Do you know where Illinois ranks in terms of the highest sales tax rates in the United States? 45 of the 50 states collect statewide sales taxes, as does the District of Columbia.

Illinois’ state sales tax rate is 6.25%, but the Land of Lincoln is one of 38 states that allow counties and municipalities to charge an additional local sales tax.

Among the 50 states, these totals include the combined state and average local sales tax rates in 2014:
  1. Tennesse        9.45%
  2. Arkansas        9.19%
  3. Louisiana       8.89%
  4. Washington    8.88% 
  5. Oklahoma       8.72%
  6. Alabama         8.51%
  7. New York       8.47%
  8. California       8.41%
  9. Arizona          8.17%
  10. Illinois            8.16% 
The highest combined sales tax rate in Illinois is in suburban River Grove, at a whopping 10%.  Click HERE to see the alphabetical list of sales tax rates throughout Illinois by county/municipality.

*Sources: & Tax Foundation

Governor Quinn’s Tax & Spend Budget

Quinn wants to make 2011 “temporary” income tax hike permanent.  Governor Pat Quinn outlined a tax-and-spend budget plan Wednesday during his annual budget address before a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly.

The Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget includes $38.1 billion in general fund expenditures, an increase of $3.6 billion over the $34.5 billion revenue estimate adopted by the General Assembly earlier this month.
Quinn wants his 'temporary' 67-percent tax hike made permanent. Voters with memories will be suspicious.

In outlining his budget blueprint Wednesday in Springfield, Gov. Pat Quinn surprised no one when he called for the permanent extension of current income tax rates. Yes, those are the rates that, according to the law Quinn signed Jan. 13, 2011, are to start receding on Jan. 1.

He surprised no one when he blamed other people's poor fiscal practices "that I inherited" for this state's disastrous financial shape, or when he invoked a recession that officially ended nearly five years ago, in June 2009.

He surprised no one when he warned of massive teacher layoffs, property tax increases and even "victims of rape left without proper care" if lawmakers allow the individual income tax to roll back from 5 percent to 3.75 percent as scheduled.

Quinn, that is, surprised no one. He offered no fundamental changes in how Illinois spends or does business — no remedies for the distressed status quo. In his sixth budget address — this one for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — the governor instead said he wants to make permanent the income tax increase that he and his Democratic Party allies insisted would be "temporary." Read the rest of the Chicago Tribune Editorial.

With a unanimous recommendation for passage of HB3744 by the House’s Judiciary Committee on Monday, a bill that strengthens laws that protect victims of violent crimes is headed to the House floor for a full debate.

According to State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake), the Chief Sponsor of HB3744, the bill was filed in response to the brutal murder of an Antioch woman whose ex-boyfriend ignored an order of protection that had been issued against him. “Diane Kephart went through the proper process and had an order of protection put in place against her ex-boyfriend after he was charged with aggravated domestic battery with a deadly weapon,” said Wheeler. “He ignored the order and brutally murdered her one month later. Through House Bill 3744, a judge could mandate that a GPS device be placed on an accused violent offender as a condition of bail.”  Read more about this important legislation.

“We’ve seen three separate tax hike proposals in the last three days. It is clear that Illinois democrats are preparing to raise taxes again, and the Governor seems unwilling to accept the reality that Illinois has a spending problem, not a revenue problem." ~Rep. Mike Tryon

“Governor Quinn proved to the General Assembly and to the citizens of this State today that his promises mean nothing. With his announcement that he is pushing to make the temporary tax increase of 2011 permanent, he has shown us all that anything he says can’t be trusted. He is on record in 2011 as saying the income tax increase was temporary, but now he wants to take more and more out of the pockets of working Illinoisans and small businesses." ~Rep. Barb Wheeler 
Do you know how much of every gallon you purchase of gasoline goes to pay taxes? With temperatures warming up and the summer driving season rapidly approaching, we thought we’d take a look at where Illinois ranks among the 50 states in terms of motor fuel taxes.

These totals include all local, state and federal excise taxes on motor fuel; with the federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon applying equally to every state.
Kay Hatcher is the 50th District Illinois State Representative, serving a 200 square mile area in northern Kendall and southern Kane County.  Prior to joining the legislature she was elected to the Oswego school board, the Kendall County board and served as president of the Kendall County Forest Preserve District.

