Legislative Update -- February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

The most significant legislative news this week for libraries is all budget-related. On the federal level, ALA reports progress for libraries within the proposed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Reconciliation spending package: $200 million for LSTA including a $2 million per-state minimum to ensure states have adequate resources for COVID-19 response and recovery.

This is in addition to the $5 million increase for regular IMLS/LSTA funding in the Consolidated Appropriations Act that we've reported about previously; although both are for the fiscal year 2021. This is also separate from other efforts such as the Build America's Libraries Act and the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act, and it is great news. It’s not a done deal yet: It goes to the House Budget Committee, which will roll up all committees' portions of the package for the Rules Committee before it is considered on the House floor in late February. Following passage in the House, the process starts in the Senate, with the goal to finish by mid-March, tied to a deadline for unemployment supplemental funds expiration. The President has not yet released his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022.

In Illinois, as of January 31, and seven months into this fiscal year, the state has collected approximately $24.5 billion of its $43 billion in projected revenues, which represents 57% of the total revenue estimate upon which the current budget was built, ahead of historical levels of 55.5% by the end of January. The collected dollar amount includes delayed tax receipts from FY2020 from the July 15 tax filing date extension; also, sales tax collection is ahead of its historical rate by approximately 20%.

Revenue figures do not include the $2 billion in Federal Reserve Municipal Liquidity Facility borrowing the state accessed earlier this year. When these dollars are factored into revenue numbers, further FY2021 spending reductions will likely not be necessary to reconcile spending with revenue estimates, good news for libraries. However, the FY2022 budget will be under severe stress, because of the one-time nature of 2021 revenue collections. Governor Pritzker’s FY2022 Budget Address is scheduled for February 17.

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