State Representative Bob Pritchard (R- Sycamore) was recognized as 'Legislator of the Year' by the Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts.

Representative Pritchard was honored at the annual IAFPD conference this past weekend in Peoria. Both will have their names engraved on a patio brick at the Illinois Firefighter Memorial near the state capitol. This is the second time in his 12 years in office that Representative Pritchard has been selected to receive this honor.

"It is a privilege to sponsor legislation that enhances and benefits firefighters and fire protection districts," Representative Pritchard said. "I take the safety and priority of our firemen and first responders very seriously and as such I consider IAFPD to be an important legislative partner. I will continue to collaborate with IAFPD on legislation that assists our Illinois fire services and their abilities to protect citizens."

The Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts represents over 650 fire districts throughout Illinois. Every year the IAFPD honors a legislator who has supported fire service legislation and promoted the interests of fire service personnel. The award is named for Representative Don Moffitt (R- Galesburg), chairman of the fire services caucus.
Gov. Bruce Rauner completed his remake of the Illinois Tollway leadership team Thursday with the naming of Greg Bedalov as the agency's new executive director.

Bedalov was formally nominated by Rauner's choice as chairman, Bob Schillerstrom, and unanimously affirmed by the Tollway's board, which has three new Rauner-appointed members: Joseph Gomez, Craig Johnson and Nick Sauer.

"I'm excited to be part of the (Tollway) team at this point. I've got lots of stuff to learn and lots of new opportunities (ahead)," Bedalov said after his appointment.

 Schillerstrom, former DuPage County Board chairman, said he's worked with Bedalov for many years and described him as a "very talented individual."

"He is expert on economic development," Schillerstrom said. "This is very important to the state, to the Tollway, to the governor and other leaders." Read more by the Chicago Tribune.
FY16 Budget
Governor Rauner signs education budget bill. On Wednesday, June 24, Governor Rauner signed the elementary and secondary education component of the Fiscal Year 2016 State budget, taking our children’s education out of the crossfire in Springfield. While HB 3763 does not increase education spending by as much as the governor’s proposal, it does increase K-12 education funding by $244 million and early childhood education funding by $25 million.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bulk of the Illinois budget Thursday that the Democratic-controlled Legislature sent him, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins next week.

The new governor, in constant battle with powerful lawmakers for six weeks, announced he had vetoed 19 budget bills because even Democrats acknowledge they fall short on revenue by $3 billion to $4 billion.

"For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors," Rauner said in his veto message.

With a June 30 deadline for approving a fiscal year 2016 budget, Rauner continues to insist on "structural" changes to the business and political climates in Illinois before dealing with the opposing party on spending. Democrats want a tax increase, along with strategic spending cuts, in order to continue what they call vital state services.

The mass veto action came just a day after the governor signed into law spending for pre-school, elementary and secondary education, saying he wanted to make sure the schools opened on time. It increases school funding by $269 million. Read more on ABCNews.
Snow days could become a thing of the past for Illinois school districts.

If Gov. Bruce Rauner signs House Bill 2781 a pilot program will be created to replace snow days and other canceled days with electronic instruction. Those lessons would eliminated the need to use an emergency day that is tacked on to the end of the school year. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Mike Fortner.

The pilot program would be implemented in up to three school districts, which may include one elementary or unit district, through the 2017-18 school year. The state superintendent of education would select the districts.

Once the pilot program ends, legislators will decide on a statewide program to eliminate snow days. Read more in the Daily-Journal.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 3763 today making appropriations for General State Aid, Early Childhood Education, Bi-lingual Education and the Teachers’ Retirement System.

Governor Rauner has always made clear that improving education is his highest priority. While the legislature’s bill does not increase education spending by as much as the governor’s proposal, it does increase K-12 education spending by $244 million and early childhood education funding by $25 million.

“Education is the most important thing we do as a community. I would have done more for our schoolchildren, but I am taking action today to ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded,” Governor Rauner said. “I refuse to allow Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform.”

As part of his budget plan, the governor proposed increasing K-12 education by $312 million and early childhood by $32 million.

