Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that streamlines veteran identification services and makes it easier for homeless veterans to access needed medical benefits. Rauner also made Nov. 4th GI Bill of Rights Day to pay tribute to the American Legion committee, chaired by the 29th Governor of Illinois, that wrote the historic Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944.

“We should seize every opportunity to streamline services to better honor and support those who selflessly gave so much to our country,” Rauner said. “Providing a free medical record for homeless veterans will help them more easily access the critical services and benefits they earned, and the ID designations and license plates represent tokens of our gratitude for the monumental sacrifices made by Illinois veterans to protect our freedoms.” 
STATE GOVERNMENT
New law brings hundreds of state jobs back to Sangamon County. Gov. Bruce Rauner followed through with his promise to bring state jobs back to the capital city with the signing of House Bill  4295 Thursday. The legislation moves hundreds of state jobs to Springfield.

“It is a matter of state pride,” Rauner said. “This bill preserves the heritage of Springfield as Illinois’ capital city while boosting our local economy. It promotes Lincoln’s hometown and his vision as one of the original lawmakers who advocated for making Springfield the capital of Illinois.”
A 1892 campaign poster showing the Cleveland-Stevenson
(Cleve and Steve) ticket.
Illinois has been the home of four U.S. Presidents. Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Reagan and Obama all called Illinois home at some point. All four were chosen for a second term in the Oval Office. Each achieved the ever-lasting fame that comes with the Presidency.

History has not been as kind to the two Illinoisans who served as Vice President.

Neither of Illinois’ two Vice Presidents achieved the stature of Lincoln. Neither got a second term and neither have long passages in the history books, if any at all. There is no Mount Rushmore for Vice Presidents. But both were highly accomplished and very prominent men of their times. One was the patriarch of an Illinois political dynasty, while the other helped organize a World’s Fair and won a Nobel Peace Prize.
LAW ENFORCEMENT
New lottery game to benefit families of fallen police officers. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill this week to create a new Illinois Lottery scratch-off game from which proceeds will fund police memorials, support for the families of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty, and protective vest replacements for officers.

“Our police officers stand in the face of danger every day to keep us safe. We are proud to stand with them and support their families when they are faced with a devastating loss,” Rauner said. “This new ticket will help fund scholarships for their children and honor their bravery at memorial parks across the state.”
Abraham Lincoln c1846
A visitor to Springfield might take some time to stop by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site or Lincoln’s Tomb. Lincoln, after all, spent a big part of his adult life in Springfield. He represented the area in the state legislature and in Congress. His children were born there, the only home he ever owned is there, just down the street from his law office and the Capitol building where he gave one of his most famous speeches.
Sandbagging in downtown Alton during the
Great Flood of 1993
Illinois is the crossroads of North America. For centuries, this location has been a great advantage for the settlement and commerce of our state. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is among the busiest in the world. It is here that the major rail lines come together, that the major highways intersect, and the major rivers of the continent converge. But 25 years ago it was that last crossroads—the rivers—that brought about one of the greatest natural disasters in Illinois history.

Our state’s unique geography within North America’s river system puts us in a prosperous but also dangerous position. The great rivers of the upper Midwest, the Great Plains, the Rust Belt and the mid-south all come together in or near Illinois. The moisture from our rivers contributes to the rich Illinois farmland that feeds so much of the nation and the world. But it also carries great risk: excessive snowfall in Montana or western Pennsylvania, or heavy rains in Minnesota or Alabama can have disastrous impacts hundreds of miles away in Illinois.
Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst was sworn into office Tuesday as the new State Representative for Illinois’ 47th Legislative House District. She took her oath of office outside of Elmhurst College’s Hammerschmidt Chapel, a mere 4 miles from where she was raised in Villa Park, and 6 blocks from her Elmhurst home.

