The McDermed Dispatch for June 12th

The House has been in continuous session “until the call of the chair” (Speaker Madigan) since May 31st. The fiscal year ends on June 30th and yet no session has been called or planned yet for the month of June.
Senate Bill 1
              School funding reform is an issue that has been buzzing a lot around Springfield over the past few years. It is fully accepted by both parties that the current formula is broken and we need a change. Governor Rauner’s bipartisan commission to study the issue produced a blue print for a new evidence based funding model. The evidence-based funding model is significant to Illinois for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was specifically designed to drive much-needed funding to school districts that are the farthest away from adequacy.
               On the final day of the scheduled spring session, House Democrats co-opted and amended a new formula, Senate Bill 1, to provide Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a bailout at the expense of the rest of the state’s public schools. SB 1 would cost approximately $700 million in new state dollars to implement in FY18. Not only is that amount unachievable given the fiscal crisis facing Illinois, but CPS would receive nearly $500 million or 70 percent of the new funding. The other 851 Illinois school districts would receive just $200 million or 30 percent of the new funds, despite have 77 percent of total students.
               For this reason, I voted against SB 1. This is yet another in a long line of promising solutions stalled or corrupted by political games. I will continue to work with my colleagues on vital issues like these, but the games have to stop.
Medicaid Battle in the Courts Could Have Ripple Effect
              A question that gets asked a lot during this impasse is “how do our bills keep piling up if we don’t have a budget?” Just because we don’t have budget, that doesn’t mean the state isn’t spending money. At least 90% of state government spending is on autopilot because of consent decrees, judicial orders, and continuing appropriations. Without a budget these levels of spending are currently set at FY15 rates we can no longer afford because of the income and corporate tax hike expiration. Since the state is taking in less than we are forced to spend, the Comptroller has a lot of discretion in what to pay off first, leaving some vendors waiting months and months to be paid.
             This issue came to a head last week when a federal judge ruled that Illinois was not in compliance with full funding of Medicaid payments.  The argument is that health care providers are suffering irreparable harm for being forced to wait for payment of Medicaid health care treatments that are billed to the State of Illinois.
             Illinois currently owes more than $14 billion in unpaid bills.  More than $1 billion of these bills are moneys owed to Medicaid care providers. The Comptroller has stated that if the state were ordered to make immediate payment of all of the moneys owed to Medicaid care providers, Illinois’ would be in serious trouble because we do not have sufficient funds on hand to pay Medicaid bills all at once.  
             The federal judge stopped short of ordering immediate payment, but did require the Comptroller to negotiate the subject of priority payments with representatives of health care providers who possess standing under this lawsuit.  Should these negotiations not prove fruitful, further court orders may be issued. 
Senior Driving Seminar 
             We had a packed house last week for the senior driving seminar. I hope everyone who attended found it informative and helpful. The overwhelming response we received was unexpected. I sincerely apologize if you were turned away from the event. We are working with the Secretary of State’s office to schedule another seminar at a larger venue for late July. I will have more details later and will contact everyone who could not attend the one last week. 
Women’s Self Defense Class
             Only 7 spots remain, don’t miss out on this opportunity, RSVP today!