FY 2011 BUDGET GROWTH FROM TAX HIKE
A report recently issued by a state financial oversight commission shows state budget growth in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 was almost completely reliant on revenues from the Democrats’ January tax hike, rather than from economic growth or job creation.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) issued a report showing that FY 2011 budget growth was due in large part to the 67 percent tax increase pushed though the Legislature during the January lame-duck session.
The Commission reported that base revenues grew $3.398 billion during the fiscal year, noting, “Obviously, the tax changes enacted halfway through the fiscal year played the key role in the increase, as did the tax amnesty program which occurred in the fall.”
The state collected a 67 percent increase in personal income taxes, which reflects the 67 percent tax hike. COGFA’s report also shows that much of the state’s budget growth came in the form of one-time revenue injections, such as the state’s 2010 tax amnesty program, proceeds from the sale of tobacco settlement bonds, interfund borrowing and money from federal sources and match dollars.
Senate Republicans have consistently advocated that growing the economy and creating jobs is a better way to stimulate revenue growth. Without cutting spending and increasing employment, it will be impossible to roll-back the “temporary” tax increase as promised by Democrats in January.
CHANGES TO STUDENT ASSISTANCE COMMISSION BOARD
In other news, a majority of board members at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) were replaced this week in response to controversy surrounding the state’s College Illinois! prepaid tuition program.
Reports of controversial investment decisions and financial mismanagement have dogged ISAC for months. During the week, Governor Pat Quinn appointed five new members to the commission’s board, replacing previous commissioners who approved risky investments of College Illinois! funding dollars. Newly appointed ISAC Chairman Kym Hubbard and recent board appointee Miguel del Valle will remain in their positions, and there is still one vacancy on the board.
At a meeting July 8, the new commissioners put Executive Director Andrew Davis on paid administrative leave. Davis pushed the risky investments that resulted in a more than $12 million loss of participants’ investment dollars, and investigative reports by Crain’s Chicago Business revealed he invested College Illinois! money in funds ran by friends and past associates.
John Sinsheimer, who served as ISAC chief financial officer from 2007 to 2009, will serve as interim executive director.
Since the problems at the agency were made public, sales of College Illinois! plans have dropped substantially, and ISAC is being probed by the Illinois Attorney General, Auditor General and the Secretary of State. Until a special audit of College Illinois! is completed, all new investments have been halted.
F.O.I.D. CARD PROTECTION SIGNED INTO LAW
During the week, the Governor signed numerous bills, including legislation I cosponsored that would prohibit the disclosure of the names or information of Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card holders and applicants.
House Bill 3500/PA 97-0080 was introduced in response to a decision issued by the Attorney General’s office that asserted FOID information should be released by the Illinois State Police in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Prompted by concerns that releasing the FOID information could be used by criminals and commercial solicitors, and could lead to more straw purchases of guns or non-compliance with registration laws, many lawmakers spoke against the release of the sensitive information. Proponents of House Bill 3500 said that while they support FOIA laws, releasing FOID information would compromise the privacy and safety of card holders.
DEATH ROW SHUT DOWN JULY 1
Illinois’ death row was shut down on July 1.
Late last week, the state’s death penalty ban was one of numerous laws that took effect on July 1.
Senate Bill 3539 only abolished future death penalty sentences, and would not have interfered with current death row inmates or those sentenced to death prior to July 1, 2011. However, after signing Senate Bill 3539 into law this spring, Governor Quinn commuted the sentences of those inmates awaiting execution. Those inmates are now serving life sentences in prisons throughout Illinois.
In 2000, then-Governor George Ryan instituted an ongoing moratorium on executions in Illinois following the reversal of 14 convictions of death row inmates. A Commission was later appointed to investigate the death penalty and make reform recommendations. Ryan later used his power as governor to pardon all inmates on death row.
In 2003 and 2004, the General Assembly enacted death penalty reforms, which included the creation of a Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee charged with studying the effectiveness of the reforms. In its final 2010 report, the Committee found the enacted reforms were working, though it suggested the implementation of additional reforms.
VETERANS RESOURCE FAIR JULY 19
The Illinois Department of Transportation performs a variety of recruitment and outreach initiatives throughout the state to promote diversity within the various transportation careers, including highway maintainer positions.
A Veterans Resource Fair is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., July 19, at the American Legion Post 449, 704 N. Hickory in Champaign. The Fair will provide information to veterans regarding a variety of services, as well as the application process for the Illinois highway maintainer positions.
For more information, contact the Illinois Department of Transportation at 217-782-5597.