Illinois Lawmakers | S38 E08: FY2024 Illinois State Budget Announced | Season 38 | Episode 8

(dramatic music) – Illinois Lawmakers may be working through the weekend, and who knows, maybe even longer.

Hello, I’m Jak Tichenor along with Rich Miller of Capitol Fax and welcome to “Illinois Lawmakers”.

Good to have you back, Rich.

– It’s great to be back.

– So there’s a $50.4 billion budget proposal.

We’re talking on a Thursday afternoon.

It has yet to go to a vote in the Senate.

It was supposed to have gone last night.

It was hoped at least by the Senate President Don Harmon and others.

But things are hanging fair.

What’s going on behind the scenes?

– I don’t know, there’s a lot of moving pieces right now.

They have what they call a BIMP, which is a budget implementation bill.

That’s not surfaced yet unless I missed it just in the last few minutes.

So we’re waiting on a bunch of pieces to move.

It a long time to get the budget bill, the appropriations bill ready to distribute to members and put online yesterday.

And then the House went over some of it.

And I mean, it just got so late, right?

And I’m not getting any younger either, so it’s kinda, let’s please just go home.

And it was 11:00 I think by the time the House Democrats finished meeting behind closed doors.

So they just basically ran out of time and they got here this morning and they’re working on it.

– And the reality is, if they do pass it later today, it still has to be read, what, three times in the House before they can actually move it, which would be final passage stage.

– They’ve tried this experiment this year and so far it’s mixed results, we’ll see, it’s a procedural experiment.

It’s really never been tried before.

Your viewers don’t care.

Most people don’t care and some members don’t even understand it, but it is designed to at least look more open.

But so far it hasn’t been.

– Yeah, one of the major criticisms over the years has been, at least in recent years on the Republican side of the aisle is, hey, we’re getting this thing basically amended into a shell bill and zoom, it goes through at 2:00 in the morning and we have no idea what’s in a budget bill that runs, in this case, over 3,000 pages.

– Yeah, nobody can say that now because the budget came out yesterday evening and then, you know we’re sitting here a little after 1:00 in the afternoon, so they’ve had some time to look at it.

Once it gets to the House, the House Republicans will have even more time to look at it.

They may even go home over the weekend and come back, who knows.

So while it hasn’t been very open until late yesterday, it will be a lot more open now, 3,600 pages.

The average citizen is not gonna read that.

– And the budget overall, the proposal that is under discussion right now, it’s fairly close to what the governor outlined back in February in the budget message.

It resembles it, there’s some tweaking here and there, back and forth.

– Yeah, there’s a little bit more money for this and a little bit for that, but he, I think wisely as it turns out, he kept his asks to a minimum and he’s been able to achieve those goals.

Sometimes governors come in and they ask for the moon, and I don’t think he did.

It was actually kind of a boring budget proposal when he presented it.

– Well, considering what we’ve been through in the past few years with a two and a half year budget impasse, boring is not necessarily– – 20 years, man.

I mean, go back to Rod Blagojevich.

– I go back and you go back, we go back to the first (indistinct) administration.

– Yeah, I’m old.

I keep saying this.

– Any last minute stumbling blocks that you could possibly foresee?

– There may be some disagreements here and there.

I think there’s the BIPA legislation, which is the Biometric Information Privacy Act.

There needs to be some changes to that and they haven’t been able to find any yet.

But there was a company just got hit with $17 billion in possible damages under that law.

And this is White Castle, by the way.

You gotta make a lot of sliders to pay off a $17 billion judgment.

So I think they’re back at the table and we’ll see.

– Rich Miller, thank you so much.

– Thank you.

– Up next on “Illinois Lawmakers”, here’s how Illinois Governor JB Pritzker unveiled the Democrat’s spending package for the new fiscal year starting on July 1st.

– From the beginning, I vowed to work with the general assembly and restore fiscal sanity to state government after decades of mismanagement to eliminate the overdue bill backlog, to pay down debt, and to reduce the structural deficit.

To do so while restoring a compassionate state government that works to meet the needs of Illinois’s residents and invests in the things that build a stronger economy and a stronger future.

And I’m pleased to say that that’s exactly what this balanced budget does.

