Legislative Update -- May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

Springfield Update
The Illinois General Assembly has begun FY2022 budget discussions. Through April the state has collected approximately 84% of its annual $43.5 billion revenue estimate, ahead of its 82.2% historical percentage; excluding federal stimulus funds and proceeds from earlier federal borrowing. It is possible Illinois could end FY2021 with over $44 billion excluding the borrowing; counting those funds, the State is likely to collect about $46 billion. Of course, borrowed money needs to be paid back, with interest, and this week the U.S. Treasury Department ruled that ARPA (see below) stimulus funds cannot be used to pay debt or interest. The legislature will acknowledge the revenue increases as it completes its budget work by May 31. ILA continues to follow legislation through the session's end:    

  • HB 234 Media Literacy: Would require media literacy to be included in IL high school curricula. Passed the House 4/20/21; has been assigned to Senate Education Committee and is scheduled to be heard 5/18/2021.
  • SB 2232 Emergency Rules/Library Grants: Would codify the recent raises to per capita grants for school and public libraries in state law (raises are already included in the approved FY2021 and proposed FY2022 budgets). Passed the Senate 4/23/2021 and out of the House State Government Administration Committee on 5/12/2021; now headed for a full House vote.
  • SB 101 Bd Higher Ed/Course Materials: Would create the College Course Materials Affordability and Equitable Access Task Force and require public higher education institutions to study issues with textbook costs, including Open Educational Resources (OERs). ILA's Public Policy Committee has been considering academic librarians' role in OER development and use (read the March 2021 ILA Reporter article). Passed the Senate 4/21/2021 and has been assigned to the House Executive Committee.

American Rescue Plan Act: Follow-Up Resources
On May 10, the U.S. Treasury Department announced its guidelines and allocation amounts for ARPA's Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Per the Allocation for States table, Illinois will receive over $8 billion, higher than the original estimate of $7.5 billion we previously announced. Of this:

  • $2.46 billion will be allocated to Illinois counties, which can apply directly to Treasury
  • $2.73 billion will be allocated to Illinois cities, which can apply directly to Treasury
  • $742 million will be allocated to "non-entitlement" units of government (typically local governments with populations <50,000), which will need to apply via the state.

We do not yet know which state agency will be responsible for disseminating these funds, but we expect it will be DCEO. Library district directors: Special districts ARE eligible for fund transfers! The National Special Districts Coalition is hosting a webinar "State & Local Recovery Funds: Guidance, Advocacy and Alternatives" on Thursday 5/20/2021 from 1-2:30. Register here.

Also on May 10, the FCC adopted rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by ARPA, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. ALA will provide detailed information about the ECF prior to the application window in summer 2021.

Related, ALA has released detailed information and a suite of materials for libraries to use to promote the Emergency Broadband Benefit program from FCC, which is a direct benefit to individuals. Materials include a sample press release or newsletter blurb announcing libraries' support for this program and links to FCC promotional materials

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