This is my fifteenth update to the citizens of the 111th district, as your State Representative. The state’s fiscal year 2024 budget took effect on July 1st. The budget appropriates approximately $50.4 billion, including $9.8 billion (19.5%) towards pensions, $12.9 billion (25.6%) towards K-12 and higher education, and $10.3 billion (20.4%) towards human services. Fiscal year 2024 revenues are estimated to be approximately $50.6 billion, per the Governor’s office figures.
As the House Republican Deputy Budgeteer, I had a very busy spring session, as we analyzed the Governor’s proposed budget, attended budget working group meetings, and advocated for our priorities to be included in the budget. While no Republicans voted for the budget, and three Senate Democrats also voted no, there are many worthy programs funded, such as investments in early childhood programs under the Governor’s Smart Start initiative, a new teacher retention program for districts with the most teacher shortages, and increased funding for homeless prevention and housing.
However, the budget shortchanges the providers caring for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. A small increase in funding was included to increase pay rates to those who care for developmentally disabled citizens, but the increase is far below what is needed to maintain a stable workforce. Hospitals received some Medicaid rate increases, but the rates are not effective until January 1, 2024 and are lower than what hospitals were requesting in order to invest in staff and facilities.
The budget includes $550 million to pay for Medicaid healthcare for undocumented immigrants. This program was originally estimated to cost $220 million when Democrats previously pushed through the expansion of Medicaid benefits to undocumented adults and seniors ages 42 and up. In early May the General Assembly learned that the previous cost estimates were much too low and that the new estimate was around $1.1 billion. This large expense had not been included in the Governor’s proposed budget and decisions had to be made to handle the cost in the budget, even as many Democrats wanted the program expanded even further.
Ultimately, the Governor was given the tools necessary to limit enrollment to the program, and to institute cost-savings measures, which will hopefully limit the program’s costs to the $550 million appropriated and will stop the rapid increase in costs going forward. The drama over this program has caused the progressives in the Governor’s own party to publicly turn on him, even though they all voted for the budget knowing the limits would be put in place.
Once a bill passes both chambers of the General Assembly, it is sent to the Governor within 30 days, and then the Governor has 60 days to sign the bill or veto the bill. If he doesn’t sign the bill, it goes into effect after 60 days without his signature. Therefore, the summer months see hundreds of bills becoming law, also known as Public Acts.
I am the Chief Sponsor of four bills that passed through the General Assembly this spring. House Bill 1273 establishes Constitution Day as a commemorative holiday in the school code. House Bill 1297 extends a teachers pension service credit purchase program for those who have worked at a non-public school and meet other requirements, including paying the required contributions. House Bill 2618 improves the language for FBI background checks required of people who transport foster children for DCFS. These three bills have been signed by the Governor and are now in effect.
Senate Bill 1787 establishes the rural education advisory council to give rural and small schools better representation in policy decisions. I expect this bill to be signed by the Governor in the next few days.
Another bill I filed (House Bill 4064) was included in a revenue omnibus bill (Senate Bill 1963) which passed and was signed into law. This bill allows Illinois employers who produce electric vehicle components to take part in the tax incentives that new large employers are allowed, if they retain 800 jobs in Illinois and invest at least $500 million in their Illinois facilities. This will be beneficial here in the region and throughout Illinois as we compete with other states to retain Illinois jobs at large manufacturers related to electric vehicle production.
While this was a robust spring session, there were many priorities unaddressed and I will continue to work on these throughout the summer and fall. No ethics reforms were enacted that would answer the numerous indictments of lobbyists and lawmakers. No tax relief was provided for families, and in fact, the tax rate on food was reinstated and the gas tax increased again on July 1st. The issues with the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which is causing large judgments against employers, has not been addressed. No property tax relief was passed, and the high cost of living in Illinois was not tackled.
Veto session is scheduled for two weeks in late October and early November. Any bills not passed in the spring can be passed during veto session, and I am hopeful that we can still have solutions to these unaddressed topics at that time.
My office will be doing constituent service office hours later this summer throughout the 111th district. Please watch for news releases for dates, time, and locations. Anytime we can help you navigate state government agencies or issues, please contact my state office at 618-433-8046 or visit my website at RepElik.com.
State Representative Amy Elik, 111th District