Thursday, December 1
December 2011 - State Legislative Update
Supplemental funding bill clears both houses. Corporate tax break legislation passes Senate, but is defeated in House.
The Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield yesterday to deal with some business that was not completed during the six-day veto session that ended on November 10th. In one day they managed to pass a supplemental funding bill for the current fiscal year, SB 2412. However, after the Senate passed the bill with the required 3/5 vote, the House overwhelmingly failed to concur with the Senate Amendments to HB 1883, a bill that, among other things, would have given tax breaks to certain corporations including Sears Holding Company and CME. Legislation that would make major changes to the State's pension funds for current employees was not considered yesterday.
The supplemental funding bill was strongly supported by NASW and many advocacy and provider organizations. It is over 180 pages long, and most of the bill moves dollars around in certain State agencies and fills in some relatively small funding gaps in agencies' operations budgets. However, the bill also contains some signficant funding increases for the following programs and services:
- $8 million to DHS for indigent funeral and burial services
- $30 million restored to the DHS budget for community mental health services (this item had been in SB 2407, which has been mentioned previously in our updates and Chapter alerts)
- An additional $29.5 million for State mental health centers OR the cost of transitioning of residents to alternative settings
- $40 million for State Operated Developmental Centers for persons with developmental disabilities OR for the cost of transitioning residents to alternative settings
- $30 million for various addiction treatment lines in the DHS budget
- $4.7 million for emergency food and shelter
- $20 million for long term care re-balancing efforts including the costs associated with consent decree compliance (including Williams v. Quinn)
The corporate tax break issue is very complex both substantively and politically. NASW slipped opposed to the House version of the bill, SB 397, House Amendment #3, when it was in committee on Monday afternoon. The bill advanced to the House floor, but Rep. Franks, an opponent, filed a series of note requests to slow the bill down. (Notes requests ask State agencies for information about a bill's impact on things like the budget, State mandates, etc. A bill cannot move until the notes are filed, which can take several days). In the meantime, the Senate passed it's own version of the bill, which was amended on HB 1883 yesterday. The bill received the required 3/5 majority vote. However, when HB 1883 was called in the House for a vote yesterday evening, it only received 8 votes. The 2 chambers disagreed about various aspects of the bill and there were some political factors that also infliuenced the vote.
The corporate tax break issue is probably not dead, but to revive it will take some significant work from proponents. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (http://www.citbaonline.org) has a good analysis of the legislation. Also, check out the Capitol Fax blog for some political insight by Rich Miller.
Why are we interested in the issue of corporate tax breaks? Because this is money that could be used for other things like human services and education. It could also be used to pay back due bills. The current general fund deficit in Illinois is about $8.5 billion.