BRADY SAYS BOND INTEREST RATES LOWER THANKS TO PENSION REFORM
Illinois’ bond interest rates have gone down and according to State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) finally passing meaningful pension reform is the reason.
Illinois priced $1 billion in general obligation bonds Thursday and was able to claim $60 million in interest savings largely because of the major pension reform supported by a bipartisan cohort of legislators including Senator Brady who served on the Conference Committee on Pension Reform.
“Voting in favor of pension reform in December was by no means an easy vote, but we’ve seen several positive developments for Illinois’ bond sales over the last several months as a result of that vote,” said Brady. “The $60 million in interest savings from this most recent bond sale is clearly evidence that pension reform is helping Illinois.”
In December Illinois sold $350 million of taxable general obligation bonds with a decrease in penalties of 29%. The state’s bond rating outlook from S&P was also changed from negative to developing.
“These developments are encouraging, but Illinois still has a lot of work to do to be on firm financial footing,” said Brady. “Illinois still has the lowest bond ratings in the nation, pays the highest borrowing costs among the 17 states tracked by Bloomberg, and has a yield spread almost triple that of the next lowest rated state, California. We’re certainly moving in the right direction, but we can’t stop now.”
BUDGET MOVE POLITICAL
Many legislators, including State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) considered Governor Quinn’s request to postpone the annual constitutionally mandated budget address until after the March primary a political move.
This year’s budget process will be especially important as the 67 percent income tax increase passed by Illinois Democrats in January of 2011 will expire half way through the next fiscal year. Debate on the budget this spring will determine if that tax is temporary as Illinoisans were promised, or if the tax will be made permanent or replaced with a new graduated tax structure.
Critics of the move say that postponing the address cuts in half the time the General Assembly will have to discuss and adopt a budget. No matter when the Governor gives his speech the legislature must still adopt a budget on the same deadline.
The bill, SB 1227, passed 37-15-0 in the Senate with all members of the Senate Republican Caucus voting against the measure. The new date for the Governor’s Budget Address will be March 26 at which point the Governor has promised to lay out a five-year spending plan.
COMPTROLLER HELPS TAXPAYERS TRACK REFUNDS
There’s good news for those who have filed their individual Illinois income tax and want to know where their refund is. Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka has introduced a new “Find Your Illinois Tax Refund website that will allow taxpayers to check on the status of their refunds.
By entering your name and Social Security number, the Comptroller’s Office will let you know if your 2013 tax return has been processed. Taxpayers can also leave contact information to be notified by text or email once a return has been processed.