Elmhurst College Trustee and 4th Ward Alderman Kevin York welcomed guests, and the Honorable Liam Brennan, 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge, administered the oath of office. Mazzochi was introduced by State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst). Read more.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Jeff Keicher sworn in as 70th District State Representative. Joined by community leaders, family and friends, Sycamore businessman Jeff Keicher took the oath of office at Dayton Farms on Tuesday to become the new State Representative for Illinois’ 70th District, encompassing portions of Boone, DeKalb, and Kane Counties. Keicher replaces former Representative Bob Pritchard, who resigned July 1 to accept an appointment to the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University.
President Theodore Roosevelt and Governor Richard Yates, Jr. sit on a bench at the Governor’s Mansion in Springfield. Photo courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Last weekend, the Illinois Governor's Mansion in Springfield re-opened after a multi-year renovation effort. The first tours were conducted on Saturday. The tours feature exhibits highlighting the children who have lived in the mansion and they also include furniture from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the pre-Civil War era. The mansion, which was built in the mid-1850s, has been visited by everyone from Presidents of the United States to a First Daughter’s pet alligator.

Springfield became the state’s capital city in 1839, and before the current mansion was constructed Governors lived in a house at 8th and Capitol streets, an intersection now occupied by the Springfield public library, a fire station and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site. In 1853, Governor Joel Matteson took office and made the need for a new residence apparent, as the existing house was insufficient for his family which included seven children.
Joined by community leaders, family and friends, Sycamore businessman Jeff Keicher took the oath of office at Dayton Farms on Tuesday to become the new State Representative for Illinois’ 70th District, encompassing portions of Boone, DeKalb, and Kane Counties. Keicher replaces former Representative Bob Pritchard, who resigned July 1 to accept an appointment to the Board of Trustees of Northern Illinois University.

Following through on a commitment he made previously, Representative Keicher will sign official paperwork declining state health insurance benefits, as well as opting out of the pension system for state legislators.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed legislation that expands the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy and cuts the red tape on future construction projects, allowing the administration to move quickly to build a new state-of-the-art facility at the campus.

“We’re building a brand new facility and making sure our veterans have a safe place to call home,” Rauner said. “Building this new facility should not be caught up in the bureaucratic process. Our veterans deserve the best. They have fought to secure our freedom and we’re fighting to make sure they have the care they need for generations to come.”
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Patti Bellock named DHFS director. Gov. Rauner announced last week that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.
State Representative Avery Bourne was recently named the newest member of ISBE’s (Illinois State Board of Education) Evidence-Based Funding Professional Review Panel. The panel was created with the new school funding formula to annually review data, proposed changes, and the overall implementation of the formula. It is made up of practitioners, experts, legislative leaders, and advocates.

Rep. Bourne stated, “It is an honor to be chosen for the ISBE Panel and I look forward to working with these professionals to make our school funding formula work. School children statewide now have a brighter future because of school funding reform. The work of this panel will make sure the school funding reform is dynamic and continues to provide the best outcomes for students statewide. After our important work to pass school funding reform, now the hard work of implementing it begins.” Read more.

Gov. Rauner announced today that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.

“Illinois is so fortunate to have an advocate for health and human services as dedicated and talented as Patti Bellock,” said Rauner in announcing the appointment. “She has been instrumental in virtually every health advancement our state has made in the last two decades and I am looking forward to her leadership of the state’s ongoing effort to reform our delivery systems and improve our outcomes.”
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Nation’s highest court issues decision in Janus case. In a blow to public employee labor unions, the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday overturned a 41-year-old precedent and ruled in favor of an Illinois state employee who said he should not be forced to pay fair share fees to the union that represents his job

In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with Mark Janus, who contended his free speech rights were violated by being forced to pay fair share dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Janus works as a child support specialist for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job is a union position represented by AFSCME.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
State Rep. Chad Hays to step down early. State Representative Chad Hays announced Friday that he will be stepping down from his seat in the Illinois House of Representatives early so he can take a job in the private sector.

Hays, who has served in the General Assembly since December of 2010 and as Assistant Minority Leader since 2013, said he will leave his post in late August or early September, to become the Executive Director of Crosspoint Human Services in Danville. “While my service in the Illinois General Assembly has been the honor of a lifetime and a tremendous privilege, I have decided the timing is right to return to the private sector where my background and expertise in healthcare administration can be put to good use,” said Hays. “I look forward to this next chapter, but will always look back fondly on my time as the legislative voice of the 104th District.”
Sign the Petition to Support Independent Maps
By Rep. David S. Olsen (R-Illlinois) and Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Ohio)

"By designing districts for partisan advantage, we send the message that winning elections is more important than upholding democracy."

