Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office will immediately suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Those who want to continue receiving a reminder must sign up to receive electronic notices through the Secretary of State’s web site A direct link to sign up for email alerts can be found on the home page of that site.

When making the announcement, White noted that suspending this service will save approximately $450,000 per month, and allows his office to prolong the mailing out of vehicle registration renewal stickers, titles and license plates to vehicle owners. According to White, unless a budget is approved, his postage account will be completely depleted in a few months.

I would encourage all residents to be aware of the date for renewal of their vehicle registrations, but to also sign up for the email notifications without delay. While those who receive emailed vehicle registration renewal notices via email will continue to have access to a pin number needed to renew their sticker on-line, those who do not sign up for the electronic alerts will now have to renew their vehicle stickers in person at a Secretary of State office.
FY16 Budget
·         Democrat majority continues piecemeal budget strategy.  Although Illinois is close to ending its third month without a spending plan for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015, the House session this week did not show any signs of progress.  On Thursday, Democrats on the House Executive Committee passed a $3.8 billion spending bill without specifying a funding source for the monies pledged by the committee to be spent. 

While the House committee’s action cleared SB 2046 for further action on the House floor, the lack of real negotiations on the State budget mean that spending bills of this type are seen by close observers of Springfield as less than serious.  The full House did not take up SB 2046 for debate this week, and did not discuss an overall spending plan or budget agreement.  Gov. Rauner has stated his intent to veto this and other piecemeal budget bills that would overspend anticipated revenues by billions of dollars.          

·         Other states with budget challenges make progress.  The Pew Charitable Trusts has conducted a nonpartisan survey of states with ongoing challenges in crafting a budget for fiscal year 2016.  They have found that, in states other than Illinois, substantial progress has been made.  Alabama and Massachusetts, after extensive wrangling, have achieved compromise budgets for the 2016 fiscal year.  The budgets of New Hampshire and North Carolina, after being caught in policy-related impasses, have been signed into law.  In Illinois’ neighboring state of Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker has signed a two-year budget.

The Pew Charitable Trusts pointed to two states, Illinois and Pennsylvania, as examples of ongoing budget showdowns “with no end in sight.”
Economy – Job Creation
·         Reboot Illinois points out Illinois’ lagging record in job creation.  The report, issued on Monday, September 21, responds to and provides background for Illinois’ slow recovery from the 2008-14 economic downturn. 

The Reboot Illinois report traced job creation over a five-year period covering much of the downturn, from June 2009 through June 2014.  During this 5-year span, the Prairie State ranked 42nd among the 50 states for job creation since June 2009.  Illinois increased its job positions by 3.0% during this recession-affected time period.  During the same span of time, jobs in Wisconsin increased by 4.4%, the same numbers in Iowa increased by 5.0%, Kentuckians saw 5.1% more positions during the five-year period, and the number of jobs during the same period in Indiana increased by 7.8%. 

Education – School Mandates
·         Key association of school districts supports Rauner push to eliminate burdensome State mandates.  The push to eliminate many of the day-to-day operational mandates upon Illinois local school districts is a major component of Governor Rauner’s “Turnaround Illinois” agenda.  The Large Unit District Association, which represents many of the school districts of Illinois that have the largest pupil enrollments, has swung behind the Governor’s proposal and has joined his call that it be brought before the General Assembly for discussion and debate. 

Mandates are imposed by State law through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), an independent State board appointed by the Governor.  Mandates seen by local school districts as unduly burdensome include mandatory drivers’ education, including behind-the-wheel training; mandatory daily physical education; and a hard bar on third-party contracting, or outsourcing, for essential operating services such as janitorial work.  Rauner’s platform is pushing to allow local school districts, on a district-by-district basis, to lift the ban on school district third-party essential-operating-service contracts.  Proponents believe that lifting this ban will reduce upward pressure on school budgets and school-related property taxes.  The Rauner platform calls for returning much of the monies saved through this pathway to taxpayers by freezing property tax extensions.