For the fifth time in a row.

Our record is clear, $10.5 billion of debt paid down, including $450 million in this budget alone to pay off old tobacco settlement bonds, provide additional pension payments and another $90 million in this budget to further reduce accounts payable.

Once at almost $16 billion, our overdue bills have been eliminated.

Our empty rainy day fund is now on its way to more than $2 billion.

GDP has grown to above $1 trillion, and we’ve received multiple credit upgrades from every ratings agency.

Each of these accomplishments have set a solid foundation for responsible budget making, and it has allowed us to build this year’s budget, one that is very similar to what I proposed in February, centering on Illinois’s hardworking families at every term.

This budget means that over the next few years, every child in Illinois who wants one will have access to a preschool spot, thanks to our transformative Smart Start plan.

This budget means that we are on a path to eliminating childcare deserts, relieving some of the burden on parents who need to work while ensuring kids get quality care.

This budget means that every working class Illinoisan can get a community college education tuition free and fee free.

And with our pioneering Illinois Grocery Store initiative and Home Illinois plan, we’re providing Illinois residents and families access to healthy foods and safe housing.

From violence prevention, higher K-12 funding, and filling teacher vacancies to more workforce development and enhanced behavioral health services, this budget makes historic investments that will benefit our state for years to come.

– Majority Democrats and the governor have announced a roughly $50 billion spending package for the state’s new fiscal year that starts on July 1st.

Our guest now on “Illinois Lawmakers” is Deputy House Republican leader Norine Hammond of Macomb.

Good to have you back on the little program.

– Great to be with you, Jak.

– You’re the House Republicans’ chief budget negotiator or budgeteer as we like to call the folks there.

You’ve had a chance to look at kind of the broad contours of this document.

It’s over 3,000 pages long.

What are your impressions of it?

– It really and truly follows fairly closely along with what the Governor presented in his state of the state and his budget address back in February.

There are some deviations and some reductions of course in some of the lines that we had talked about.

Higher education, for example, was introduced at about a 7% increase and looks like that’s going to be closer to six and a half, 6.6%.

And so that would be a bit of a deviation.

But a lot of what the Governor introduced in this budget and then a lot of things of course have been added to it.

– What are some of the things that give you pause as far as what’s been added?

– Sure, well first and foremost, I think that if we look at our Medicaid program and the costs that the state is paying there, we have a situation now where we have the extension, the expansion of the healthcare for undocumented, and that is at about $1.1 billion.

There’s about half of that in this budget.

And then emergency rulemaking powers for the Governor to go along with that for him to handle that in one way or another.

So that is certainly one area that gives me pause.

I don’t believe that there’s any wiggle room, if you will.

We have an ASBE contract that will be coming up.

We could be looking at somewhere in the range of about $300 million for that.

I don’t believe that that is accounted for in this budget.

So my concern is that the level of spending in this year’s budget may not be and probably won’t be sustainable for next year’s budget.

So we’re back kind of chasing our tail again.

– One question I had was hospitals.

You mentioned Medicaid a little earlier, hospitals wanted a 20% across the board bump in their Medicaid reimbursement rates.

What are we hearing as far as how this budget addresses that situation?

– So in the Medicaid omnibus bill, it’s my understanding that the hospitals will be seeing a 10% across the board increase.

And this is an increase that they have not had in their rates in about 28 years.

So that is a significant time lapse and things have certainly gotten a lot more expensive particularly when you’re talking healthcare, so many of our rural hospitals have been struggling to keep their doors open.

While the 10% will be helpful, I don’t know that it can actually keep them from closing.

– The Pritzker administration would make the point too though that we’ve eliminated what was about a $16 billion bill backlog, a lot of that for healthcare and that the state’s bills are now being paid on time.

– Absolutely, I will give credit where credit is due with that, having our bill backlog almost, I won’t say totally eliminated because certainly in any state you’re going to have a level of bills that have to be paid and we have that.

But having eliminated the bulk of that is incredible.

Having a rainy day fund that we have not had in a number of years, that too is a very good marker for Illinois and certainly helps our credit rating and building that up.

My fear is that while we have this rainy day fund and we’ve done an incredible job with paying our bills, can we continue on that path in the future?

