Legislative update: Gov. Quinn to talk budget during noon Wednesday speech in Springfield

Lori Clark

Lori Clark

In Springfield …

This will be a very busy week in Springfield.

Gov. Pat Quinn will give his Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Message at noon Wednesday, Feb. 22.

You will recall that in his Feb. 1 State of the State message, he talked about his desire to eliminate a tax on natural cost (at an estimated cost of $160 million), providing tax breaks to families with children and to businesses hiring unemployed veterans (estimated cost $140 million), and to increasing funding for early childhood education and the Monetary Award Program (estimated cost of $500 million).

He also talked about the need for public pension and Medicaid reform.

The details of how to pay for these programs and what reforms he is proposing for pensions and Medicaid should be addressed in this budget message.

Quinn also needs to address the issue of the massive backlog of the state’s unpaid bills. Please check the NIU State Pension and Budget website regularly for updates.

On Tuesday, there will be a joint hearing of the House and Senate Revenue & Finance committees to discuss House Resolutions 706 and 707, introduced by House Speaker Michael Madigan, dealing with establishing FY2013 revenue projections and establishing appropriations committee allocations.

We anticipate that the General Assembly will use the same process for appropriations as last year – they will establish a number for the expected state revenue for FY 2013, and then each appropriations committee will be given a percentage allocation.

It remains to be seen whether the state pension contributions and any federal contribution to programs such as Medicaid will be taken off the top before the committee allocations are established. It is estimated that the state’s contribution to the public pension systems for FY2013 will be $5.3 billion – or approximately $1 for every $6 in revenue the state takes in. Again, check the NIU State Pension and Budget website for updates.

On Wednesday, the House Higher Education Committee is scheduled to hear two bills that seek to repeal the ability of Illinois public universities to grant 50 percent tuition waivers to the children of qualified faculty and staff. HB 2959 (Mulligan) and HB 3873 (Arroyo) both seek to repeal this ability. NIU has opposed these efforts in the past, and I will be attending this hearing to register our continued opposition to these bills.

The House Personnel & Pensions Committee and the Senate Pensions and Investments committees are both scheduled to meet as well. As currently written, most of the bills that are posted this week will not directly impact NIU employees. We will post updates on the bills that are relevant to NIU faculty and staff on the NIU State Pension and Budget website.

The House Higher Education Appropriations Committee is scheduled to begin Subject Matter Only hearings, beginning with Northeastern Illinois University and the State University Civil Service System. NIU is not scheduled to appear before this committee until late March.

The deadline for the introduction of new substantive bills in the Senate was Friday, Feb. 10, and Thursday, Feb. 16, in the House. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 1,345 new bills filed in the Senate and 2,141 in the House.

In Washington, D.C. …

President Obama released his FY2013 budget request Monday, Feb. 13. It contained few major changes from his FY 2012 request because of the spending cap agreed upon in the Budget Control Act.

The White HouseAccording to the State Science & Technology Institute, the White House is accentuating the budget’s generous support for advanced manufacturing, clean energy and STEM education, and it is again asking that the Research & Development tax credit be made permanent.

The budget would provide only minimal increases for the federal government’s key science agencies.

A release from the Office of Science and Technology Policy notes that the budget includes $140.8 billion for research and development across all agencies, almost identical to the level requested in FY2012.

While the White House is still committed to the goal of doubling the budgets of the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science and National Institutes of Standards and Technology laboratories over the next decade, the budget increases requested for those agencies in FY2013 fall short of the 7 percent needed to achieve that goal.

With respect to the STEM Education, the new Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM program would replace the Department of Education’s current Mathematics and Science Partnerships program. Within the program’s $149.7 million allocation, $80 million would be used for STEM teacher and leader training and professional development in support of the President’s goal of preparing 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade.

Another $30 million in Education funding, together with $30 million from the National Science Foundation, boosts government efforts to support STEM Education. In addition, the budget includes funding for the Community College to Career Fund, a three-year, $8 billion collaboration between the departments of Labor and Education. The initiative would support state and community college partnerships with businesses that deliver training in emerging fields such as healthcare, clean energy and advanced manufacturing.

Grants from this fund would help expand training and internships in local, high-need areas and launch a nationwide, online entrepreneurship course. In FY2013, both Labor and Education would contribute $1.3 billion to the effort.

The president has emphasized the importance of advanced manufacturing in his budget request, claiming $2.2 billion in support for manufacturing research and development.

This figure includes:

The budget also provides $1 billion for a new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, administered as a collaboration among the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense. This effort would support manufacturing technology commercialization and support local manufacturing ecosystems.

The budget request includes $69.8 billion, a 2.5 percent increase from the estimated FY2012 level, for the Department of Education, including $47 billion (a 3.8 percent increase) for discretionary programs and another $22.8 billion (no change) in discretionary funds for Pell grants.

The FY2013 request of $36.1 billion (including discretionary and mandatory funds, a 13.1 percent decrease) for Pell grants would make funding available to more than 9.7 million students (1.5 percent increase). The maximum Pell award would increase to $5,635, an $85 increase with $4,860 from discretionary funding and $775 from mandatory funds.

The Education Department has proposed measures to ensure full program funding through the 2014-2015 academic year. The Education Department also is proposing $70 million to the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, including $55.5 million to support a new First in the World initiative, modeled on the Investing in Innovation (i3) program, which would provide “venture capital” to colleges and universities to develop strategies to promote college completion.

Finally, in a rare display of bipartisanship in Congress, both the House and Senate recently passed a $143 billion economic package extending a payroll tax holiday for approximately 160 million workers and extending unemployment benefits for the rest of the year.

The bill also reduces the amount of time unemployed workers can receive benefits and assures that doctors do not see a scheduled 27 percent drop in payments from Medicare. The bill goes to the president.

The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Lori Clark is director of State and Federal Relations for NIU.

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