Current law allows individual school districts to apply to the General Assembly for waivers from some, but not all, of the school mandates imposed by the State.  The school district must undergo an administratively burdensome process to make the waiver request and get it approved.  School districts may apply for waivers from the daily physical education mandate, and may apply for relief from some fee-related provisions of the driver’s education mandate.  Many ISBE mandates cannot be waived under any circumstances. 

Illinois State Lottery
·         Gov. Rauner announces termination of Illinois State Lottery’s private-sector operating partner.  The decision to sever ties with the Northstar Lottery Group was announced on Friday, September 18.

The move, which will become fully effective on January 1, 2016, closely followed the public disclosure of findings by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability.  The legislature’s nonpartisan budget office found last week that the State Lottery had transferred $125 million less to State coffers in FY15 (ended June 30, 2015) than it had in FY14.  The decline in Lottery profits occurred while the Northstar Group was operating as the State Lottery’s private partner.  The findings were summarized in the CGFA report “Wagering in Illinois: 2015,” which was released on Thursday, September 17. 

Governor Rauner’s general counsel, Jason Barclay, reported that the termination move will save Illinois taxpayers an immediate $22 million.  A previous termination deal, negotiated by Rauner’s predecessor Pat Quinn, had committed Illinois to pay $22 million to Northstar as a separation fee.  By contrast, the January 1, 2016 Rauner termination agreement includes no fee to be paid by the State to Northstar.     

Infectious Disease – Mumps
·         Mumps cases reported in Bloomington-Normal high schools.  The secondary schools, Normal West and University High, are now classified as outbreak locations of the infectious illness, which is transmitted by virus.  The Bloomington-Normal outbreak followed appearances of the virus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and Eastern Illinois University, both located in east-central Illinois.  Twenty-one cases of mumps had been confirmed in McLean County as of Friday, September 18.  More than 200 cases of mumps have been reported so far in Illinois in calendar year 2015.  

Many Illinois residents have been vaccinated with measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and are less likely to get the disease.  The illness is highly contagious, however.  Mumps is characterized by severe, flu-like symptoms and by swollen glands, ovaries, and testicles.  The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) further describe mumps here.

Outdoor Sports – Hunting and Fishing
·         House celebrates Illinois outdoor sports.  On Thursday, September 24, the Illinois House recognized National Hunting and Fishing Day, which will be observed on Saturday, September 26.  In Southern Illinois, observances will center at the Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days at John A. Logan Community College in Carterville. 

The Prairie State is known throughout the United States as a center for trophy deer hunting. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) supervises deer hunting throughout Illinois and grants licenses to sportsmen.  The license application season is active in preparation for the first Illinois firearm deer season, starting on Friday, November 20.  

State Government – Agriculture
·         Illinois’ top agriculture leaders resign.  Governor Bruce Rauner Thursday accepted the resignation of Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Phil Nelson.  Nelson will remain employed with the Department for the next 30 days to help with the transition.  State Fair Director Patrick Buchen has also stepped down.

“I appreciate Director Nelson’s commitment to agriculture and his service to the people of Illinois,” Governor Rauner said. “I wish him all the best.”

Rauner appointed current Department of Agriculture Chief of Staff Warren Goetsch as Acting Director.  A search for a permanent replacement is underway.

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State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem) will be holding office hours on Friday, September 25, 2015 to meet with constituents.

10:00 A.M. – 11:30 A.M.

Historic Vandalia Statehouse

315 W. Gallatin Street

Vandalia, Illinois

Please contact the office by phone or email to schedule a specific time or feel free to show up when your schedule permits.

Due to the uncertainty of the on-going, legislative session, if the House is in session on that date, legislative staff will be available to meet with constituents on behalf of the Representative.

Constitution Day was created by Congress in 2004 to require that all schools which receive federal funding offer some type of “educational program” on the U.S. Constitution, but it doesn’t define what that should be. Sept. 17 was chosen because it was the last session of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, during which the final version of the newly written U.S. Constitution was signed by 39 delegates.