– We will have to stay tuned on that one, and we’ll have you back again.

Thank you so much, Leader Hammond.

– Thank you.

– Senate republican caucus whip Jil Tracy of Quincy now joins us on “Illinois Lawmakers”.

Good to have you back on the series.

– Thank you, I’m glad to be with you.

– We’re going to have to say right at the outset, we’re talking on a Thursday morning.

A lot is still in play.

The Democrats in the House and Senate and Governor Pritzker outlined their budget agreement yesterday afternoon, Wednesday afternoon, and it’s still hung up waiting Senate passage.

What are you hearing from Senator Curran’s leadership team on this?

– Well fortunately this year was a bit different than the past few years.

The Republican budgeteers Senator Chapin Rose and Senator Don DeWitte were included with Senator Elgie Sims.

And that was a welcoming sign of good practice, traditionally that used to be done always in the past.

And the minority party had been locked out of the budget negotiations for several years.

And I do think you have a better process when you have input from both parties, and that happened.

So now we’re just given the budget last evening and so many people are diving into it.

It’s 3,400 pages and takes a little time to digest.

Certainly there are good things in it.

An interest of mine is more funding for developmentally disabled workers that work with that population.

And that was in there.

There was also the public education funding amount that we have asked for to always be continued because that was part of the negotiation with our evidence-based funding.

So then likewise, there was quite a bit, like there’s $80 million for welcome centers.

There’s been quite a bit of money for that in the past.

And more troubling is an expansion of our Medicaid programs that would provide undocumenteds over 42 years of age and older with pretty much a Cadillac type health insurance where they could go wherever they want, no copays and that type of thing.

And it’s very expensive.

And my problem with that is you see things with the developmentally disabled, the PUNS list we call it, where disabled adults aren’t receiving services because the list has people waiting for those.

And our senior citizens have been asking if they’re on Medicaid to get a more of a stipend monthly, I think it’s like $60 a month right now.

And let’s face it, with inflation, that doesn’t allow much for toiletries and that kind of thing.

So I’m wanting, my priorities are the most vulnerable and that’s the developmentally disabled, the seniors, and that’s what I would like to see prioritized first.

And public education is very important for our children.

And there was some money in there for higher ed and I think higher ed has had a lot of deferred maintenance problems, and so money for that as well.

So I look at the positives and then I see the downside of like, well, that is a lot of money, millions for a population how it’s already been getting a fair share of services anyway.

– I do want to ask a question about, you mentioned the issue of funding for those who help with the developmentally disabled, the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities came out strongly against the budget because it only allowed a $2 an hour wage increase, they had asked for four.

I hear it’s somewhere around two and a half now.

– Right.

And we’ve seen problems with getting staff to serve that need and getting skilled staff to serve that need.

And it’s a real problem.

And I just think it should be a priority.

You will find better qualified individuals to work in that sector and it’s a much needed population that we need to serve better.

– As you said, this budget’s kind of a mixed bag.

Do you think the hurdles are gonna get cleared here in the next day or so when it goes to the House?

– We were supposed to pass the budget last night by midnight.

We’re here today and hearing that we’ll be here into the evening and then the budget will have to go over to the House, so I think it can be done.

I know it can be done.

The 58 members of the Senate and the double the number in the House and everybody has their own priorities.

And I’ve kind of laid out what mine are.

So that seems to be the holdup is everybody has different programs or different areas that they would like to see money put.

We’ve grown government very much in the last few years, however our population’s diminished.

And so you have to ask, is that sustainable?

Keep growing your government base and then your population’s shrinking and those are the people that fund that government.

So that’s always something I look at is is the budget sustainable?

We’ve had one– – Senator Tracy, we are out of time, but I do appreciate your time today on “Illinois Lawmakers”.

As always, thank you so much.

– Thank you.

I appreciate the opportunity.

– Democratic State Representative Mark Walker of Arlington Heights joins us on a busy day at the Illinois State House.

This is a Thursday afternoon we’re talking, the budget has been introduced into the Senate.

They’re debating that even as we speak, it’s a $50.4 billion spending package, Representative.

From what you’ve seen of the broad brush strokes, it hasn’t made it over to the House yet, but what are your impressions of it so far?

