Citing progress, Madigan cancels House session on education funding

http://ift.tt/2g3R3rb

Citing progress in the ongoing school funding negotiations, House Speaker Michael Madigan Tuesday night canceled Wednesday’s scheduled session of the Illinois House in hopes legislative leaders can wrap up negotiations on a new state school aid formula later this week.

The House was supposed to meet to consider overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, a funding reform bill Rauner said was too generous to Chicago schools. He made dozens of changes to the bill that not only affect Chicago but also many downstate school districts.

The Senate has already voted to override Rauner’s changes. In the House, the override would have needed Republican votes, and so far, no Republican has indicated a willingness to vote against the governor on school funding.

A number of lawmakers believe the solution will be through a negotiated compromise. To that end, the four legislative leaders met all afternoon Tuesday in Madigan’s Capitol office.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington emerged from the meeting early Tuesday evening saying progress was made and that further negotiations would be held soon. They did not say specifically when that would happen, nor would they discuss details of the talks.

Durkin said it would be up to Madigan to decide whether to go ahead with an override vote in the House Wednesday. Brady, however, said it would be a gesture of good faith on Madigan’s part to delay the vote.

Later Tuesday evening, Madigan did just that.

“In light of the progress made today by the four leaders, I am canceling session previously scheduled for Wednesday, August 23,” Madigan said in a statement. “During our talks today, Leader Durkin noted he was unavailable for any meetings tomorrow in order to wrap up negotiations. In light of that, we have decided to meet on Thursday in Chicago. I am hopeful we can finish our negotiations shortly to ensure schools around the state can receive the money needed to operate schools throughout this school year.

“If we don’t reach compromise later this week, the House will move to override the governor’s veto of SB 1 in session next week.”

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, one of the principal authors of SB 1, said he was pleased negotiations “appear to be promising.”

“(Negotiations) should continue,” he said in a statement. “But it bears repeating that the uncertainty over school funding needs to end — next week at the latest.”

Until lawmakers adopt a new school aid formula, billions of dollars in state aid for K-12 education in the new budget won’t be distributed until a new formula is in place.

— Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, http://twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

Citing progress, Madigan cancels House session on education funding

Citing progress, Madigan cancels House session on education funding

http://ift.tt/2g3R3rb

Citing progress in the ongoing school funding negotiations, House Speaker Michael Madigan Tuesday night canceled Wednesday’s scheduled session of the Illinois House in hopes legislative leaders can wrap up negotiations on a new state school aid formula later this week.

The House was supposed to meet to consider overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, a funding reform bill Rauner said was too generous to Chicago schools. He made dozens of changes to the bill that not only affect Chicago but also many downstate school districts.

The Senate has already voted to override Rauner’s changes. In the House, the override would have needed Republican votes, and so far, no Republican has indicated a willingness to vote against the governor on school funding.

A number of lawmakers believe the solution will be through a negotiated compromise. To that end, the four legislative leaders met all afternoon Tuesday in Madigan’s Capitol office.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington emerged from the meeting early Tuesday evening saying progress was made and that further negotiations would be held soon. They did not say specifically when that would happen, nor would they discuss details of the talks.

Durkin said it would be up to Madigan to decide whether to go ahead with an override vote in the House Wednesday. Brady, however, said it would be a gesture of good faith on Madigan’s part to delay the vote.

Later Tuesday evening, Madigan did just that.

“In light of the progress made today by the four leaders, I am canceling session previously scheduled for Wednesday, August 23,” Madigan said in a statement. “During our talks today, Leader Durkin noted he was unavailable for any meetings tomorrow in order to wrap up negotiations. In light of that, we have decided to meet on Thursday in Chicago. I am hopeful we can finish our negotiations shortly to ensure schools around the state can receive the money needed to operate schools throughout this school year.

“If we don’t reach compromise later this week, the House will move to override the governor’s veto of SB 1 in session next week.”

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, one of the principal authors of SB 1, said he was pleased negotiations “appear to be promising.”

“(Negotiations) should continue,” he said in a statement. “But it bears repeating that the uncertainty over school funding needs to end — next week at the latest.”

Until lawmakers adopt a new school aid formula, billions of dollars in state aid for K-12 education in the new budget won’t be distributed until a new formula is in place.

— Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, http://twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

Citing progress, Madigan cancels House session on education funding

Borrowing to pay state bills is OK, says rating agency

http://ift.tt/2vWOufS

Report comes as House returns to address school funding

SPRINGFIELD — A major bond rating agency said today that Illinois should go ahead with a proposal to borrow money to pay down its bill backlog.

S&P Global Ratings said it is likely the state can borrow money at a lower interest rate than it is now paying on overdue bills. On most of the state’s overdue bills, the late interest fee comes to 12 percent a year. Comptroller Susana Mendoza said the state runs up $2 million a day in interest charges on its overdue bills.

“The state may realize net fiscal savings which we believe Illinois can ill-afford to pass up given its weakened financial position, even if the additional debt … adds incrementally to its operating deficit,” S&P said.