Schools — pre-K through college — have taken different approaches to teaching the Constitution on this day, some with holding school fairs where information is shared, some with formal lessons on the Constitution. There are numerous online lessons available for teachers and students, including some by the National Archives,which suggest ways to teach six big ideas about the Constitution.
9-11 Observances
·         State observes anniversary of 9-11, honors victims and first responders.  In Illinois by order of Gov. Rauner, flags flew at half-mast throughout Patriot Day in honor of the victims and heroes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and rural Pennsylvania.

Leading the way towards observance of the somber day of remembrance were Republican members of the University of Illinois student and teaching community, who successfully advocated for permission to set up a memorial installation on the U of I Quad.  After a facet of the university administration temporarily attempted to block organization of the installation, the Illini Republicans led the way in a successful push to reverse the prohibition and allow the placement of 2,977 flags on the Quad.  Each U.S. flag will represent one victim of the atrocity.   

Further remembrance ceremonies will be held in other Illinois locations.  For example, Central Park in downtown Decatur, Illinois was scheduled to hold a lunchtime picnic and ceremony to honor Central Illinois first responders and commence advocacy for the construction of a permanent 9-11 memorial in Macon County.  The Decatur memorial is scheduled to contain a physical fragment of the World Trade Center.    

FY16 Budget – Comptroller Munger
·         Comptroller Munger says Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills could top $8.5 billion without a State budget.  Munger’s concerns follow moves throughout the summer of 2015 by advocates of various spending and policy programs to place various Illinois big-budget spending programs, such as Medicaid payments to residential care facilities, on “automatic spending” status pending the enactment of a budget.  These statuses have, in many cases, been backed up by the judicial branch in the form of court orders and references to various consent decrees previously signed by the State.

With money being spent at FY15 rates and State revenues coming in at FY16 rates, cash outflow is exceeding cash inflow.  The Office of the Comptroller, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, and other State agencies are responding to this asymmetry by prioritizing the speed with which bills are paid; many bills are going unpaid at this time.  The $8.5 billion figure is a cumulative figure representing the Office of the Comptroller’s estimate of where the unpaid-bill total will be on December 31, at the end of the 2015 calendar year.
·         General Assembly passes heroin bill into law.  The General Assembly overrode Gov. Rauner’s amendatory veto of HB 1.  Rauner approved most of the bill, but had expressed concerns about the costs of the measure to the public sector, especially to the state-funded Medicaid system.  Proponents of HB 1 agreed that there would be a cost impact, but asserted that overall benefits to Illinois public health – especially the urgent need to equip more first responders with opiate antagonists – justified the veto override.

Final action on the measure took place on Wednesday, September 9 in Springfield.  The state Senate voted 44-11-0 to approve a motion to override the Governor’s veto.  As the Illinois House had already adopted an identical motion, the action by both houses of the General Assembly cleared the way for certification of the measure as an Illinois public act. 

HB 1 contains measures that are intended to put opiate antagonists in the hands of first responders and save the lives of persons who have overdosed on heroin and other opiates.  It also contains many provisions sought by law enforcement and the addiction recovery community to reduce access to opiate drugs, including prescription drugs used in pain management.  The new law will expand access by Illinois residents, including residents eligible for Medicaid-funded health care services, to methadone and other treatment avenues when patients become addicted to heroin and other opiates.       

·         Governor Rauner blocks expansion of medical cannabis program.  Under the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, Illinois is scheduled to study the dispensing and consumption of medical marijuana for 39 statutorily listed medical conditions and diseases.  A patient must have been diagnosed with one of these conditions, and must get an independent and arms-length recommendation from a medical physician with whom the patient has had a longstanding medical relationship, before the patient can apply to the Department of Public Health for a medical cannabis dispensary card.

There are two separate pathways for additional groups of patients to seek entry into the Illinois medical cannabis system.  The General Assembly can enact legislation to add an additional condition or conditions to the existing list of 39.  In addition, the Act itself provides for an advisory panel, the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, to hear petitions from patients and medical care providers and make recommendations to the Director of the Department of Public Health that additional conditions be added to the list by administrative rule.

