Now, we’ve got three legislators sending out their takes on what happened in Springfield last week.
Here’s is GOP House Leader Tom Cross’ report:
It’s shaping up to be a very busy legislative session this spring. I wanted to share our “Week in Review”, a recap of the week’s major happenings; a practice we intend to continue throughout the spring legislative session.
Last week featured the Governor’s annual “State of the State” address, the focal point amidst many key developments on a wide range of important issues.
Click here to watch Leader Cross’ reaction to the Governor’s State of the State Address**
Nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) weighs in on Illinois’ botched bond sale. After the planned sale of $500 million in new State general –obligation (G.O.) debt was abruptly postponed on Wednesday, January 30, observers pointed to Illinois’ collapsing credit rating as one cause of the blockbuster move. The nonpartisan fiscal watchdog agency CGFA, which advises the Illinois General Assembly on economic and fiscal issues, agreed with this diagnosis in a summary e-mailed to legislators on Monday, February 4. A “negative outlook” is seen by the global brokerage and money-management community that further downgrades are likely or even imminent. All three bond-rating houses have told their clients that Illinois’s $96 billion in unfunded pension liabilities are a key element in their pessimistic judgment of Illinois’ fiscal future. CGFA’s management team repeated this warning in a hearing of the House Revenue Committee held on Tuesday, February 5 in Springfield.
In primarily partisan votes, House and Senate approve $2.1 billion supplemental FY13 budget bill. Scarcely one week after the market-driven collapse of Illinois’ plans to borrow an additional $500 million in G.O. debt, both houses of the General Assembly approved, on largely partisan roll-call votes of 63-52-1 (House) and 38-15-0 (Senate), a bill (HB 190) to appropriate or transfer more than $2 billion in additional spending money. These funds will be utilized by the Quinn administration and other State agencies during the remaining five months of fiscal year 2013. The current fiscal year will end on June 30, 2013.
Monies enumerated in the supplemental spending bill include funds for State employee health insurance, dollars for State road projects, additional monies for caregiving agencies such as the Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Human Services, and some earmarked funds. Earmarks included in the legislation include monies destined for East St. Louis’s troubled local school system.
HB 190 was signed by Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday, February 7 as Public Act 98-1.
Bloomberg says California’s pension system picture turning more optimisticdue to $55 billion cut, enacted in 2012, in state obligations to public-sector retirees. In a news story published Thursday, January 31, Bloomberg News reported to U.S. investor-readers that “California Turns Corner With Upgrade as Pensions Choke Illinois.” Portfolio manager Robert Miller, of Menominee Falls, Wisconsin, reported to Bloomberg that the Golden State was reaping benefits from “difficult decisions” they had made in the previous year. A fiscal packaged by veteran Gov. Jerry Brown enacted severe cuts in pension benefits for newly-hired California public employees. In line with improved expectations, key rating agency Standard & Poor’s last week increased California’s general-obligation (G.O.) bond rating one notch, to single-A. The move left Illinois as the holder of the lowest-ranked credit score (A-minus, one notch below single-A) among the 50 U.S. states.
More than 1,000 layoffs announced in filings with State of Illinois economic development office. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is the designated agency to take filings made by Illinois employers who are planning major layoffs for which prior notification is required by law. More than 1,000 additional Illinois jobs will be lost if the filings made on Tuesday, February 6 are implemented. The largest single job loss will be 456 positions to be eliminated by Lyon Workspace Products, which recently filed for bankruptcy and announced plans to close factories in Paris, Illinois and Watseka, Illinois. Lyon is also scheduled to close distribution facilities and reduce its headquarters staff in Montgomery, Illinois. Lyon is historically a manufacturer of school lockers and of steel-sheet cabinetry, shelving, and other office workspace furniture products and fittings.
Obamacare advocates prepare for push to cement Prairie State’s adherence to federal Affordable Care Act. While 11 states, including California and New York, have taken key steps to amend their statutory law so that their state Departments of Insurance will serve as “enforcers” for Obamacare, 39 other states, including Illinois, have not taken one or more of these key steps. The federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services (USHHS), which enforces the Affordable Care Act, is pressuring the remaining 39 states, including Illinois, to enact new State laws to create a seamless connection between federal law and the States’ enforcement authorities. Laws of the sort request by Washington, D.C. include statutory protections under State law for patients with so-called “pre-existing conditions.” Critics point out the significant unknowns involved in making a potentially unfunded commitment of this sort, coupled with the lack of hard evidence to estimate the fiscal impacts to state and federal taxpayers that would result from imposing a class of new mandates of this type upon all 50 states.
I hope you found this update to be informative and helpful in keeping up with the latest in state government. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me by visiting my website at www.tomcross.com.
House Republican Leader
State Representative, 97th District