Legislative Update: October 9, 2015

Legislature’s Budget Commission Reports Continued Shortfall in State Revenues
A report for September 2015, compiled by the nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), shows that Illinois general funds receipts fell $382 million short of comparable figures for September 2015. This change reflects reductions in personal and corporate income tax rates that took effect on January 1, 2015, and is one of the pieces of background that lie behind the current State of Illinois budget crisis. Released on Thursday, October 1, the report can be found on page 6 of CGFA’s “September 2015 Monthly Briefing.”

The September numbers, which reflect ongoing receipts paid by taxpayers into the state Department of Revenue and other State agencies that take in general funds, follow up on similar numbers reported in July 2015 and August 2015. CGFA’s three-month summary spreadsheet, also published in their September report, shows an accumulated cash flow shortfall of $1,137 million for the quarter-long period. It is expected, furthermore, that a comparable shortfall will be posted during the fourth and final quarter of calendar year 2015.

Despite the ongoing fiscal shortfall, the Democrat majority in the Illinois General Assembly continues to insist that the State must operate a public sector that is almost exactly as large, and spends almost as much money from day to day, as it did in fiscal year 2015 before the changes in tax rates took effect. Court decisions, continuing appropriations and consent decrees have kept the money flowing for a wide variety of budget line items. The constitutional requirement that Illinois enact and implement a balanced budget has been ignored.

Local Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Honored at Veterans Event
I recently had the distinct privilege of visiting with Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Drew Dix, one of only 78 living Medal of Honor recipients. He was honored at the UNITED-Honoring Our Veterans event at Turtle Run. He is a decorated United States military veteran and retired Major in the United States Army.

Drew Dennis Dix received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War, and he was the first enlisted Special Forces soldier to receive the medal. An author and founder of the Center for American Values, Drew is a true American hero. His remarkable story of returning again and again on his own volition to save American lives under heavy fire and extraordinary circumstances is truly awe-inspiring.

Hays Attends Accreditation Celebration for ThyssenKrupp Camshaft
Danville’s Thyssenkrupp Presta Camshafts recently earned a certificate of accreditation by the U.S. Department of Labor for its Mechatronics Apprenticeship program, and earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending a celebration ceremony to mark the achievement. Developed in cooperation with Danville Area Community College and Vermilion Advantange, the four-year apprenticeship program is designed to develop multi-craft technicians with industry skills training. The program enables students interested in a manufacturing career to gain valuable hands-on shop floor skills such as learning how 
to design and build a mechanical prototype. The new program is the second phase of ThyssenKrupp’s apprenticeship strategy to design programs based on the German apprenticeship model and develop future talent.

ThyssenKrupp employees more than 155,000 people in 80 countries, and in North America the company oversees more than 40 companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Budget Impasse Begins to Affect Funding for 9-1-1 Centers
On Monday, October 5, St. Clair County announced that it had commenced litigation against the State of Illinois. At issue is money from a tax that Illinois extracts from the cellphone bills paid by millions of Illinoisans. The Emergency Telephone tax is meant to support the 24/7 operation of 9-1-1 centers across Illinois, but money collected by this tax is not being distributed by the State to local 9-1-1 boards this fall because the money for the distribution has not been appropriated by agreement between the General Assembly and the Governor. For St. Clair County, this lack of a budget means that $125,000 a month in essential operational funding is not being received. The county includes Belleville, East St. Louis, and other diverse and working-class communities in southwestern Illinois.