Veto session preview; budget remains out of balance

Fall veto session begins October 24
On Tuesday the House and Senate will be back at the Capitol to begin the fall session, also known as the veto session. This is the short session during which the legislature reconvenes to discuss and possibly act upon bills which the Governor vetoed over the summer. The procedures for vetoes are laid out in Article IV, Section 9 of the Illinois Constitution.

This year, the Governor issued nearly 50 vetoes, either total vetoes which reject a bill in its entirety, or amendatory vetoes which change only a part of the bill. Some of those vetoes were acted upon during the session days held back in July and August, but most are still awaiting a final determination. Some of the bills that were vetoed range from legislation dealing with the Interior Design Title Act and local government in Lake County, to bills concerning workers compensation and geolocation privacy. Now the sponsor of each vetoed bill must decide if he or she wishes to attempt an override of the veto. In the case of an amendatory veto, the sponsor can choose between attempting an override, moving to accept the Governor’s changes, or taking no action at all.

It is also possible for new pieces of legislation to come to the floor during the veto session. However, the state Constitution requires a supermajority vote in order for these bills to pass during the fall session, so it is more common for new legislation to be held off until January when the regular session reconvenes. As of this writing we do not have a firm list of bills which we will see in the fall session, though there are plenty of possibilities.

The first week of the fall session convenes Tuesday and runs through Thursday. Both houses are scheduled to be back for the second week of the fall session November 7-9. I will have a recap of the action in the House in next week’s update.

State report: Budget out of balance by $1.7 billion
According to a report released last week by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), the fiscal year 2018 budget which was enacted back in July is out of balance by $1.7 billion. The report claims that if the budget had been passed along with reforms to Illinois’ government and economic climate the imbalance might have been avoided. This was my primary reason for opposing the budget and its accompanying tax increase. It was a missed opportunity to fix our broken system.

The Illinois Economic and Fiscal Policy Report offers us an economic outlook for the next five years which is based on the budget along with state and national growth forecasts. In the report, GOMB Director Scott Harry says that it is possible for Illinois to have a budget surplus and reduce the still-growing bill backlog considerably within five years if we impose some spending controls and implement policies that will lead to more economic growth.

The GOMB report states that the enactment of proposed reforms along with the 2018 budget would have resulted in enough savings to balance this year’s budget. Changes proposed in the plan included savings through reforms in government group health insurance programs ($600 million); Medicaid ($525 million); and issuing a different type of bonds to pay down the state’s bill backlog ($60 million in interest this year, and $390 million over the 12-year life of the bond).

How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $16,537,679,869 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is estimated to be more than $100 billion.

IDOT reminding drivers to watch for deer on roadways
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is reminding motorists to be on the lookout for deer on the roadways. With the coming of fall, deer are more active and can be harder to see along roadways because of the shorter daylight hours. IDOT is encouraging drivers to drive cautiously and “don’t veer for deer.”

More than 40 percent of crashes involving deer in Illinois occurred in October, November and December according to IDOT. Close to three-quarters of deer-related accidents happened in the low-light conditions around dusk or dawn. IDOT reminds drivers that suddenly swerving to avoid a deer on the roadway carries its own severe risk: a driver can lose control of a vehicle and end up in a wreck anyway.

IDOT suggests safe driving tips for deer season, including paying attention to deer crossing signs, scan both sides of the road for deer or for the reflection of headlights in the deer’s eyes, slow down if you see a deer because they travel in groups. A driver should also be prepared for a deer to behave in an unexpected fashion, such as stopping in the middle of the road or suddenly doubling back in front of you.

There were 14,759 crashes in Illinois involving deer last year alone, with 581 personal injuries and five fatalities. By driving carefully and being attentive for deer, you can help reduce your chance of being involved in an accident this fall.

Illinoisans asked for input on improving state’s rest areas
IDOT is asking for your help in deciding the future uses of Illinois highway rest areas. The department has posted a 20-question survey on its website at www.idot.illinois.gov to request feedback from motorists about their overall satisfaction with Illinois rest areas, their locations and features.

Altogether, the state maintains 30 rest areas, including sites on I-57 in Iroquois County, I-74 in Woodford County and I-55 in Livingston County, as well as 11 welcome centers near the state’s boundaries. According to IDOT, more than 36 million visitors use an Illinois rest area each year. IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said the survey will help IDOT adjust the state’s rest areas to better meet the needs of today’s highway travelers. The survey is available online through October 29.

Did You Know?
On October 8, 1818, Shadrach Bond and Pierre Menard were sworn in as Illinois’ first governor and lieutenant governor. Illinois officially attained statehood a few weeks later on December 3. With next year being Illinois’ 200th birthday, the state has set up a Bicentennial Commission to help coordinate bicentennial celebrations throughout the state. More information is available at https://illinois200.com/.

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