Our children’s education remains a top priority for Illinois House Republicans, which is why they have taken action to address the growing teacher shortage in our state. First and foremost, our members are committed to ensuring highly prepared and effective educators are teaching our children. To do that, Illinois must address the teacher shortage.

Background
The Illinois State Board of Education said the 2017-18 school year began with about 2,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state.* And a recent survey conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that school districts were increasingly having difficulty finding qualified candidates to apply for teaching positions.
Proponents of changing the way Illinois draws political maps had their moment Wednesday, but they appear no closer to getting the issue before voters.

Proposed constitutional amendments have been introduced in both the House and Senate that would take the remapping process away from politicians and put it in the hands of an independent commission.

Senate leaders allowed proponents of the amendment to make their case at a subcommittee hearing Wednesday. However, in the House, the proposals have been locked up in the House Rules Committee and time is quickly running out.

Both the House and Senate would have to vote by May 6 to put the issue on the ballot. The House is not scheduled to be in session the week of April 30 through May 4. Read the rest of the story.
Ensuring the health and safety of Illinois families has long been the hallmark of Rep. Michael McAuliffe’s tenure in the Illinois General Assembly. This session McAuliffe has introduced two bills intended to improve health outcomes for Illinois women and children.

One piece of legislation now moving through the General Assembly removes the obstacles to the implementation of newborn screenings.

Early identification of certain disorders means children will get treatment before the disease progresses and causes irreparable harm. In some instances it will even save lives. One of those disorders is Krabbe disease, a rare neurological illness that is treatable if caught soon after a baby is born but which can be deadly if not treated early. 
TAXES
House Republicans oppose progressive income tax. Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, along with members of the House Republican Caucus, filed House Resolution 975 Tuesday to state their opposition to a proposed progressive income tax on Illinois residents.

“The General Assembly cannot continue spending money frivolously and expect Illinois taxpayers to pick up the tab with more tax increases like this progressive income tax proposal from the Democrat party,” Durkin said. “It is our constitutional duty to protect our constituents, and we will remain firm as a caucus on blocking any progressive tax measures.”
With Democrat J.B. Pritzker saying a progressive state income tax is his top priority, House Republicans are uniting behind yet another resolution pledging their opposition to the idea.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and all but one of the other 50 House Republicans signed onto the resolution pledging to oppose a graduated state income tax...

...“Taxpayers cannot afford the current increase in taxes,” Durkin said at a Statehouse news conference. “There’s no way the Democrats should even be floating an idea of the progressive tax. Both opponents and proponents know how debilitating this tax would be to Illinois taxpayers.” Read the story in SJ-R.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, along with 49 other members of the House Republican Caucus, filed House Resolution 975 today to state their opposition to a proposed progressive income tax.

Below is video from the press conference where Leader Durkin along with Reps, Wehrli, Jesiel and Reick introduced the resolution.


Homeowners in the Chicago area are paying higher property tax bills, on average, than 93 percent of the country, according to a new report.

The average 2017 tax bill on a single-family home in Lake County was higher than nearly 99 percent of the 1,414 U.S. counties covered by the report, released yesterday by Attom Data Solutions.

The region's other counties aren't far behind. The average bill in DuPage County is higher than nearly 98 percent, followed by Kane County and McHenry County (both 96 percent), Cook County (94 percent) and Will County (93 percent).

The report covers only counties with 10,000 or more single-family homes. In all, the nation has 3,144 counties, or more than twice the number in Attom's study. The report includes a county-by-county map of the average property tax bill for single-family homes. Read more in Crain's.
BUDGET
COGFA releases March 2018 revenue report. The report covers Illinois revenue and fiscal trends for March 2018, with references to comparable numbers generated by the State and its taxpayers twelve months earlier in March 2017. The numbers were compiled by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budget monitoring arm of the Illinois General Assembly, acting in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Revenue.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) is teaming up with the Save a Star Drug Awareness Foundation to help decrease prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.

Governor Bruce Rauner announced today that five ISP District headquarters across the state will house receptacles for people to drop off their unused and unwanted prescription medications.