Gov. Rauner and the Department announced their decision on Thursday, September 10 to move the medical cannabis program forward unchanged, for now.  A list of 11 additional potential eligible medical conditions had been forwarded to the Director for possible action, and the General Assembly had previously passed SB 33, explicitly adding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of statutory eligible conditions.  

Because the medical marijuana pilot program is not yet actually in operation – no cannabis dispensaries are open for business in Illinois, and there is no experience yet on whether the system can be operated in smooth harmony with overall law enforcement – Gov. Rauner announced on Sep. 10 that he was vetoing SB 33.  The announcement coincided with a parallel announcement from the Department of Public Health that none of the additional administrative-action eligibility conditions for legal purchase of medical marijuana would be approved at this time.

Nothing in these announcements will further impede the implementation of the existing Act to provide medical marijuana to victims of cancer, HIV, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, ALS, and other statutorily eligible conditions.  The State continues to work with licensed and permitted cultivation centers and dispensaries to enable the legal distribution of small quantities of medical marijuana to eligible patients.  More than 3,000 patients, living throughout Illinois, have been approved for medical cannabis dispensary cards.  The first dispensaries may open late in 2015 or early in 2016.  The pilot program is scheduled to run through April 2018.    

Economy – Lawsuit Climate
·         Gov. Rauner, U.S. Chamber of Commerce describe how Illinois has become a judicial black hole.  The business panel’s 50-State Lawsuit Climate Survey, unveiled on Thursday, September 10, labeled Illinois 48th of the 50 states in terms of the effects of its civil litigation system on overall job creation and productivity.  Only two states, Louisiana and West Virginia, ranked below Illinois in the nationwide survey.  The Governor, speaking with leaders of the U.S. Chamber, revealed results of the survey in Chicago on Thursday, September 10.

Data for the Lawsuit Climate Survey was gathered by asking top lawyers and executives at firms with at least $100 million in annual revenues.  The high-level executive professionals were asked to grade the state where they worked or practiced on 10 legal factors including suit venue, damage fairness and judicial impartiality.  

The survey’s data was seen as generating additional evidence for the Governor’s “Turnaround Illinois” Agenda.  Gov. Rauner has called for new rules governing where a lawsuit can be brought (venue reform), limits on who can be sued (tort reform) and limits on amounts that can be awarded for medical damages (malpractice reform).  The Democratic majorities in both houses of the Illinois General Assembly have so far blocked these proposals from coming to the floor of either Illinois legislative chamber for discussions, debates, and votes. 

General Assembly – Veto Actions
·         Most of Rauner’s vetoes of House bills stand; only one override approved by General Assembly.  Of the 21 House bills from the General Assembly’s spring session that were passed by both houses and then amendatorily or totally vetoed by the Governor, twenty are now dead.  Only one bill, HB 1 to expand heroin and opiate law enforcement and treatment options, was the beneficiary of successful “veto override” motions in both houses. 

This veto-override recourse, which is included in the Illinois Constitution, gives the General Assembly a final chance to enact legislation over the objections of the Governor by three-fifths majorities in both houses.  In many cases, the decisions by members of the Illinois House Republican caucus to support Governor Rauner helped ensure that the vetoes were upheld. 

Higher Education
·         “U.S. News” sharply increases ranking of SIU Carbondale campus.  The national ranking system for institutions of higher education raised the standing of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  The campus, which had been ranked as the 189th best campus in the United States, jumped to 153rd.  The upward change of 36 notches was the largest increase seen in Illinois in 2015 and was one of the largest increases on the annual list.   

The U.S. News and World Reports Best College Rankings include a widely-followed index of colleges classified as “National Universities.”  This classification covers a variety of four-year institutions connected to public and private universities, such as SIU, that specialize in research and high-level professional training. 

·         University of Chicago (U of C) scores big on “U.S. News” ranking.  The private university, located on Chicago’s South Side, tied for 4th in the National Universities rankings.  It was the highest rank granted to any school in the Midwest.  The University of Chicago’s national ranking puts it on the same level as the Ivy League’s Columbia University and California’s Stanford.  

