SPRINGFIELD, IL – The week before what many people regard as the unofficial end of summer, House lawmakers returned to the Capitol to override gubernatorial vetoes, and suburban law enforcement officers mourn the loss of one of their own, according to State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).
Lawmakers are nowhere closer to a final Fiscal Year 2016 budget resolution, as this week’s action at the Capitol focused on legislative overrides.
Moody’s Investment Services warned that if lawmakers do not solve the 60-plus-day budgetary stalemate soon, it could very likely impact the state’s bond ratings, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is urging residents to plan for emergencies during National Preparedness Month.
House fails to override controversial ‘AFSCME’ bill
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a controversial “binding arbitration” bill was upheld as House Speaker Michael Madigan failed to muster the necessary 71 votes to override. By some estimates, if Senate Bill 1229 was upheld and eventually enacted, it could have cost the state an estimated $2 billion in the next four years for labor costs.
The legislation was largely panned because it would have removed a duly-elected governor from union negotiations in the event of a contract dispute. Instead, Senate Bill 1229 would have placed the process of determining the outcome of taxpayer-paid, multi-billion-dollar labor agreements between the Governor and state employee unions in the hands of an unelected arbitrator.
Additionally, locally-elected union representatives would have been removed from the equation, and critics questioned a provision in the legislation that would have removed the union’s ability to strike.
Southern Illinois Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), who has often sided with government labor organizations on their goals, called Senate Bill 1229 an “absolutely bad bill and it was a bad precedent to set.” He also questioned the bill’s sunset provision for the time of Rauner’s term in office.
Lawmakers are hopeful that having put this issue to rest, the Governor can move forward productively with the ongoing negotiations with the state’s largest public sector union, AFSCME.
Rauner and Teamsters agree to contract terms
Despite rhetoric by some public sector union representatives that Gov. Rauner is attempting to “union bust,” the administration and the Teamsters agreed to a new four-year contract for more than 4,600 state employees.
The Teamsters represent a significant segment of the state’s Illinois Department of Transportation workforce.
The new agreement was lauded by both sides as being a “good deal” for taxpayers and the members of the bargaining unit.
Suburban law enforcement search and community grieves
Lake County area law enforcement officials continue a manhunt for three armed subjects after Fox Lake Police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz was savagely gunned-down on Sept. 1.
Senate Republican lawmakers expressed their sympathies for the family, friends and coworkers of Lt. Gliniewicz, who was a 32-year law enforcement veteran.
The murder of Lt. Gliniewicz marked the fourth shooting of a law enforcement officer in less than two weeks across the nation.
Credit agency weighs in on budget impasse, fiscal woes
Moody’s Investors Service issued a warning to Illinois policy makers this week, as the budgetary stalemate enters its third month. In a recent report, the credit rating agency said that while the budget impasse currently “has had limited effects on our view of the state’s credit position,” that would change if a resolution can’t be negotiated in the coming weeks.
The report said that while the budget stalemate has “not yet strained the state’s finances…that will change if an accord is not reached soon.” In fact, Moody’s suggested that the state needs to have a budget in place by the end of September or the potential for a further credit downgrade will “greatly increase.”
The agency also underscored that they’ll be paying close attention to the “nature of the eventual agreement.” Of particularly interest to Moody’s is how the state will address its pension funding pressures and the state’s deficit, which has been estimated at a $5 billion shortfall for the current fiscal year.
Illinois’ low credit rating has massive trickle-down effects, which make road building more expensive, local government borrowing more difficult and even add to individual student loan debts.
Illinois already has the lowest credit rating of all 50 states, and the state's finances are further stressed by the City of Chicago’s financial instability. Earlier this summer, the Chicago Public Schools and McPier’s bond ratings took a massive hit as payments were nearly missed.
Farmers flock to Decatur for the Farm Progress Show
With a narrow window before harvest begins, farmers from across the country joined with ag professionals from around the world at the 2015 Farm Progress Show in Decatur.
The three-day event featured over 650 exhibitors showing off the latest innovations in farm machinery, seed genetics, and grain handling technology, in addition to a multitude of other vendors. Organizers planned for 150,000 visitors, and Show Director Matt Jungmann said attendance appears close to that number.
A number of lawmakers attended the event as well, meeting with constituents, local businesses and using the opportunity to simply to learn more about the state’s leading industry.
Back on the farm, many larger operations slowly began their harvest, while the rest of the state’s crops continue their march to maturity.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1% of the Illinois corn crop has now been harvested, with 21% rated as mature. Only 5% of soybeans are rated as mature, but 73% are already changing color, which happens just before they are ready to be harvested. The third cutting of hay is nearing completion as well, with 73% of acres now baled.
‘Don’t wait. Communicate.’
“Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make your emergency plan today” is the Illinois theme for 2015’s National Preparedness Month. That simple theme is being stressed by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency as recent and upcoming milestones serve as stark reminders for being prepared.
Last week, Louisiana marked the 10th anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, and Americans will pause next week to remember the 14th year since the 9/11 Attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Whether the disaster is natural or a man-made terrorist action, it is always better to take the necessary steps to ensure your family, friends and coworkers are prepared.
Ready.Illinois.Gov can be your “one-stop shop” for helpful informational tips to ensure your safety and help devise disaster plans. If you are on Facebook, be sure to check back for the Agency’s “tip of the day” during the month of September. Social networking can also be an immediate source of information during a time of disaster, so please check out www.facebook.com/ReadyIllinois or www.twitter.com/ReadyIllinois for the latest safety tips.