Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that his office will suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminder notices to the public due to the lack of a state budget.

Secretary White encouraged vehicle owners to be mindful of their vehicle registration status to ensure they renew in a timely manner and avoid driving on expired vehicle stickers. He also emphasized that more vehicle owners will be forced to visit facilities to renew their vehicle registration stickers because without a reminder notice they will not have a pin number needed to renew online. However, people who have signed up to receive electronic reminder notices will continue to receive them by email. To sign up for this service, visit
"Ghost" images of planes landing at O'Hare International Airport are helping air-traffic controllers safely stagger jets on converging flight paths in the crowded airspace near the airfield, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The ghost planes are also helping restore some of the efficiency that was lost last year when safeguards were introduced at O'Hare to reduce the chance for a collision on converging flight paths, officials said.

The potentially deadly traffic intersection in the sky is less than 1 mile from the ends of two runways — one for arrivals, the other for departures. Last year, the FAA prohibited the specific runway combination during the busiest daytime hours, when planes are taking off or landing roughly every 20 seconds, until a better plan came along.

The two runways themselves do not physically intersect, but planes could cross flight paths under one scenario:

A plane cleared by O'Hare tower for takeoff on diagonal runway 32 Left, which points to the northwest, could fly too close to or even hit or be struck by a plane landing toward the west on east-west runway 27 Right if, instead of completing the landing, the pilot of the plane needed to execute an unplanned go-around procedure. Read the entire story in the Chicago Tribune.

FY16 Budget
Democrat majority continues piecemeal budget strategy. Although Illinois is close to ending its third month without a spending plan for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015, the House session this week did not show any signs of progress. On Thursday, Democrats on the House Executive Committee passed a $3.8 billion spending bill without specifying a funding source for the monies pledged by the committee to be spent.
FY16 Budget
Comptroller Munger: Early Intervention payments will be made. Comptroller, DHS agree EI services fall under active consent decree.

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that her office is setting up accounts and will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as it receives vouchers from the Department of Human Services (DHS).
College of DuPage trustees voted 4-3 Thursday night to void the employment contract of embattled President Robert Breuder and declare him an at-will employee, putting his controversial severance package in jeopardy.

During a meeting of a deeply divided board, trustees also passed a measure that effectively rescinds an agreement to name the school's Homeland Security Education Center after Breuder. The building instead will be named, effective immediately, for Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who grew up in Wheaton and died in Afghanistan in 2008 while saving his team during a firefight. The measure passed 4-2, with one abstention.

The two decisions are the latest efforts to undo past board actions and change the legacy left by Breuder, who is on paid administrative leave pending termination proceedings. Read the story in the Chicago Tribune.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Secretary of State and AAA today launched the 2015 National Child Passenger Safety Week in Illinois. The annual safety campaign brings attention to the importance of properly securing all children in car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

“Safety of the motoring public, especially children, is a top priority here at IDOT,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Making sure your child is in the right seat is an important responsibility that all parents need to take seriously.”
Higher Education 
“U.S. News” sharply increases ranking of SIU Carbondale campus. The national ranking system for institutions of higher education raised the standing of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The campus, which had been ranked as the 189th best campus in the United States, jumped to 153rd. The upward change of 36 notches was the largest increase seen in Illinois in 2015 and was one of the largest increases on the annual list.

The U.S. News and World Reports Best College Rankings include a widely-followed index of colleges classified as “National Universities.” This classification covers a variety of four-year institutions connected to public and private universities, such as SIU, that specialize in research and high-level professional training.
9-11 Observances
State observes anniversary of 9-11, honors victims and first responders. In Illinois by order of Gov. Rauner, flags flew at half-mast throughout Patriot Day in honor of the victims and heroes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and rural Pennsylvania.

Leading the way towards observance of the somber day of remembrance were Republican members of the University of Illinois student and teaching community, who successfully advocated for permission to set up a memorial installation on the U of I Quad. After a facet of the university administration temporarily attempted to block organization of the installation, the Illini Republicans led the way in a successful push to reverse the prohibition and allow the placement of 2,977 flags on the Quad. Each U.S. flag will represent one victim of the atrocity.
In Illinois, military veterans are now able to get an updated driver’s license/ID card indicating they are a veteran.

This designation helps ensure military veterans living in Illinois who have received an Honorable or General under Honorable Conditions discharge receive the services and benefits for which they are entitled, including healthcare, education, employment assistance and tax breaks.
HB 1, which was drafted with the active participation of law enforcement, contains numerous changes to State and local programs aimed at heroin and other opiate drugs. The bill strengthens the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, creates a program to move towards universal availability of heroin-overdose-reversal medications (opioid antagonists) in the hands of first responders and in the formularies of health insurance policies, enhances criminal penalties for “prescription shopping,” expands Medicaid to cover opioid dependence medications and opioid antagonists, and makes other changes.
Moody’s warns of consequences if budget stalemate not resolved.  The global bond rating service, which has imposed several cuts on the debt status of Illinois, warned the State of potential further downgrades in a report published on Monday, August 31.  The report called attention to the current budget impasse of the State of Illinois, which is attempting to operate without a legally enacted spending plan for fiscal year 2016.  FY16 began on July 1, 2015.

Changes in the debt rating of Illinois as a whole, and of subsidiaries (such as the University of Illinois) affect interest rates that must be paid by Illinois taxpayers. Rating agencies such as Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings have given Illinois the lowest debt rating of any U.S. state.

Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) issues monthly budget report.  The CGFA report, issued by the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget office, covers revenue and spending trends in August 2015.  CGFA tracks changes in State revenues, particularly income and sales tax payments, and projects them out for the remainder of FY16.

Changes in State revenues currently reflect two major factors: (a) the drop in State personal and corporate income tax rates that took effect on January 1, 2015; and (b) continued slow growth in the overall U.S. economy.  CGFA has tracked changes in United States gross domestic product in the first half of calendar 2015, and continues to see overall growth rates trending in the band of 2.0% - 2.5%.

New tax revenue is not growing as fast as the cost of expenses mandated upon the public sector of the State, and is not growing fast enough to replace the revenues lost through the January 2015 income tax rate rollback.  CGFA spreadsheets detail the current fiscal situation.  In August 2015, for example, total State general funds revenues fell $194 million short of previous-year revenues.  In August 2014, the State took in $2.38 billion in overall general funds revenues; during the same 31-day period one year later, $2.19 billion came in.        

Disability service providers said to have been paid through August; some providers say money not yet received.  In compliance with a court order issued by federal judge Sharon Coleman, the State indicated it has paid $120 million to disability service providers.  The payment was reported on Friday, August 28.  The creditors, licensed networks of services (particularly residential services) to persons with developmental disabilities, sought up-to-date payments under the “Ligas” consent decree.  Some creditors reported this week that they have not yet received these reported payments.  

Comptroller Leslie Munger has the duty of balancing money coming in with payments going out.  The July-August payments to disability service providers followed a warning in the previous week that because of the State’s current budget impasse, the required funds would not be immediately available.

The Illinois Constitution provides the Governor with four possible veto alternatives, below is a brief description of each:

Total Veto
The Governor can veto an entire bill by returning it with his objections to the chamber in which it originated. The General Assembly can override this veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each chamber.

Item Veto
The Governor can veto any item of appropriations in a bill by returning it to the chamber in which it originated. The General Assembly can override this veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each chamber. Read more on the Caucus Blog.