State of the State
Governor Rauner gave his third state of the state address to a joint session of the House and Senate last week. He began by expounding on the great history and accomplishments of our state in celebration of this year’s bicentennial anniversary. He then turned to more somber issues like sexual harassment in Illinois politics and the Legionnaires outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home.
The 30-minute speech also touched on the historic school funding reform legislation passed last year and the need to unite under similar bipartisan circumstances to finally tackle out of control property taxes, term limits, and criminal justice reform.
You can watch my immediate reaction to the address here.
New Executive Orders
True to his comments in his State of the State Address, Governor Rauner signed an executive order that promises swifter help to victims of sexual harassment by creating a Chief Compliance Office that would review allegations in ten days or less. Right now this just applies to government employees, but the Governor hopes to expand that system statewide. The executive order also requires training on the best investigation practices by the end of this year and every two years thereafter. This executive order is potent, especially since it came to light that two dozen ethics complaints filed at the Legislative Inspector General’s Office went unaddressed because until last fall there had been no legislative inspector general since 2015.
The Governor also signed an executive order hoping to address a conflict of interest in the state’s property tax system by barring state lawmakers from representing clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals of assessment decisions made in the state’s 102 counties. The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board hears about 30,000 appeals a year, three-fourths of which are from Cook County. The job of state representative is part-time and several state lawmakers, including Speaker Madigan, also work as property tax lawyers.
Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter
State Representative Davidsmeyer has filed a bill called the “Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter”, which contains important reforms to Illinois’ budget process. The legislation gives broad power to taxpayers, limits lawmakers’ ability to create new and unfunded entitlement programs and ensures the pension system’s stability for years to come. It also freezes discretionary State spending for two years. The freeze continues after the two-year deadline if the State is unable to pay vendors within 30 days. It also does not allow for new programs or expansion of entitlement programs unless a full pension payment is made. The other three budgetary reform policies in the Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter are Pay As You Go, a prohibition on unfunded mandates, and a sunshine clause for future budgets. Finally, Davidsmeyer’s legislation requires a 72-hour online posting of the General Assembly’s proposed new fiscal year budget prior to passage.
Did You Know?
I-Cash, the state program that seeks to reunite Illinoisans with unclaimed property or funds, has a new website. They have streamlined the process and no longer require detailed personal information.