Other Illinois universities scored well on the U.S. News ranking sheet in 2015.  Evanston’s Northwestern was ranked 12th, tied with the Ivy League’s Dartmouth.  The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was ranked 41st, tied with five schools that included Tulane and Wisconsin/Madison.   

·         2015 fall semester sees the second-largest freshman class in University of Illinois (UIUC) history.  The 7,565 incoming students that have signed up to begin their class work this fall have created a headcount that is second only to the 7,583 students of 2005.  The overall 2015-16 enrollment of 44,087 – a number that includes both undergraduate and graduate students – is up more than 1 percent from the 43,602 students who signed up in fall 2014.  The University of Illinois reported that the percentage of students who are Illinois residents is up from last year.      

Fall enrollment at the University of Illinois’ Springfield campus is also close to a record this year, with an enrollment count of 5,402 students – down slightly from the 2014 record total of 5,431.  The former Springfield-based Sangamon State University was added to the University of Illinois system in 1995 to create the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS), now in its 20th year of operation.

Illinois State Lottery
·         Unpaid lottery tickets lead to lawsuit against the State of Illinois.  The legal action filed on Wednesday, September 9, seeks timely payments of prizes of more than $25,000.  The lack of a State budget for fiscal year 2016 has led to the Illinois State Lottery “paying” winners of significant Illinois prizes with IOU promises-to-pay rather than cash.  The lawsuit was filed in U.S. federal court.

Based on advice from the Office of the Comptroller, the Illinois State Lottery continues to pay prizes of up to $25,000 earned by Lottery winners on schedule, despite the lack of an appropriated budget.  However, this advice does not extend to the largest prizes offered by the Lottery.  In this week’s case, two plaintiffs allege that they have been prevented from collecting prizes of $50,000 and $250,000.  Five-and-six-figure prizes are paid to some lucky winners from simple games such as scratch-off cards.  The lawsuit seeks full payment of the contractual prize winnings plus interest, and asks that the Lottery be barred from covering its internal (administrative and operational) costs until these prize debts are paid off.

Infectious Disease – Legionnaire’s Disease
·         Death toll rises to 10 at Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.  The new death toll was issued on Wednesday, September 9.  Fifty-three persons who live at or are connected with the Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy have tested positive for the disease.  The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs has announced plans to disinfect the facility’s water system, hot water tanks, and air conditioning system.  The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised that these and similar moves be taken in all institutions where an outbreak of the disease is taking place.   

Together with the CDC, the Illinois Department of Public Health has been monitoring the outbreak of the serious illness, which is especially life-threatening to senior citizens with pre-existing chronic conditions.  Legionnaire’s disease, also called “legionellosis,” is caused by the bacterium “Legionella,” named after the conclave of American Legion veterans amongst whom the bacterium was first identified in 1976.  Before 1976, cases of the disease were not yet differentiated from serious cases of pneumonia.
State Government – Labor Relations
·         Rauner, AFSCME agree to continue negotiations.  House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who a week ago stood firmly in opposition to attempts by the largest state employee union to circumvent labor negotiations, commended their leadership for moving past last week and signing the indefinite tolling agreement extended by Governor Rauner.

“I would like to commend both Governor Rauner and AFSCME for recommitting to negotiations.  It is my genuine hope that both parties eventually emerge with an amicable agreement,” said Durkin. 

The agreement signed this week reinforces language that existed in the second 60-day tolling agreement intended to keep the agreement going in the absence of another agreement. Specifically, the agreement calls for good faith negotiations and prevents either side from unilaterally declaring an impasse. 

Downstate Republicans last week secured a similar letter of intent from the Governor clarifying the indefinite nature of the second tolling agreement; however, many view the new agreement as a sign that both sides recognize the importance of arriving at a solution. 

The State has also carried out negotiations with other labor unions that represent other sectors of its workforce.  A contract has been negotiated with the Teamsters Union, which represents 4,600 State workers, and a ratification vote for this contract is being held.  The Illinois/Teamsters contract will cover four years of work, pay and benefits for affected State workers.  