On Monday, the Supreme Court kicked back to Wisconsin and Maryland state courts two gerrymandering cases that attempted to establish that legislatures that use gerrymandering to ensure partisan outcomes were acting with unconstitutional bias. In doing so, they have essentially ensured that any constitutional remedies to overly partisan gerrymandering will be years away, if they ever come.

We believe, then, that’s it’s up to us — state legislators — to act on behalf of the constituents that elected us and end partisan gerrymandering on our own.

Partisan gerrymandering has plagued our democracy since the days of the Founding Fathers: The jagged edges of many districts don’t reflect real-life boundaries, like rivers or mountain ranges, but rather exist because someone drew lines with the pernicious purpose of manipulating electoral constituency boundaries to favor one party. Read the entire opinion piece by Rep. Olsen & Sen. LaRose. 

If you agree sign the petition to end gerrymandering support independent maps.
BUDGET
Moody's cites 'positive' moves in new Illinois budget. The fiscal 2019 Illinois budget enacted last week includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for the relatively low-rated state and its school districts, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

The $38.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds.
The fiscal 2019 Illinois budget enacted last week includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for the relatively low-rated state and its school districts, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

The $38.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds.

“The state’s buyout offer is credit positive because it will generate significant pension liability savings to the extent that employees accept the offer,” Moody’s said, adding that actual savings could fall short if participation fails to meet targets of 22 percent of vested former workers and 25 percent of retiring current workers. Read the rest of the story.

BUDGET
FY19 budget passed with bipartisan support and signed into law. On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.

“For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don’t have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it,” Rauner said. “Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts.”
Gov. Rauner signed into law a measure that will increase independence in the investigation of legislative ethics complaints in Illinois. This new law, which makes significant reforms to the Legislative Ethics Commission and Office of the Legislative Inspector General, changes the process of handling ethics complaints to provide those who would come forward greater confidence that their concerns will be reviewed in a timely, transparent manner.

“This bill is a victory for the heroic women who have stepped forward to take on the culture of fear, abuse and retaliation that permeates too much of state government. Illinoisans should applaud this improvement and champion the women who stood up to Illinois’ political power structure in order to make this change happen.” Rauner said in his signing message. “Through their courageous words and actions, they have declared that the culture in Springfield must change.”
On Monday, Rep. Randy Frese applauded the Governor for
including $53 million in the budget for improvements
 at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced today that Stephen Curda, Ph.D. has been named director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA). He takes over from Elisabeth Pennix, who returns to her duties as IDVA’s General Counsel. The appointment is effective today.

“Stephen Curda is a proven leader with years of experience serving our military and veterans as well as his own deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq,” Rauner said. “He has served over 30 years in the military on active duty, Reserve and the Guard, recently retiring as a Brigadier General. His exceptional work in strategic planning, development and program implementation will positively contribute to the IDVA and provide the best services for our state’s heroes.”
"I have always said we can achieve great things when we
respect the priorities and principles of our counterparts."
 ~ Leader Jim Durkin on the FY19 Budget
Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.

“For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don’t have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it,” Rauner said. “Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts.”

Hours before the deadline, the Illinois House of Representatives concurred with the Senate and overwhelmingly passed the Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. The bipartisan-crafted budget expends $38.5 billion, less than the $40 billion proposed by the Democrats and is on its way to the Governor for his signature.

The House Republicans came to the negotiating table with the goal of leaving with a balanced full-year budget that contained no tax increases and were successful in achieving that goal.
Honoring the quick thinking and brave actions of the Dixon, Illinois school resource officer who thwarted a school shooting two weeks ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proclaimed May 30, 2018, Officer Mark Dallas Day in Illinois. Rauner, along with State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) and State Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) met with Dallas, his family, and members of the Dixon Police Department in his Capitol office on Wednesday.

"Officer Dallas’ decisive and courageous action saved the lives of many students and staff at Dixon High School and prevented what could have been an unimaginable tragedy,” Rauner said. “We’re all very proud of Mark and honored to declare it Officer Mark Dallas Day in Illinois.”

