Though Illinois’ bill backlog dropped to $6.1 billion by the June 30 end of the 2013 fiscal year, Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka is cautioning that payment delays will once again increase without passage of a pension reform measure and other cost-saving efforts.
In other news, more than 30 new laws were signed this week, and Illinois residents can now find answers to questions about the state’s new concealed-carry law on the Illinois State Police (ISP) Web site.
However, the Comptroller says review of fiscal year 2014 revenue projections and state spending obligations shows the bill backlog is poised for a dramatic increase. Topinka said her office is projecting that without pension reform and additional cost-saving efforts the backlog could jump to $7.9 billion as early as August, and could grow to $9 billion by December as the state struggles with more than $4 billion in unpaid and pending bills lapsed from the previous fiscal year, along with almost $2 billion in state employee health insurance and Medicaid obligations.
New Web site answers common concealed-carry questions
Illinois residents who want to learn more about the state’s new concealed-carry law are encouraged to visit the Concealed-Carry FAQ (http://www.isp.state.il.us/firearms/ccw/ccw-faq.cfm) link on the ISP Web site for information on qualifying and applying for a license, associated costs, regulations and prohibitions, and more.
The Web site also provides information about where to obtain firearms training, what the training course consists of, the type of firearm residents will be able to carry, information for businesses and property owners, and how long it will take to receive a concealed-carry license.
Illinois residents are cautioned that though ISP has begun working on establishing the licensure process for concealed carry, at this time it is still illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Illinois. ISP estimated that it could take six months to set up the system, and another three months to process and screen applicants.
New laws officially cede Thomson to feds, promote competitive employment for those with disabilities
Illinois officially ceded jurisdiction in and over the Thomson state prison and the surrounding land to the federal government during the week with the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 30/PA 98-0070.
The sale of the facility had already been completed in 2012, so some viewed the legislation as a formality. Illinois received payment for Thomson from the federal government in late October 2012, and in early March the proceeds were deposited into four separate funds for three agencies: $20 million was deposited into the Capital Development Fund, with $15 million directed to the Architect of the Capitol and $5 million to the Capital Development Board.
The remaining $145 million was deposited into three funds overseen by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT): $23 million was directed to the Transportation Series A Bond Fund, which finances statewide road and bridge construction projects, and $26 million to the Transportation Series D Bond Fund, a fund created for the Illinois Jobs Now! capital program to be used for school construction projects as well as transportation infrastructure improvements. The remaining $96 million was directed into the Transportation Series B Bond Fund, which primarily funds mass transportation projects. Senate Republicans said they are currently looking into how the revenue is being spent.
Another law signed during the week seeks to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. House Bill 2591 creates the Illinois Employment First Act, which requires all state agencies to coordinate efforts and pursue collaborations to ensure that state programs, policies, procedures, and funding support the competitive and integrated employment of people with disabilities.
Additionally, the bill creates an Employment and Economic Opportunity for Persons with Disabilities Task Force charged with creating goals and objectives for the state to help drive the implementation of the Illinois Employment First Act and ensure the Act is operational in a reasonable amount of time.