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Law Enforcement – Fox Lake Tragedy
·         Illinois House honors Lt. Charles Joseph “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz.  The Fox Lake Police lieutenant was murdered on the morning of Tuesday, September 1.  Gliniewicz and his family were praised on Wednesday, September 2 by House Republican members John Anthony and John Cabello, who are retired police officers themselves.  The Illinois House was silent as Rep. Anthony, who had been personally acquainted with Gliniewicz, told the body that the veteran of 30 years’ service in law enforcement had been looking forward to retirement with his family.  Rep. Barb Wheeler, who represents Fox Lake, told the House of the lieutenant’s long service to his community.

Since October 1990, the Illinois Capitol has cooperated with the Illinois Police Officers Memorial Committee to honor fallen police officers from forces throughout Illinois.  The memorial, which stands on the southwest corner of the Capitol in Springfield, is visited by officers, troopers, police veterans, and families throughout the State.  All law enforcement officers who have given their lives while in the performance of their duty are eligible to be honored by name at this memorial.  Visitation peaks at the annual Police Memorial Ceremony, traditionally held on the first or second Thursday in May.  The ceremony individually recognizes each addition to the engraved list of the names of the fallen.        

FY16 Budget
·         House Republicans defend fair bargaining process for state employees & taxpayers.  On Wednesday, House Republicans blocked an attempt by the Democrat majority to override Governor Rauner’s veto of SB 1229.  The bill would have changed the way that the State of Illinois negotiates with labor unions in cases of alleged negotiation impasses.  The measure would have instituted “interest arbitration” as the preferred method, for four years, for the State of Illinois to negotiate with most of its organized workers. 

The bill was seen as a pathway for the State’s largest union, AFSCME, to bypass the collective bargaining process and use interest arbitration to impose a labor-management contract on the State.  AFSCME’s contract offer, which could have been adopted in its entirety under interest arbitration, could have resulted in an increase of $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion in taxpayer-funded employment costs over the next four years. 

SB 1229 is bad public policy aimed directly at Governor Rauner.  The Governor has committed in writing that the tolling agreement extending the current contract will remain in place until both sides agree they are walking away from the negotiating table.  The Governor will not lock out employees and is committed to remaining at the table until a final deal is reached.  He cannot and will not force unions to strike.

The Democrats’ proposal would take away negotiating authority from the duly elected Governor and put state labor contracts in the hands of an arbitrator, not elected or accountable to taxpayers, who would not be allowed to compromise or come up with a reasonable solution.  Whereas normally arbitrators are given discretion to forge a compromise, that would no longer be the case (at least not for the current administration).  Arbitrators would be forced to choose between labor’s request or the State’s proposal with absolutely no discretion… all or nothing.

After a total veto by Governor Rauner, SB 1229 was returned to the General Assembly for a possible override as provided for in the state Constitution.  To override the Governor’s veto requires a three-fifths vote in both houses of the legislature.  While the Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto, the Illinois House voted on Wednesday, September 2 to sustain Governor Rauner’s veto, thereby defeating the bill (71 votes had been required).  The House vote was 68-34-9. 

·         Moody’s warns of consequences if budget stalemate not resolved.  The global bond rating service, which has imposed several cuts on the debt status of Illinois, warned the State of potential further downgrades in a report published on Monday, August 31.  The report called attention to the current budget impasse of the State of Illinois, which is attempting to operate without a legally enacted spending plan for fiscal year 2016.  FY16 began on July 1, 2015.

Changes in the debt rating of Illinois as a whole, and of subsidiaries (such as the University of Illinois) affect interest rates that must be paid by Illinois taxpayers. Rating agencies such as Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings have given Illinois the lowest debt rating of any U.S. state.   

·         Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) issues monthly budget report.  The CGFA report, issued by the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget office, covers revenue and spending trends in August 2015.  CGFA tracks changes in State revenues, particularly income and sales tax payments, and projects them out for the remainder of FY16.

Changes in State revenues currently reflect two major factors: (a) the drop in State personal and corporate income tax rates that took effect on January 1, 2015; and (b) continued slow growth in the overall U.S. economy.  CGFA has tracked changes in United States gross domestic product in the first half of calendar 2015, and continues to see overall growth rates trending in the band of 2.0% - 2.5%. 

