- COGFA report shows slight uptick in total Illinois tax revenue. The monthly report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) showed State general funds tax receipts up $143 million in May 2017. The tax receipt increase is independent of “transfers in,” a separate table of non-tax general funds revenues such as profits from Illinois State Lottery ticket sales. The increase in May 2017 tax revenues was entirely attributed to increased revenues from the personal income tax paid by almost all Illinois employees, with personal income tax receipts up $179 million over comparable figures reported in May 2016.
Corporate income tax receipts continued to plunge during the 31-day reporting period, with this revenue stream down $72 million. The decline of almost one-half in year-over-year corporate income tax payments to the State of Illinois reflected the continued movement of U.S. business from C-class corporate taxpayers, which was the dominant business model in former years, toward the attribution of taxable revenues to pass-through entities, often organized as wholly-owned subsidiaries of holding companies. The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) has taken account of this change and has re-classified much of its remaining business tax receipts as individual income tax receipts, paid at individual income tax rates.
The relatively good numbers posted for State coffers in May do not wipe up the effects of the revenue shortfall posted for most of the months that were notched earlier in FY17 (ends June 30, 2017). For the first 11 months of FY17 as a whole, Illinois general funds tax receipts fell $604 from the first 11 months of FY16. As in the single month of May 2017, this eleven-month decline was entirely attributable to the decline in corporate income tax receipts. Corporate income tax collections were down $909 million during the almost year-long period. The FY17 revenue shortfall is only a part of the budget crisis surrounding Illinois’ backlog of more than $14 billion in unpaid bills.
- Federal judge rules Illinois not in compliance with full funding of Medicaid payments. The argument, presented in federal court to District Judge Joan Lefkow, 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. Since July 1, 2015, Illinois has not operated under a budgetary plan to control State spending. During this period, tax monies coming in have been allocated to various beneficiaries under a maze of court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations. Billions of dollars are being spent on “autopilot.”
Criminal Law – Chicago Violence
- House passes Durkin bill, Chief Co-Sponsored by Bellock, to reduce Chicago’s gun violence. SB 1722 follows continued patterns of lethal violence in many neighborhoods within Chicago. One of Illinois’ strongest laws to control lethal gun violence is the Criminal Code law against “unlawful use of a weapon,” a legal term that covers a wide variety of acts in which a gun is carried by a previously adjudicated defendant or in the commission of a criminal act. Police officers and leadership in Illinois’ largest city say, however, that they have real problems under current law with bringing a criminal UUW case against a known gang member. The minimum sentencing for this offense can be so low that the offense goes to the back of the queue in a system that contains a limited number of slots for bringing charges and winning a conviction and sentence.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s “safe neighborhoods” bill is meant to break this dilemma and make it possible to bring these cases to justice. The comprehensive sentencing-reform language contained in SB 1722 increases the minimum sentences and recommended sentences for unlawful use of a weapon by a felon and for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. At the same time, the bill creates a new First Time Weapon Offender Diversion Program for first-time nonviolent offenders charged with weapons possession. The new program will be open to individuals 20 and under, and will give these individuals a chance to avoid prison under strict court supervision.
Aggravated and repeat UUW offenses are so closely correlated with Chicago criminal gang membership that Chicago Police Chief Eddie Johnson testified to the House that the measure could help cut violence by 50% in his jurisdiction. This bill was written in bipartisan negotiations between House Republican Leader Durkin and other key Senators and Representatives, as well as senior law enforcement officers and leaders from Chicago and other jurisdictions. The House vote to approve SB 1722 as amended was 70-41-1, with the Senate concurring 36-12-0.
- The Illinois House of Representatives passed a massive bailout for Chicago Public Schools on the final day of the scheduled spring session, rushing through a vote on a new school funding formula, Senate Bill 1. This legislation would provide Chicago Public Schools (CPS) with a $500 million bailout while offering empty promises to the rest of the state’s public schools.
With the State already owing Illinois schools more than $1 billion this year and no way identified to pay for the new formula, Republicans stood in opposition to SB 1. 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.
Supporting a bill that we simply can’t afford, a bill that bails out Chicago while shortchanging our schools, would be insincere to educators and unfair to the taxpayers of this state.
- Illinois credited with 36 firms on Fortune 500 list. The 2016 Fortune 500 list tallies U.S. business firms by gross revenue. Illinois’ highest-revenue firm on the list, the pharmaceutical and general-merchandise retailer Walgreens Boots Alliance, was scored at No. 17 nationwide. Its $117 billion in Year 2016 revenue marked an increase of almost 14% from $103 billion in year 2015. Illinois’s second-largest listed firm, aerospace giant Boeing, was ranked No. 24.
While most of the Illinois firms listed on the Fortune 500 tally are headquartered in the Chicago area, two of the largest companies are headquartered Downstate: State Farm (#33) and Deere & Co. (#105). Changes in the U.S. economy, caused by economic trends and corporate restructurings, created some changes in the index. Two Illinois newcomers are Conagra (#197), which moved its headquarters from Nebraska, and list newcomer TreeHouse Foods (#427). By contrast the former biopharmaceutical giant Baxalta was acquired by a European conglomerate in 2016, and left the ranking.
- Flood-control project will get observation deck. A former quarry in Elmhurst is now the Elmhurst Quarry Flood Control Facility, a reservoir built to store stormwater. It is part of the growing Chicago-area infrastructure of water storage facilities that are being built to prevent flooding due to stormwater runoff. The former quarry will be the recipient of rainwater runoff that flows into flood-prone Salt Creek. The DuPage County flood control project began in 1991. Construction is expected to begin in July on a small observation deck to allow interested local citizens to enjoy public access to see the impressive pit. The deck is scheduled to be completed in September 2017.
The Elmhurst Quarry, when it was in use, was one of the pits dug in the Chicago area to extract aggregate stone for the manufacture of cement and concrete. Substantial quarries dot the southern and western suburbs. The former quarry’s stone-producing days are over and it now can serve as a temporary home for up to 2.7 billion gallons of stormwater runoff.
Please always feel welcome to contact my District Office by phone at (630) 852-8633 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Deputy Minority Leader
State Representative, 47th District