“Many people experiment with prescription drugs before turning to more dangerous, illegal drugs,” Rauner said. “These receptacles offer people a smart and safe way to get potentially addictive drugs out of their homes and off the streets.”
By the tens of thousands each year, Illinoisans are fleeing this state’s rising taxes and mediocre jobs climate. Many no longer see Illinois as their fount of opportunity, the place worth investing their lives. They know the math of Illinois’ enormous public debts and the decadeslong soaking its taxpayers face. The next governor, whether incumbent Bruce Rauner or challenger J.B. Pritzker, will lead a shrinking constituency.

Why are people ditching Illinois? What might a governor, a legislature, do to keep them? How should voters who remain here factor this intensifying Illinois exodus into their votes on Nov. 6? We’ve been tracking down expatriates and reaching out to Illinoisans who face a wrenching choice: Do we stay or go? From now until the election, we’ll introduce you to some of these people. Today, from the expats, meet the Carpenters, the Heards and the Salvas. Read the rest of the Chicago Tribune Editorial.
ECONOMY
ADM, Deere, Caterpillar honored as top Illinois firms. The honor was published in “Illinois Top 200,” a series of online surveys enabling Illinois respondents to honor local leadership activities, institutions, and experiences. Illinois respondents were asked to honor their favorite “homegrown companies,” in a list that also included McDonald’s, Walgreens, Rand McNally, DeKalb AgResearch, Sears, State Farm, and Dairy Queen.
While he’s taking on such issues as solar energy and the proposed mileage tax in this spring's session of the Illinois General Assembly, the people of the Murray Developmental Center, the residents of his 108th District, and his historical family farm are always close to his heart. State Representative Charlie Meier is our guest today.


Jobs – February 2018 unemployment
Illinois notches new all-time high in payroll jobs. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), which compiles Illinois nonfarm payroll job numbers in cooperation with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, announced this week that revised employment numbers for January 2018 show that Illinois has notched a new peak employment level. The revised statistics show that nearly 6.1 million men and women were employed on Illinois-based nonfarm payroll jobs in January 2018. The new high was achieved as the result of net new jobs that had been created in calendar year 2017 within Illinois.
Rep. Dan Swanson is serving his first term in the Illinois House of Representatives, this after serving over 27 years in the Illinois Army National Guard and with the United States Army, culminating with the rank of Lt. Colonel.

 He also helps attend to a fifth-generation family farm and works with "Homegrown by Heroes," whose mission it is to serve veterans. Our guest today is 74th District State Representative Dan Swanson.

“Persistence pays off, and a refusal to give up never hurts.”
~ Rep. Mike Unes on  moving his legislation to sell
Hanna City Work Camp through the General Assembly.
A longtime Peoria County eyesore could soon be up for sale if the Illinois Legislature follows through.

If you’ve driven along Illinois Route 116 on your way to Hanna City or to Farmington, you’ve likely glanced out your window at the dilapidated collection of structures gradually being reclaimed by nature and, like us a week ago on the way to breakfast, tutted over the ugliness.

For years, that’s been the gradually declining condition of the former Hanna City Work Camp, which has sat vacant and unused.

About a decade ago the state-owned facility was turned over to the county through legislation, though in the intervening years the local government hasn’t found anything to do with it, despite a lot of brainstorming. Read the rest of the story.
Budget – COGFA report
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) releases February 2018 report. February 2018 State general funds receipts grew significantly over similar figures posted in February 2017. However, as with previous months in FY18, this healthy year-over-year performance was significantly affected by an income tax increase enacted in July 2017. During the year-over-year period that spanned February 2017 and February 2018, sales tax receipts grew by 13%, individual income tax receipts grew 50%, and corporate income tax receipts increased by 378%.
Sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact, especially when it comes to legislation.

This year a minor change in the Illinois Veterans Preference Act could mean more job opportunities for those who have served their country. Rep. Norine Hammond introduced HB4288 earlier this year that would add qualifying members of the National Guard from any state, who now live in Illinois, to the Veterans Preference Act.

Currently, the act allows US Armed Forces veterans (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard), Merchant Marines or members of the Illinois National Guard to qualify for preference in certain state jobs. However, if a current Illinois resident served in the Guard of another state they would not qualify, an oversight Hammond hopes to rectify with her legislation.

