CGFA Updates State’s Finances
June 2021 marked the final month of FY21 in the State of Illinois. The FY21 fiscal year was marked by a sharp upswing in unusual and one-time federal aid payments to state governments, local governments, and individual taxpayers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Illinois households responded to these federal payments by spending more money and declaring higher personal taxable income. The result was that personal income tax receipts rose $4.7 billion, corporate income tax payments increased by more than $1.8 billion, and sales tax receipts rose by $1.1 billion. These cash inflow increases were associated with an overall increase in general revenues of almost $7.5 billion in FY21.
That said, Illinois continued to have the lowest credit rating of any of the 50 states, although the massive cash infusion described above did lead to a stabilization of Illinois’ credit rating. On Thursday, the Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings raised Illinois’ general obligation debt rating to BBB, two notches above junk-bond level. This was the first S&P Illinois GO upgrade since 1997.
Republicans Call for Updated Education Guidance
With the beginning of the school year rapidly approaching, my colleague State Rep. Seth Lewis and other members of the House Republican Caucus echoed calls from school leaders pleading for updated guidance from the State on fall school reopening. In a July 8 letter to Governor J.B. Pritzker, Lewis urged the administration to move quickly to allow schools time to implement new procedures to ensure a safe and healthy school year for students.
With the new school year starting in 60 days or less for the vast majority of the State, time is of the essence for schools to make final plans and implement them for in-person learning. Today the CDC issued new guidelines for going back to school this fall. These new guidelines strongly encourage all students to attend classes in person, unless the student has health conditions that preclude them from returning to the classroom.
Drivers’ License Expiration Dates Extended
Illinois standard motor vehicle drivers’ licenses expire every four years and must be renewed. Since March 2020, drivers with expiring or expired standard drivers’ licenses have been allowed by the Secretary of State to keep using their old licenses. Their expired licenses have remained temporarily valid for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.
This period of temporary validity has been extended until January 1, 2022. This will prevent a crush of applicants crowding into Illinois Driver Services offices. I urge anyone with an expired drivers’ license to renew their license before the extended deadline.
A landmark was achieved on Monday, July 5, as Illinois reported zero coronavirus deaths on that day. This was the first 24-hour period with no Illinois COVID-19 deaths since March 2020, the month that marked the start of the pandemic’s spread in Illinois. While this is welcomed news, the virus and its variants remain an issue. Please go out and enjoy your summer, but please use caution, particularly if you have health risks.