Legislative Update -- July 2, 2020July 2, 2020
Illinois State Budget
On June 16 we reported the good news that the 2021 Illinois state budget includes increases for the Per Capita Grants for public libraries and the School District Library Grant Program. Here, we are pleased to provide some further context and some detail for the state budget as it pertains to libraries.
The chief issue Illinois lawmakers faced when considering the FY2021 budget package was the revenue shortfall caused by COVID-19. Plunging revenues from income and sales taxes forced difficult decisions on which next year’s state budget was crafted. For the first time in four fiscal years, the legislature did not reduce the state income tax percentage distributed to cities based on its population, allowing municipal libraries to potentially gain relief if projected revenues rebound over the next 12 months. The budget also fully funds pension obligations in FY2021. The FY2021 budget package authorizes borrowing of up to $5 billion from the federal government through a program designed to assist states with temporary revenue issues resulting from the pandemic. The budget also permits approximately $1.2 billion in additional bond sales. The Illinois General Assembly did not assume passage of the Governor’s graduated income tax proposal when balancing next year’s budget. If adopted by voters in November, the graduated income tax rate change is projected to generate approximately $1.3 billion in FY2021, and ultimately over $3 billion in a full fiscal year. Overall, the FY2021 budget can be characterized as a maintenance budget that is reliant upon future federal assistance to relieve revenue losses from COVID-19. The FY2021 budget holds most line items to 2020 spending levels.
Libraries do not exist in a vacuum: school libraries operate in their buildings and school districts, academic libraries in their institutions of higher education, and public libraries in their communities or municipalities. The fiscal year 2021 Illinois state budget includes a $10.5 million increase in spending over 2020 levels from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) for elementary and secondary education; the total budgeted spend is $13,247,027 with $8,896,047,027 from the GRF. For higher education, the total spend is $2,454,626,300 including GRF spending of $1,942,906,700. The MAP grant program is funded at $451,341,900, the same amount that was in the 2020 budget. Keep in mind decisions about how these budgets impact particular school districts or buildings, campuses, or university systems are made at a more localized level, but the state budget gives us an environmental picture.
General Services contains the Secretary of State's budget, which is the primary source of direct funding for libraries from the state, and also funnels federal IMLS/LSTA funding to libraries. It also contains the DCEO budget, which includes $1 million for Broadband Deployment Office administration expenses. This office was responsible for over $50 million in grants to broadband service providers and counties in fiscal year 2020. The Secretary of State’s budget is fully funded at Governor Pritzker’s FY2021 recommendation levels at just over $50 million; library and literacy grants are fully funded with additional grant dollars for the upcoming fiscal year. This funding includes $7.1 million from IMLS via LSTA, compared to $6 million in 2020. The increases from $1.25 to $1.475 per resident for the Per Capita grants for public libraries and from $.75 to $.885 per student for the School District Library Grant Program are represented in $31,132,300 for library systems and Per Capita; and $1,609,500 for the SDLGP.
A number of capital appropriations specific to individual libraries have recently been signed into law. All new appropriations within the FY 2021 capital package are pay-as-you-go funded—no bond proceeds will be used to fund these projects. These projects are a portion of the six-year capital plan passed last year; the state’s financial situation makes it unlikely these projects will receive funding in FY2021. Per state law, capital project funding will not be released until “approved in writing by the Governor.”
Open Meetings Act
Also passed within the legislature’s special session, and previously announced here, was Senate Bill 2135 (Public Act 101-0640), an omnibus amendment which, in part, amends the Open Meetings Act to allow public bodies to conduct remote meetings under certain conditions.
Under the law, public bodies are able to hold public meetings and conduct public business remotely when either the Governor or the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health have issued a disaster declaration. The head of the public body must determine that meeting in-person is not practical or prudent and follow procedural requirements detailed within this new act. On Friday, June 26, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued the most recent disaster proclamation and Executive Order 2020-44, which encourages public bodies to ensure that at least one member is physically present at the meeting location if other members are attending by telephone or video. Public bodies must take steps to provide meeting access so the public may monitor it, and update their website and social media so the public can follow their activities.
ILA Public Policy Committee
ILA's new governance year begins July 1, and that includes the Public Policy Committee (PPC). Please use the "Contact Us" button on PPC's web page to share with ILA Executive Director Diane Foote and incoming PPC Chair Daniel Matthews, Moraine Valley Community College, your ideas for areas of focus.