July 12, 2021 Update

President Joe Biden stopped in Crystal Lake in McHenry County last Wednesday to push his American Families Plan. Biden spoke at McHenry College making the case for creating free community college, extending the child tax credit and achieving universal pre-K education. The President was greeted by Governo JB Pricker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. 

GOVERNOR’S HIGHLIGHTS: The Governor’s team continues to review legislation passed by the General Assembly this spring. At present, the Governor has 616 bills (324 House Bills/292 Senate Bills) pending on his desk. Pursuant to Article IV, Section 9 of the Illinois Constitution, the Governor has 60 days to act on legislation once he receives it from the General Assembly. If the Governor fails to act during that time, the bill becomes law. A listing of the bills awaiting the Governor’s action is here.

New Laws:
Governor Pritzker signed the omnibus Medicaid bill, SB2294 (Gillespie/Harris). The bill is the product of the bipartisan Medicaid Working Group. The bill makes several changes to the Medicaid program including expanding the program to cover new services and the implementing new Medicaid-adjacent services. The legislation provides: ·        Continued Medicaid eligibility through the COVID-19 public health emergency and up to 12 months after it expires regardless of whether federally required or funded.·        Medicaid coverage for the whole-health program.·        Veteran support specialists which will enable veterans to receive care that recognizes their unique struggles.·        Individual and group programs for those seeking help ending their tobacco addiction.·        An expansion of mental health resources through the addition of clinical professional counselors and the creation of a comprehensive statewide behavioral health strategy.·        A requirement that in-patient status be given to anyone in need who is experiencing an opioid overdose.·        New coverage of kidney transplant medications regardless of residency.·        An expansion of HFS’s Medicaid enrollment assistance program through application agents, technical assistance, and outreach grants.·        An $80 million increase in the supportive living facility (SLF) rate — a 10% increase until March 31, 2022 — paid through federal ARPA funds.SB 2294 is effective immediately.

Credit Upgrade: On Thursday, S & P Global Ratings upgraded Illinois’ bond rating. S&P last upgraded the state’s bonds in July 1997 and the upgrade analysis credited “improved liquidity,” “demonstrated operational controls during the COVID-19 pandemic” and an “improving economic condition” in making the rating change. S&P upgraded Illinois’ rating on its General Obligation bonds from BBB- to BBB with a stable outlook and also upgraded the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority ratings to BBB+ from BBB based on the state’s support. Build Illinois bonds were upgraded to BBB+ from BBB. Read the Governor’s press releasehere .

COVID-19 Update: To date, 69.9% of Illinoisans over the age of 12 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 617 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths. As of Thursday, 423 individuals are in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 76 are in the ICU. The state’s seven-day average case positivity rate is at 1.4%, more than double from a week ago.
Governor Pritzker announced a new pilot program offering a range of incentives to state employees who work in direct care facilities and receive at least one dose of the vaccine. The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA), the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) and the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) announced the drawings to eligible employees in late June and will announce winners on July 19. Winners are eligible to receive cash bonuses, state prizes, Airline vouchers and sports tickets. More information is here.

The General Assembly remains adjourned until the call of the House Speaker and Senate President. Negotiations continue on the clean energy legislative package. Capitol News recaps the status of the talks here.
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability released final revenue numbers for Fiscal Year 2021 revealing that base receipts finished the fiscal year up a “stunning” $6.792 billion over the previous year. That increase was spurred by growth in federal sources, a shift in the filing of income tax receipts due to the pandemic, and other strong economic conditions as the state begins to normalize from COVID restrictions.  Combined net income tax receipts were up $5.536 billion and sales tax receipts grew $1.113 million.
All of the other revenue sources combined fell $165 million short over the previous fiscal year. The exceptional performances seen in inheritance tax, insurance tax and corporate franchise tax were erased by lower interest earnings, public utility tax receipts as well as other miscellaneous revenues directed into general funds including those related to $193 million in one-time court settlement proceeds receipted last fiscal year and the $174 million reduction in BI Escrow payments. Read the full report here.
Representative Tony McCombie (R, Savanna) announced she is exploring running for the 37th Senate District in 2022. McCombie will be conducting a “listening tour” of the 37th Senate District as part of her decision-making process. She noted she is reluctant to challenge a House Republican colleague – although this move may pit her against Republican Win Stoller. Stoller has not announced his intentions at this time.