Rep. Tom Demmer honors Officer Mark Dallas on the House Floor

A major developer of large-scale solar in the Northeast is launching operations in Illinois, expecting the state’s new energy law to jumpstart the industry in a way similar to what happened in the company’s home state of Massachusetts.

Solect has installed more than 80 MW of commercial and industrial solar in the Northeast and is Massachusetts’ largest solar developer, according to the company. Illinois is its first expansion outside that region.

“As we started to consider expansion, we identified a couple of opportunities where we felt like the legislature was behind the growth and in support at the community level, as well as where the economics would make sense to invest,” said Craig Huntley, the company’s chief development officer. Read the rest of the story.
Here are the 34 new laws that take effect on June 1 that you should know about:

Local governments cannot prohibit autonomous vehicles
(Public Act 100-352, House Bill 791) 
No unit of local government, including home rule units, may enact a local ordinance which prohibits the use of vehicles equipped with automated driving systems.
Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced a plan to invest $11.05 billion in the state’s road and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year. The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.

“Investing in transportation creates jobs and economic opportunity, improves safety and makes Illinois a better place to raise a family,” said Gov. Rauner. “This plan will make Illinois more competitive while protecting the interests of the taxpayers.”
BUDGET
Budget negotiations continue as clock ticks down to May 31 deadline. With less than a week left before the scheduled end of session, the House and Senate continue to work on budget negotiations with the hope of passing a balanced budget by the end of May.

Both houses of the General Assembly have adjourned for the weekend and are scheduled to return on Monday for Memorial Day session. Negotiations will continue over the weekend as the “budgeteers” work towards an agreement on a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2019.
He was born on an Army base in Ft. Hood Texas and got into politics in northern Illinois because he was fed up with his taxes going up and up but no new roads or schools. Now as a state representative he is known for telling it like it is as he deals with issues like the budget and the death penalty.

Our guest is 68th District State Representative John Cabello.

Today the House of Representatives honored the memory of three Illinois heroes who died within the last 12 month while in service to our country.

Petty Officer 2nd Class 
Logan S. Palmer 
United States Navy
Logan Stephen Palmer, Petty Officer 2nd Class, 23, of Harristown, IL, passed away on August 21, 2017 while serving his country aboard the USS John S. McCain in the South China Sea.
Illinois transportation, safety and government leaders are at the state Capitol today to honor the life of Illinois Tollway roadway maintenance worker David Schwarz and are calling on Illinois drivers to take the Give Them Distance pledge.

The Give Them Distance pledge launched as part of a statewide effort to emphasize the importance of the Illinois Move Over Law, which was expanded by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2017 and requires drivers to slow down and change lanes safely when approaching any vehicle stopped on the side of the road with lights flashing.
33,703.

That’s how many residents left Illinois last year.

People leave the state for a variety of reasons from weather to career opportunities.

But experts say Illinois’ population loss bucks national trends and is the opposite of what surrounding states are seeing. Here's the story.
CRIMINAL LAW
Governor Rauner proposes major public safety package to reinstate death penalty and extend 72-hour wait to all guns. Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked the Illinois General Assembly to reinstate the death penalty for mass murderers and those who kill law enforcement officers.

The proposal is part of a precedent-setting public safety initiative that the Governor unveiled in an amendatory veto (AV) of House Bill 1468 which also urges legislators to:
Gov. Bruce Rauner today announced that 327 Opportunity Zone census tract recommendations submitted by the State of Illinois have been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. These zones cover more than 85 counties throughout the state and aim to support the future of Illinois through economic growth and investment.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for communities throughout Illinois,” Rauner said. “These zones include some of the most underserved areas of the state that have the greatest potential for improvement. They represent a broad cross-section of Illinois that includes rural, urban and suburban in-need communities that are ripe for investment and job creation.”
Governor Bruce Rauner today issued a disaster proclamation for nine counties impacted by the Rend Lake Conservancy District water main break. The governor announced the proclamation during a visit to the Williamson County Emergency Operations Center in Marion. He also visited the Rend Lake Conservancy District, where district officials updated him on water restoration.