This is good legislation that will ensure everyone who serves our county has an opportunity to qualify for jobs covered by the Illinois Veterans Preference Act.

Education – Scholarships
Tax credit scholarship clearinghouse announces more than 33,000 applications. The benchmark news came from Empower Illinois, one of the nonprofit entities overseeing implementation of the Illinois tax credit scholarship program created by the Illinois General Assembly in 2017. Under this new tax credit, Illinois income taxpayers are authorized to donate moneys to an approved scholarship clearinghouse. The moneys will be used to pay for scholarships to be awarded to enable children to attend fee-charging schools. Scholarships that will cover 50 to 100 percent of a student’s tuition and school-related expenses will be awarded to children from income-eligible households.
State Representative Tony McCombie talks about respecting each others positions, creating jobs in Illinois and the need to reduce property taxes.

She also talks about her legislation to protect Illinois families and ensure the safety of state employees.

Education – “Storytellers”
Rep. Norine Hammond calls for State Board of Education to drop its plan to hire three “Storytellers.” The State Board has developed a budget that includes funding for three employees, described as “Storytellers,” to create what the Board asserts will be compelling, persuasive, relevant, and accurate communications content that will increase local school district engagement with the goals of the State Board and its educational professionals.
61st District State Representative Sheri Jesiel represents the farthest northeastern district in the State of Illinois and is a lifelong resident of the Zion-Winthrop Harbor area where she raised her three children.

While we talk about Property Tax relief and pension reform we also ask her to pick someone she would like to trade places with for a week….and her answer just might surprise you.
 
In Illinois and other states, polices are often stacked against the independent family farmer especially after the death of the owner. Passing a family farm on to the next generation is hard enough without the crippling estate taxes that are required by the state and federal governments.

Currently, Illinois’ estate tax law disproportionately impacts small family farms. The value of these farms, as recognized by the estate tax, is not a pile of money sitting in a bank, but rather acres of land passed down for generations that has allowed families to carve out a living. Under the current system, many families are forced to sell off land or equipment just to pay the tax - diminishing the value of the farm and the ability of the family to earn a living from it.
BUDGET
Governor Rauner delivers budget address to General Assembly. Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly Wednesday. The Governor renewed his call for a $1 billion tax cut for all Illinois taxpayers. He also called for “structural reforms” to Illinois laws that underlie the current patterns of Illinois public-sector taxes and spending.

Assailing what he called “unsustainable growth in our pension and healthcare costs,” Gov. Rauner stated that more than 25 cents of every dollar the State spends goes to these facets of public-sector employee benefits. These benefits far exceed the benefits paid to workers in the private sector, and the cost of these benefits is driving job growth from Illinois to other states. Rauner pointed to job trends, including manufacturing job growth, in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
We talk with Rep. Tom Demmer about his thoughts on transparency, reform, and fiscal responsibility.

He also tells us about his days riding his bicycle past President Reagan’s boyhood home, working in Vice President Cheney’s office at the White House and his family roots in Cubs baseball.
 
All too often the jobs of state employees require them to put themselves at risk to protect Illinois residents. It was the case with Pamela Knight, a Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigator who was brutally beaten last September while trying to take a 2 year-old child into protective custody. She died last week from injuries sustained in the attack. Her accused assailant is facing multiple charges and is awaiting trial.

In response to this senseless act of violence against a state employee, State Reps Brian Stewart, Tony McCombie and Tom Demmer introduced HB4147, legislation that would enhance the penalties for attacking a DCFS worker in the performance of their duties, making it an aggravated felony. Ultimately it would provide DCFS employees the same protections as law enforcement officers and firefighters who put themselves in harms way.

