Credit Rating: Fitch Ratings revised Illinois’ credit outlook from negative to positive. With this action, Illinois’ GO bond rating moves from BBB- with a negative outlook to BBB- with a positive outlook. Fitch highlighted several reasons for the upgrade:• “The state is prudently applying the gains to fully retire federal deficit borrowing undertaken just a few months ago, repay outstanding interfund loans used as budget balancers in prior years and drive down the bills backlog.”
• “Recent fiscal results and the enacted fiscal 2022 budget suggest further improvements in operating performance and structural balance in the near and medium-term that could support a return to the pre-pandemic rating or higher.”
• “Recent improvements including reduction in accounts payable and enacting plans for early retirement of federal pandemic loans, signal improvement in budget management.”
• “The May Debt Transparency Act (DTA) report also notes $191 million in reported pending late payment interest penalties, down 40% from February 2020 ($319 million) and down 78% from the first DTA report from December 2017 ($887 million).”
• “Broadly, the state reports a $1 billion reduction in total general fund spending for fiscal 2022 ($42.3 billion) versus the current services estimate provided in November 2020. General fund base operating spending remains flat in the fiscal 2022 enacted budget versus fiscal 2021 at $30.8 billion. Funding for K-12 and higher education is up 3%, including a $350 million increase for K-12.”
• “Unlike recent years, the budget includes no interfund loans or sweeps.”The Fitch analysis is here.
COVID-19 Update: On Thursday, Illinois reported 248 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and 18 additional deaths. As of Wednesday night, 442 individuals are hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 107 are in the ICU and 50 are on ventilators. Illinois’ statewide positivity rate is now 0.6%. At present, 63.93% of individuals over the age of 16 have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. The University of Illinois System announced all its universities will require all students to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in order to return to campus for the fall 2021 semester.
102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The General Assembly remains adjourned until the call of the Speaker and Senate President. The Legislature is expected to reconvene if and when a deal is reached on comprehensive clean energy legislation.
Representative Ramirez announced she will be lifting the motion to reconsider the vote on the elected Chicago School Board bill, HB2408 (Ramirez/Martwick). Ramirez made the announcement following a meeting with representatives of the City of Chicago to negotiate a trailer bill. Ramirez expects the bill to be sent to the Governor soon.
Representative Mazzochi introduced HB4102 which provides that the approval to operate an automated traffic law enforcement system at an intersection shall be revoked by the municipality or county if the installation, operation, or request for approval to the system has been associated with civil or criminal corruption charges involving: (i) a State legislator; (ii) a member of the executive branch having oversight authority over approvals to operate the automated traffic law enforcement system; or (iii) a member of municipal or county government who holds or held the power to vote for or to issue a local ordinance pertaining to the automated traffic law enforcement system.
Senator Hastings announced he will no longer seek the Democratic nomination for Secretary of State in 2022 and instead will run for reelection to the Illinois Senate.
Illinois State Senator Rachelle Crowe is one of three candidates recommended by United States Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth for the Southern District US Attorney post. President Biden will make the final selection which requires approval of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.