– The broad brush strokes haven’t made it to the House.

It’s the details that we’re still working on.

From the point of view of overall numbers, I’m delighted with the budget.

It is conservative enough that if the economy turns down a bit, we’re still covered.

I’m delighted with the budget, frankly, and I spend my career in the financial services industry.

I think it’s a good strong conservative budget that allows flexibility.

The reason we’re here, I must say, is that the Governor’s offered budget, the Governor’s original proposed budget was just structured conservatively enough to give us the flexibility we’re gonna need regardless of what the economy does.

I’m really talking about the overall numbers.

The overall numbers are terrific.

It’s exactly where we should be.

So as we change the numbers internal to the budget, if we reduce one area, I think we’re gonna increase another.

And that’s the stage we’re at.

– How does it reflect the values of the House Democrats?

– We always focus on individuals, mostly those in distress, but also what anyone would call the working community in the middle class, that’s where our focus is.

People that need a little help, we try and help.

People that need healthcare, we try and provide healthcare.

If people need more income, we try and provide that income, that’s really our focus.

And I think this is a very good budget in that sense.

– We’ve got a couple of minutes left and I want to turn to a bill that you’ve been working on for some time now.

In the roll-up to this, we were talking about you were originally an anthropology major and you’ve just passed House Bill 3413, which deals with treating the remains of the state’s historic Native American population with dignity.

What does the bill do?

– The bill establishes the potential and the process for setting up Indian burial grounds within our state parks that are under the control in terms of security of the state, but which are really managed by relationships with Indian tribes.

And that’s because we’ve had for a while a federal requirement that Indian remains be repatriated.

But the difficulty has been that repatriation often means that, for instance, a tribe that was historically in Illinois and has been forcibly moved to Kansas or Oklahoma, the remains are assumed to be their property, but assumed to be repatriated out of state.

My relationships that I’ve developed with both anthropologists and Indians are that the basic idea ought to be people should be returned to where their ancestors meant them to be.

IE, if they were dug up in Illinois, they should be reburied in Illinois.

And our challenge is we don’t have a reservation.

So setting up the state parks as a place where people can be reburied with dignity in the rough area where their ancestors meant them to be is the goal of the bill.

– And in the last 30 seconds or so that we have left, these cemeteries, they would be protected and kept private even though they’re on public land?

– They’re private from the public.

They’re obviously open to the Indian tribes, but they also are protected from looting, which has been a historical problem.

So part of the bill is to increase penalties for looting, especially Indian graves.

– Representative Mark Walker, thank you very much for your time on “Illinois Lawmakers”.

We certainly appreciate it, sir.

– Yeah, I appreciate it.

Nice meeting you.

– Rich Miller rejoins us on this edition of “Illinois Lawmakers”.

We’re talking on a Thursday afternoon as legislation to implement a new $50 billion budget for the state of Illinois is still working its way through the Illinois Senate.

Rich, as you look back on the overall list of accomplishments thus far in this legislative session, what are some of the big ticket items that stand out to you as being particularly significant?

– I mean, they have done a lot on gender issues this year.

And I have this recurring post on my website called “Meanwhile in Opposite Land”.

So you have the Republican states passing very restrictive laws on abortion, on trans rights, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And this General Assembly and this Governor are going the opposite way of that.

They’re pushing bills that allow, sets out regulations if private companies or government entities want to open a multi-stall all gender restroom, where across the country the Republican states are cracking down on stuff like that, making it criminal in fact.

There have been abortion laws passed, there have been gun laws passed or gun bills passed, abortion bills passed that just to establish Illinois as this island surrounded by so many, an island of blue in a sea of red, I guess.

And so that’s really what has stood out for me this year is, and the same thing happened last year, but this is picking up now because I think Illinois’s feeding off of what other states are doing, right?

They’re trying to do this and we totally disagree with it, so we’re gonna go this way.

It’s been quite fascinating to watch.

– No doubt.

Rich Miller, thanks so much for your expertise.

We always appreciate it, sir.

– Thank you, Jak.

(dramatic music)


via Illinois Lawmakers | WTVP

May 26, 2023 at 10:45AM

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