A closer look at Illinois' FY 2021 budget

Illinois General Assembly members approved a fiscal year 2021 budget that mirrors the current budget during their recent special session. However, the budget is not balanced due to uncertainly regarding the state’s revenue.

Fallout from COVID-19, including business closures, increased unemployment and changes in consumer spending impacted budget passage.

“It is fully anticipated that lawmakers will have to make budget adjustments during the fall veto session once the impact on state tax collections starts to be better realized,” noted Kevin Semlow, Illinois Farm Bureau director of state legislation.

The budget includes $5 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act for livestock producers to recoup losses. Producers will be able to apply for funds to cover losses due to market interruptions, including depopulation, through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Although the budget authorizes the use of these funds, the administration will have to implement rules and procedures for producers to apply and secure the grant funds. More details and guidance will be forthcoming in the coming weeks.

IFB worked with the Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Milk Producers Association, Illinois Corn Growers Association and Illinois Soybean Association to secure this dedicated funding from the federal CARES Act in the state budget to address the financial crisis livestock producers are facing.

IFB Board members also provided $25,000 to support an IPPA grant program to assist pig farmers facing depopulation.

Other legislative action included:

  • Passage of a bill providing lawmakers oversight an involvement in reopening and revitalizing the state. Fourteen lawmakers will serve on the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, delivering their first report July 1.
  • Changes in the election code to assist voting by mail. Vote by mail application will be automatically sent to people who recently registered to vote and to every person who applied to vote since 2018. Mail ballots will be accepted even if they are returned with insufficient postage. Election day will be a school holiday, allowing for schools to serves as election day polling places. A process to provide curbside voting would also be established.
  • Allow eligible property owners that qualify for a homestead exemption to receive the exemption without filing an application to receive the exemption for 2020 and thus eliminating the need to make a request in person at a county assessor’s office. This would apply to disabled people, veterans and senior citizens who qualified for an assessment freeze in 2019. The bill would also allow counties to waive penalty fees and interest on some or all late property tax payments.

“This is probably going to be one of the most unusual General Assembly sessions in its history. The main issues of the budget and several other key items were completed in this speed-round session, but there was a lot that was not addressed,” stated Semlow.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.