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Despite announcing an agreement and filing bill, Senate fails to move budget by end of Wednesday


Thursday, May 25, 2023  |  Article  |  Ben Szalinski

The Senate failed to advance the state budget bill Wednesday night throwing lawmakers off track for a Friday adjournment even after the two Democratic caucuses and Gov. JB Pritzker announced a deal on Fiscal Year 2024 spending Wednesday afternoon and the Senate filed a budget bill. 


Pritzker and Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) along with House Speaker Chris Welch (D-Hillside) announced an agreement following an extra five days of negotiations on a budget Pritzker pegged at about $50 billion for Fiscal Year 2024. The announced agreement largely preserves the budget Pritzker proposed in February despite recent struggles to hammer out exact spending and revenue figures but the budget filed in SB250 didn’t make it out of the Senate before the end of the night.


The schedule set by lawmakers for the week required the Senate to pass an appropriations bill amended to include the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The bill would have then needed to be introduced in the House before midnight to allow the bill to reach its required third day of review by the chamber on Friday, the last scheduled day of session. With the budget failing to move by the end of the night, lawmakers cannot adjourn any earlier than Saturday. 


The Senate filed a budget on SB250 around 9 p.m. Wednesday night, but it was not called for a vote before midnight. Harmon told senators around 10:45 p.m. they were waiting for feedback on the bill from House Democrats who were caucusing to discuss the budget, and it would not be possible for the Senate to advance the bill before midnight. 


If the Senate passes the budget Thursday, the House would be able to run session on that starts Friday and another session after midnight on Saturday morning that includes a budget vote to meet the required three days of review for the bill. 


During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Harmon brought up the need for trust between the Senate and House to pass the budget without changes forcing it to be sent back to the other chamber for a second vote to stick to the Friday adjournment schedule. 


“I'm not sure either chamber in the past would have trusted the other chamber to adopt the budget without an amendment,” Harmon said at the news conference. “I appreciate Speaker Welch's commitment.”


Harmon added at the news conference he had “hope” the spending plan would pass his chamber Wednesday night. When pressed why he wasn’t more definitive about passing the bill Wednesday night, Harmon attributed it to the sometimes-difficult process of getting the budget physically filed into a bill. 


Exact spending and revenue figures were not made available by Pritzker at Wednesday’s news conference. 


As lawmakers came up on their self-imposed May 19 deadline last week, they appeared to be having a hard time agreeing on what to do with a program that provides health care to undocumented residents aged 42 and up. The program started in 2020 just for seniors and lead sponsor then-state Rep. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) said the program would cost $2 million.  The department now estimates the program will cost $1.1 billion to implement in Fiscal Year 2024. The department also expects over 120,000 residents will be enrolled next year—a significant increase from the roughly 56,000 it covers now, Capitol News Illinois reported.  


Those estimates are also only if the program does not change. Some lawmakers had proposed expanding the program to cover all undocumented adults above age 18, which the department believes would cost an additional $380 million. Lawmakers also have other priorities they want to fund this year, especially on education, and increasing costs for the program could crowd out other priorities.


To fix the problem, Pritzker said his administration will get “tools” from lawmakers to manage the program’s costs “in a budget friendly way.” A spokesperson for Pritzker said the estimate in the budget for  the program is a cost of $550 million in Fiscal Year 2024, shy of the department’s $1.1 billion estimate without any changes to the program’s management. The budget does not appear to expand the program’s scope.


“The possible management options include limiting future enrollment, copays, ensuring we get every federal dollar available, a possible move to managed care,” Pritzker spokesperson Alex Gough said in a statement. “By using these tools, Governor Pritzker is confident we’ll be able to responsibly manage this program and preserve healthcare for more than 50,000 people who are already a part of the program.”


The budgeting challenges around the program come after the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) released their April report at the beginning of May showing a major decline in personal income tax receipts for the month that will erase a previously projected multi-billion-dollar surplus. The report revised the Fiscal Year 2023 projected surplus down $728 million and the year is now running $132 million higher than this time last year. When discounting one-time federal dollars, Fiscal Year 2023 revenue is actually $193 million lower than last year.  


The report did not make any significant changes to the projected revenue for Fiscal Year 2024 as lawmakers work to craft the budget. CGFA projects FY24 revenue will come in around $50.4 billion, which is still above Gov. JB Pritzker’s initial projection of $49.9 billion of revenue. Pritzker’s own Governor’s Office of Management and Budget revised their projection earlier this month up to $50.5 billion citing an expected “reallocation” of funds in Fiscal Year 2024.  


One program the budget does not save is the Invest in Kids Scholarship program. The program established in 2017 gave a tax credit to donors who contributed to the program to help low-income students attend private schools. The program could cost up the state up to $75 million annually, but the tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2023. Pritzker said that doesn’t mean the program won’t continue, but the budget will not be used to extend it this year.