New tax revenue is not growing as fast as the cost of expenses mandated upon the public sector of the State, and is not growing fast enough to replace the revenues lost through the January 2015 income tax rate rollback.  CGFA spreadsheets detail the current fiscal situation.  In August 2015, for example, total State general funds revenues fell $194 million short of previous-year revenues.  In August 2014, the State took in $2.38 billion in overall general funds revenues; during the same 31-day period one year later, $2.19 billion came in.         

·         Disability service providers said to have been paid through August; some providers say money not yet received.  In compliance with a court order issued by federal judge Sharon Coleman, the State indicated it has paid $120 million to disability service providers.  The payment was reported on Friday, August 28.  The creditors, licensed networks of services (particularly residential services) to persons with developmental disabilities, sought up-to-date payments under the “Ligas” consent decree.  Some creditors reported this week that they have not yet received these reported payments.   

Comptroller Leslie Munger has the duty of balancing money coming in with payments going out.  The July-August payments to disability service providers followed a warning in the previous week that because of the State’s current budget impasse, the required funds would not be immediately available.

Drugs – Heroin Crisis
·         House moves forward on heroin crisis; bill passed over Governor’s vetoHB 1, which was drafted with the active participation of law enforcement, contains numerous changes to State and local programs aimed at heroin and other opiate drugs. The bill strengthens the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, creates a program to move towards universal availability of heroin-overdose-reversal medications (opioid antagonists) in the hands of first responders and in the formularies of health insurance policies, enhances criminal penalties for “prescription shopping,” expands Medicaid to cover opioid dependence medications and opioid antagonists, and makes other changes.  

The bill was drafted by the House Bipartisan Heroin Crisis Task Force, a special House committee that held many hearings on opiate drugs and opiate addiction issues.  The Task Force heard emotional testimony from the families of loved ones who had overdosed on opiate drugs.  After the bill was sent to the Governor’s desk for final action, Gov. Rauner wrote an amendatory veto to remove sections of the bill that had implications for the State’s budget and taxpayers.  The amendatory veto would have reduced costs to the Medicaid program by removing medication-assistant treatment for alcohol or opioid dependence, and cutting out opioid antagonists. 

Some budget experts saw the Governor’s amendatory veto as a reasonable response to the State’s budget crisis.  However, Speaker Madigan made it clear that the amendatory veto motion would not be called and that the House would have to cast an up-or-down vote on the original bill as passed by both houses of the General Assembly.  The House voted 105-5-0 to override the Governor’s veto on Wednesday, September 2.  The measure now moves to the Illinois Senate for another override vote and possible final action.  

Drugs – Opiate Addiction 
·         Illinois to test pilot program to place locking devices on prescription vials.  The pilot program is aimed at vials containing Schedule II controlled substances.  These include opiate medications such as hydrocodone, found in widely-prescribed painkillers such as Vicodin.  Strong analgesics are blamed for widespread growth among some Americans in opiate tolerance, which can progress in some cases to drug addiction.  The pilot program was announced on Saturday, August 29 by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Under the program, a vial containing prescription medication is transferred with a special cap containing a four-digit combination lock.  Dialing in the proper combination will be necessary before the vial cap can be unsealed and the vial opened.  This will be a pilot program for one year, and only certain participating pharmacies will dispense eligible drugs in combination-sealed vials.  The pilot program is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2016.  It will be operated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation as part of its overall regulation of the pharmaceutical professions.   

The bill to create this program, HB 3219, became law through Governor Rauner’s signature on Thursday, August 27.  Lead co-sponsors included House Republican Reps. Michael McAuliffe and Christine Winger.  