The job DCFS investigators perform can be dangerous and it is important that the state does all it can to protect them and penalize those who do them harm.
General Assembly – House committees
With full start of 2018 spring session, Illinois House committees convene and begin to hear bills. Following the State of the State address on Wednesday, January 31, the Illinois House and Senate began committee action for the spring 2018 session. The House will have five full weeks of committee action prior to the deadline for substantive committee action on April 13. Most of the work of presenting a bill, hearing witness testimony on the measure and developing amendments to perfect the measure are done in committees rather than on the floor of the full House. The House schedules for spring 2018 can be found here. The General Assembly’s website also includes a type-in box to track each individual bill under consideration in Springfield by bill number.
State Rep. Mark Batinick serves the 97th District
Minnesota, Minnesota, Minnesota! It’s all Illinois Democrats seem to crow about these days. The story goes like this: If Illinois just had progressive policies like Minnesota all would be well and our problems would be solved. But like most things, the devil is in the details, so it’s important to examine those “progressive” policies and see how they stack up to Illinois.

Property taxes in Minnesota are near 1 percent and below the national average. Meanwhile, families and businesses in Illinois are faced with some of the highest property tax rates in the country, at 2.23 percent. Do Illinois Democrats have a plan for that?

Workers’ Compensation rates are about the national average in Minnesota — which is much lower than Illinois. In addition, attorney fees on Workers’ Compensation claims are capped at $26,000 in Minnesota. Do Illinois Democrats plan to make the changes necessary in our state to emulate Minnesota’s law? Read the rest of the guest column in SJ-R.
93rd District State Representative Norine Hammond talks about the spring session in Springfield including the budget, pension reform, and how to keep Illinois’ college students in their home state.

The Assistant Republican Leader also tells us about her love of county fairs, NASCAR, and visiting her family roots in Ireland.
In an effort to put more money in the pockets of Illinois taxpayers and infuse funds into the Illinois economy, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has launched the Illinois Tax Reform Plan. The plan, consisting of three taxpayer-friendly bills, was unveiled today at a press briefing in Springfield. Each bill has the potential of lowering taxes on Illinoisans and Illinois businesses.
Nearly 55,000 Illinois residents currently serve our country in the military, ranking Illinois 13th in the number of residents serving our nation. Not only do thousands of military members call Illinois home, so do their families. Oftentimes those families are required to move to an Illinois community to accommodate the servicemember's assignment.

When the unthinkable happens and a servicemember is killed in action, their family is left with many difficult decisions, including the need or desire to move.

Under current law, families are permitted to terminate a residential lease without penalty when a servicemember is deployed. However, it does not allow for the same option when a servicemember is killed in action, causing the family additional hardship. 

Rep. Mike Unes learned of this issue from a widow of a fallen soldier. She and her two young children needed to move after her husband was killed in action but the landlord required her to pay penalties for early termination of the lease. 

In response, Rep. Unes recently introduced HB4317 to ensure the families of servicemembers do not face additional burdens after losing their loved one in service to our country. The legislation will allow families to terminate their lease without penalty when their loved one is killed in action.

We owe it to our nation's heroes who pay the ultimate price to protect their families. HB4317 is one way we can do just that. 
General Assembly – Spring session
Lawmakers convene for 2018 spring session. The first day of the spring session was Tuesday, January 30. In addition to considering appropriation bills to make up the FY19 State of Illinois budget (for the fiscal year which starts on July 1, 2018), the Illinois House and Senate will consider many substantive bills. With Amazon.com considering Chicago as one possible location as the site for its second headquarters, the lawmakers will be eager to prioritize measures to improve Illinois as a place for job creation and enterprise. Continuing competition from other Midwestern states, especially Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin, is expected to be a major theme of the session’s substantive bill work.
Rep. Dan Brady shares his views on the state budget, pension reform, higher education and more.

During "random questions" we learn his nickname, his frustrations with golf, and his love of fried chicken.

Reps. Bourne, McCombie, Hammond, Bryant and Winger
wear black to show solidarity and their commitment to ending
sexual harassment and discrimination. 
Yesterday for the State of the State address members of the Illinois General Assembly wore black to show their solidarity and renew their commitment to ending sexual harassment and discrimination.

Reps. Barb Wheeler and Christine Winger rose on the House Floor to speak about the alarming testimony they heard as part of the Sexual Harassment Task Force and urged support of HR 783 to launch an investigation into harassment allegations.

Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez shared the experiences of the first women Illinois legislator,  Rep. Lottie Holman O'Neil and spoke eloquently about creating an environment where "it is not riskier for women to speak-up than to remain silent."