S&P said the borrowing, and subsequent reduction in overdue bills, would give the state back some measure of flexibility in dealing with its finances. It said the borrowing is unlikely to improve the state’s credit rating, but it could provide some additional protection against a further downgrade.

The budget approved by lawmakers in July authorizes up to $6 billion in borrowing to pay down old bills. S&P said the spending plan assumes a $360 million surplus that could be used to finance about $3 billion in borrowing.

Mendoza’s office said the borrowed money would be used on Medicaid bills — which qualify for federal matching funds — and also on bills that qualify for late payment penalties.

Under state law, Gov. Bruce Rauner has to initiate the borrowing. So far, he has declined.

“Our office is currently reviewing the fiscal year 2018 budget enacted by the General Assembly to determine best next steps,” Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in a statement. “As part of that review, we are considering bond issuances for both capital projects and the bill backlog.”

Mendoza said Tuesday it makes no sense to continue postponing borrowing to pay old bills.

“Illinois taxpayers are accruing debt on our unpaid bills at a rate of $2 million a day,” she said in a statement. “It is almost unreal to think that we are burning through tax dollars at such an incredible rate when our schools and other critical services are severely underfunded and hundreds of thousands of people and businesses are awaiting payment.”

House returns Wednesday

The S&P report came a day before House members are scheduled to return to deal with another state financial problem – school funding.

Until lawmakers adopt a new school aid formula, billions of dollars in state aid for K-12 education in the new budget won’t be distributed until a new formula is in place.

The House is scheduled to vote on overriding Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, a funding reform bill Rauner said was too generous to Chicago. He made dozens of changes to the bill that not only affect Chicago but also many downstate school districts.

The Senate has already voted to override Rauner’s changes. In the House, an override will need Republican votes. So far, no Republican has indicated a willingness to vote against the governor on school funding.

A number of lawmakers believe the solution will be through a negotiated compromise. To that end, the four legislative leaders met all afternoon today in House Speaker Michael Madigan’s Capitol office.

Early this evening, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington left saying progress was made and that further negotiations would be held soon. They did not say when that would happen, nor would they discuss details of the talks.

Durkin said it would be up to Madigan to decide whether to go ahead with an override vote in the House Wednesday. Brady, however, said it would be a gesture of good faith on Madigan’s part to delay the vote.

A Madigan spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com; @dougfinkesjr

Borrowing to pay state bills is OK, says rating agency

Toni Preckwinkle Discusses Cook County Soda Tax Pushback

http://ift.tt/2wDnfrs

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle has a powerful ally helping convince consumers and voters that the county’s new penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax is good public policy. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is personally funding a $2 million commercial campaign against soda.

VIDEO

However, the tax has faced enormous backlash, beginning with retailers. Implementation was scheduled to start July 1, but the Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit to stop it. The judge on the case ultimately ruled that the tax could start being collected about a month later.

The delay in collecting the tax revenue forced Preckwinkle to announce layoffs of 300 county employees to help balance the Cook County budget. The soda tax was expected to bring in about $67 million in 2017 and another $200 million in 2018.

But the tax is remarkably unpopular with shoppers. Even though it has only been collected for a few weeks, a whopping 87 percent of county residents polled by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association do not approve of it.

Preckwinkle has steadfastly stood by the levy as it works its way through the legal system. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has appealed the decision and asked for a speedy legal resolution to which the county has agreed.

“We’re glad they agreed to an expedited appeal so we can get resolution to this issue in a timely manner,” said Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president and general counsel of IRMA. Dawood anticipates the appeals court decision sometime this fall.

Even with a quick appellate court decision, Preckwinkle is prepared for a long court battle. “Three or four years ago we initiated a tax on ammunition and that’s still being adjudicated,” said Preckwinkle. “So, I anticipate that this will be a long, slow progress through the courts.”

Opposition to the tax is also mounting in the Illinois House of Representatives where a new bill, HB4083, was filed to prevent Illinois counties from taxing sweetened beverages based on weight or volume. It was introduced on Aug.15 and seven days later, it had bipartisan support and 29 co-sponsors.

The sweetened beverage tax faces a repeal vote at next month’s Cook County Board meeting, Sept. 12.

Preckwinkle joins Eddie Arruza to discuss the sweetened beverage tax, Cook County finances and more.


Related stories:

Crain’s: Cook County Union Lauds Preckwinkle for New Contract

Aug. 21: As the fight over the Cook County sweetened beverage tax enters yet another round, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is getting some praise from one of the county’s biggest unions.


How Cook County’s Soda Tax Could Swallow Food Stamp Funding

Aug. 10: The rollout of Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax has been anything but sweet and easy. Now there’s concern it could put food stamps at risk.


Cook County Drops Suit Seeking $17M in Damages Related to Soda Tax

Aug. 8: Cook County’s new tax on sweetened drinks is sticking around, but Board President Toni Preckwinkle is dropping the county’s counter-lawsuit against the retailers who tried to get it tossed.


Toni Preckwinkle Discusses Cook County Soda Tax Pushback

Toni Preckwinkle Discusses Cook County Soda Tax Pushback

http://ift.tt/2wDnfrs

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle has a powerful ally helping convince consumers and voters that the county’s new penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax is good public policy. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is personally funding a $2 million commercial campaign against soda.

