisan
Federation reported in September 2014 that by at least one
measure, Chicago had the lowest effective residential property tax
rate in Cook County.
Property tax rates and property tax bills are closely connected.
The application of a property tax rate, a percentage of appraised
value, to the appraisal value of a parcel of real property generates
the property tax bill for that property.
Economy – Unemployment Rate
Illinois unemployment rate drops to
The jobless percentage for August
2015 was down 0.2% from the July 2015 report of 5.8%. The
decrease in the unemployment rate was not, however, accompanied by new
job creation. Total nonfarm Illinois jobs remained flat at 5.92
million. The August jobless numbers were reported on Thursday,
Continued declines in the number of Illinoisans engaged in the
production of tangible goods – mining, construction, and manufacturing
- was matched by the continued creation of new jobs in financial
activities and educational and health services. The number of
Illinoisans employed in tangible-goods sectors declined by 4,200 from
July to August 2015, and the number of Illinoisans employed in
financial/educational/health care professional-service sectors
increased by 5,000. These trends have been in place for some
Illinois unemployment remained significantly higher than the
nationwide figure of 5.1%. In addition, many states adjacent to
Illinois are reporting lower unemployment rates than the Prairie
State. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, August
2015 unemployment rates were 4.6% in Indiana, 4.5% in Wisconsin,
and 3.7% in Iowa. House Republicans continue to call for enactment of
measures to improve Illinois’ climate as a place to do business,
invent and distribute useful goods and services, and create jobs.
Education – PARCC tests Continued
controversy over PARCC tests.
for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a
standardized test of English and math skills administered to high
school students in Colorado, Illinois Maryland, Massachusetts, New
Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island, and under active
consideration for use in other states. The PARCC test has been
granted Common Core standing as a tool to show whether or not the
so-called Common Core state standards are being met in high school
This week, PARCC-related news hit many Illinois school systems as
Illinois Superintendent of School Tony Smith issued
a warning to districts throughout Illinois. The heads’ up notice
was that PARCC first-year test results, many of which are “raw
numbers” at this point that have not yet been sorted by individual
school or rebalanced for social and demographic weighting factors,
will come in below expectations for schools enrolling almost 70% of
Illinois students. The warnings began to circulate on Tuesday,
The 2014-15 school year was the first school year of attempted full
implementation of the PARCC testing system throughout Illinois. Not
all PARCC test results are included in the September report. PARCC
tests performed by pupils by paper-and-pencil and special waivers that
covered an estimated one-quarter of all Illinois PARCC tests done in
the 2014-15 testing cycle, are not part of this data report and may be
reported at a later date. Some districts may succeed in improving
their PARCC scores as they gain familiarity with the testing system.
In addition, raw PARCC numbers may not convey valid information in the
absence of information about the assumptions used in matching these
numbers with the challenges faced by various school districts
Illinois State Lottery General
Assembly investigates Illinois State Lottery, finds diminishment in
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) found
that in FY15 (ended June 30, 2015), transfers to State funds from the
Lottery dropped by $125 million from transfers in FY14. This was the
first such decline since 2009. Most of this diminishment was borne by
the Capital Projects Fund, as surplus Lottery profits are allocated to
State and local infrastructure. The Capital Projects Fund received
$145 million in FY14 and just $8 million in FY15, resulting in
slowdowns in the release of funds for a wide variety of State-funded
capital projects including school construction projects.
Press accounts of the CGFA report were, in some cases, slightly
misleading. Some of the news
stories presented the drop in Illinois State Lottery profits as a
red-ink number rather than a diminished black-ink number. The State
Lottery is currently highly vulnerable to bad publicity, as in the
absence of an FY16 budget it is legally barred from paying out prizes
greater than $25,000. Winners of large prizes are being presented
with Lottery IOUs rather than cash, and litigation is pending.
The CGFA report, “Wagering
in Illinois: 2015” was released on Thursday, September 17.
Infectious Disease – Mumps Cases of
mumps diagnosed at Eastern Illinois University campus.
The infectious viral disease, which causes symptoms
resembling those of severe flu combined with swelling of the cheeks
and salivary glands of the jawline, had previously been diagnosed at
the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
Officials at the Charleston-based Eastern Illinois University (EIU) reported
on Tuesday, September 15 that two cases of mumps had been diagnosed at
EIU so far in September 2015. This outbreak followed the diagnosis of
approximately 100 cases of mumps at UIUC in the summer of 2015.
is highly contagious, persons who suspect they may have come down with
this illness may choose to begin by seeking a distance diagnosis.
They may choose to contact a primary medical care provider by text or
phone to describe their symptoms. Many Illinois residents are
resistant to mumps as a result of having been vaccinated for the
disease in childhood. A relatively safe, effective anti-virus vaccine
will protect children from measles, mumps, and other viral diseases.
The protection, typically administered when the baby is 12 to 15
months old, continues into adulthood for those who have been
vaccinated for these diseases.
In some outbreak situations, public health providers will
administer mumps shots to adults on college campuses and in other
environments where the illness has broken out among those who were not
vaccinated as children. Adults who are at risk may choose to get
these vaccinations, as mumps can have severe and lasting side
Motorola Solutions – Headquarters Move
800 headquarters jobs to move within Chicago
associated with management-level activities over the provider of
first-responder personal communications devices and solutions, will
move from Schaumberg to Chicago’s Near West Side. Motorola Solutions
stated their intent to retain 1,600 existing positions in the
northwest suburbs, with facilities in Schaumberg and Elgin. The announcement
was made on Tuesday, September 15.
Serious work has been done since 2001, by Motorola Solutions and
other firms, towards the goal of creating a seamless web of secure
personal and data communications between first responders in 9-1-1 and
other rapid-response situations. Motorola
Solutions and its corporate predecessors have been involved in
handheld communications ever since their days of making primitive
“walkie-talkie” devices for Army Signal Corps use in World War II
combat units, including on D-Day. The firm has expanded its offerings
to cover handheld communications in a wide variety of secure
commercial/industrial settings, such as among personnel on a
spread-out warehouse floor.
Smoke-Free Law – Beer Gardens New
administrative rule tries to crack down on enclosed smoking, adds to
Illinois Act, enacted in 2007, is aimed at reducing involuntary
exposure to tobacco smoke. Language in the law forbids smoking
tobacco indoors in public places, including casino floors, bars and
taverns. Some bars and taverns have opened “beer gardens” in which
patrons are allowed to smoke.
New administrative rules from the Illinois
Department of Public Health are meant to clarify the situations in
which outdoor smoking will be allowed. Many tavern owners and
operators report being confused and challenged by the new
rules and say that they are getting legal advice that indicates
that full compliance with the new rules could completely end smoking
in beer gardens. A push has begun to scrutinize and possibly modify
the new rules.
State Government – Health Insurance
No budget leads to health care concerns for
State workers, retirees, and health care providers.
363,000 current and retired State workers, which include
university employees and family members covered by the State of
insurance program, could be affected. A spokeswoman for the
Department of Central Management Services (CMS), which operates the
program, pointed out that a key element of the program – payments to
health care providers – is one of the spending items affected by the
inability of Illinois to enact a workable State budget for FY16. The
new fiscal year began on July 1, 2015, and this is the 11th
week without a State budget.
The first group of health insurance plans to be affected are
self-insured plans often utilized by retirees. CMS stated that all
State-supervised health care payments for workers, retirees, and their
families would be paid as long as possible. Stoppage of payments
would presumably cause a significant percentage of health care
professionals to ask for alternate pathways of compensation, including
immediate, up-front compensation from patients, for services provided
to members of these groups.