Heavy rains continue to drench fields and pastures across Illinois, putting farmers further behind as they attempt to harvest wheat and hay. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Illinois farmers only had an average of 1.1 days rated as suitable for field work last week, though many fields were still too wet for work during the limited sunshine.
A new fiscal year began on July 1 without a state budget in place, a situation Illinois has been in before. On July 1, 1991, the state faced a similar budget stalemate that came to an end only when legislative leaders and then-Governor Jim Edgar worked together to reach a compromise.
While the Governor and legislative Republicans have remained open and willing to work toward a permanent solution on the budget, this week Senate Democrats approved a temporary, one-month budget that the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget cautioned is out of balance.
Gov. Rauner said “no” to cost-of-living pay increases for legislators this week, issuing an amendatory veto on Senate Bill 1354.
The majority of a capital plan that will invest in Illinois’ public infrastructure was approved this week by Gov. Rauner; however, he also used his line-item veto authority to remove several projects contained in the proposal.
On June 25, Gov. Rauner vetoed 19 budget bills that combine to create a deficit of nearly $4 billion “… in order to protect Illinois taxpayers from an unbalanced and therefore unconstitutional budget.”
Democrat leaders finally began sending pieces of their unbalanced budget proposal to the Governor. While the entire Democrat budget represents a $3+ billion underfunded spending plan, the education portion actually appropriates less money for schools than the Governor’s proposal. Nonetheless, it represented a slight increase from FY2015 funding, and the Rauner said he signed the measure into law to, “ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded.”
On Tuesday, June 16, the Senate held another “Committee of the Whole” meeting to discuss mandatory sick time and increasing the state minimum wage. Both topics brought employees and members of the business community to talk about their views on the topics. No legislative action was expected or taken on either subject.
Lawmakers in the Illinois House failed to pass legislation to create a 40 day delay before the Chicago Public School District’s $634 million pension payment is due.
The Illinois House passed a measure to create a new, private Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The idea was initially proposed by Rauner, inspired by successful private programs in several other states.
Mother Nature ravaged Northern Illinois on Monday, with multiple tornadoes and severe thunderstorms damaging to homes, taking down trees and power lines, and destroying other property.
As heavy rains continue to fall throughout Illinois, many rivers continue to push higher into flood stage. In Morris, the Illinois River level reached more than 19 feet, with anything over 16 considered moderate flood. Further downstream at Peoria, flood forecasts estimated river levels would break 27 feet. In Meredosia, levels had already broken into the major flood category by Monday.
Statewide rainfall averaged 3.61 inches, 2.5 inches more than normal, leaving just 0.8 days rated as suitable for fieldwork according to United States Department of Agriculture. Continued precipitation has kept the fields wet as well, with topsoil moisture rated as 56% surplus and subsoil moisture as 43% surplus.
Governor Rauner today directed the deployment of Illinois Task Force 1, an 80-member search and rescue team, to assist local responders as they search for people who may have been trapped after a tornado tore through Woodhaven Lakes campground in Lee County last evening.
Several key pieces of legislation are heading to the Governor’s desk for his approval, as the unofficial bill signing season will be kicking off shortly.