Republican lawmakers Wednesday laid resolution of the state’s budget impasse squarely at the feet of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

At a Statehouse news conference as a 10-day special session was about to begin, Republican lawmakers said the House Democrats are the only group that has yet to lay out a spending and revenue plan to end the nearly two-year budget stalemate.

“Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats will need Republican votes if they want to end this impasse,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. “It is up to them. The time for just having vague, general discussions is over.”

Durkin was referring to the fact it now takes 71 votes in the House to pass bills, including a budget. Democrats hold 67 seats in the chamber.

Republicans have put out a $36 billion spending plan that includes $5 billion in cuts. They have also said they will consider a $5.4 billion tax increase plan approved by the Senate that is needed to balance the state’s budget. Republicans said their support of a revenue plan is contingent on a number of other bills passing the legislature, including workers compensation changes, pension reform, term limits and other items. Read more.
BUDGET
Republican Legislators Present Compromise Balanced Budget Plan. House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Senate Republican Caucus Whip Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Deputy House Republican Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and House Republican Conference Chairperson Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) have introduced a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Senate Republican Caucus Whip Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Deputy House Republican Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and House Republican Conference Chairperson Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) today introduced a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal.
The playbook is being followed, pretty much like Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner predicted.

The Illinois House wouldn’t even bring a budget bill to a vote before they adjourned May 31. Rauner said House Democrats would spend the summer holding press conferences and “sham” hearings with those hurt by the budget. Democratic state Reps. Jay Hoffman and LaToya Greenwood followed the plan and did just that Wednesday.

Well, it is easy to believe the pain of folks suffering from the lack of a budget. A day care for the elderly is only open because they won the lottery. There is evidence everywhere, from our university campuses to the gargantuan, $15 billion pile of unpaid bills. Read the editorial in BND.
“We are taking an important step in improving our state’s criminal justice system,” Governor Rauner said. “Our system must work equally for all our residents, in every community, regardless of their income. We should be focused on putting people in jobs not jail.”

Overcrowding is a problem in many county jails, partly because low-level offenders cannot pay their bail. They are forced to stay behind bars until their trial. The purpose of the legislation – SB 2034 – is to ensure low-level, non-violent offenders have their bond reviewed quickly and even lowered if they have not been able to post bond because of financial reasons. Additionally, this group of offenders will earn more credit toward fines while incarcerated.
Chicago has long been a city divided by race and class, a metropolis with starkly different crime rates, economic realities and educational opportunities depending on where you live. But there’s another division in Chicago and Cook County, one that for years has gone unexamined even as it pits rich against poor.

An unprecedented analysis by the Tribune reveals that for years the county’s property tax system created an unequal burden on residents, handing huge financial breaks to homeowners who are well-off while punishing those who have the least, particularly people living in minority communities.

The problem lies with the fundamentally flawed way the county assessor’s office values property.

The valuations are a crucial factor when it comes to determining property tax bills, a burden that for many determines whether they can afford to stay in their homes. Done well, these estimates should be fair, transparent and stand up to scrutiny.

But that’s not how it works in Cook County, where Assessor Joseph Berrios has resisted reforms and ignored industry standards while his office churned out inaccurate values. The result is a staggering pattern of inequality. Read more by the Chicago Tribune's Jason Grotto.
There’s a border war raging.  It’s not between two countries.  This war is being waged between Illinois and surrounding states.  And it’s not just a battle for businesses.

“I make more money and everything is cheaper,” said Bill Roberts.

He lived in west suburban Westmont until the company he works for moved from Bedford Park, Illinois to East Chicago, Indiana.

Hoist Liftruck, took employees on a tour of the new factory that also included a visit to nearby northwest Indiana neighborhoods.  Roberts decided to move as well.  He was renter in Illinois but had enough money to purchase a home 40 miles away in Indiana. WGN has  more.
With a desire to start a serious discussion about the many large issues facing the State of Illinois, State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) has introduced House Joint Resolution 68 which would allow the question of calling a state Constitutional Convention to be on the 2018 Illinois General Election ballot.