The proclamation ensures state support for affected communities will continue until all water supply issues are resolved. Counties in the proclamation include: Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Saline, Washington, White and Williamson.
State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) once again rose to speak on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday to address issues related to Southern Illinois University. This time though, Bryant had a much different message.

“Last week, I spoke against a package of bills that attack SIU Carbondale’s campus,” Bryant said. “I didn’t think that this week I would be defending SIU-C against yet another attack, but that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Bryant went on to say that evidence revealed in an op-ed in today’s Southern Illinoisan make it quite clear that President Dunn is not working for the Carbondale campus, and that he is in fact colluding with officials at SIU Edwardsville to work against it....

...After offering a strong defense of her constituents and the Carbondale campus, Bryant called on Dunn to resign his post as SIU President. Read the rest of the story and watch video of Rep. Bryant's remarks..



PUBLIC HEALTH
Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative announced. Gov. Bruce Rauner announced this week that Illinois has received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative is the culmination of a 30-month long Rauner administration effort to involve state health agencies, legislators and behavioral health organizations in a coordinated plan to help people with disorders that require treatment of the whole person.
State Representative Randy Frese's district is the home of the Quincy Veterans facility. Over the past couple of years it has been in the news because of a deadly Legionnaires’ outbreak. We get his reaction to the situation and also hear how proud he is of the facility.

On the personal side, it’s going to be a busy summer for his family….as he has two daughters getting married, and third daughter who is going to make him a grandfather for the first time….and she’s having twins.


For the past four years as a state legislator, I have watched Democrats introduce bill after bill on the House floor that spends taxpayer money.

In 2015, my first year as an Illinois representative, I repeatedly stood up and asked Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie why we don’t first determine how much taxpayer money we have to spend before we start spending it.
My questions were brushed aside with flippant answers along the lines of “We’ll do that when we actually do a budget.”

Well, I’m still waiting.

That brushoff didn’t sit well with me or my fellow Republican legislators at that time. It still doesn’t and it shouldn’t. Taxpayers should hate it. Budgeting based on how much money we wish we had is how politicians got Illinois into this mess in the first place.

This isn’t some inconsequential issue. Illinois has a balanced budget requirement. The only lever that taxpayers and the minority party have to pull is the revenue estimate that locks in a cap on spending. Doesn’t that make it obvious why House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Democrat caucus have avoided it? No cap, no accountability. Read the rest of Rep. Keith Wheeler's commentary in the Chicago Tribune.

 The sun came up Monday, the day after the deadline for putting constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot — and no, you won’t get to vote this year to end gerrymandering in Illinois. But you knew that.

With the deadline approaching and several versions of the amendment parked in committee, the only signs of life were a few last-minute lawmakers hopping on the bandwagon too late. A version pushed by the reform coalition Change Illinois ended up with 39 sponsors in the Senate — supposedly signaling that it would pass that chamber, if only Senate President John Cullerton would call it for a vote. Which of course wasn’t going to happen. Read the rest of the Tribune Editorial.
Three years ago today, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the state’s attempt to cut its employees’ pension benefits to chip away at a retirement-system debt that’s swelled to almost $11,000 for every man, woman and child.

Since then, Illinois’s credit rating was downgraded to the verge of junk, its bonds have tumbled and its largest city -- Chicago -- was stripped of its investment-grade status by Moody’s Investors Service. And Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-led legislature have made no real progress toward a new plan that doesn’t violate the state constitution’s ban on reducing benefits.

“Illinois failure to address its pension crisis has resulted in further deterioration of the state and cities’ financial condition, exorbitantly high borrowing costs, and an inability to address other critical needs at the state and local level,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, a Chicago nonprofit that tracks state and municipal finances. “Time is not your friend when your liabilities are compounding and your revenues are not.” Read the rest of Bloomberg story.
Described as one of the most significant developments in public health in Illinois history, the federal government approval of an Illinois’ 1115 Waiver has set the stage to implement an innovative strategy to improve behavioral health outcomes for Medicaid clients. The new program is called BetterCare Illinois.

