The Morrison Memo: May 2, 2016

Governor Signs Bipartisan Higher Education Bill
In a rare showing of bipartisanship in Springfield on April 22, the House and Senate approved SB 2059, which provided $600 million in emergency stopgap funding for Illinois’ colleges and universities, and for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for students from lower income brackets. On Monday, April 25, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law, making it possible for the Comptroller’s office to begin transferring lifeline funding to Illinois’ nine universities, 12 campuses, 39 community college districts and approximately 120,000 MAP Grant recipients.

The money provided by SB 2059 will help keep operations going and enable students to remain active in classroom learning. Full funding awaits continued work by the General Assembly to enact constitutional balanced budgets for FY16 and FY17. Illinois higher education has not received operational funding from the State since July 1, 2016, when FY16 began.

Constitutional Amendment would allow Illinois Voters to Abolish Position of Lieutenant Governor
Illinois has had a constitutional Office of the Lieutenant Governors since being admitted to statehood in 1818. For almost 200 years, most Illinois lieutenant governors have served quiet terms without succeeding to the office of Governor or performing other significant tasks. Seven U.S. states do not have a Lieutenant Governor.

I serve as a Chief Co-Sponsor for HJRCA 5, which authorizes the people of Illinois to vote in November 2016 on abolishing the office of Illinois Lieutenant Governor. If the amendment is approved, the elected Illinois Attorney General (who is the person next in line under existing law) would become the successor to the Governor who is first in line. The measure was approved by the House on Friday, April 22. The 95-10-0 bipartisan vote to approve HJRCA 5 sent the measure to the Illinois Senate for further consideration and debate.

Rep. Morrison Discusses Civics at Partners for our Communities Organization Event
Last week it was my pleasure to meet some local students when I discussed and answered questions about civics at a citizenship class hosted by the local Partners for our Communities (POC) in Palatine. POC is a network of civic, educational, government, religious, private business, charitable community organizations and institutions that work alongside a dedicated staff and a strong volunteer force to provide services to the residents of Palatine and the surrounding area.

End of Month sees Payless Payday for 118 Members of Illinois House
House members from both parties are paid, by law, at the end of every calendar month. Due to the State’s continued lack of a constitutional balanced budget, however, the Comptroller has determined that these payments to elected state leaders should be treated on a basis of equality with other budget-impacted State payments on an immediate basis. I support her decision 100%. The decision became effective during the end-of-April pay period. The end-of-April business day was Friday, April 29.

Elected official pay commitments, including pay for Comptroller Munger, for other statewide elected officials and for members of the Illinois House and Senate have been shifted to a wait-queue that will generate payments when monies are available. As with other providers of goods and services to the State, delay times are expected in the settlements of these commitments and claims. While the move nominally affects Governor Bruce Rauner, the State’s chief executive has announced that he is serving without pay.

Observers see the move as increasing internal pressure within the General Assembly to discuss budget issues seriously with the goal of generating new spending numbers before the legislature’s scheduled May adjournment. Comptroller Munger’s office is currently posting a backlog of official unpaid bills that exceeds $6.8 billion.

Governor Rauner Organizes Task Force against Health Care Fraud
The task force, created earlier in April 2016 by executive order, has been asked to look into possible fraud, waste, and abuse in state-administered health care programs. Illinois taxpayers pay $19 billion a year to administer and pass through payments on state-run health care programs. Most of this money is paid directly by state taxpayers to Illinois, and a large subset is paid through federal taxes paid by Illinoisans to Washington, D.C.-based programs in which both Illinois and the federal government collaborate and provide funds.

Rauner has asked the task force to review the best practices currently used by the private sector to examine and control soaring health care costs. Other states’ efforts to reduce Medicaid fraud and other forms of public sector health care abuse are also to be looked at. The task force will work with data managers skilled at “big data” analytics to uncover statistical patterns indicative of non-optimal health care billing and spending.

The task force has been asked to write a report that will:
  • Make recommendations for policy changes the State needs to consider 
  • Refer specific cases of wrongful reimbursements to authorities to seek recovery on behalf of Illinois taxpayers.
New Study Determines that Illinoisans Pay Highest Property Taxes in Nation
The study, published by CoreLogic, compares aggregated property tax extensions (the total amounts billed) with the value of the real property being taxed. According to CoreLogic, which the median property tax extension aggregate extension is 1.31% of the property being taxed, the median Illinois extension is 2.67% of value. This measurement scale makes Illinois the highest-property-tax state in the U.S., with New York second at 2.53% of value.

The CoreLogic data indicates that if an Illinois homeowner is occupying a house valued at $200,000, the homeowner will be paying a median annual property tax bill of $5,340. As always, individual homeowners’ experiences may vary. Different localities within Illinois will have different property tax rates; and within localities, different property owners may enjoy the effect of specific property tax relief measures. For example, senior citizen homeowners should be able to enjoy some relief from the Senior Citizens Homestead Property Tax Exemption, which automatically subtracts some of the value from the assessment number generated for an eligible senior citizen’s house before the tax bill is generated.

According to CoreLogic, neighboring states have lower property tax rates than Illinois. The California-based data aggregator generated median property tax burdens, calculated as a percentage of property value, of 1.95% in Wisconsin, 1.69% in Iowa, 1.26% in Missouri, and 0.88% in Indiana. CoreLogic’s data, published this week, agrees with previously public state-by-state surveys by firms such as WalletHub, which have also found Illinois to be one of the worst states in the nation in which to be taxed.

As always, please do not ever hesitate to call me or write to me about issues that are important to you. You may reach my Palatine District office at (847) 202-6584 or email me by going to www.repmorrison54.com and clicking on the “Contact” button.