"We have now gone over 700 days without a real budget in our State, and last week we once again ignored our mandated deadline to get something done for the people of Illinois,” Rep. Butler said. “I have heard so many of my colleagues, as well as citizens around the State, say that we need changes to our Constitution to truly move forward, and that is the main reason why I have introduced this call for an Illinois Constitutional Convention.

“Next year will represent a half century since Illinois' last Constitutional Convention was called and our State faces challenges today not envisioned by convention delegates 50 years ago. I believe it is time the citizens of our State once again have the ability to provide their say on if they want to change our Constitution through a comprehensive convention. Read more.
It is easy to get lost in the big picture of frustrations over the state legislature's inability yet again to produce a budget.

But doing so obscures a lot of meaningful little pictures that also are a part of Springfield's mosaic of many failures.

One of those little issues that is actually a huge one is school funding reform.

The Illinois Senate moved on that monumental question this session, but with such a transparently cynical move to turn it into an unjustified windfall for Chicago that it is sure to be vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Chicago Democrats used the issue as a means to maneuver a bailout of the mismanaged Chicago Public Schools system that for years has wildly overspent while over-promising its powerful unions.

Unfortunately, many Democratic legislators from the suburbs shamefully went along. Read the editorial in the Daily Herald in its entirety
Budget – General Assembly
Democrats fail to enact budget. Here we go again. We've reached the May 31st session deadline and once again, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly has failed to do its job.

This week marked 700 days without a State budget. This is the longest period without a budget of any state in modern U.S. history.

No balanced budget, no meaningful reforms to get Illinois back on track.
Here is what House Republican members are saying about Speaker Madigan’s failure to call the state budget for a vote by the May 31st deadline:

Rep. Norine Hammond (Macomb, IL)
"It is, indeed, entirely unacceptable that Illinois is poised to enter a third year with no State Budget in place. We need a balanced budget right now! We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We also cannot let the bad pass as good just to drop a mission accomplished banner and pat ourselves on the back." http://www.norinehammond.org/2017/05/op-ed-make-no-mistake-there-will-be.html

Rep. Dan Swanson (Alpha, IL)
"As a minority member of this co-equal legislative branch of government, I urge our leaders on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers, to immediately address this breach of oath and enact a revenue estimate and negotiate a balanced comprehensive budget." http://www.repswanson.com/2017/06/swanson-reacts-to-record-setting-third.html



Rep. Sheri Jesiel (Winthrop Harbor, IL)
"The taxpayers, students and most vulnerable being made to endure this calamitous situation deserve better and I hope the Speaker will finally put people ahead of politics before it is too late." http://www.sherijesiel.com/2017/05/jesiel-says-failure-to-even-vote-on.html
Rep. Barbara Wheeler (Crystal Lake)
"Today, another spring legislative session ended, and with it ended another opportunity to stop the financial death spiral gripping Illinois. Despite the efforts of many rank-and-file members to create a balanced budget compromise, Illinois’ rigged political system has once again superseded good governance." http://www.barbarawheeler.org/2017/05/wheeler-politics-continues-to-supersede.html


Rep. Terri Bryant (Murphysboro, IL)
"Instead of working with House Republicans and the Governor to pass a balanced budget, the House Democrats, led by Speaker Madigan skipped town without changing a thing. A budget bill wasn’t even put on the board for a vote in the House." http://www.repbryant.com/2017/05/bryant-house-dems-kick-budget-can.html
 Rep. Jerry Long (Streator, IL)
“It is imperative that we come together to pass a full-year, balanced budget that provides for our families and for the most vulnerable in our communities. Education, human services, and public safety have all fallen victim to these political games. Let’s come together to accomplish what the taxpayers sent us here to do.” http://www.repjerrylong.com/2017/06/rep-longs-statement-regarding.html
 Rep. Ryan Spain (Peoria, IL)
"A true budget solution for Illinois will involve tough choices. I’m prepared to make tough choices and to compromise, but good faith efforts and cooperation will be needed. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together to pass a budget by June 30 - or sooner." http://www.repryanspain.com/2017/05/op-ed-spain-prepared-to-make-tough.html

Budget
With time running out, Democrats resort to old tax and spend playbook. Rather than work together to pass a true balanced budget, Democrats are going back to their old tax and spend playbook.

Every time Republicans asked during negotiations that greater reforms be included, Democrats pulled back and said they’ve gone as far as they can.

In truth, Democrats were merely running out the clock in order to pass their $5.4 billion tax hike.
In an effort to propel the state budget process forward, State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Thursday calling on her to use the power of her office to force the Illinois General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills, in order to prevent further damage to the state’s finances and the many social service providers who serve the most vulnerable individuals and families across Illinois. Representative Wheeler’s letter to the Attorney General was co-signed by 39 other House Republican legislators.

In the letter, Representative Wheeler cites several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, an action which legislators have failed to take in either of the past two years and haven’t yet done for the coming fiscal year. Read more here.


Budget
Fresh thinking will fix Illinois. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno

For too long, Springfield politicians have been stuck in the past. They think the pressing issues of our day — large budget deficits, unfunded public pensions, and dangerously high out-migration — are similar to the ones Illinois has faced in eras past.

Have a problem? Look to the glory days of state government, they say. Just cut a little spending here and there, do a massive tax hike, and another short-term pension fix to top it off. Just remember to keep the overall system intact. They swear it’ll do the trick for a few years, maybe even a decade.
by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno

For too long, Springfield politicians have been stuck in the past. They think the pressing issues of our day — large budget deficits, unfunded public pensions, and dangerously high out-migration — are similar to the ones Illinois has faced in eras past.

Have a problem? Look to the glory days of state government, they say. Just cut a little spending here and there, do a massive tax hike, and another short-term pension fix to top it off. Just remember to keep the overall system intact. They swear it’ll do the trick for a few years, maybe even a decade.

Current and former elected officials may deny it, but the old ways of doing business have been anything but glorious for the people of Illinois. For the past 15 years, state government has been operating with budgets in structural deficit. That’s 15 years of complete and total failure. Fifteen years of the General Assembly failing to meet its most basic constitutional obligation — to pass a balanced budget for the governor to sign into law. Read the rest of the editorial in SJ-R.
Though people often focus on unemployment rates as a measure of economic health, another telling data point is how many people are so discouraged with the job search that they're dropping out of the labor force altogether.

A newly released survey found good news: Fewer unemployed Americans are giving up looking for work. But that's not the case in Illinois, where more people seem to be throwing up their hands.

A survey conducted by Harris Poll for Express Employment Professionals, a staffing agency, in March and April found 44 percent of jobless people in Illinois said they had completely given up looking for a job. That's worse than the 41 percent who said the same last year and the 33 percent who said so in 2015. Read more.
For a good time — come to Illinois.

People are getting that message and responding by coming to Illinois in record numbers.

Politics aside, and even that can be quite entertaining at times, the state has a lot going for it. There’s a lot to see and do from South Beloit all the way down to Cairo and from Chicago to Galena. It’s a big state with nearly 13 million people who know how to have — and host — a good time.

Read the editorial in the Rockford Register Star.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced today that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R- Western Springs) have filed legislation that will direct all future property tax receipts from the redevelopment of the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) to Chicago Public Schools. The bill numbers are SB2209 and HB4044.

"The JRTC is sucking up valuable space, time, and money," Governor Rauner said. "No one likes working here. It's expensive to maintain and it's a drain on taxpayer resources. The legislation introduced today gives us yet another reason to move swiftly in selling this building. Every day of delay just postpones Chicago's ability to earn millions in property taxes."
State Rep. Avery Bourne today released the following statement on school funding reform upon the House's return to Springfield for the final month of the spring legislative session:

For years, multiple legislative commissions and committees have studied the obvious inequities of Illinois’ school funding system. As it stands now, Illinois has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. That means students are essentially forced to play a zip code lottery that will determine whether they learn in classrooms equipped with an iPad per student or one where students share decades old textbooks. This is a challenge we need to tackle as the legislature, and there is bipartisan agreement that it must happen soon. Read more.

K-12 schools and state universities need a state budget.

Social service providers need a state budget.

The most vulnerable individuals and families across Illinois need a state budget.

State government in Illinois is financially adrift because the General Assembly hasn’t stepped up to lead and make the tough decisions to work through a budget. By law we are required to begin by adopting a revenue estimate. I have filed legislation to do just that.

Why is it so important that we adopt a revenue estimate? There are three reasons:
  1. The revenue estimate is the actual first step in our budgeting process. How do we know how much each appropriations committee has to allocate for their assigned departments and agencies if we don’t start with the Revenue Estimate?
  2. The revenue estimate is required by state law and the Illinois Constitution. Just look it up. We have to do it. If we appropriate funds without a revenue estimate, we are, in effect, breaking the law.
  3. The revenue estimate is an important form of taxpayer protection. If we skip the revenue estimate and just appropriate according to our wishes and the requests of the departments and agencies of state government, we will likely spend too much, which will trigger a tax increase.
Read the remainder of opinion piece by Rep. Keith Wheeler.
Budget – Thompson Center
Selling the JRTC a win-win for Illinois taxpayers and Chicago schools. Governor Bruce Rauner announced today that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin have filed legislation that will direct all future property tax receipts from the redevelopment of the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) to Chicago Public Schools. The bill numbers are SB 2209 and HB 4044.
As the acting director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, I lead the catch-all agency charged with everything from managing our state's property and vehicles to our state employee benefits and personnel systems. Under that purview falls the management of the James R. Thompson Center, the state's main office building in Chicago. For months, we've been working cooperatively with the city of Chicago and other major stakeholders refining a plan to divest the state of the property in a manner that maximizes the benefit to the people of Illinois.

The time is right to turn this property into an asset for everyone. Read the entire commentary by Michael Hoffman, acting director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

With the success of the inaugural Veterans Honor Flight of southern Illinois, the Illinois House of Representatives declared April 25th Veterans Honor Flight Day for the state of Illinois.

Representative Dave Severin of the 117th District introduced the resolution. More here.


Graphic from Ilinois.gov
May is Motorcycle Awareness Month in Illinois, but really the campaign could extend to every month where there’s enough decent weather for enthusiasts to get their motors running and head out on our scenic highways.

Already this season we’ve reported on one serious motorcycle accident — an early April collision at the intersection of Route 23 and U.S. 34 south of Leland in which a car failed to yield while turning left, pulling into the path of a motorcycle about 10:30 p.m. — and next week a county resident will be sentenced for his role in a fatal crash from October. Read more.
Lawmakers and environmentalists from parts of Illinois that rely on groundwater want tougher monitoring of porous rock quarries that are being "reclaimed" by filling them with construction waste, saying they want to regulate them to make sure drinking water doesn't become contaminated with toxins.

On the other side are road builders, engineers and others in the construction business, who argue that Illinois has sufficient quarry regulations and additional testing would be too expensive.

The proposed rules appear stymied this spring. But Attorney General Lisa Madigan is in court, trying to force previously dismissed groundwater monitoring on the quarries. She argued in a state appellate court brief that testing underground aquifers is necessary to protect drinking water "from the ongoing threat posed by the placement of unchecked materials ... directly into the water table."

Pro-monitoring forces use Flint, Michigan, as a worst-case scenario, where river water was not treated to reduce corrosion for 18 months, leading lead to leach from old pipes and fixtures.