Her professional background includes external affairs director for Illinois Bell and senior marketing director for Senior Services Associates.  Hatcher received corporate communications training at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management.    Hatcher served as state president of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women and on the Governing Board of the Illinois Lincoln Series, which trains prospective Republican women political leaders.  Read more about Rep. Hatcher.

Recent legislation sponsored by Rep. Hatcher
Rep. Hatcher's committees
News about Rep. Hatcher

Senate Democrats blocked legislation during a March 19th Senate Human Services Committee sponsored by State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) that would have reversed the Quinn Administration’s actions undermining the key aspect of the state’s bipartisan Medicaid reform law aimed to reduce fraud.

Both Righter and State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) filed companion legislation in their respective chambers to address the legal issues that have halted implementation of the 2012 Medicaid reforms and allow for the third party review of state Medicaid rolls to continue.
Budget Address
Gov. Quinn to address General Assembly on Wednesday, March 26.  The address, delayed from the originally scheduled Feb. 19th date, requires the Governor to lay out his administration’s spending plan for the $34.5 billion in estimated general revenues in fiscal year 2015 (FY15).

The state Constitution requires the Governor and the General Assembly to agree on a balanced-budget document prior to the start of each fiscal year, and to enact appropriations that fit into the budget.  The House and Senate have approved HJR 80, formalizing the official estimate of $34.5 billion in projected FY15 general funds receipts, and the House appropriations committees have already begun discussing FY15 budget challenges in advance of the Governor’s address.
Early this week the Illinois House of Representatives passed HR915 sponsored by Rep. Patti Bellock recognizing March 21 as World Down Syndrome Awareness Day in Illinois.

According to Rep. Bellock a longtime advocate for individuals with developmental disabilities, "Recognizing World Down Syndrome Day helps to raise awareness, appreciation and recognition of the dignity, rights, and well-being of people with Down Syndrome throughout Illinois and the local social service providers who make such a meaningful impact in their lives each and every day. This is an effort we can all be proud to be a part of.” Read more from Rep. Bellock

Find out more about World Down Syndrome Awareness Day:
State Representative Bill Mitchell is sponsoring job creation legislation to address the chronically high unemployment in Decatur/Macon County.

Representative Mitchell discussed his legislation Thursday at his Decatur district office.

“My legislation creates tax incentives for employers in high unemployment counties such as Macon County, which consistently has a jobless rate well above the state and national averages,” Mitchell said. “Decatur had the second-worst economic decline in all of America last year. This is a crisis that can no longer be ignored by the powers-that-be in Springfield.” Read more about Rep. Mitchell's legislation.
Rep. Rich Brauer is a full-time State Legislator; a sixth generation family farmer and life-long resident of the 87th IL House District. He is a graduate of Petersburg PORTA High School and attended Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.

As a legislator, Rich is an ardent supporter of the Illinois State Constitution and reflects the interests of his constituents in his votes on the Illinois House floor. Read more about Rep. Brauer.

News from Rep. Brauer
Current Legislation Sponsored by Rep. Brauer
Rep. Brauer's Committees 

Some of the most legendary names in television and entertainment are originally from Illinois! These men and women have made us laugh and given life to some of the most unforgettable characters of all time; and one has transcended her famous family’s legacy to forge her own successful career in journalism, public service and recognized charitable work with the Special Olympics; an organization her mother founded. Can you guess her name and which other stars are Illinois natives? Who would you add to the list?
State Rep. John Cabello wants to prevent out-of-town criminals from making Rockford their home after being released from prison.

Cabello, R-Machesney Park, introduced House Bill 4448 earlier this year, which would make it mandatory for parolees to return to the county where they lived immediately prior to their prison sentence. They would have to stay there for the length of their parole or mandatory supervised release.

“Law enforcement is going to know the people coming back to their own community better than if they’re sent to a new community,” Cabello said. Kevin Haas with Rockford Register Star.

Budget – Illinois’ “Net Deficit”

·         New report shows cumulative State deficit of $47.8 billion.  This cumulative deficit of almost $48 billion (nearly $4,000 per Illinois resident) comes from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for FY 2013, released by Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and the Statewide Financial Statement Audit released by Auditor General Bill Holland.  The purpose of the figures presented in the CAFR are to drill past the cash-flow situation of the State of Illinois (which is what the “official” State budget looks at) and uncover the gap between resources available and commitments made. 

