Senator Steans

July 5, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans gives a speech on the Senate floor before the budget package passesYesterday I voted along with my colleagues in the Senate to end this long, destructive budget impasse and set our state on a path toward fiscal stability. I voted to ensure that our schools open on time, that our social service agencies can continue to support vulnerable citizens within our community, and for our institutions of higher education to finally receive funding support after two years without a complete budget.

 

This budget is the result of genuine compromise after years of bipartisan negotiations. It includes revenue and reforms to sustain the state while reducing spending. It will allow the state to pay down the nearly $15 billion backlog of bills so that social service organizations, universities, hospitals, nursing homes and small businesses can receive payment for their services.

 

The state’s budget impasse has gone on far too long, and too many Illinoisans have been negatively affected by it. Without this action, bond rating agencies threatened to lower Illinois to an unprecedented “junk” credit rating. It was time to put an end to the suffering.

 

Unfortunately, the governor did not share that belief. Shortly after the balanced budget passed in the Senate Tuesday, the governor vetoed the package in its entirety. The Senate quickly overrode his veto. Now the House must also override the veto for the budget to go into effect and bring relief to a state in crisis. This vote could happen as soon as Thursday.

 

I have said all along that resolving the impasse would require a combination of spending cuts and revenue. This bipartisan package includes $2.5 billion in reductions to state agencies and programs and spends $1.2 billion less than the budget the governor introduced in February. In total, our plan spends $36.1 billion and brings in $36.4 billion.

 

Importantly, the bipartisan budget includes a revenue plan that will provide our state with long-term stability. Raising revenue is a responsibility we took very seriously. Before considering a tax increase, we attempted to make as many cuts as possible without damaging services and agencies.

 

The revenue package increases the income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent – less than the 5 percent rate it was in 2014. The corporate income tax would increase to 7 percent. This budget also adds some progressivity to the income tax by increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit from 10 to 18 percent over the next two years and means tests income tax exemptions for the first time. The budget also eliminates three corporate tax loopholes, saving the state $125 million each year.

 

This budget supports communities, education and vital services. It includes an additional $350 million in funding to implement an evidence-based school funding model, which provides additional support for the neediest districts and aims to level the playing field. The plan also appropriates additional funding to support MAP grants for low-income students to attend universities and colleges in Illinois. It funds numerous human service programs the governor had gutted, such as immigrant services, addiction prevention and community youth services, among others.

 

Outside of budgetary matters, this spring the Senate passed pension reform, procurement reform, term limits, government consolidation and school funding reform. Many of these came at the request of the governor, and all were negotiated with Senate Republicans.

 

There is more work to do to alleviate the strain the budget impasse has placed on our state. For now, this is a giant step toward securing fiscal stability for Illinois. I am heartened by the progress and will continue to work with my colleagues to provide certainty for the state.

 

As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather A. Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

Upcoming events in the district

 

I hope that you will be able to stop by my tent on July 6, July 20 or August 17 at the Argyle Night Market between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Legislative handouts as well as face painting for children will be available.

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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www.SenatorSteans.com

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on the passage of a balanced budget:

Senator Steans gives a speech on the Senate floor before the budget package passes“I am heartened that after years of negotiations, compromise and discussion that we passed a complete and balanced budget to end the historic impasse today. I proudly supported this bipartisan legislation.

“This budget will ensure that schools open on time, that vulnerable Illinoisans receive the social services they need and that our universities will finally receive funding. It includes revenue and reforms to sustain the state and reduces spending. It will also allow the state to pay down our backlog of bills so that social service organizations, universities, hospitals, nursing homes and small businesses can receive payment for their services.

“It has been a long road to get to this point. So many Illinoisans have been negatively impacted by the impasse. Though there is more work to repair what has been broken, this is a giant step toward securing fiscal stability for the state of Illinois.

“I encourage the governor to sign this legislation as soon as it reaches his desk. It’s time to put partisanship aside and do what’s right for the state. Illinoisans cannot wait any longer for the impasse to end.”

