Rep. Ives Weekly Recap - 11/21/16

“A Week in Review”
Rep. Ives Weekly Recap
November 14th – November 20th 

“From my family to yours, wishing you all the blessings of joy, health and happiness this
Thanksgiving season and every day throughout the year.” – State Rep. Jeanne Ives, 42nd District

The First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation

President George Washington – Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1789 
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” …read President Washington’s full message here

Rep. Ives: Keeping You Informed

"October Jobs Report: +2,200 Jobs, But Workforce Dropout and Unemployment Rise” Illinois Policy Institute: Though Illinois showed a net gain of 2,200 payroll jobs in October, the state’s workforce shrank for the sixth month in a row, according to a Nov. 17 economic release from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, or IDES. The state unemployment rate rose to 5.6 percent from 5.5 percent because the number of unemployed Illinoisans increased by 6,100… read the full story here

“Illinois Democrats, GOP remain far apart in budget talks” Associated Press: Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan suggested Tuesday that legislators should approve another short-term spending plan without giving in to any of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s demands, indicating the ideological divide behind the state’s epic budget stand persisted through the bruising election season… read the full story here

State Budget – Leaders Meeting
  • As budget impasse continues, Governor Rauner meets with legislative leaders.  The meetings were aimed at developing a solution to Illinois’ historic budget crisis, which has preempted the passage of a constitutional balanced budget since June 30, 2015.   
With many key recipients of Illinois GRF funds facing a growing cash crunch as State payments are delayed or blocked, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin called on Tuesday, November 15 for bipartisan action to resolve the impasse. 

“We’re at a tipping point. We are willing to work with the Democrats with their priorities but it’s a two-way street. They have to work with us on our priorities. If we can do that we will get a good product and the governor will sign a budget,” Durkin said. “But going down the same road and saying ‘it’s our way or the highway,’ which the Democrats have been doing for the past two years, is going to put the state in further peril.”

The budget impasse has caused an unprecedented backlog of unpaid bills in the Office of the Illinois Comptroller, with more than $10.6 billion in unmet vouchers and commitments awaiting payment as of Tuesday, November 15.  Bills from as far back as June, 2016 are awaiting payment.  The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) projects, based upon current spending and revenue numbers, that this unpaid-bill total could reach more than $13.5 billion by June 2017.  Hypothetically, the bill backlog could reach $47 billion by 2022. 

"Labor Board declares impasse in contract negotiations between AFSCME and the state" Illinois Policy Institute: In a 5-0 decision, the Illinois Labor Relations Board determined on Nov. 15 that the state and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees are at an impasse in negotiations for a new contract for state employees. In light of the state’s fiscal crisis, Gov. Bruce Rauner has sought contract provisions that would benefit state workers and state taxpayers alike, but AFSCME has repeatedly rejected the state’s proposals. For example, the state proposed a temporary four-year salary freeze, but also proposed bonuses for state workers based on hard work and performance…read the full story here

General Assembly – Veto Session
  • First week of veto session held in Springfield.  The Constitution of Illinois asks State lawmakers to spend two session periods of three days each in Springfield each fall.  The veto session weeks, which straddle Thanksgiving, give the General Assembly the opportunity to consider and approve or reject the total and amendatory vetoes signed by the Governor earlier in the summer. 
Action remains uncertain on some of the issues discussed this week, and both the House and the Senate final action on many of the measures considered in this first week of veto session will take place during the 2nd and final week of the session.  The General Assembly is discussing the stabilization of Illinois’ electrical generating infrastructure, workers’ compensation, legislative term limits, and many other issues.  The General Assembly will reconvene on Tuesday, November 29.

Human Services – Developmental Disabilities
·         Chicago Tribune investigation finds abuse, neglect, and cover-ups in Illinois group homes.  The investigative report, published on Thursday, November 17, found at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in this care category over a recent seven-year period.  The deaths were only a small part of the 1,311 cases of documented harm tallied by the Tribune investigative team since July 2011.  These cases of documented harm, in turn, were only part of the 7,241 allegations of abuse or neglect audited by Tribune reporters.  More than 1,000 of these allegations had been subtracted from publicly-disclosed spreadsheets.  Allegations covered both 24-hour care in private-sector group homes, and less-than-24-hour private-sector day care given to patients who are not classified as requiring 24-hour care.   

Residents with developmental disabilities are oftentimes placed in group homes and their care is paid for by the State.  The State of Illinois’ responsibilities for persons with developmental disabilities are concentrated in the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).  The Tribune story included reports of tight budgets, underpaid group-home staff, and a lack of oversight and accountability.  Stories of individual patients, and their fates, were included in the investigative reporting.

Pensions – COGFA Briefing
·         New COGFA briefing on Illinois pension liabilities.  The reformulated estimates, which combine together numbers from Illinois’ five state-managed pension funds, have reset the State’s unfunded pension liabilities at $129.8 billion.  The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) reported the new numbers this week in their November 2016 publication, “Special Pension Briefing.” 

COGFA’s calculations show a year-over-year increase of 17% in the unfunded pension bottom line as the pension systems approached year-end 2016.  Their report indicates that this trend continues to be associated with near-zero interest rates on high-quality investments.  In 2016, this near-zero-interest situation forced four of the five pension systems to reduce their actuarial projection for long-term rates of return for the monies previously invested in these pension funds.  It was also associated with a relatively low rate of return on the prudent assets mandated for investment choices by professionally managed pension funds.     

Pension Burden Worsens in Illinois” Fidelity: The picture for Illinois' state employee pensions has become bleaker, with a $12 billion increase in unfunded liabilities and a $1 billion jump in the state's scheduled contributions next year. The updated data comes from fiscal 2016 draft actuarial reports released by the state's five retirement funds and its preliminary contribution requests for fiscal 2018, which were approved by the system's boards at recent meetings. The cash-strapped state tentatively will owe $8.8 billion to the state's five funds in fiscal 2018. That's up 12.7% from the $7.8 billion the state is paying in fiscal 2017, which began July 1… read the full story here

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