Updates by Illinois Emergency Management Agency as of 11:00 a.m. today:
  • Preliminary reports are that there were six tornadoes last night.  The NWS could take several days to confirm. 
  • While the weather is clear for today, there is another weather system Wednesday and Thursday that could bring more storms and heavy rains.  We are continuing to monitor.
  • All lanes of traffic on I55 at Reed Rd. were opened overnight.
  • There are over 21,000 customers still without power (over 55,000 at the peak of the storm, but current reports indicate this number).
  • The ARC has two shelters open – Coal City (29 clients being served); Sublette (2 residents being served).
  • There remain local roads that are closed due to debris and/or flooding in various areas.
  • Many areas received heavy rain, as high as 3.85” in some areas, resulting in standing water on many roadways this morning.
  • We are working with ISP and IDOT for aerial photography/surveys of the area.
Governor Rauner today directed the deployment of Illinois Task Force 1, an 80-member search and rescue team, to assist local responders as they search for people who may have been trapped after a tornado tore through Woodhaven Lakes campground in Lee County last evening. The village of Coal City in Grundy County was also hard hit by a tornado Monday evening.

Governor Rauner today also issued a state disaster proclamation for Lee and Grundy counties to make available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms.
Budget – FY16
As budget picture continues to show lack of progress, Comptroller Munger intensifies her warnings. House Republicans continue to demand that Speaker Madigan start negotiations for a real budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which begins on July 1. Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger has sharpened her warnings of the consequence to the State of not having an operating spending plan.
C.H.I. Overhead Doors is a prominent manufacturer of high-quality Residential and Commercial Sectional and Rolling Steel doors. Started in 1981 in the middle of Amish Country in Arthur, Illinois, C.H.I. has risen to become an industry leader in innovation and quality. A mix of hand-made craftsmanship and computer-aided precision join together to make C.H.I. Overhead Doors…The Door To Quality.
By House Republican Leader Jim Durkin

As the old saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation that the results will be different.

Insanity is the best word to describe the actions that took place in Springfield last week. For the second year in a row, Democrats crafted and sent to the Governor an unbalanced state budget. The $36.3 billion budget spends $4 billion more than the state expects to collect in taxes.  Again, that’s $4 BILLION more than we have to spend.  
Budget – FY16
Comptroller Munger warns of consequences if budget not enacted. The State’s chief cash flow manager, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger, reported on Wednesday, June 10 on the actions the State will be forced to take if no budget is enacted prior to the end of the State’s fiscal year on June 30, 2015.

Successive actions the State will be forced to take include delayed paychecks for State workers, unanswered billings from and no payments to new Medicaid and other State-financed health care providers, no new payments to other State vendors, and no general state aid (GSA) payments from the State Board of Education to school districts. These actions are expected to hit in different ways at different times. For example, the Comptroller reports that the first scheduled payless payday will be July 15. The first GSA payment is due no later than August 10.
Tuning forks have long been used as a standard of pitch to tune musical instruments music, with the first one being invented back in 1711 by British Musician John Shore.  Most people, though, don’t know that the tuning fork is used for more than just music  -  it has proven very useful in science, medicine and even law enforcement.

Since 1921, these forever useful tools have been produced right here in Illinois.  Riverbank Laboratories in Geneva specializes in high quality, low cost tuning forks made from a non-rusting, non-tarnishing, non-magnetic aluminum alloy.  This combination is designed to produce a pure tone, one that will still hold even after many years of use.
Illinois will stiff its workers, stop paying Medicaid and end school aid if lawmakers don’t pass a budget in the next three weeks, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger said.

The lack of a spending plan for the year starting July 1 is increasing pressure on Illinois’s already stressed finances, Munger said in a press conference in Chicago on Wednesday.

The Democrat-controlled legislature and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner failed to agree before the session ended May 31 on how to close a $6.2 billion budget gap for the coming fiscal year. A solution now requires a three-fifths vote rather than a simple majority. The standoff has intensified the financial crisis and heightened the risk of credit downgrades. Bloomberg Business has the story.
Firearm Deer Permit Applications:  Resident and non-resident deer hunters can apply for the second lottery drawing for 2015 Illinois Firearm Deer and Muzzleloader-only Deer permits.  The deadline to apply for the second lottery is June 30.  Illinois resident hunters who applied in the first lottery for firearm and muzzleloader permits can check their permit status online on the IDNR website.

More information on deer hunting.

Apply Now for Non-Resident Archery Deer Permits:  The online lottery application period is open through June 30 for Non-Resident Illinois Archery Combination Deer permits for the 2015-16 deer season.  A link for the online application is available on the IDNR website.

Non-residents may apply for one combination archery permit per season.  The upcoming Illinois Archery Deer season is Oct. 1, 2015 - Jan. 17, 2016 (except closed in firearm deer counties on Nov. 20-22 and Dec. 3-6, 2015).