Senator Steans

June 19, 2017

Dear Friends,

 

Illinois’ credit rating currently sits just a step above junk-bond status and important trigger dates in the impasse are looming. I need your help to encourage the governor to sign a full-year budget and end the impasse. The Senate passed a balanced budget solution on May 23. Since then, it has been in the House under consideration while the governor has threatened to veto it.

 

Moody’s Investors Service as well as S&P Global Ratings have warned that Illinois could fall into junk-bond status on July 1, 2017. No state in the history of the nation has ever been downgraded to junk-bond status.

 

On the governor’s watch, our universities and our social service agencies have been decimated. Our state’s bond rating has been downgraded seven times since Gov. Rauner took office.

 

Senator Steans in a budget hearingThough the governor walked away from budget negotiations on Dec. 7, 2016, the Senate worked tirelessly to pass a complete and balanced budget on May 23 that would provide fiscal stability and certainty.

 

The Senate Democrats’ budget plan includes the same spending level as the governor proposed and nearly $3 billion in spending reductions without jeopardizing the future of our universities and schools nor the vital work that human services provide. Our plan also balances Rauner’s nearly $5 billion out-of-balance budget.

 

With less than two weeks until the end of the fiscal year, time is running out to end the budget impasse before serious trigger points are reached. Those dates are:

• On June 30, the Illinois Department of Transportation will halt all work on existing projects if a budget is not passed. This will come as a huge expense to the state. According to the Transportation for Illinois Coalition, shutting down job sites will cost more than $3 million a day and will force approximately 30,000 Illinoisans to be laid off across the state.

• The first payment to state workers for the next fiscal year is due on July 7. State workers have continued to receive payment in the absence of a budget due to a court order.

• Without a budget, the state won’t be able to pay schools in August, which may delay their opening in the fall. As of May 31, the Chicago Tribune reported that the state is nine months behind on payments to CPS and owes the school district $467 million. CPS currently owes creditors $9 billion.

• Social service agencies in the district and across the state have been forced to bear much of the burden of the budget impasse. After months of delayed payments, many have been forced to reduce services, cut back on staff or close their doors entirely. More social service agencies will suffer if the impasse continues and will no longer be able to provide their vital support to our communities. Increasingly, social service agencies have come forward stating that they will not be able to make payroll by the end of the summer.

 

Several of our institutions of higher education received a further downgrade earlier this month, including five to junk-bond status. Illinois universities and community colleges have not received a full year of funding since 2015. Since then, universities have been forced to cut programs, implement furlough days and lay off staff. Moody’s noted that consistent state support could improve the universities’ credit rating.

 

I encourage you to reach out to the governor’s office to let him know that you want him to sign a complete budget that will set us on a path to fiscal stability. He needs to hear from you.

 

Tell him by email: http://bit.ly/EmailGovRauner
Tell him on the phone: 217-782-0244
Tell him on Twitter: @GovRauner
Tell him in a letter: Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield IL 62706
Tell him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GovRauner/

 

I will continue to do my part to end the budget impasse. As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or reach out online with any questions or concerns.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather A. Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

Upcoming Coffee and Conversation postponed

 

The Coffee and Conversation initially scheduled for June 24 at Budlong Woods Library has been postponed due to the special legislative session. We will work to reschedule the event later this summer.

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

 

Looming junk-bond status
Illinois currently sits just a step above junk-bond status. Since Gov. Rauner has taken office, our state’s bond rating has been downgraded seven times. Moody’s Investors Service as well as S&P Global Ratings have warned that Illinois could fall into junk bond status on July 1, 2017. No state in the history of the nation has ever been downgraded to junk-bond status.

A credit downgrade means that the state will have more difficulty borrowing money in the future and will likely be forced to pay higher interest rates on money it does borrow.

The investment firms noted that the state’s backlog of bills and pension debt is a key reason for the downgrade. The backlog of bills has crept above $15 billion, and the state’s pension debt is $130 billion. Moody’s noted that Illinois’ unfunded pension liability for five of its retirement programs increased by 25 percent in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

To stabilize the rating, Moody’s said lawmakers need to agree on a budget that “more closely aligns revenues and spending, without relying on unsustainable fiscal measures.”

The state’s first general obligation bond payment of FY18 is due on July 3.

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Contact Us

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

Springfield Office
623 Capitol Building
301 S. Second St.
Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492