The majority of the gap consists of pension obligations and commitments to pay health-care-related expenses to providers of services to eligible patients, primarily Medicaid patients and State workers.  This number is not a one-year deficit, but a representation, on a balance-sheet basis, of the cumulative deficit that has been building up over a multi-year period.  Almost two-thirds of the deficit has appeared during the past seven years ($18.7 billion in FY06 to $47.8 billion in FY13), roughly coinciding with the tenure of Gov. Pat Quinn.
JoAnn Osmond is the sitting State Representative from Antioch, IL serving the 61st District centered in Lake County representing the communities of Antioch, Beach Park, Grandwood Park, Gurnee, Lake Villa, Lindenhurst, Old Mill Creek, Wadsworth, Winthrop Harbor, and Zion.

A graduate of Holy Child High School in Waukegan, IL, JoAnn Osmond began her career as a paralegal in Washington D.C., later returning to Illinois as the Executive Director for the Lake County Bar Association and legislative aide to former State Representative Bob Churchill.

Actively engaged in the community, JoAnn has served as the Antioch Mental Health Association Board President, First Fire Protection District of Antioch Trustee and Treasurer, and member of the Lakes Region Historical Society.

Recent legislation sponsored by Rep. Osmond
Rep Osmond's committees this session
News from Rep. Osmond

Concerned that hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans will be saddled with artificially high power prices and unsustainable debt for decades, State Representative Tim Schmitz sent a letter to the Attorney General urging her to investigate Prairie State Energy Campus (PSEC).

PSEC was marketed to communities and coorperatives as a secure low cost source of electricity but its customers have been paying exorbitant rates.  Read more about his efforts.
Representative Mike Bost serves the people of the 115th House District. Mike serves as the Illinois House Republican Caucus Chair and currently serves on the following committees: Appropriations-Higher Education; Higher Education; Public Utilities (Republican Spokesperson); and Biotechnology Committee.

The 115th District encompasses all or parts of the following counties: Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Union, and Washington.  Including but not limited to the communities of Anna, Ashley, Carbondale, Cobden, De Soto, Du Quoin, Mt. Vernon, Murphysboro, Pinckneyville, and Vergennes.

Representative Bost’s election to the State Legislature followed 4 years in the United States Marine Corps, as well as 13 years in his family trucking business.  He started work at Bost Trucking Service as a driver in 1979 and then went on to be the truck manager for ten years until 1992. Read more about Rep. Bost.

State Representative Patti Bellock serves the people of the 47th District in DuPage County. She was appointed Deputy Minority Leader in October 2013, her assignments include serving as Chief Budget Negotiator for the House Republicans, Minority Spokeswoman on the Human Services Appropriations Committee and a member of the Mass Transit and Labor and Commerce Committees.

For many years she has been a community activist in education, juvenile justice, healthcare, developmental disabilities and mental health issues. She is also an advocate of tougher laws on domestic violence, terrorism, drug trafficking and sexual predators on the internet.

Her landmark legislation: Smart Act, legislation reforming the Illinois Medicaid system bills requiring mental health parity, MRSA infection control, improving the Amber Alert system and strengthening child support in Illinois have been recognized on a national level. 

Last session, she co-sponsored legislation to create jobs in Illinois, repeal taxes on business, address the state's health care system and reform the Medicaid system. Recently she has worked on model legislation regarding school food allergy guides, a drug repository for low-income individuals and has hosted town hall meetings on Illinois pension and budget issues. She works closely with constituents and local officials to ensure their concerns are heard in Springfield. Read more about Rep. Bellock.

Heavy Snow Anticipated Across Parts of Illinois; Motorists Encouraged to Use Extreme Caution

Coordinated measures are being taken by Illinois state agencies to prepare for expected heavy snowfall that can create treacherous driving conditions in areas throughout the state.

National Weather Service forecasters predict the arrival of spots of heavy snowfall accompanied by strong winds, creating potential for whiteout conditions and debris on roadways. The heavy snowfall is expected to begin this evening and continue until tomorrow afternoon. Motorists should use extreme caution as the expected blowing and drifting snow could cause near blizzard conditions at times and also cause slick and treacherous roads.
Illinois State Police announced on February 28 that 5,000 Concealed Carry License (CCL) applications had been approved and were ready to be printed and mailed.  The department will begin mailing the licenses and will continue to issue licenses as they are approved.  Concealed Carry Licenses will be printed and mailed on a daily basis. 

