Chicago – Thompson Center
The Chicago Sun-Times editorializes in favor of State disposal of James R. Thompson Center. The editorial asserts that the troubled 1.2-million-square-foot structure reflects the values of a bygone period of public-sector arrogance and has reached the end of its useful life. Studies indicate that the building has been under-maintained for many years. Building experts say that the State would have to pay $326 million merely to renovate the building back to working conditions. In addition, the State currently has to pay $25 per square foot in Thompson Center heating, cooling, cleaning, and upkeep bills.
In his Budget Address to the 100th General Assembly, Governor Bruce Rauner was optimistic that a bipartisan compromise can be met, and one that will benefit both tax payers and job creators.

The Governor stressed the importance of job creation as an essential part of economic growth, and the key to returning Illinois to a state of prosperity. While noting the difficulties of the last two years in which the state has gone without a budget in place, Governor Rauner encouraged lawmakers to work together to make progress.

The Senate was recognized for their efforts in bipartisan compromise in producing their ‘Grand Bargain.’ Today, Governor Rauner disclosed parameters of his own that he sees essential to a balanced budget agreement. Some of these ideas included a permanent property tax freeze, economic reforms, pension reform, term limits, job creation, workers compensation reform, and a refusal to tax retirement income.
Gambling – Scratch-Off Lottery Tickets
Rep. Christine Winger introduces resolution calling for investigation and audit. Recent investigative reports have revealed that many “scratch-off” tickets for Illinois State Lottery games are pulled from public retail store counters and shredded before the prizes printed on the tickets have been awarded. In response to these reports, Rep. Christine Winger has sponsored HJR 26, which asks the Office of the Illinois Auditor General to audit the ticket-sale cycle and report to the General Assembly, no later than January 31, 2018, on whether buyers of Illinois game tickets are getting the prizes promised.
Each year, The Conference of Women Legislators (COWL) awards college scholarships to women ages 25 years and older to help them attain an undergraduate degree. The purpose of the program is to support women who, for various reasons, have not had the opportunity to begin or complete their education at an earlier stage due to life changes and/or financial difficulties.

The one-year undergraduate scholarship will cover tuition, books and fees up to $2500 per year, including summer school.
Budget – FY17
Fitch Ratings cuts Illinois’ credit rating. The move by one of the “Big Three” debt rating agencies serves as further evidence of the dismal state of Illinois’ public finances. Fitch Ratings cut Illinois’ general obligation bond rating this week from BBB+ with a negative outlook to BBB with a negative outlook. The new rating is only one notch above the lowest possible rating (BBB-) that can be granted to an entity that is viewed as an investment-grade credit risk. Two other bond issues that are tied to the State of Illinois, the bond issued by the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and the bonds issued by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, also saw cuts in their ratings from Fitch. The New York-based credit rating house added that they believe that the failure of the State to deal with its fiscal challenges “has fundamentally weakened the state’s financial profile.”