Economy – Business Climate
·         In confirmation of Republicans’ concerns, website gives Illinois’ business climate a grade of “F” for 2015.  The failing grade was the result of Thumbtack’s Small Business Friendliness Survey of nearly 18,000 small business owners nationwide.  Survey results paralleled concerns raised by House Republicans about Illinois’ job-creation atmosphere and business climate.  Thumbtack respondents also gave failing grades to California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Thumbtack’s survey asked respondents to comment on ten separate criteria, which were aggregated to generate a final total.  The variables included ease of starting a business, ease of hiring, regulations, health and safety, employment/labor and hiring, tax code, licensing mandates, environmental regulations, zoning, and training-and-networking programs.   

Surveyed small businesspeople gave above-average grades to three of Illinois’ neighboring states: Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Illinois State Lottery
·         Lack of budget means lottery winners will have to wait for payment.  The Illinois State Lottery announced on Friday, August 28 that, in the absence of new appropriation authority, their cash began running short on July 1 and they are no longer able to pay out cash prizes of $25,000 or more in FY16.  During the opening months of the 2016 fiscal year the Lottery is giving scrip warrants to Illinois winners, which they will be authorized to turn in for cash when the money becomes available. 

While many State cash flows are protected by judicial decree or court order, this does not apply to proceeds from gaming and gaming taxes.  Lottery winners, the home communities where video games are played, and the “dockside communities” where licensed casino barges offer their games are three categories of recipients who are being told to await future payments. 

Lottery players who win smaller prizes are continuing to receive payouts.  Prizes of $600 or less can be cashed in at retailers.  Prizes from $601 to $25,000 are being redeemed at Illinois State Lottery claims centers; the centers are listed here.

Infectious Disease – Legionnaire’s Disease
·         Outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease at Illinois Veterans’ Home in Quincy.   As of Wednesday, September 2, forty-five persons associated with the home have tested positive for the disease. This includes both residents of the home (41) and staff (4).  As of September 2, seven residents had passed away.  Those infected made up a substantial percentage of the Home’s 401 total residents. 

Legionnaire’s Disease, a bacterial-based illness that can be vectored by heating and ventilating systems in institutional settings, is a severe variant of pneumonia.  Although the disease may have existed for many centuries, it was first specifically identified as different from other forms of pneumonia at an American Legion convention in Philadelphia in 1976.  Senior citizens, such as residents of the Illinois Veterans’ Home, are especially vulnerable to fatal forms of the illness.  Other cases of Legionnaire’s have been diagnosed elsewhere in Illinois and in New York City.

Specialists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are on-site in Quincy.  A CDC fact sheet on “Legionella”/Legionnaire’s disease can be found here.  The disease outbreak is being closely monitored by staff of the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy and by officials of the Illinois Department of Public Health.   

Infectious Disease – Mumps
·         More than 100 cases reported at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).   The highly contagious disease, close to eradication in recent years due to widespread vaccinations, has broken out again in several locations throughout the U.S.  The disease is being tracked in Champaign County, home of Illinois’ flagship university.  The Illinois Department of Public Health reported on Friday, August 28 that 105 cases had been diagnosed in the UIUC community.  A key symptom used by physicians to diagnose mumps is swelling of the salivary glands, with the parotid gland at the base of the jawline especially affected.  Physicians advise persons with swollen jaws, puffy cheeks, severe fever, headache, muscle aches and loss of appetite to contact a medical professional by phone in order to be screened for possible diagnosis of the contagious viral disease. 

College and university campuses are potential vector locations for the transmission of mumps and other viral illnesses. A recent drop in the percentage of persons vaccinated in infancy for mumps is blamed for the renewed outbreak of the disease.  The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is offering a free vaccination clinic for students not yet infected.    

State Government – Labor Relations
·         Teamsters sign on to four-year labor agreement with State of Illinois.  Governor Bruce Rauner announced the agreement on Monday, August 31.  The contract included key concessions by both sides.  4,600 State employees are covered by the new agreement, which must be ratified by a rank-and-file vote by organized Teamsters.

Key features of the new contract include a four-year wage freeze, maintenance of existing health care benefits, and a reduction in the number of unused vacation days that future new State hires in Teamster-organized work spaces will be allowed to carry over.  The new State contract with the Teamsters union does not officially affect the status of State employees who are members of other labor unions, including members of AFSCME.  

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