Finally, Governor Rauner signed Executive Order 2018-02 strengthening state policies to ensure all government employees under his jurisdiction have reliable and responsive outlets for reporting acts of sexual misconduct. Among other things, the order creates a chief compliance office and requires the review of harassment allegations within 10 days or less. Read the entire Executive Order

House Republicans members will continue to take action against perpetrators of harassment and work to improve protections for women in the workplace.
Jobs
Illinois unemployment rate drops. The Illinois unemployment rate dropped from 4.9% to 4.8% in December 2017. The declining jobless rate to close out calendar year 2017 was another sign of a stable employment picture in the Land of Lincoln, with Illinois employers supporting an estimated 6,050,900 nonfarm payroll jobs. This marked an increase of 1,500 jobs from the previous month, and an increase of almost 30,000 jobs from December 2016. The new figures were published by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), which tracks and monitors Illinois employment and unemployment.
State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer has refiled his “Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter” which he calls common-sense legislation in reforming the Illinois’ budget process by stopping wasteful spending, promoting a thirty-day payment cycle and requiring the State to make its full pension payment. We’ll talk about the legislation and his expectations of the spring session of the Illinois General Assembly.

We also hear about his time as a legislative assistant in Washington DC and what he has in common with the U.S Speaker of the House, the Pittsburg Steelers star quarterback, and Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.

Illinois is home to world class colleges and universities, yet more and more Illinois students choose to leave our state to continue their education. From 1991-2014, enrollment at Illinois public universities and community colleges has declined by 50,000 students. As the father of a college-age daughter, State Representative Dan Brady knows this ‘brain drain’ can’t continue. As Republican Spokesman on the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee, Rep. Brady has been working on real solutions that will help us keep our best and brightest here to get their degree and, hopefully, to put their talents to work in our communities.

Rep. Brady has filed HB 4103 which would ensure Illinois high school student with a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or better will be guaranteed admission to a public university in our state. It will also establish a uniform admission process online, allowing Illinois students to apply to all Illinois public universities with one online submission.

We think helping students attain a quality higher education right here in Illinois is vital to our state. Kudos to Rep. Brady for continuing to find ways to make that happen.



JOBS
Chicago makes the cut to 20 in Amazon’s HQ2 search. Amazon.com and its owner-CEO, Jeff Bezos, have announced their intent to create a second headquarters in addition to Amazon’s current headquarters in Seattle. In late 2017, the firm asked cities in North America to submit plans and proposals for the global marketing firm to initiate a major expansion. Amazon’s stated criteria for selecting their location for potential expansion included a city within an urban area with more than 1 million people and within 45 minutes of an international airport. The presence of mass-transit infrastructure was described as strongly desirable but not essential. The firm stated that it was their intent to create a research, development, and logistics management complex that could support as many as 50,000 jobs.
Charles Dvorak at the St. Louis Olympic Games, 1904
 Next month Illinoisans will cheer on the athletes of Team USA as they represent our nation in the winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. In recent years the nation has pulled for Illinoisan Olympians like Naperville figure skater Evan Lysacek, Chicago basketball stars Candace Parker and Dwyane Wade, hockey stars like Cammi Granato-Ferraro of Downers Grove, and legends like East St. Louis track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Champaign figure skater Bonnie Blair. Most recently, during the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, more than 50 athletes with ties to Illinois competed; and they brought home 22 medals, including 11 golds.
State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about his plans for the spring session and the changes in the process he believes are needed in order to accomplish real reform.

We also talk about his travels around his large 106th district, his days as a school teacher, Gospel singing, and time with his grandkids.

As a military veteran Rep. Dan Swanson brings a unique perspective to Springfield. He understands better than most that many of the brave women and men who honorably served their country now find themselves in need of our help. He gets that honor and other circumstances sometimes prevent veterans from asking for assistance. And he is alarmed by the staggering number of veterans who turn to suicide as a solution. Rep. Swanson also knows from his advocacy that proactivity is the best way to get resources in the hands of veterans. So, he is taking action.