VIDEO

However, the tax has faced enormous backlash, beginning with retailers. Implementation was scheduled to start July 1, but the Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit to stop it. The judge on the case ultimately ruled that the tax could start being collected about a month later.

The delay in collecting the tax revenue forced Preckwinkle to announce layoffs of 300 county employees to help balance the Cook County budget. The soda tax was expected to bring in about $67 million in 2017 and another $200 million in 2018.

But the tax is remarkably unpopular with shoppers. Even though it has only been collected for a few weeks, a whopping 87 percent of county residents polled by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association do not approve of it.

Preckwinkle has steadfastly stood by the levy as it works its way through the legal system. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has appealed the decision and asked for a speedy legal resolution to which the county has agreed.

“We’re glad they agreed to an expedited appeal so we can get resolution to this issue in a timely manner,” said Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president and general counsel of IRMA. Dawood anticipates the appeals court decision sometime this fall.

Even with a quick appellate court decision, Preckwinkle is prepared for a long court battle. “Three or four years ago we initiated a tax on ammunition and that’s still being adjudicated,” said Preckwinkle. “So, I anticipate that this will be a long, slow progress through the courts.”

Opposition to the tax is also mounting in the Illinois House of Representatives where a new bill, HB4083, was filed to prevent Illinois counties from taxing sweetened beverages based on weight or volume. It was introduced on Aug.15 and seven days later, it had bipartisan support and 29 co-sponsors.

The sweetened beverage tax faces a repeal vote at next month’s Cook County Board meeting, Sept. 12.

Preckwinkle joins Eddie Arruza to discuss the sweetened beverage tax, Cook County finances and more.


Related stories:

Crain’s: Cook County Union Lauds Preckwinkle for New Contract

Aug. 21: As the fight over the Cook County sweetened beverage tax enters yet another round, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is getting some praise from one of the county’s biggest unions.


How Cook County’s Soda Tax Could Swallow Food Stamp Funding

Aug. 10: The rollout of Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax has been anything but sweet and easy. Now there’s concern it could put food stamps at risk.


Cook County Drops Suit Seeking $17M in Damages Related to Soda Tax

Aug. 8: Cook County’s new tax on sweetened drinks is sticking around, but Board President Toni Preckwinkle is dropping the county’s counter-lawsuit against the retailers who tried to get it tossed.


Toni Preckwinkle Discusses Cook County Soda Tax Pushback

Toni Preckwinkle Discusses Cook County Soda Tax Pushback

http://ift.tt/2wDnfrs

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle has a powerful ally helping convince consumers and voters that the county’s new penny-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax is good public policy. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is personally funding a $2 million commercial campaign against soda.

VIDEO

However, the tax has faced enormous backlash, beginning with retailers. Implementation was scheduled to start July 1, but the Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit to stop it. The judge on the case ultimately ruled that the tax could start being collected about a month later.

The delay in collecting the tax revenue forced Preckwinkle to announce layoffs of 300 county employees to help balance the Cook County budget. The soda tax was expected to bring in about $67 million in 2017 and another $200 million in 2018.

But the tax is remarkably unpopular with shoppers. Even though it has only been collected for a few weeks, a whopping 87 percent of county residents polled by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association do not approve of it.

Preckwinkle has steadfastly stood by the levy as it works its way through the legal system. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has appealed the decision and asked for a speedy legal resolution to which the county has agreed.

“We’re glad they agreed to an expedited appeal so we can get resolution to this issue in a timely manner,” said Tanya Triche Dawood, vice president and general counsel of IRMA. Dawood anticipates the appeals court decision sometime this fall.

Even with a quick appellate court decision, Preckwinkle is prepared for a long court battle. “Three or four years ago we initiated a tax on ammunition and that’s still being adjudicated,” said Preckwinkle. “So, I anticipate that this will be a long, slow progress through the courts.”

Opposition to the tax is also mounting in the Illinois House of Representatives where a new bill, HB4083, was filed to prevent Illinois counties from taxing sweetened beverages based on weight or volume. It was introduced on Aug.15 and seven days later, it had bipartisan support and 29 co-sponsors.

The sweetened beverage tax faces a repeal vote at next month’s Cook County Board meeting, Sept. 12.

Preckwinkle joins Eddie Arruza to discuss the sweetened beverage tax, Cook County finances and more.


Related stories:

Crain’s: Cook County Union Lauds Preckwinkle for New Contract

Aug. 21: As the fight over the Cook County sweetened beverage tax enters yet another round, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is getting some praise from one of the county’s biggest unions.


How Cook County’s Soda Tax Could Swallow Food Stamp Funding

Aug. 10: The rollout of Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax has been anything but sweet and easy. Now there’s concern it could put food stamps at risk.


Cook County Drops Suit Seeking $17M in Damages Related to Soda Tax

Aug. 8: Cook County’s new tax on sweetened drinks is sticking around, but Board President Toni Preckwinkle is dropping the county’s counter-lawsuit against the retailers who tried to get it tossed.


Toni Preckwinkle Discusses Cook County Soda Tax Pushback