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Fresh thinking will fix Illinois
A column by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno

For too long, Springfield politicians have been stuck in the past. They think the pressing issues of our day — large budget deficits, unfunded public pensions, and dangerously high out-migration — are similar to the ones Illinois has faced in eras past.

State Representative Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) spoke Wednesday before the House Higher Education committee on Senate Bill 930, which extends until 2026 a tuition discount program at Eastern Illinois University. The bill passed committee and now goes to the House floor for consideration.

State Representative Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) spoke during the debate on House Bill 2622 in the Illinois House on April 27.
Private foundation drive set to begin
The multiyear State Fair fundraising project will push to renew Illinois’ fairgrounds while minimizing taxpayer commitments.  The State owns fairgrounds in Springfield and in DuQuoin, in southern Illinois.  Taken together, both fairgrounds have compiled $185 million in unmet infrastructure needs at the two festival centers, including public safety, rebuilding, and building maintenance.  The main fairgrounds’ historic Coliseum, a 115-year-old structure used for arena events including horse shows, is no longer safe for public access and requires $3.7 million in urgent ceiling-beam and roof repairs.

Legislature reconvenes for final five weeks of scheduled session
The General Assembly reconvened last week for what will be a series of session days concluding at the end of May.  May 31 is the adjournment date mandated by the Constitution.  The Illinois House and Senate have not yet enacted a state budget for FY17, which ends June 30.  Also, no budget has been adopted for FY18, which begins July 1.  Discussions of the state’s revenue picture, spending needs, and budget responsibilities are expected to make up much of the remainder of the spring session.  The General Assembly website continues to provide real-time updates on schedules of the Illinois House and Senate, and the progress of bills and other actions being considered by the Illinois House and its committees.
House and Senate back in session
The General Assembly returned to Springfield April 24 to begin the hectic final weeks of the legislative session before the scheduled May 31 adjournment date. House members have until the end of this week to get bills passed out of the House. After that, the House will begin consideration of legislation coming over from the Senate.

Moody’s Investors Service labels current Illinois budget situation “unsustainable”
The globally-followed credit-rating firm Moody’s, which has downgraded debt securities issued by the state and its affiliates in the recent past, has issued another warning. In the most recent caution issued to Springfield, Moody’s indicated that if the state does not enact a budget by May 31, Illinois will be on a pathway to “unsustainable fiscal challenges.”