The McDermed Dispatch for March 20th

Legislation Passes House
            House Bill 528, legislation I filed to create the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission unanimously passed the House. By making the evidence collection and testing process more transparent we can decrease the likelihood of error, lessen the rape kit backlog at the state police, and hopefully bring more offenders to justice.
           Under current law, the Secretary of State must publish and mail to every household a proposed Constitutional Amendment, the explanation of the amendment, the arguments for and against the amendment, and the form in which the amendment will appear on the ballot. House Bill 348 is a cost saving measure (about $1.3 million per amendment) that removes this requirement and instead only requires that the information be posted on a website controlled by the Secretary of State. Newspaper notices about the constitutional amendment would still be required.
New Pension Proposal
          Last June, Governor Rauner and the four legislative leaders agreed the state would pay for one year of CPS’ teacher pensions if lawmakers passed vital statewide pension reform. No pension proposal was sent to the governor and so he vetoed the separate Chicago pension pickup bill. CPS has moved to cut costs after the veto by furloughing employees and freezing school budgets but say that it could be forced to cut summer school and shorten the school year by about three weeks if the state doesn’t intervene. After a highly publicized meeting with Chance the Rapper, the Governor offered two paths to help CPS fill its budget hole: a legislative proposal or through city TIF funds. Senators Connelly and Tracy last week introduced legislation supported by the Governor that would give $215 million to CPS for its teacher pensions in exchange for reforms to the state’s public pensions. Critics to the proposal say that it is unfair to trade a one year deal for Chicago in exchange for permanent pension reform. 

Illinois Hits New Low with Tax High
           It’s official, Illinois now has the highest tax burden in the country. A new study from says that Illinois now has the highest collective state and local tax burden. The median tax rate for an average Illinois household is 14.76%. In real dollars the median household pays an average of $8,162 annually, which is 37.66% higher than the national average. Wallethub found that the biggest tax offender in Illinois was property taxes. Illinois has an effective property tax rate of 7.56%, 2nd only to New Jersey. Alaska had the lowest overall tax burden at 5.64%. The full analysis from Wallethub can be found here.
Bill Backlog Hits Milestone
            The State bill backlog has hit an all-time high of $12.8 billion dollars. Given the state population of around 12.8 million, that means that the backlog is now $1,000 per citizen. For each day the state goes without a budget, the bill backlog rises $11 million.