Delivered via email: May 24, 2020
LEGISLATURE WRAPS UP BUSINESSThe Illinois General Assembly went into the early morning Sunday before finishing the Special Session. Lawmakers finally approved a Fiscal Year 2021 state budget and a Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP). The flat funding provisions for K-12 education remained in the bill even after a late re-write of the bill.
The BIMP bill, HB 357 (Harris, D-Chicago), retained the governor's authority to give him a larger say in expenditures. The provision for a potential sweep of $20 million from the School Infrastructure Fund to the General Revenue Fund also remained in the bill that ultimately passed.
While the legislature may be giving the executive branch more spending flexibility, it is not going to be totally hands off. In the BIMP, the General Assembly creates a Legislative Oversight Committee to monitor how the governor is using this new flexibility in Fiscal Year 2021.
APPROVED BILLS TO BE SENT TO THE GOVERNOR
SB 264 (Harmon, D-Oak Park) contains the FY '21 state budget. For elementary and secondary education, it holds all school districts harmless to FY '20 distribution levels and adds no new tier money. New funding will be distributed in a manner that even further prioritizes low-wealth school districts. Budget line items are also held flat for Early Childhood Education Grants, Career and Technical Education Grants, and Mandated Categorical Grants.
SB 685 (Harmon) allows the chief county assessment officer to approve certain homestead exemptions without application for the 2020 tax year with certain criteria. It also allows county boards, except Cook, to waive penalties and interest on delinquent property tax payments and extends deadlines for scavenger sales and tax sales during 2020.
SB 2099 (Harmon) creates the CURE (Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency) Borrowing Act and Fund to provide the state with needed flexibility to borrow with enhanced efficiency in urgent circumstances. It authorizes the governor with approval of the Comptroller and Treasurer to borrow up to $5 billion in funds from certain sources and limits the borrowing to five areas including providing funds for increased costs of state government resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill sets aside the Procurement Code requirements for selection of purchaser of bond certificates sold under this authority and allows certificates to be sold on a negotiated basis directed by the governor.
SB 2135 (Link, D-Gurnee) codifies the governor's Executive Order regarding holding meetings of public bodies remotely. In times of emergency declared by the governor, school boards may conduct meetings without having school board members physically present at the meeting sight. Members of the public who are present at the meeting sight must be able to hear all discussion, testimony, and votes. The bill also directs the Broadband Advisory Council to study the provision of free access to broadband service by all residents of the state. Finally, the bill suspends the deadline for filing statements of economic interest until August 1, 2020.
HB 2096 (Willis, D-Northlake) is the local government omnibus bill. The legislation contains numerous provisions addressing issues local governments at all levels have faced due to the pandemic. For school districts, the legislation contains a provision that allows bids for contracts over $25,000 for construction purposes to be "communicated, accepted, or opened electronically."