Online Dove Permits:  Online applications will be accepted from resident Illinois hunters from June 10-July 1 for the first lottery for Illinois Free Dove Hunting Permits for hunting at select state sites.  Applications may be submitted for the second lottery by resident hunters who were unsuccessful in the first lottery, residents who did not apply in the first lottery, and non-resident hunters for the second lottery drawing from July 2-15.  After the second lottery permit application deadline on July 15, hunters may apply for remaining free dove permits on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8 a.m. on July 29-Aug. 25.  For more information on dove hunting permit areas and free dove permits, check the IDNR website.

Illinois Boat Owners Reminded to Check Registration:  The IDNR reminds boat owners in Illinois to check their current three-year boat registration/decal and renew their registration if it expires on June 30, 2015.  Renewing watercraft registration can be done online through the IDNR website or by phone by calling 1-866-867-3542.  To renew registration, have available the watercraft’s Illinois registration number, the first six characters of the watercraft’s hull ID number, the first three letters of the registered owner’s last name, and a credit card. For details on Illinois watercraft registration requirements and three-year boat registration fees, check the IDNR website at

Read more in Chicago Now.

The College of DuPage's top two finance officials were put on administrative leave Tuesday afternoon amid the release of an internal audit that blasted the school's investment policies.

The scathing review – which college officials now say was buried for months -- found multiple instances in which the college violated its own investment policies. One decision cost the college nearly $2 million in a single, high-profile fund, according to the audit.

In light of the report, college treasurer Thomas Glaser and controller Lynn Sapyta were placed on paid leave Tuesday while the financial investigation continues. The school's board of trustees plans to consider hiring a financial services firm at its meeting later this week. The Chicago Tribune has the story.

Placing telemarketing calls to wireless phones is - and always has been - illegal in most cases.

Why the confusion about telemarketing to wireless phones?

Consumers report receiving emails saying they'll soon begin receive telemarketing calls on their wireless phones. The confusion seems to stem from discussions in the wireless phone industry about establishing a wireless 411 phone directory, much like your traditional (wired) 411 phone directory. A number of email campaigns seem to suggest that if your wireless telephone number is listed in a wireless 411 directory, it will be available to telemarketers, and you will start to receive sales calls. In addition, some of these email campaigns suggest that there is a separate do-not-call "cell phone registry," which you must call to have your wireless phone number covered by the do-not-call rules. This information is inaccurate.
 Budget Inaction  
·       While Democrats play budget games, Rauner Administration initiates steps to deal with Madigan-Cullerton deficit.  House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their caucuses passed a budget for the 2016 fiscal year beginning July 1 that is nearly $4 billion in the hole.

This latest broken Madigan-Cullerton budget comes on the heels of a Fiscal Year 2015 Madigan-Cullerton budget that was more than $1.5 billion out-of-balance when it was passed. Governor Rauner and House Republicans worked diligently to eliminate the Democrats’ $1.5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, and the State is now projected to end the year with a balanced budget.
House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and their caucuses passed a budget for the 2016 fiscal year beginning July 1 that is nearly $4 billion in the hole.

This latest broken Madigan-Cullerton budget comes on the heels of a Fiscal Year 2015 Madigan-Cullerton budget that was more than $1.5 billion out-of-balance when it was passed.

Since taking office, Governor Rauner has worked diligently to eliminate the inherited $1.5 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, and the state is now projected to end the year with a balanced budget.
Following an extensive selection process the Illinois Joining Forces (IJF) Board of Directors announced today the selection of U.S. Navy veteran Kenneth S. Barber as the first Executive Director.  Barber will report for duty today and assumes day-to-day operational leadership of the IJF, which is a statewide, public-private network of military and veteran serving organizations that collaborate in person and online to help service members, veterans, and their families navigate the “sea of goodwill.”

“We are delighted to have Ken Barber stepping up to the IJF Executive Director position,” said Tom Miller Chair, IJF Board of Directors.  “While we had an impressive field of candidates to choose from, Ken is an excellent selection.  As a combat veteran with experience in corporate, non-profit, entrepreneurial, civic, and academic settings, his wide range of experience, plus proven leadership make him a great choice.  We are looking forward to him helping to make IJF even better through engaging and supporting even more of Illinois military personnel, veterans, and their families.”
All components of the state's budget have been passed by both the House and Senate but are held in their respective chambers on a "Motion to Recorder." Until the motion is tabled or withdrawn, the budget remains tied up indefinitely.

Yesterday, the Speaker of the House sent members of the House of Representatives home with a call for them to return on Thursday for an undetermined reason. It is the hope of the House Republicans that returning to Springfield on Thursday holds an opportunity to begin working again towards reform while simultaneously tackling our budget shortfall.

Here is House Republican Leader Jim Durkin following Sunday's adjournment: