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Legislative update: Illinois lawmakers approve capital bill, Quinn signs Congressional remap

June 29, 2011
Lori Clark

Lori Clark

In Springfield …

The Illinois General Assembly convened for one day Wednesday, June 22, to handle some matters left over from the spring session, most notably the passage of the FY2012 capital bill (SB 2414).

The Senate amendment added in the last days of session was removed, and the bill was sent Thursday, June 23, to Gov. Quinn.

This bill includes more than $31.7 million in funding for NIU for the Cole Hall renovations, the Stevens renovation and expansion, and planning funds for the Computer Sciences Technology building. In addition, SB 266, which would require members of the General Assembly to take 12 furlough days and freezing cost of living allowances during FY 2012, was passed and sent to the governor.

An election reform bill, SB 1586, also was passed by both chambers and sent to the governor.

Finally, Quinn, who previously had signed the Illinois House and Senate remaps, has signed the Congressional remap; the Republican members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation have pledged to file a lawsuit contesting this map.

In Washington, D.C. …

As we are rapidly approaching the Aug. 2 deadline of when the United States could begin to default on its borrowing, the bi-partisan, bi-cameral budget negotiations being led by Vice President Joseph Biden fell apart when the Republicans walked out of the talks last week.

The Republicans indicated that the Democrats were insisting on tax increases (the Democrats want to repeal oil and gas industry tax breaks and close tax loopholes for the wealthy), and House Speaker John Boehner has stated that any deal must include spending cuts that exceed the amount of the debt-limit hike and budget reforms that will restrict Washington’s ability to spend in the future — not tax increases.

Biden’s group had spent seven weeks in budget negotiations, and they had begun to identify $1 trillion in deficit savings over the next 10 years. With last week’s exit of the Republicans from these negotiations, it is clear that the two sides remain far apart on key issues such as taxes, entitlement reform and health care spending.

President Obama is now personally involved in discussions, meeting with Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate President Harry Reid yesterday.

The House is in recess this week, and it is difficult to see how a compromise can be reached by the July 4 recess. It continues to be an interesting summer in D.C.

The Voices section of NIU Today features opinions and perspectives from across campus. Lori Clark is director of federal relations for NIU.