Earlier this month, Rep. Swanson filed legislation that provides a mechanism for law enforcement to immediately respond to a missing veteran. Under Swanson’s bill law enforcement can issue a Silver Alert for a missing veteran. Like an Amber alert, the public will be notified in an effort to quickly locate a missing veteran and perhaps save a life.

We think Rep. Swanson’s HB4212 is legislation you should know about.

Read the text of HB4212.

If you are a veteran in crisis or are concerned about one please reach out to the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. 





Men building former Highway #4 through Towanda, eventually parts of that highway became
Route 66.  Photo from the Towanda Area Historical Collection, Illinois Digital Archives --
A service of the Illinois State Library and Office of the Secretary of State.
The maps had just been released, but already the grumbling had begun.

In the 1920s, the first map of the proposed federal numbered highway system had been released. The most prominent east-west numbered highways were those ending with in zero. But a few states had been bypassed by every one of the round-numbered highways: a blow to their national prestige.

Some of those states’ representatives took their complaints to the proper authority, and some of the roads were dutifully re-numbered. More states got round-numbered federal highways and Illinois ended up as the hub of the most famous highway in the world: Route 66.
"People are fleeing Illinois. And still, Democratic leaders in Chicago
and Cook County...deny that high taxes, underfunded pensions, government
debt and political dysfunction are the reasons for the exodus..."

While imposing a stiff prison sentence on former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, U.S. District Judge James Zagel contemplated an issue that, just over six years later, continues to debase this state’s prosperity.

“In the United States, we don’t much govern at gunpoint,” Zagel told the courtroom on Dec. 7, 2011. “We require willing and creative cooperation and participation to prosper as a civil society. This happens most easily when people trust the person at the top to do the right thing most of the time, and more important than that, to try to do it all of the time.”

Corruption at the top tears and disfigures the “fabric of Illinois” and is “not easily or quickly repaired,” Zagel said.

Trust in government is essential to civil society — not only governance that is corruption-free but also competent and responsible. Read the rest of the commentary by Tribune Editorial Board member Kristen McQueary.


BUDGET
Revenues up, but overall budget picture clouded by poor retail spending numbers. The December 2017 State revenue report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) shows that State revenues rose by $438 million over comparable levels in December 2016, an increase of 15.4%. This increase is helping to pay off some of the $8.7 billion backlog of unpaid State bills.

However, the Commission’s economic team has called the General Assembly’s attention to areas of weakness within the revenue numbers. Sales tax receipts declined by 4%, or $34 million, on a year-over-year basis within the overall revenue increase. The poor sales tax numbers were attributed by economists to the continuing challenges faces by participants in the U.S. retail sector.
Photo from the Illinois State Library General Collection, IL Digital Archives.
 A service of the Illinois State Library and Illinois Secretary of State.
London, Osaka, Paris, Rome and Chicago, Illinois. Since the first World’s Fair in 1851, every few years the world has come to one great city to experience the latest in science, culture and entertainment. Twice, the city of Chicago has opened its door to the world and hosted a World’s Fair.

The first was in 1893. Known as the World’s Columbian Exhibition, the 1893 World’s Fair was the second to be held in the United States, following Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exposition. The fair opened in May in 14 Beaux Arts-style “great buildings” and nearly 200 smaller structures, most of which were built specifically for the fair. The white stucco coverings for the buildings; which were designed by such famed architects of the time as Frederick Law Olmstead and Daniel Burnham; combined with the bright lighting used to illuminate the fair at night to give rise to the nickname for the fair’s grounds: the White City.
Illinois’ new Invest in Kids scholarship program — which gives low- to middle-income students opportunities to attend non-public schools that best meet their educational goals — attracted more than $36 million in pledged contributions on Tuesday, Jan. 2, the first day the state began accepting applications, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today.

Taxpayers can contribute up to $1.3 million to eligible organizations and receive an income tax credit equal to 75 percent of their approved contributions. The state caps total yearly contributions at $100 million.
David Welter discusses his position on the House Energy committee and how having a number of nuclear power plants in his district gives him a unique perspective into the state’s energy needs. In addition the representative from Morris explains that an incident at a local county board meeting when he was still in high school provided the incentive to get in to politics, being elected to that county board at 19 and becoming its chairman at 23.