Illinois Senate lawmakers will begin holding committee hearings on a budget framework designed to reestablish fiscal stability and certainty, and get Illinois moving forward again.
An emergency budget agreement that funded state government through late summer and fall expired on Jan. 1, leaving public universities, mental health providers, addiction treatment centers, senior programs, breast and cervical cancer screening programs, youth services and programs for victims of sexual assault without state funding.
The Illinois Senate has made encouraging progress recently, with Senate Leaders announcing significant headway had been made on a budget proposal that would fund the remainder of the fiscal year and associated reforms to state government. Senate Republicans underscored that this was the first time structural reforms, revenues and a budget plan have been tied together. Notably, the legislation was written so that every measure in the package must be approved in order for the entire proposal to take effect.
Among other things, the budget framework under discussion would provide spending authority for the remainder of the 2017 year, continue efforts to reform some of the state’s public employee pension systems, and tie a property tax freeze to measures that provide mandate relief to school districts and reforms to lower the cost of government.
Other items included in the budget framework are reforms designed to maximize efficiencies in Illinois’ workers’ compensation system while retaining the basic set of protections Illinois workers have benefited from for more than one hundred years and reforms to make it easier for local voters to abolish township government. There are more than 1,400 township governments in Illinois. Townships are often criticized as duplicative and outdated and frequently targeted for consolidation or elimination.
The budget framework also includes measures that would streamline and improve the state’s procurement process to eliminate barriers to vendor participation, competition, cost savings and efficient procurement practices.