(via the Illinois Federation of Teachers)
During a shortened four-day session that ended early Sunday morning, the Illinois House and Senate convened last week for the first time since early March to pass a state budget and address critical COVID-19 relief efforts. Read details of the action, including an overview of the FY 2021 budget, here. Beyond the public health impact, COVID-19 has been devastating for the state’s economy and working families. With most business and commerce shut down to prevent spread of the virus, the impact on the state’s finances has been severe and immediate. Last month, the governor announced a projected $2.7 billion deficit for the rest of Fiscal Year 2020 and a Fiscal Year 2021 deficit that could reach $7.2 billion. With the projected hit to state finances, the IFT organized and mobilized to advocate for public education (preK-12, colleges, and universities) funding, vital state services, and much-needed economic relief for Illinois residents. Before the pandemic, there was a possibility of continued increases to Evidence-Based Funding for K-12 education and a long-overdue funding increase for higher education. The economic picture has now changed dramatically. Because of uncertainty about whether federal dollars will replace lost state revenues, lawmakers approved a maintenance budget that includes relief for those most-impacted by the fiscal downturn. To maintain necessary spending, the state may borrow up to $5 billion from the Federal Reserve. The borrowing plan is far better than the alternative – a 35 percent across the board cut in state spending. Both chambers also passed legislation dealing with substantive issues related to COVID-19, including an expansion of the state’s vote by mail program for the 2020 election.