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Illinois Universities, Community Colleges, Student MAP Grants Funded
SPRINGFIELD, IL (SWI-News.com), April 27, 2016 - The Illinois General Assembly has passed legislation to partially fund state universities and community colleges and avoid further cuts and potential closings. The legislation also includes funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for college students.
"It is heartening that the Governor and legislative leaders have come together to authorize funding for our universities, community colleges and student MAP grants. I have directed my staff to begin processing payments immediately, giving top priority to students and the institutions that are suffering the most," stated Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger.
"The $600 million in funding for this legislation comes from the state's Education Assistance Fund, which today has $354 million on hand. Those dollars will allow us to immediately pay student MAP grants and work closely with our universities and community colleges to ensure they have the resources they need to avoid further cuts and closings. We will continue disbursing funds as they become available, with final payments being made in July. Our students and schools have paid a heavy price for this budget impasse, and we will do everything possible to provide long-overdue relief."
Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2059, April 25, and issued the following statement:
"This legislation doesn't solve our budget crisis or help our economy grow, but it does represent a first step toward compromise between Democrats and Republicans. Now is the time to build on this bipartisan momentum and focus on enacting a truly balanced budget for Fiscal Years 2016-2017 alongside meaningful reforms that create jobs and free up resources for education, social services and infrastructure."
Il Comptroller Says, "We are all in this together, we all will wait in line."
SPRINGFIELD, IL (SWI-News.com), April 17, 2016 - Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger on Sunday announced that compensation for Illinois' General Assembly members and Constitutional Officers - herself included - will be treated the same as all other government payments and delayed due to the state's $7.8 billion bill backlog.
Illinois is in its 10th month of operation without a budget in place, leaving the state to pay bills under a patchwork of Court Orders, Consent Decrees and statutory authorizations. As a result, the state is expected to dig $6.2 billion deeper in the hole this year, worsening its fiscal condition, exacerbating cash flow challenges and lengthening payment delays.
With families, social service organizations, schools and businesses waiting months on end for promised payments from the state, Munger said it is appropriate for elected leaders to face delays as well.
"Our social service network is being dismantled, mass layoffs are occurring and small businesses across Illinois are awaiting payments for services they've already provided," Munger said. "As our cash crunch grows in the coming months, it is only appropriate that the unfair prioritization of payments to elected leaders ends. We are all in this together, we all will wait in line."
Salaries for the state's six Constitutional Officers and 177 General Assembly members total approximately $1.3 million a month, or $15.6 million annually. The elected leaders are customarily paid on the last day of the month. Munger noted that her office will still process the vouchers monthly, but the warrants will then wait in a queue with other payments before being released when cash is available.
State payments are currently delayed a minimum of two months, unless they are expedited due to severe hardship. That wait time is expected to grow in lower revenue months in the Summer and Fall.
"It is the right thing to do," Munger said. "And if this action helps bring all sides together to pass a balanced budget and end this unnecessary and devastating hardship to our state, that is an added benefit.
"Illinois needs a balanced budget. It is well past time that we get it done."
Il State Treasurer Files Suit Against Sprint
SPRINGFIELD, IL (SWI-News.com), March 20, 2016 - In his monthly newsletter, Illinois State Treasurer, Michael W. Frerichs, announced a lawsuit against cell phone provider Sprint and one of its rebate clearinghouses.
Sprint, like many companies, often uses rebate cards to convince people to purchase its products. However, with Sprint, we discovered that nearly 32,000 people in Illinois did not cash an estimated $2.7 million of these rebate cards.
Treasurer Frerichs reported that they contacted Sprint and asked them to surrender the money to his office, which would locate the individuals and return the money.
The IL Treasurer noted that the unclaimed property division holds more than $2 billion. "We work every day to return this unclaimed money to the proper owners. Returning the Sprint rebates to their rightful owners would allow us to do our job, be responsible to taxpayers, and close an unsuccessful business chapter for Sprint and its clearinghouse, Young America Corp., of Minnesota," he wrote.
Sprint and Young America disagreed, despite striking similar agreements in other states.
"It is frustrating and wrong when these large companies with deep pockets and corporate attorneys break their promises, keep money that is not theirs, and dare people to file a lawsuit."
"I'm not happy about it, but we did file the lawsuit. Case number 2016-CH-01864 is in Cook County Circuit Court," stated Treasurer Frerichs.
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