With about week and a half left in the spring legislative session, lawmakers remain hopeful a balanced budget, without a tax increase, will be approved by May 31. Meanwhile, Governor Rauner introduced his public safety initiative and the U.S. Supreme Court announced a major decision on sports gaming.
Budget negotiations continue
Budget negotiators from both sides of the aisle, and from both chambers, continued work toward a balanced budget this past week. As those negotiations continued, the four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner all in an attempt to meet the May 31 deadline for passing a budget. Republicans remain committed to ensuring the state passes a balanced budget without another tax increase.
A recent major ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court May 14 striking down a 26-year old federal law banning commercial sports betting in most states is beginning to be felt here in Illinois. Legalizing sports betting in Illinois has been a topic of conversation in the General Assembly for years, including legislative hearings. Senator Syverson is urging his fellow legislators to move forward with legislation authorizing online sports betting as part of the existing gaming bill that is in the Illinois House.
"This ruling should be great news for Illinois. We have the ability to simultaneously increase revenue while offering people a safe, legal opportunity to wager on sports. We need to act right now however, we can’t wait and miss out on this revenue while other states take advantage,” said Senator Syverson. “We should immediately work to amend the existing gaming bill so we can advance it to the Governor this spring. I look forward to working with my colleagues on developing a safe system for people to take part in an already popular activity while generating much needed funds to help balance the budget.”
Addressing Public Safety
A multi-pronged approach to gun violence was unveiled by Governor Rauner. It includes steps to fill the regulatory loopholes exposed in recent mass shootings. The public safety initiative includes re-imposing the death penalty for mass murders and cop killers. It would also extend the current 72-hour waiting period for delivery of handguns to all gun purchases in Illinois.
It would ban so-called bump stocks and trigger cranks used to make perfectly legal semi-automatic weapons shoot like fully automatic military firearms. It includes restraining orders to disarm individuals deemed dangerous, makes judges and prosecutors more accountable by making them explain – on the record – why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders in gun cases, and provides new dollars to hire school resource officers and mental health workers to help intervene and prevent student violence before it occurs.
Senator Syverson is a member of the Public Safety group that helped to develop the plan, saying, "This is a comprehensive approach to addressing public safety and I commend the governor for his leadership on this critical issue."