"That's the danger," said Rep. Margo McDermed, a Republican from limestone-rich Will County who is sponsoring legislation requiring groundwater monitoring around quarry receptacles. "That's the concern of everyone who uses water nearby quarries: that we could be in a situation like that." Read more.
A new report issued Monday by a court-appointed watchdog charged with looking into patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation details how top Democrats clouted relatives and friends into positions under former Gov. Pat Quinn, even as many of those hired had little or no experience.

House Speaker Mike Madigan's office successfully pushed a former bricklayer for a job that included "maintaining relationships" with minority road contractors, though the man eventually resigned after being arrested for allegedly "physically assaulting" a then-state lawmaker. Cicero Rep. Lisa Hernandez sent in the resume of a bank manager who was put on the state payroll to inspect roads. And a daughter of 30th Ward Chicago Ald. Ariel Reboyras ended up in another state job after complaints at a different agency. Read more.

In support of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (ILACP) asked the Governor of the State of Illinois to declare April 24th through 28th as Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week in an effort to bring attention to the dangers and consequences associated with driving distracted. Governor Rauner issued the proclamation and both houses passed resolutions identifying April 24th through the 28th as Illinois Distracted Driving Awareness Week.

The ILACP, in partnership with AAA, and supported by the Illinois State Police, SafetyServe.com, the National Safety Council, the Illinois Insurance Association, almost 300 law enforcement/fire agencies and supporters from the private sector throughout Illinois, will work together during this week to educate motorists on all aspects of distracted driving.  Read more.


According to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust, the
 total unfunded pension liability for Illinois accounts for 10%
of the unfunded pension liabilities of the entire country.
The gap between the total assets reported by state pension systems across the United States and the benefits promised to workers, now reported as the net pension liability, reached $1.1 trillion in fiscal year 2015, the most recent year for which complete data are available. That represents an increase of $157 billion, or 17 percent, from 2014.

A state pension plan’s annual funded ratio gives an end-of-fiscal-year snapshot of the assets as a proportion of its accrued liabilities. In aggregate, the funded ratio of these plans dropped to 72 percent in 2015, down from 75 percent in 2014. Investment returns that fell short of expectations proved to be the largest contributor to the worsening fiscal position, with median overall returns of 3.6 percent.1 On average, state pension plans had assumed a long-run investment return of twice that—7.6 percent—for fiscal 2015.

Though final data for 2016 are not yet available, low returns will also be reflected there. Based on returns averaging 1.0 percent for that year, the net pension liability is expected to increase by close to $200 billion and reach about $1.3 trillion. Market volatility will also have a significant impact on cost predictability in the near and long terms.

Expected increases in the nationwide funding gap of more than $350 billion over two years—primarily because of lower-than-forecast investment returns—will require policymakers in many states to choose from often difficult options: paying more into state pension plans and potentially crowding out other spending in their budgets, or letting funding levels drop and pushing costs into the future. Read more by the Pew Charitable Trust.

Sam Stewart has spent most of the years since he graduated from United Township High School in 1998 in prison, and he is set to complete his third prison sentence next year — with no plans to come back.

"This will be my last time," Mr. Stewart said Tuesday at the new Kewanee Life Skills Re-Entry Center, where he's housed. His confidence is motivated by a desire to be with a young son, and bolstered, he said, by the center's skills training and respect from the staff.

"They really care," he said. "They want to help you. This place, they're definitely more focused on going home than just doing time. They're trying to prepare you and give you the necessary skills to succeed once you get home and not come back, instead of just sticking you in a cell." Read the entire QCOnline story.

Cloaked under the description of “privacy” legislation, a package of bills under consideration in Springfield takes solid aim at two of the state’s key economic performers — small businesses and the burgeoning tech industry in Illinois.

These bills include complex compliance regulations, which would apply to businesses of all sizes, but would place an enormous burden on small businesses statewide.

