The Morrison Memo: December 15, 2015

Legislative Leaders Continue to Meet with Governor
Governor Bruce Rauner has met three times in as many weeks with the four legislative leaders to discuss the budget impasse, and while there is still significant disagreement on key issues, the five have expressed some mild optimism that some progress is being made.

Governor Rauner, House Speaker Mike Madigan, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno met three weeks ago in Springfield and then again on December 8 in the Governor’s Chicago office at the James R. Thompson Center. A third meeting took place today. While the meetings produced no significant breakthroughs, all agreed that they will continue to meet with hopes that a budget agreement can be reached early in the new year.

At the center of the impasse is a fundamental disagreement between Governor Rauner, who would like to implement structural reforms for local and state governments and for our business communities before discussing any increase in taxes, and the Speaker, who would like to close the budget funding gap with a tax increase right away, and defer talks of reforms until a later date. I stand with Governor Rauner and believe Illinois cannot continue with the status quo approach of overspending with no regard for what the state can actually afford. I am pleased that the five leaders have returned to the negotiation table and continue to hope for a budget resolution that is fair to everyone.

Motor Fuel Taxes, 9-1-1 and other Funding will Flow to Municipalities and Agencies Soon
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved legislation that will allow Motor Fuel Tax receipts and funding for 9-1-1 service to flow to municipalities and townships. The language, which was presented as an amendment to SB 2039, also included funding for lottery winners and for programs that serve veterans and battered women, for low income energy assistance programs, and for mental health services for vulnerable citizens. The final version of the bill was approved by the Senate on December 7, and signed by the Governor on December 8. The House almost unanimously approved many of the provisions included in the bill in November, but Speaker Madigan used his House rules to block it from moving to the Senate at that time. While I would have preferred to see the funding released to our local governments sooner, I am pleased to know that municipalities, townships and valuable agencies will be receiving their funds soon.

Unemployment Insurance Reforms Receive Bipartisan House Support
In a showing of bipartisanship, members of the House also gave final approval this month to sweeping reforms to the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act. The reforms, agreed to jointly by the Governor, the business community, and labor organizations, represent a significant step forward to strengthen the backbone of our economy, innovators and entrepreneurs. HB 1285 received unanimous support by the 110 legislators in attendance on December 2. Specifically, HB 1285 prevents a $470 million tax increase on employers by eliminating a scheduled increase in employer contributions that would have taken effect in 2016. The legislation also eliminates the Social Security Offset to provide greater security to elderly and disabled workers, and strengthens the misconduct provisions to ensure greater protections to employers.

Morrison Reminds Citizens to Sign Up For Email Renewal Notices
In October, Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office was suspending the mailing out of vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. By using this link you can register for email reminder notices that will provide an alert when your vehicle registration sticker is about to expire. Click here to view an FAQ about to this issue.