This feature is a roundup of activity by area politicians. The information is compiled by BDR reporter Bob Balgemann.
The 2012 state legislative session ended May 31 without coming to terms with pension reform. And that was a major disappointment for state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford.
“It is truly disappointing that we could not come to a middle ground on finding a solution to the state’s pension crisis,” he said in a statement. “We failed to address the biggest problem this state is facing and are walking down a path where pensions will soon be eating up all the natural revenue growth for the foreseeable future.”
With more than $85 billion in growing pension debt, he said, “
We cannot continue to ignore the problem. We need to act in order to avoid fiscal disaster.”
But state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Sycamore, said it was “a good thing” that the legislation introduced by Speaker Michael Madigan late in the session didn’t pass. He said that proposal “was unfair to retirees and shifted billions on dollars in state pension costs to local schools, colleges and universities.”
Hopefully, he said, tempers will cool “and all parties will come to the negotiating table to discuss a solution over the summer. Pension costs are expected to increase $800 million next year (to $5.9 billion) and annual payments will soon become too large a part of the budget to fund other essential state services.”
Pritchard said Gov. Pat Quinn plans to meet with the four legislative leaders in the coming week to continue work on a pension plan.
Caylee’s Law Passes
The state Legislature has passed a bill that makes it a felony to neglect to report a child is missing.
Specifically, the measure, sponsored by state Rep. Jack Franks, D-Marengo, makes it a felony for a parent, guardian or caretaker of a child under 13 years of age to notify law enforcement within 24 hours of that child’s disappearance, if the individual reasonably should know the child was in danger.
In the case of a child less than 2 years of age the reporting time is reduced to one hour.
“The tragic events surrounding 2-year-old Caylee Anthony’s death (in Orlando, Fla.) captivated the nation and pointed out a gaping hole in our child negligence statutes,” Franks said in a statement. “This legislation will bring justice to those most vulnerable and accountability to parents and guardians that neglect to report their children missing.”
The bill is on its way to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature. .
Cuts in education funding
As the annual state legislative session drew to a close it took two votes and the promise of a supplemental appropriation for the Senate to approve the House education budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
“Many legislators were angered that funding next year will be cut $259 million for K-12 education and $129 million for higher education,” said state Rep. Bob Pritchard, R-Sycamore. “All sailed through both chambers despite reluctant votes for reduced spending until it came to education.”
To get the votes for the education bills in the Senate, he said legislation was quickly written and approved to raise $175 million through a tax on satellite television service and a tax on offshore oil rigs, operated by Illinois companies.
Those new taxes were sent to the House for approval, but no action was taken before the Legislature adjourned. “Action may never be considered by the House,” Pritchard said.
Of the budget, he said revenue for 2012-13 is estimated at $33.7 billion with expenses slightly under that amount. The spending plan allocates about $1.3 billion for unpaid bills and $17.3 billion for all non-discretionary items. That leaves $16.4 billion for state programs, which is about $854 million less than last year.
Trade promotion efforts
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation designed to strengthen U.S. trade promotion efforts, to help American companies sell more of their goods overseas and create more
The Export Promotion Reform Act would integrate the Administration’s export promotion agenda by giving the
Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee budget review authority over the numerous export promotion programs managed by the
“Currently, each trade promotion agency submits its budget to the President and it judged on its own,” U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Ill., explained. “The Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee should be able to review each agency budget first and determine how it fits in with other export promotion programs to implement the trade promotion agenda of the Administration.”