“This collaborative process offers the multiple layers of scrutiny envisioned by the legislature, and we believe that the law enforcement objections provide for enhanced public safety,” State Police Colonel Marc Maton said in a press release issued by the department.
State Representative Dan Brady is a Republican from Bloomington and represents the 105th District in central Illinois, which includes Normal, portions of East Bloomington, Carlock, Towanda, Lexington, Hudson, Gridley, Chenoa, Cooksville, Colfax, and Anchor.  The Eastern boundary of the district stretches over to Fairbury, Forrest and Strawn in Livingston County.

Rep. Brady received his BA from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, and his Associates Degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Prior to being elected State Representative, he was elected as McLean County Coroner in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. Read more about Rep. Brady.

State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), who created the Illinois Transparency Portal through legislation in 2009, has successfully sponsored a new initiative that would improve the efficiency and timeliness for posting of data for easy viewing by Illinois residents.

House Bill 1040, which was amended in the Senate, received final approval in the Illinois House by a unanimous vote on Thursday. Read more here.
Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 2 a.m., when we spring forward one hour for the purpose of making better use of daylight. As we set our clocks ahead, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends testing your smoke alarms.

Roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. When smoke alarms should have worked but failed to operate, it is usually because batteries were missing, disconnected, or dead. NFPA provides the following guidelines around smoke alarms:

Chicago – Neighborhood Recovery Initiative
Lawmakers Urge Freeze of Chicago Anti-Violence State Funds; Call for Additional Investigation of Programs.  In the wake of the Illinois Auditor General’s scathing audit of Governor Quinn’s $54.55 million Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI), State Reps. David Reis (R-Ste. Marie), John Cavaletto (R-Salem) and Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) are demanding all state funds allocated to questionable Chicago anti-violence programs be frozen.  The lawmakers are also calling upon the Auditor General to further investigate state moneys allocated to these programs.
Say no to more taxes and yes to more jobs, sign our petition

Illinois House Republicans recently announced their unanimous opposition to a proposal, currently filed as HJRCA 33, that would replace Illinois’ flat tax with a graduated tax -- leading to higher income tax rates for everyone making over $18,000 a year and costing Illinois jobs.

“The majority party is going to try and sell this initiative as a way to tax the rich.  What they don’t want the public to know is that lower and middle-income families will be paying more as well,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.  “To make matters worse, Illinois already has the third worst unemployment in the country - moving to a graduated tax would put Illinois at a competitive disadvantage and cost us jobs.”

Approval of a measure to amend the Illinois Constitution in favor of a graduated tax would require a three-fifths majority vote of the Illinois House and Senate.  In the House, where Democrats currently hold 71 seats, a three-fifths majority equals a minimum of 71 votes.

Help send a message to the majority party that moving to a graduated tax is bad for Illinois by signing our petition.

Legislation filed by State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) that would allow home baking for both charity organizations and limited home sale has passed out of a House committee.

House Bill 5354 was inspired by news reports of an 11-year-old girl in Troy who had her home-based cupcake business shut down by the Madison County Health Department.  However, Rep. Meier says this bill will benefit more people than just the young baker.

“While the idea for this may have been started because of a little girl in Troy, her situation did shed some light onto a bigger issue negatively impacting charity groups and their ability to raise funds.  This legislation will allow for groups to hold bake sales without any fear of the health department shutting them down. We don’t want the government to be so huge and oppressive that it hurts people more than it helps,” Rep. Meier said. Read more here.

See the story on the Rachel Ray Show

As costs for medicine, healthcare, transportation and food continues to rise, State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) is taking steps to help protect seniors from increases in property taxes.

Wheeler has signed on as a co-sponsor of House Bill 4209, which would increase the maximum income threshold for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption by $5,000.

“Most seniors are on fixed incomes,” said Wheeler. “All around them the costs associated with the necessities of life are increasing, and I’m hearing from many who are at risk of losing their homes due to ongoing hikes in property taxes.” Read the rest of the story.

State Representative Sandy Pihos (R-Glen Ellyn) joined State Representatives Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) and Dennis Rebolletti (R-Elmhurst), along with Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville) and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin to unveil two taxpayer protection bills that would prevent taxing districts from raising taxes when home values are declining.

Sandack, Chief Sponsor of House Bills 4426 and 4429, said the legislation addresses an unforeseen issue with the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law. “When PTELL was created, it protected property owners from huge tax increases during the era when home values were increasing very quickly,” said Sandack. “I would imagine that the authors of the PTELL bill never imagined a scenario where that bill would actually hurt taxpayers. This legislation takes steps to freeze taxes when property values fall and helps people from getting taxed out of their homes during difficult economic times.” Read more.