The Wheeler 64 Report: June 27, 2016
on Monday, June 27, 2016
After the House and Senate failed to enact a budget bill for FY17 prior to the their May 31, 2016 adjournment, Speaker Madigan reassured his colleagues that they would be called upon to meet once a week on the Wednesdays of June to discuss the spending situation and debate alternatives. However, no public budget discussions have taken place and each of the three session days scheduled for June 8, June 15, and now June 22 have been cancelled.
The cancellations of these three scheduled session days have taken place as the June 30th deadline for the adoption of a spending plan for FY17 grows closer. Illinois has not appropriated any operating funds for State facilities such as prisons and residential homes since July 1, 2016, and has not spent any funds other than stopgap funds for Illinois institutions of higher education since the same date. Existing appropriations for Illinois school districts and institutions of elementary and secondary education will expire on June 30.
The Illinois House and Senate are both scheduled to return to Springfield for session next Wednesday, June 29, to consider possible education funding and stopgap budget measures.
State Education Funding to End June 30th; Republicans Offer Full Funding Bill
Year-round learning programs, known as “summer school” to many older Illinois residents, are put at special risk by the pending shutoff of State school aid funds on July 1, 2016. While many areas of State spending are not protected by court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations and have already been cut off by the inability of the majority party in the Illinois General Assembly to enact a balanced budget, the State did pass a spending bill in FY16 just for schools. Illinois elementary and secondary schools, with the help of General State Aid and other school aid programs, operated on schedule during the 2015-16 school year. However, the school aid payments authorized by this FY16 bill will end on June 30 with the end of the fiscal year.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and his colleagues are fighting for action on HB 6583 to provide full funding for Illinois schools for the 2016-2017 school year. HB 6583 would allow every Illinois school district to be fully funded at 100 percent of the foundation level for the first time in seven years. Additionally, the bill holds harmless those school districts that would lose state funding in 2017 due to rising property values along with a decline in poverty. But most importantly, it removes K-12 schoolchildren from the crossfire of the larger budget impasse.
Governor Rauner has said he will sign the clean education funding bill and HB 6583 has the full support of House and Senate Republicans, who are urging Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton to pass the bill next week.
With No Funding after June 30th, Road Projects Prepare for Shutdown
The announcement from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) came on Tuesday, June 21, as the close of FY16 approached. IDOT’s lawyers have advised the Department and the Rauner administration that, as of the close of the current fiscal year, the State cannot count on having legal authority to spend money for ongoing capital projects in the absence of explicit appropriations authority encompassing the projects being worked on.
Most State operations have continued throughout FY16 in the absence of an enacted budget. This spending has continued and has been based upon court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations. With the end of this fiscal year, with regards to most road projects and transportation capital spending, the ability to legally spend money in these areas is coming to an end. House Republicans have called upon their Democrat counterparts in the General Assembly to immediately enact a stopgap appropriations bill, HB 6585, to enable essential IDOT road project work to continue during the summer construction season. HB 6585 is fully funded from existing revenues sources and funding streams.