February 23, 2020 Update

Governor’s Highlights:

Democrat Gov. J. B. Pritzker delivered his second budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday. Pritzker proposes spending $42 billion in general revenue funds for Fiscal Year 2021.
Pritzker used the speech to celebrate his first-year successes including enhancing Illinois’ budget stability, passing recreational cannabis; expanding gaming, enacting a new Capital Program; reducing Illinois’ bill backlog by almost $1 billion; and lowering late payment penalties from $950 million to just over $100 million. Pritzker reminded legislators that despite the successes of last year, our “choices remain hard; our financial situation challenging”.  
Pritzker plans to fund next year’s budget through new revenues generated from newly legalized adult use cannabis sales and expanded gaming, changing the state’s income tax structure from a flat tax to a graduated tax ($1.4 billion for FY21 and $3.6 billion annually) and other cost saving measures ($225 million). Pritzker identified various cost saving measures including optimizing state agency operations, consolidating state agencies and eliminating duplicative or dormant boards and commissions. A complete listing of the proposed cost saving measures is here .  
Because budget makers will not know the outcome of the income tax question until after the November election, the Governor’s proposed budget holds roughly $1.4 billion “in reserve” pending the outcome of the graduated income tax vote. Reserves include $307 million for elementary, secondary and higher education; $482 for healthcare and human services; and $602 million for state and local governments.   If voters approve changing Illinois’ income tax, the new rates, which were signed into law last year, will take effect January 1, 2021.Budget Highlights include:

  • Allocating $100 million to the “Rainy Day Fund” over the next 16 months.
  • In addition to making the full pension payment, Pritzker pledged an additional $100 million to reduce net pension liability. He would like to see that figure double over the next few years.
  • Increasing funding for the Department of Children and Family Services by $147 million to increase staffing and support for investigations and fund a third simulation lab to help train investigators.
  • Adding 100 DHS caseworkers to reduce backlogs in Medicaid eligibility determinations.
  • Pritzker included $4.5 million to reinstate the marketplace navigator program.
  • Pritzker added $60 million for a proposed rate increase for Homemaker Services.
  • The proposed budget adds $2 million to eliminate waiting lists for the Home Delivered Meals Program.
  • Governor Pritzker proposed increasing the Early Childhood Block Grant by $50 million and the Child Care Assistance Program by $100 million.
  • Pritzker proposed raising MAP funding by $50 million and dedicating 15% of the MAP awards to community college students. Pritzker also pledged tuition-free community college for MAP eligible students in families with incomes under $45,000 with a federal Pell Grant.
  • The FY 21 budget increases public university operations funding by $55.6 million and increases community college operations funding by $14.9 million.
  • Pritzker’s budget includes $52.8 million for remediation of coal ash waste and includes $651.1 million for new capital appropriations to fund municipal water loans and grants to improve the quality of Illinois water resources.
  • Three Illinois State Police cadet classes ($17.2 million) are funded in the proposed budget as well as $2 million in funding for a new Safe2Help tip line to enhance school safety.
  • An additional $35 million is allocated for Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) initiatives in communities in need.
  • The proposed budget includes $18 million for loans to social equity applicants to start and operate cannabis businesses.
  • $500,000 is allocated to planning grants to supplement the Connect Illinois capital broadband initiative included in Rebuild Illinois.

Appropriations committees in both chambers will now begin reviewing agency budgets in detail. Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn the spring session on May31st; the new budget year begins July 1st.
Cannabis: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announced two more “Same Site” adult use cannabis licenses. These recent approvals raise the total number of approved “Same Site” licenses to 48 and the total number of dispensaries licensed to sell adult use cannabis up to 50.
The medical dispensaries that received early approval adult use licenses this week are:
Mindful Dispensary
1433 W. Fullerton Ave. Ste. C
Addison, IL 60101
Nature’s Care Company
975 Rohlwing Rd.
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008
101st General Assembly:
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and first-term Democrat Representative Anne Stava-Murray both challenged the qualifications of Representative Eva Dina Delgado who was appointed to replace former Representative Luis Arroyo.
Representative Chris Welch will chair the Qualifications Challenge Committee. The committee’s first hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25th at 10 am in room 114 of the Capitol.
Coming Up:
Both chambers stand adjourned until Tuesday, Feb. 25th at noon. The General Assembly is scheduled to be in session for the next two weeks, primarily considering legislation at the committee level.