MAJOR ISSUES UNRESOLVED: BUDGET, PENSIONS, CONCEALED CARRY
Despite one-party control of state government in Illinois, the Governor and his House and Senate allies have yet to move the ball forward on almost every major issue.
To date, a draft of the state budget has not been produced, leading to concerns that a spending plan will be dropped last minute on legislators, with little opportunity for lawmakers or the public to review the details.
Meanwhile, the state continues to accumulate pension debt as the Senate President, House Speaker, and Governor all appear deadlocked over competing reform plans.
In the House, Speaker Madigan has said that his priority is to shift pension costs to local school districts and state universities and colleges. He continues to insist downstate and suburban schools get a "free lunch" even though that claim was thoroughly debunked by an extensive study prepared by Senate Republicans.
Illinois also faces a June 9 federal court deadline to adopt legislation giving Illinoisans the right to carry a concealed weapon in public. The House has made progress on a proposal, but it may face stiff resistance in the Senate, where anti-gun hardliners hold more power.
“RICH STATES, POOR STATES”
The Sixth edition of “Rich States, Poor States” produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council and co-authored by respected economist Arthur Laffer has been released. The report ranked Illinois 47th in the nation in Economic Performance and 48th in Economic Outlook.
To rank states by Economic Performance the study looked at three statistics: Gross Domestic Product, Absolute Domestic Migration and Non-Farm Payroll Employment. Illinois ranked 42nd for Gross Domestic Product, then fell to 48th in both Domestic Migration (which measures whether more people are leaving the state than are coming to the state) and Non-Farm Employment, which measures job growth.
The Economic Outlook ranking is based on 15 policy areas that state lawmakers have influence or control over. These include tax rates and policies, the legal environment, workers' compensation costs and minimum wage rates. Illinois was ranked at or near the bottom for its imposition of a 66% income tax increase and continuing to charge death taxes on estates. The state scored its best ranking (ninth in the nation) for its relatively low ratio of public employees – less than 5% of the population.
While most major issues continue to hang, lawmakers have made progress on important issues. For example, lawmakers of both parties strongly endorsed and sent to the Governor a measure that will bring Illinois speed limits more closely into line with much of the nation.
The latest updates on legislation being considered and passed by the General Assembly can be found on the Senate Action page of the Senate Republican Website.