January 31, 2018

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Wednesday, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State Address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. In a relatively short prepared speech, he gave a broad overview of the strengths of the State. But, as has been the trend with recent Governors, few specifics were provided about economic or tax proposals going forward. More details could be provided when the Governor presents his Budget Address on February 14.
The Governor did make several comments regarding what he characterized as an unfair property tax assessment system and property taxes that are "unfair, unaffordable and crushing". Again, with no specifics, he called for property tax relief and "giving people the ability to lower their property taxes through a simple voter referendum". One can assume that it refers to earlier property tax freeze plans that would require taxing bodies to place on the ballot the question of setting the property tax cap limit at zero - as is contained in SB 851 (the synopsis can be found in this report).
Education was only alluded to when the Governor highlighted the enactment of "historic reforms to end one of the most inequitable school funding formulas in the country" and the Invest in Kids Act that established the private school tuition tax credit. The need for pension reform was also briefly addressed but without specifying what that proposal would look like.
In swift action Wednesday morning, both the Senate and House of Representatives voted to override the Amendatory Veto issued by the Governor on SB 444, the technical corrections to the evidence-based funding legislation. The bill is now law (Public Act 100-0578), effective immediately. SB 444 makes changes necessary for the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to begin calculating funding amounts to school districts under the new formula contained in SB 1947.
However, while providing testimony this week before the House Appropriations Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education, an ISBE representative stated that there are additional changes that must be made to the new law before final determinations can be made on funding disbursements to school districts. Expect another bill to emerge soon to make these technical changes. Lawmakers return next week to reconvene the legislative session.