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Legislative update: Illinois veto session begins Oct. 25 in Springfield, Obama jobs plan stalls

October 24, 2011
Lori Clark

Lori Clark

In Springfield …

The first week of the Illinois General Assembly’s fall veto session begins Tuesday, Oct. 25, and will run through Thursday, Oct. 27. It promises to be an interesting week, with many issues on the table.

The House of Representatives Personnel and Pensions Committee has posted five pension reform bills for hearing – HB 3813, HB 3815, HB 3827, HB 3832 and SB 1673.

These bills do not deal with the larger issue of pension reform, but, rather, with closing “loopholes” in the pension systems largely in response to recent media coverage of individuals taking leaves of absence to work for a labor organization and then coming back into a pension system and claiming benefits based on their much higher salary when employed by the labor organization.

On Wednesday, the unions have scheduled a State Capitol Rotunda Rally from noon to 1 p.m. regarding the pension reform issue and protecting the benefits of current employees.

On Thursday, all of the pension reform working groups appointed by the House are scheduled to meet.

At this time, no one can say with any certainty if SB 512, sponsored during the spring session by House Minority Leader Tom Cross and House Speaker Michael Madigan, will be brought up for a vote. This is the bill that creates the three options for existing employees under the five state pension systems, including SURS. Keep checking the NIU State Pension & Budget Update website for updates as they might occur during the week.

Other matters that will be addressed include considering Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto of legislation that would abolish the General Assembly Scholarship program, his veto of the ComEd/Ameren Smart Grid bill and looking for possible compromise on the gambling expansion bill.

In addition, there will be supplemental appropriations bills considered in light of the governor’s action to layoff a large number of state employees and close mental health and correctional facilities.

There might be a supplemental appropriation to the MAP grant program to make up for the $17.2 million shortfall in FY2012, resulting from the decision to allow students attending for-profit education companies who had been notified that they would receive MAP grants for the 2011-2012 academic year, as well as trying to address the potential $42 million shortfall for the spring 2012 semester. Again, keep checking the NIU budget website for updates as they occur.

In other news, the IBHE Performance Funding Steering Committee meets today in Carbondale. This is the penultimate scheduled meeting. Among today’s topics is proposed preliminary performance funding models. Check the NIU Performance Based Budgeting website for updates on the meeting.

In Washington, D.C. …

Little progress is being made on the budget or the proposed Obama Jobs Package as the parties in both chambers remain separated by vast political differences.

The president’s total job package was rejected in the House, and the Senate tried to pick up a portion of the package that would include funding to rehire teachers and police. The Senate rejected this component as well.

The Senate is beginning a week-long recess. According to CQ Roll Call Daily, senators took a series of late-night votes before adjourning on amendments to the $128 billion “minibus” appropriations package. A final passage vote on that legislation, which includes FY2012 funding for the Agriculture, Judiciary and Transportation departments as well as other federal accounts, is now planned for the week Oct. 31.

It is possible that a stopgap spending measure to keep the government running briefly after Friday, Nov. 18 – the date the current Continuing Resolution expires – might be added to the bill.

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