The General Assembly has begun its annual Easter Break. When we return to Springfield on Monday, April 24, legislators from the House and Senate have just five days to pass their bills and send them to the other chamber. Any bill that has not cleared its chamber of origin by Friday, April 28 will be essentially dead. In May, we will take action on Senate Bills that successfully passed in that chamber and Senators will take action on legislation sent to them from the House.
It is my greatest hope that in May we will also come to bipartisan agreement on a balanced budget. With session adjournment for summer scheduled for May 31, we still have time to pass a budget. I stand ready to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle on this most important task. Adopting a balanced budget prior to May 31 is my first priority.
Morrison to Host Joint Town Hall Meeting on April 20
Today, IDOT requires municipalities with more than 5,000 residents to do a 20-year transportation study on their major thoroughfares. In my conversations with public officials from my district, they feel the current law is not practical. I have been told by many that they only do the plans because they are required by law. They believe, and I agree, that it would be much more practical to require more of a five-year study.
Recently I was able to pass legislation that provides municipalities with relief from this 20-year plan requirement. HB 2363 seeks to eliminate the current burdensome mandate that requires municipalities to develop and keep up-to-date 20-year long-range highway transportation plans. The language included in the bill would significantly reduce the number of years that must be included in municipal transportation plans. HB 2363 received unanimous support in the House and has moved over to the Senate for consideration.
Nursing Association Representatives Travel to Capitol for Lobby Day
In spite of unanimous opposition from House Republicans, last week members of the majority party pushed through a new $800 million stop gap measure to channel funds to social service agencies and institutions of higher learning.
Obviously I believe these agencies and institutions deserve to receive their funding, but this stop gap measure only sends very limited funding to specific programs and does not bring us any closer toward a full compromise budget that would end the uncertainty and suffering for these groups. For example, the spending plan includes only 36% of the funding for domestic violence shelters, only 36% for infant mortality programs, and only 38% for the senior meals program. It completely left out funding for other important components of the budget. To make matters worse, the plan was also filled with errors. It would spend $1.5 million on a program in Chicago that is no longer in existence, and more than $500,000 on two programs that are currently ineligible to receive funds due to noncompliance issues with reporting of how state funds were previously spent. In spite of the funding level discrepancies and the multitude of errors in the bill, HB 109 passed in a party-line vote of 64-45-1. It cannot be acted upon until the Senate returns at the end of April, so again, this is taking pressure off of lawmakers to pass a complete budget and giving a false sense of hope to these funding recipients.
We need a budget that provides state agencies and institutions with predictability that extends beyond more than just a few months. During the last few weeks, two different full budget proposals have been filed in the Illinois Senate, yet rather than work toward bipartisan agreement on one of those plans, the House floor action last Thursday suggested the majority party leadership has little interest in working together in a bipartisan fashion to reach an agreement on a full budget. It was incredibly disappointing.
Lastly, during this special time of year, I hope you are enjoying time with family, friends and loved ones as we celebrate this Easter and Passover season. Enjoy the nice weather and have a very Happy Easter!