The “Right to Know” bill (House Bill 2774) would require any business with a website — even a local flower shop or pizza parlor — to draft privacy policies longer and more confusing than anything required by existing law and to create new IT systems — at best, a complex and expensive undertaking; at worst, impossible to implement — to respond to consumer requests under threat of liability. Read the opinion piece in SJ-R.


Budget – Lack of progress
No progress on Illinois budget; Moody’s warns Illinois of further downgrades. While the Illinois House has held a series of “pro forma” hearings on the budgetary requests and needs of Illinois state agencies, there are no State budget numbers for FY17 or FY18. FY17 is ending on June 30, 2017, without a written budget, and FY18 will start on July 1, 2018. Under State law and the Constitution of Illinois, the General Assembly is mandated to approve a balanced budget that will guide State spending for the approaching fiscal year. The Constitution requires that this budget not commit to spend more money than is expected to come in during the fiscal year. The legislature did not fulfill this mandate for FY17, and is not making progress to do this for FY18. As March 2017 ended, Illinois had more than $12 billion in unpaid bills on file with or under the supervision of the Office of the Comptroller of Illinois.
Gov. Bruce Rauner is moving ahead with plans to make the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum a separate state agency.

Rauner will issue an executive order Friday making the ALPLM a standalone facility, an idea first floated three years ago by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Rauner's order will also place the remaining functions of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency under the Department of Natural Resources.
Cardinals Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs is on the horizon, which is something most baseball fans can all look forward to. But there is something else I look forward to happening, and that is for both Democrats and Republicans to work together and approve a balanced state budget.

The Illinois General Assembly held its version of Opening Day on January 11, 2017 when all 118 representatives and 59 senators took the oath of office, marking the first day of business for the new legislature following the November election. It was a fresh start, a new year, and a real opportunity to accomplish what many promised to do after the election – pass a balanced budget. Yet here we are today, halfway through the season we call ‘session’ and the legislature has accomplished little to brag about in the record books except more losses and less victories for the taxpayers. Read more by Rep. Charlie Meier.

Reps Olsen, Winger, Bellock & McDermed joined the
Governor and Simon Wiesenthal Center to announce
the expansion of anti-hate education in Illinois.
Governor Bruce Rauner announced today the State of Illinois will work with the Simon Wiesenthal Center to expand anti-hate education to Illinois students. This is part of Governor Rauner’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism and other hate crimes in Illinois.

“As Simon Wiesenthal and others frequently said, ‘For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.’ We’re here because we’re doing something. Illinois will not stay silent in the face of hate, bigotry and persecution,” Governor Rauner said. “Illinois is a leader in anti-hate education, and we will work with organizations like the Simon Wiesenthal Center to continue to lead by example.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center today presented Governor Bruce Rauner with its 2017 Digital Terrorism and Hate Report at the State Capitol. He is the first Midwestern governor to be presented with the report.

"The Simon Wiesenthal Center is grateful for Governor Rauner taking a leadership position today, in supporting our ongoing efforts to combat racism, anti-Semitism and extremism, especially on social media." said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization, and founder of the Digital Hate and Terrorism Project, twenty two years ago.  "The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Midwest Director, Alison Pure-Slovin, has already begun to train facilitators for our new Students Tools for Tolerance program that will empower young people to deal with the tsunami of online hate. We look forward to working with Governor Rauner and Secretary of Education Beth Purvis to educate our children on the perils of social media.”

Earlier this month, Governor Rauner unveiled a four-part initiative to combat the rise in anti-Semitism and hate crimes both in Illinois and around the country. His directives include:

  • Strengthening Illinois’ hate crime law to prevent and prosecute hate crimes targeting specific religions
  • Improving law enforcement training to properly identify, investigate and prosecute hate crimes
  • Expanding K-12 education to combat hate
  • Prohibiting state contracts with companies that boycott Israel


As consumers, when we walk into a store we have many options, not only in the products we choose but in the brands of those products. As taxpayers, we rarely get that option. As a state, Illinois spends 3.7 times the national average on our non-Medicaid clients, but we have one of the largest numbers of low-need individuals in costly nursing homes. Spending more money hasn’t resulted in better services or better quality of life for the people that need them.

