Legislators head to the Capitol on Tuesday to consider the override of our DSP wage legislation House Bill 5931. Our lead sponsor Rep Robyn Gabel has filed for the override vote so this week could be the week. Hopefully you have communicated with your legislators getting their support for the override vote.

The Workforce Coalition meets this morning to discuss last minute override strategies.

The Governor has invited the legislative Leaders to meet on Monday to talk about the state budget. Remember the current stopgap budget spending authority ends on December 31st so it is critical the Leaders reach agreement on spending in the new year.

Below is an editorial which includes mention of DSP wages. I was hoping for a stronger stand alone editorial on the workforce crisis when me met with the SJR Editorial Board. Well, at least the workforce crisis is on their radar.


Opinion from the State Journal Register
State lawmakers owe us more than six days
That’s it?

Six days out of the final six months of 2016 is all Illinois lawmakers can spare to actually legislate?

State senators and representatives were last in session in late June, when after a year with no spending plan, they passed a six-month stopgap budget that was signed into law July 1. They then hit the campaign trail and haven’t done much of the people’s business since then. They return for this year’s veto session from Nov. 15 to 17 and Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

During a normal year, six days might be enough to consider the governor’s vetoes.
But this isn’t a normal year. We’re poised to start 2017 in depressingly familiar territory — without a state budget in place. The stopgap ends Dec. 31 (except for K-12 education, in which a full year of funding was approved), and then we’re back to no fiscal blueprint to guide state spending.

Back to social service agencies wondering just how they are going to assist clients when they can’t pay their staff. Back to businesses waiting to be paid for services rendered months ago. Back to a declining business environment. Back to college students trying to further themselves, wondering how they will pay for their education without the assistance of the MAP grant program and public university officials wondering if they will even be able to keep their doors open without timely support from the state.

It’s time to move forward. It’s time for true bipartisanship. Both sides have to start by presenting balanced budgets, a task neither Democrats nor Republicans have accomplished so far. It’s going to be a bloody, painful process — and it is one state residents need to demand.

We are in no position to add new programs when we can’t support the ones we have. As of Thursday, the unpaid bills backlog was at $9.27 billion, according to the Illinois Comptroller’s website. Moody’s Investors Service has warned that the approval last week of the lockbox amendment, which mandates that transportation-related revenues collected be used only for projects that involve roads and bridges, has a “negative credit” factor for Illinois.

We must collectively face how bad it is, demand compromises now to reverse our fiscal nightmares, and then brace ourselves for the pain that follows.

When lawmakers return this week, their priority should be crafting a budget that covers the remainder of this fiscal year to remove the merciless uncertainty faced during that year without a budget.

It’s difficult to lobby for that, as there are dozens of bills they could act on, and many were drafted with only the best of intentions. There are vetoed measures that would increase the state’s reimbursement rate for those who work with people with disabilities, expand the eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program so more kids can be served, and increase wages for employees who work with seniors in the Community Cares Program.

These are worthwhile bills that deserve consideration, and would help some of the most in need residents of Illinois. But they cost money the state does not have. Lawmakers should not consider them without looking at the entire framework of how all state programs are funded. It would be irresponsible to continue to dig the state deeper into debt.

We are encouraged that Gov. Bruce Rauner has invited the four legislative leaders — Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, House Minority Leader Republican Jim Durkin, Democrat Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno — to a meeting Monday, prior to the start of the legislative session. We were happy to hear that as of Friday afternoon, three of those leaders had indicated to the governor that they planned to attend, and Rauner’s office was waiting to hear from Madigan’s team.

All four should attend to acknowledge what voters expressed Tuesday at the ballot box, where Republicans picked up four seats in the Illinois House (removing the Democrats’ veto-proof majority), as well as two in the state Senate: It’s time for compromise in the Legislature, and for public officials to put the people ahead of their political party.

tony signature

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
708-828-0188 (CELL)