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An all too often told story played out again today in the Illinios House of Representatives; the story of a broken, backwards budgeting process intended to divide, not unite.

The process began with the Governor’s introduced budget which is meant to be a starting point for negotiations through which changes are made, with a final budget arriving back on the Governor’s desk for either approval or rejection.

The budget process is designed to ensure all priorities are considered and more important that all decisions are made in an open and transparent manner.
State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) joined the Illinois House of Representatives on March 3, 2015 and serves the 87th District. Butler, a native of Peoria, is the fourth-great grandson of Lewis Barker, a State Senator from Pope County during the first four Illinois General Assemblies. Tim is the youngest of seven children and his parents owned a small manufacturing business.

Tim brings to the House more than 20 years of public service working for the people of Central Illinois. He has served as District Chief of Staff for both Congressman Rodney Davis and former Congressman Ray LaHood. He also served as the director of marketing for St. John’s Hospital in Springfield. Read more.


Budget – FY15 – Social Services Restored
Revenue estimate up; $26 million in State grants to be restored. The State of Illinois has faced continuous challenges in “keeping the lights on” during the final months of FY15. When the Governor’s office changed hands in January, Governor Bruce Rauner found that the FY15 budget passed by Democrat majorities and signed by former Governor Pat Quinn was drastically unbalanced. The General Assembly and the Rauner administration have worked together since that time to shift funds around to cover shortfalls. In some cases, additional cuts were imposed on some agencies and their spending programs.
During a decidedly bitter meeting, the new College of DuPage board of trustees followed through with plans Thursday night to put the school's embattled president on paid administrative leave.

The move capped a whirlwind week at the state's largest community college that saw its president, Robert Breuder, getting approval for a medical leave hours after the board announced it would vote to sideline him at Thursday's meeting.

Before a crowd of about 200 people, trustees elected Katharine Hamilton as the board's new chair, putting the longtime lone board dissenter in charge. She will oversee a new majority on the seven-member board following a political shift in last month's election that included the selection of three new trustees.

Hamilton was elected chair in a 4-3 vote, setting the tone for what is likely to be a divisive board. Indeed, the three-member minority, all of them returning trustees, voted against the entire agenda because it was not created with all trustees' input. Board members were at odds with one another on every issue throughout the nearly-five-hour meeting.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.
Citing an improving economy in Illinois, Governor Rauner announced today that he would restore $26 million to social service and public health grants that were frozen earlier this year because of budget constraints.

Grants for autism, addiction prevention, assistance for homeless, teen REACH and other programs were impacted by the freeze. The Governor was able to restore funding to these programs because of better than expected revenues projections.  The bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability expects an additional $300 million to $500 million in tax revenue because of an improving economy in Illinois.

It must be noted that this restoration is only for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, 2015. Appropriation hearings have just begun for fiscal year 2016.

Here is what a few of our members are saying:
Small business now has a stronger voice in Springfield, thanks to State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, and State Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, who recently formed the Small Business Owners Caucus in the Illinois House of Representatives.

“Small business is the backbone of our state and local economy, accounting for over 60% of all new private-sector jobs created in America each year,” Rep. Wheeler said. “This new bipartisan caucus will bring together small business owners from every region of Illinois to formulate policy reforms that will make our state more competitive and help to attract and retain quality Illinois jobs for Illinois families.”

The 20-member Small Business Owners Caucus has been created to bring together state legislators who are current or former small business owners to share similar entrepreneurial experiences. Activities will include caucus-backed legislative proposals and supporting individual caucus members' legislative ideas, as well as holding subject matter focused business discussions with the constitutional officers, agency directors, legislative leaders and pro-business organizations. Various business groups have already come forward with ideas of establishing an annual scorecard of pro-business legislation and nominating annual champions of the business community. Read more.

Budget – Infrastructure 
Statewide discussion on capital spending begins. Governor Bruce Rauner announced on Tuesday, April 21 that he will soon start an infrastructure Listening Tour (http://www.idot.illinois.gov/about-idot/stay-connected/events/Infrastructure-Investment) in which the Governor will talk to local leaders in at least 30 separate Illinois communities to hear their needs for additional help in maintaining vital local infrastructure. At the same time, Illinois House budget working groups will be meeting on FY16 budget challenges, including issues of public infrastructure.