Latest News

Budget – COGFA report
·        Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) releases February 2018 report.  February 2018 State general funds receipts grew significantly over similar figures posted in February 2017.  However, as with previous months in FY18, this healthy year-over-year performance was significantly affected by an income tax increase enacted in July 2017.  During the year-over-year period that spanned February 2017 and February 2018, sales tax receipts grew by 13%, individual income tax receipts grew 50%, and corporate income tax receipts increased by 378%. 

Education – Scholarships
·        Tax credit scholarship clearinghouse announces more than 33,000 applications.  The benchmark news came from Empower Illinois, one of the nonprofit entities overseeing implementation of the Illinois tax credit scholarship program created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2017.  Under this new tax credit, Illinois income taxpayers are authorized to donate moneys to an approved scholarship clearinghouse.  The moneys will be used to pay for scholarships to be awarded to enable children to attend fee-charging schools.  Scholarships that will cover 50 to 100 percent of a student’s tuition and school-related expenses will be awarded to children from income-eligible households.

Empower Illinois’ announcement followed the nonprofit’s previous announcement of a glitch on January 31.  When the Empower office first tried to roll out their online scholarship application window, so many applications were submitted that the website broke down.   The 33,000 valid applications submitted in the second process, which generated totals announced on Wednesday, February 28, reflect emergency repairs made to the application website.  Empower Illinois reported receiving $45 million in pledged donations from Illinois taxpayers.  The taxpayers will receive individual income tax credits to cover up to 80 percent of the cost of their donations.  Applicant households who do not get into the program this year may choose to reapply again in early 2019.    
Rep. Keith Wheeler (left) discusses school safety with SD308
Superintendent John Sparlin and OHS Principal Mike Wayne.
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Keith R. Wheeler joined Oswego School District 308 Superintendent John Sparlin and Oswego High School Principal Mike Wayne for an active shooter response drill at Oswego High School Thursday morning.  This was Oswego High School’s second active shooter lockdown drill and the fourth drill involved in locking down and responding to emergencies during this school year.

As part of the lockdown procedure, Oswego schools have implemented the nationally-recognized ALICE active shooter response training program. ALICE is the acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

“I believe this type of response training is an important, non-controversial first step in securing our schools here in Illinois,” Representative Wheeler said. “The administration, staff, and students displayed a number of techniques and responses that will be vital to saving lives should an active shooter situation occur.  Continued collaboration between our school, government, and law enforcement leaders is an important component in protecting our children and I’m glad to see that is underway locally.” 
·        Governor Rauner delivers budget address to General Assembly.  Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday.  The Governor renewed his call for a $1 billion tax cut for all Illinois taxpayers.  He also called for “structural reforms” to Illinois laws that underlie the current patterns of Illinois public-sector taxes and spending. 

Assailing what he called “unsustainable growth in our pension and healthcare costs,” Gov. Rauner stated that more than 25 cents of every dollar the State spends goes to these facets of public-sector employee benefits.  These benefits far exceed the benefits paid to workers in the private sector, and the cost of these benefits is driving job growth from Illinois to other states.  Rauner pointed to job trends, including manufacturing job growth, in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.    
General Assembly – House committees
·        With full start of 2018 spring session, Illinois House committees convene and begin to hear bills.  Following the State of the State address on Wednesday, January 31, the Illinois House and Senate began committee action for the spring 2018 session.  The House will have five full weeks of committee action prior to the deadline for substantive committee action on April 13.  Most of the work of presenting a bill, hearing witness testimony on the measure and developing amendments to perfect the measure are done in committees rather than on the floor of the full House.  The House schedules for spring 2018 can be found here.  The General Assembly’s website also includes a type-in box to track each individual bill under consideration in Springfield by bill number.