Hynes’ statement came exactly one week before the Governor’s annual budget address, scheduled for Wednesday, February 20. Though it is uncertain how the Governor plans to balance the state’s budget, media reports reveal he may be considering raising business taxes or raiding the state’s special dedicated funds.
In light of the shaky budget outlook, this week a panel of lawmakers opted to postpone consideration of the Governor’s proposed health care expansion plan.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) met on Wednesday, Feb. 13, but chose to push back consideration of rules dealing with Gov. Blagojevich’s Family Care program, which is expected to qualify an additional 147,000 people for discounted medical care.
JCAR members noted that the unknown cost of the program, in conjunction with Illinois’ impending fiscal woes, made it imperative for them to wait until after the Governor’s address to approve rules for such a sweeping and costly initiative.
Hynes has spoken out repeatedly about Illinois’ severely underfunded Medicaid system, pointing to a little-known loophole in state law that has allowed both current and previous administrations to push health care obligations from one fiscal year to the next—allowing them to present the state budget as balanced when, in reality, it is not.
Senate Republicans have long advocated phasing out these “Section 25 Liabilities,” which have been estimated to amount to as much as $3 billion in backlogged payments to the state’s Medicaid providers. A Senate Republican measure, Senate Bill 1533, would take steps to reduce the massive bill backlog and ensure more prompt payment to Illinois’ doctors, hospitals and nursing homes; however, the measure continues to be held in the Senate Rules Committee and has not been allowed to be considered by Senate lawmakers.
Aside from budget matters, lawmakers were busy filing legislation before the February 15 Senate bill introduction deadline. In election years it is often requested that legislators only introduce legislation that is budget-related, or considered to be urgently needed. By Friday, however, Senate legislators had already introduced over 350 pieces of legislation including:
Adoption (SB 2282) - Creates an income tax deduction for individual taxpayers in an amount equal to the qualified adoption expenses paid by the taxpayer.
Aggravated Battery (SB 2159) - Provides that aggravated battery of a child takes place when the person is 18 years or older and intentional or knowing, with no legal justification, and causes bodily harm/disfigurement to a child age 13 years and younger or any profoundly mentally retarded person.
Bidding Process (SB 2293) - Requires that certain contracts involving an expenditure in excess of $25,000 or a lower amount as required by school board policy (rather than $10,000) be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.
Charter Schools (SB 2205) - Establishes the Illinois Charter Public School Commission as an independent, state-level, charter school authorizing entity working in collaboration with the State Board of Education, and includes provisions concerning membership, funding, staff, and powers and duties. (SB 2206) - Makes changes concerning financing for charter schools.
Clean Car Act (SB 2238) - Provides that the Clean Car Program is applicable to vehicles of the 2012 model year and every subsequent model year and requires the establishment of new motor vehicle emission standards and compliance requirements for vehicles under the Program.
Communicable Disease Testing (SB 2355) – Specifies a time limit in which a prosecuting State's Attorney must seek a court order to compel the accused to be tested for a sexually transmitted disease, if the accused has been charged with criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, or predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
Domestic Partner (SB 2263) - Redefines a "dependent" for health plan coverage to include a member's qualified domestic partner, who must be at least 19 years old, of the same gender as the member, unrelated to the member, and in an exclusive, committed relationship with the member of at least one year's duration.
Financial Education (SB 2098) - Allows the State Treasurer to create the State Treasurer Financial Education and Savings Not-For-Profit Corporation in order to encourage financial literacy and savings among Illinois residents.
Fund Transfers (SB 2245) – States that no special fund transfers can be made from the Grade Crossing Protection Fund to the General Revenue Fund.
Good Samaritan Act (SB 2212) - Provides that free medical clinics may provide a written explanation of exemption from the Good Samaritan Act, as an alternative to a posted explanation.
Gun Transfers (SB 2280) - Provides that the requirements of sales of firearms at a gun show apply to private sales or transfers of handguns by individuals who are not federally licensed firearm dealers, and exempts transfers between spouses, a parent and child, or a grandparent and grandchild or individuals acting pursuant to operation of law or a court order.
Home Monitoring (SB 2135) - Provides that failure to comply with electronic home monitoring by adults constitutes a felony or misdemeanor.
Income Tax (SB 2148) - Creates an income tax deduction for taxpayers who receive income, royalties or receipts from patents for an invention resulting from a development process conducted in Illinois. (SB 2288) - Increases the income tax rates for individuals, trusts, and estates from 3% to 5% of the taxpayer's net income and increases the rate of income tax for corporations from 4.8% to 8% of the taxpayer's net income to be directed toward public education funding.
Insanity Defense (SB 2294) - Mandates that a defendant who intends to assert that he or she was insane at the time of the alleged offense must notify the State in writing within the time provided for filing a pretrial motion, or at any later time the court sets, and file a copy of the notice with the clerk of the court; a defendant who fails to do so will not be allowed to rely on an insanity defense.
Junk Mail (SB 2115) - Defines “junk” mail and allows individuals to opt out of receiving it.
Obstruction (SB 2142) - Makes it an offense to obstruct identification, including intentionally providing a false or fictitious name, address, or date of birth to an officer who has requested the information with the belief that the person has witnessed a criminal offense.
Parole (SB 2254) - Provides that a victim of a crime must receive reasonable written notice not less than 30 (rather than 15) days prior to the convicted criminal’s parole hearing, and includes, first degree murder in the definition of sexually violent offense if it is determined that a sexually violent offense was committed by an inmate during at the same time as the first degree murder.
Pledge of Allegiance (SB 2328) - Requires that the Pledge of Allegiance be recited prior to the required period of silence at the opening of each school day by students in Illinois public school system.
Prostheses (SB 2134) – Provides for insurance coverage for wigs/scalp prostheses worn for hair loss due to chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer or other ailments.
Riverboats (SB 2241) - Requires the Illinois Gaming Board to award owners licenses to applicants whose plans would generate the highest amount of revenue for the State while amounting to the least amount of cannibalization of existing licensees' revenues. (SB 2169) - Allows 2% of the adjusted gross receipts from gambling operations be divided equally among Illinois’ public universities.
Senior Assessment Freeze (SB 2072) - Allows a homeowner to substitute ‘disability’ for the age criterion, beginning with the 2008 tax year for taxes payable in 2009.
Sex Offenses (SB 2349) – Designates and increases penalties for a wide variety of offenses committed by child sex offenders.
Smoking Ban Exemption (SB 2335) - Provides that smoking is allowed in Veterans' halls and clubs.
State Board Appointments (SB 2306) - Prohibits gubernatorial appointees to state boards, commissions, authorities and task forces from holding 2 or more appointments simultaneously and from making campaign contributions to holders of and candidates for statewide and legislative offices and requires them to participate in exit interviews upon expiration or resignation of appointment.
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