A busy day in the Illinois Senate included disposing of the Turnaround Agenda and sending budget bills to the governor. Members of the governor's team ran into hostile questioners among Senate Democrats when they tried to run a property tax freeze bill through a committee. Not only does the bill carry no corresponding school funding, but it also allows local government to waive prevailing wage and take back some elements of collective bargaining. It all sounded bad to State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood).
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In freezing property taxes, Lightford said, the effect on schools would be truly chilling: “You go right to the heart and cut that off because you want to tie it to collective bargaining. There is so much more to teaching our children than just that component, but you're messing with their funding stream.”
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity director Jim Schultz said site selection consultants give Illinois low marks. Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) wondered how that could be.
Cullerton: “For the second year in a row, Site Selection magazine named Chicago the top metro area for corporate relocations and expansions.”
Schultz:“I represent the full state of Illinois.”
Cullerton: “Is that because the taxes are lower in Chicago?”
Schultz: “I'm not an expert on that. I'd have to defer to someone else on that issue.”
The governor's deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs, Rich Goldberg, sarcastically assured senators of cities' and school board's freedom to be labor-friendly. “Nothing in this bill prohibits taxpayers from giving away the store to special interests.”
The Senate sent the governor nine bills which largely make up the budget. Notably absent, so far, would be a spending plan for K-12 education. The bills are part of Democrats' $36.3 billion budget, which is unbalanced by $3 billion.
SB 1046 (property tax freeze) failed to pass the Senate Executive Committee.
The budget bills are HB 4146, 4147, 4148, 4153, 4154, 4158, 4159, 4160, 4165.