The waiver will allow Illinois to use its federal Medicaid match in a more effective manner, which will improve the quality of care to Medicaid populations. Among other strategies, Illinois will now be able to shift from institutional settings to community-based care for Medicaid patients in need of mental health or substance abuse care. 
BUDGET
Revenue numbers published for April 2018. The numbers for State of Illinois revenues were published by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budgeting arm of the Illinois General Assembly. COGFA works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State agencies to track Illinois general funds revenues on a month-to-month basis. The data gathered by COGFA is reported to the General Assembly annually and is supposed to be used by the House and Senate to adopt a revenue estimate to control spending in the appropriations process.
Lawmakers on Wednesday sparred over a proposal to change the state’s tax structure, with Democrats expressing support for taxing higher earners more than low-income taxpayers while Republicans decried the idea as an attempt at “class warfare” to score political points ahead of the November election.

Changing Illinois’ flat income tax system to what's known as a "graduated" system with different tax rates for different income levels is an idea that hadn't gained much traction during the 15 years Democrats have had control of the General Assembly.

It was a key issue, though, during this year’s Democratic primary for governor and has become a major campaign plank of the party’s nominee, billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker.

Now longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan has thrown his support behind the idea. But his timing, with just days to go before a deadline that prohibits the addition of constitutional amendments to the Illinois ballot less than six months before an election, means voters won’t get to weigh in on the question until at least 2020. The state's existing flat tax system is enshrined in the constitution and can't be changed without voters' approval.

On Wednesday, Republicans said Madigan's timing was no coincidence. Read the rest of the Chicago Tribune story.
With winter finally in the rear-view mirror, Gov. Bruce Rauner is encouraging all drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts to be extra cautious as more bikes start hitting the roads.

Rauner joined motorcycle safety advocates and officials from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today to kick off Motorcycle Awareness Month and IDOTs annual Start Seeing Motorcycles Campaign.
He comes from the southern most parts of the state of Illinois and he’s very proud of growing up in the district he serves. And, serving is what he is all about….spending over half of his life working in his family’s nursing home facility.

Now he puts that same attitude and enthusiasm into serving the people of the 117th District. Our guest today is State Representative Dave Severin.

Chicago Tribune Editorial: This month we’ve been publishing stories of Illinois residents who left the state in their rearview mirrors. These expatriates sought brighter opportunities elsewhere — or fled because they worried that Illinois is headed in the wrong direction. They unhitched their futures from a state awash in debt, mired in political dysfunction and hobbled by weak job growth. They worried about rising taxes (with politicians threatening more to come), declining property values or other profound impacts on their lives. “I just felt like I was never going to get ahead in Illinois,” said 30-year-old accountant Sara Niedzwiecki, who moved to Madison, Wis.

The stories hit a nerve. Many tens of thousands of people gravitated to those editorials on chicagotribune.com or learned of them via social media. Are all those readers departing? No, but as Illinois’ fortunes cloud over, more people will leave. What we call “the Illinois exodus” is real. Read the rest of editorial.


BUDGET
Leaders Durkin, Brady Call For Adoption Of Revenue Estimate. Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady filed joint resolutions Thursday to adopt a revenue estimate in order to begin the budgeting process for fiscal year 2019.

“It is our constitutional duty to taxpayers across Illinois to spend within our means – something we have not done in decades here at the Capitol,” Durkin said. “The rejection of certifying a revenue estimate in Springfield is not acceptable and is legislative malpractice. We owe it to Illinois taxpayers to take this first step in finally balancing the state’s checkbook and putting Illinois on the right track towards fiscal stability.”
SJ-R Editorial: It makes sense to know how much money you’ll have to spend when crafting a state budget. Some latitude is required, of course, since many sources of revenue fluctuate.

But there are solid estimates available. For the fiscal year 2019 state budget, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability estimates Illinois will have about $37.86 billion in revenue; the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget predicts about $37.96 billion.

There hasn’t been much progress, at least publicly, on next year’s budget by the General Assembly. We know a budget deal typically comes together behind closed during the final days lawmakers are in Springfield. But after the two-year budget impasse and last year’s overtime sessions to get this year’s fiscal plan approved, lawmakers could aim to regain a measure of trust back from wary Illinoisans by providing a sense of where the process is headed.  Read the rest of the SJ-R editorial.