The Illinois Department on Aging has developed a new program that will improve the way Illinois serves seniors not eligible for Medicaid while saving the state money. The Community Reinvestment Program allows the state to maintain funding at 2 times the national average for seniors not eligible for Medicaid while addressing the projected 57 percent increase in our aging population. Read more by Rep. Mark Batinick.

State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, was honored Monday by a group of veterans on behalf of her late Vietnam-veteran father, as well as thanked for a bill she introduced to help aging veterans and other seniors.

The presentation took place as Rep. McCombie was holding "traveling office hours" with residents at Colona City Hall.

The local veterans presented her with a T-shirt commemorating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as a Vietnam service coin. Rep. McCombie's father, John "Jack" Reagan, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, beginning in 1967. He died in 2012.

Rep. McCombie was also thanked for her bill, introduced last month, that would raise the income limit for eligibility for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, which offers seniors a reduced property-tax bill. Read more.
Members frustrated by the Majority's unwillingness to address the budget impasse or reforms, called for immediate action. Here's what several members had to say:

 
Leader Jim Durkin: "Stop this insanity. For too long, the majority party has shirked their responsibilities – whether its raising the income tax under the guise that it would pay down old  bills and put people back to work – or passing reckless unbalanced budgets year after year.

Simply raising taxes and increase spending without any reforms didn’t work then - and it won’t work now.

We need to actually reduce spending and demand property tax relief and include reforms to grow jobs and our economy."



Rep. Joe Sosnowski (Rockford): “One thing we cannot do is pass an unbalanced budget that includes tax increases and no responsible reforms that provide taxpayer relief. We can bring manufacturing jobs back to the Rockford area and other parts of the state by insisting that economic reforms be part of any final budget agreement.”


Rep. Tony McCombie (Savanna): “So as we return to Springfield today, I urge my colleagues to resist the failed attempts of the past. No more unbalanced budgets. No more tax increases. Let's start fresh and put aside the political rhetoric and work together! Together we can balance a budget AND take on the major issues facing our state. Together we can make Illinois a growth state and one of the best in the nation.”


Rep. Ryan Spain (Peoria): “...it is simply not acceptable to kick this can down the road by passing tax increases without meaningful cost reforms.  That’s not what any of us were sent here to do - we were sent here to fix the problems.”


Once again, Leader Jim Durkin called for action on the state budget and implementation of reforms. "We're ready to work.  We were ready in January and ready now – but we can't do it alone." Watch the video:

Budget – Pension Reform
House Republicans offer comprehensive pension reform proposal and CPS relief. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin today called on Speaker Michael Madigan and the House Democrats to join the House Republicans in passing comprehensive pension reform that would provide significant savings for taxpayers and $215 million to the Chicago Public Schools for a one time pension parity payment.
Marker is located on the grounds of the Savanna public
library on the SE corner of Madison & Third Streets. 
State Representative Tony McCombie honored Helen Scott Hay, a trailblazing nurse from Savanna, in a speech on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives.

“In honor today of National Women’s Month I want to take a moment to recognize an incredible women from Savanna, IL, Helen Scott Hay.” said Rep. McCombie. “She was a nurse who devoted her life to helping other people by teaching in the nursing profession, serving in the Red Cross during World War I and training nurses all over the world!”

After her work with the Red Cross, Helen Scott Hay moved back to her hometown of Savanna where she continued to serve the community in various ways – even as principal of Savanna High School. Before Helen Scott died in 1932 after a full and meaningful life devoted to helping others, she exercised her right to vote.  Read more.