Latest News

Budget – Unpaid Bills
Backlog of unpaid bill hits $8.6 billion. The unpaid-bill count, tracked on a day-to-day basis by the office of Comptroller Leslie Munger, hit more than $8.6 billion this week. The red-ink number is closely watched by holders of Illinois debt paper and by international credit rating agencies and firms that rank worldwide debtors by chances of insolvency. For example Moody’s, the world’s largest credit-rating firm, currently ranks Illinois general obligation debt backed by general funds at Baa2, two ranks above “junk bond” level. Moody’s adds that they have a “negative outlook” on Illinois’ current Baa2 rating. Analysts at Moody’s report that Illinois’ “structural budget gap” currently equals at least 15% of Illinois general fund and pension expenditures.
State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is one of three House Republicans who will serve on a newly-created Human Trafficking Task Force in Illinois.

The bipartisan and bicameral task force, created through Public Act 99-0864, will consist of 12 members of the General Assembly, a representative from the Chicago Regional Human Trafficking Task Force and the Director of the State Police or a designee of the Director’s choosing. The group will conduct a study on the human trafficking problem in Illinois and will hold hearings to help develop a state plan to address the growing issue. Read more.
State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) today applauded the new path Governor Bruce
Rauner set towards commemorating the Illinois Bicentennial in 2018. Executive Order 2016-10, signed by the Governor today, officially creates a state Bicentennial Office and streamlines the current Bicentennial Commission; a move Butler says is key towards a successful celebration.

“The Bicentennial is a tremendous opportunity for us to tell the story of Illinois to the nation and the world,” said Butler.  “Illinois is truly a crossroads for our country, blessed with an abundance of talented individuals and a wealth of natural resources that make us the envy of other states.   I’ve pushed to make sure we don’t miss this opportunity to tell our story.”  Read more.

Jobs – Illinois labor force

Illinois payroll drops by 8,200 jobs in August. The monthly jobs and unemployment report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) showed a 30-day drop of 8,200 in Illinois’ seasonally-adjusted nonfarm payroll jobs. This key employment number declined from 6,016,900 in July 2016 to 6,008,700 in August.
Chicago – Vista Tower Groundbreaking
Ground broken on residential skyscraper designed to be 1,186 feet tall. When completed, Vista Tower will be the third tallest building in Chicago behind the Willis Tower (1,450 feet, plus antenna masts) and the Trump International Hotel and Tower (1,389 feet). Although largely designed for residential use, the Chinese-financed tower will also contain luxury hotel space. Designed by prizewinning architect Jeanne Gang, the Wacker Drive tower will be 95 stories tall.
Elections – Foreign Hackers
FBI says hackers, believed to have been from Russia, sought entry into Illinois election databases. Access from abroad was to databases operated by the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) to monitor and enforce Illinois election law and election results. The foreign incursion included the possible theft of voter-identification data, including parts of voter Social Security numbers, from as many as 90,000 Illinois voters. The ISBE currently does not believe the access changed any of the data within the database or moved the dials on any of the ways the Board tries to monitor and enforce election law. For example, the Election Code requires disclosure of a wide variety of contributions to campaign committees and the ISBE keeps databases of these disclosures.
General Assembly – Redistricting
Independent Maps referendum language thrown out by Illinois Supreme Court. The 4-3 decision, which fell along partisan lines, found that the Independent Maps amendment to govern the way Illinois draws its lines for General Assembly seats should not appear on the November 2016 ballot. The decision, which cannot be appealed to any higher panel, will make it impossible for Illinoisans to speak out on the process used to elect members of the Illinois General Assembly.