TAXES
House Republicans: A tax increase is not necessary to achieve a balanced FY20 budget. Illinois House Republicans held a press conference Thursday at the Capitol to reiterate the message that a tax increase is not necessary to achieve a balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

House Republicans presented a document detailing $2.6 billion more in revenue than the House working groups had previously planned for. These new revenues clearly demonstrate that the General Assembly can pass a balanced budget without raising taxes on Illinois families and businesses.
The 1919 Transcontinental Motor Convoy.
Photo from the Eisenhower Presidential Library.
Sitting down at a desk at the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois, Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower began composing his report. It was November 1919 and Eisenhower had just completed an arduous two-month drive across the United States with a column of Army trucks on the Lincoln Highway, the new transcontinental highway stretching from New York’s Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park.

At least, that’s the road which the Army thought it was going to use. In his report Eisenhower cleared up any misconception which the Army might have had about the Lincoln Highway being an actual road.
TAXES
Durkin: “We have the money to balance the budget without new taxes.” On Wednesday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, along with Deputy Leaders Dan Brady and Tom Demmer, held a press conference to reiterate the need for bipartisan negotiations to pass a balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

In light of this week’s announcement that April revenues were up by $1.5 billion and that FY20 estimated revenues were revised upwards by $800 million, Leader Durkin announced that we have the money to balance the FY20 budget without new taxes. Durkin’s full remarks follow:
Woman stands with original steel plow at
the Smithsonian in the late 1930s
An Illinois farmer 200 years ago may have wondered if it would someday be possible for Illinois to be an agricultural powerhouse. It was conceivable that the state could one day be among the nation’s leaders in production of crops like corn and soybeans. With miles and miles of wide open prairies and a temperate climate, there was certainly the potential that Illinois might one day be known as one of the leading farm states in the young nation.

That is, if the farmers could just find a way to break through the ground.

In Illinois’ first 20 years of statehood, and for generations before, small subsistence farms had been the norm. Native Americans followed by settlers from the rocky Appalachians and the sandy eastern states had come into Illinois and worked their small plots, scraping out a living, but had not been able to farm huge plots of the prairie. Part of the blame went to their incorrect belief that the soil that produced the tallest trees had to be the most fertile, causing some to avoid the open prairies that cover most of the state. But there was another, larger problem that had stymied Illinois farmers for years.
TAXES
Senate Democrats Advance Massive Tax Increase. On Wednesday, May 1st, Illinois Senate Democrats passed a graduated tax package out of the Senate that would increase taxes by more than $3.5 billion per year.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement on the graduated tax package votes in the Senate:

“The Senate's votes today are a slap in the face to thousands of Illinois families and businesses - just another step towards handing a blank check over to the Democrats and their reckless spending habits.”
Lincoln Home in Springfield draped in mourning, 1865
The crowd gathered in the morning chill on 8th Street in Springfield eagerly awaited the appearance of their triumphant friend and neighbor. Three months earlier, the man they had so often greeted in passing on this dusty street had been elected President of the United States. On that exciting night, Abraham Lincoln had rushed the five blocks from the state capitol building and burst through the door of his family’s house at the corner of 8th and Jackson, shouting to his wife, “Mary! We are elected!”
TAXES
House Republicans continue pushback against Pritzker tax hike. The graduated income tax proposed by Governor JB Pritzker would enable future governors of Illinois and Illinois General Assemblies to enact any tax rate they want upon any specific slice of Illinois taxpayers. The authors of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 included specific ironclad language in that document that requires all income taxes imposed upon individuals to be at a single, flat, fixed rate. It is this provision of the Constitution that the proposal would repeal.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
Illinois exports $8.2 billion in agricultural commodities overseas, roughly six percent of all the agricultural exports of the United States. We are #2 in the nation in exporting soybeans and feed grains, and our state has ranked first in the nation in soybean production in the recent past, while standing in second place in corn production. We rank among the top ten states in the nation in dozens of agricultural categories, from sweet corn production to the total value of our state’s farm real estate.
Ruins of the Longfellow School in Murphysboro
A mid-March day in Illinois which features temperatures in the mid-60s would usually be considered quite pleasant, even though some rain was falling. Such was the case early in the afternoon on March 18, 1925, as unseasonably warm weather was recorded throughout the southern part of the state. But this day was different. Those warm temperatures and the rainfall were among the few warning signs of the storm that was coming. The state of Illinois was about to endure one of the most tragic hours in its history.

Today, meteorologists would have filled the air with warnings about this storm, likely many hours in advance and with increasing specificity as the storm grew nearer. Modern communications and construction technology would prevent much of the horror that tore across Illinois that day. But in the early days of radio, without television, cell phones, weather satellites or tornado sirens, with wooden and masonry structures, without safe rooms or many storm cellars, the scene was set for disaster.

TAXES
Democrats advance tax hike in state Senate. Language to amend the state Constitution and enable a $3.4-billion tax hike on middle-income families and businesses was approved by Democratic state senators in a committee hearing on Wednesday, April 10. SJRCA 1 will allow the State to levy graduated income taxes on all income levels within Illinois. The graduated income tax constitutional amendment has been moved to the Order of 3rdReading before a full vote by the Illinois Senate.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin reiterated his caucus’ unanimous opposition to the Pritzker tax hike.
Mary Lincoln in mourning attire, 1865
At first, many in the audience might have thought it was part of the show. The famed actor had leapt onto the Ford’s Theater stage, shouted a line and then disappeared backstage. Some audience members must have tried to figure out what the line had been, while others wondered if John Wilkes Booth’s sudden appearance had been a surprise cameo in the evening’s play.

But a split second later, Mary Lincoln’s scream from the box overlooking the Ford’s Theater stage made clear that this was not part of the show. Instead, it was an unspeakable crime which would devastate a nation that had just begun to rediscover some happiness at the end of four years of civil war. For Mary Lincoln it was a deep personal tragedy which she would mourn every day for the rest of her life.
TAXES
House Republicans Renew Opposition to Pritzker’s Tax Hike. In a Capitol press conference on Tuesday, State Representatives Grant Wehrli, Mark Batinick and Jeff Keicher renewed their opposition to Illinois Democrats’ latest attempt to raise taxes on Illinois families and businesses. This latest tax hike proposal, spearheaded by Governor JB Pritzker, calls for removing the flat rate income tax guarantee from the Illinois Constitution.

The Battle of Shiloh
On an April morning a year after Fort Sumter, a large group of Illinois soldiers suddenly received their baptism by fire in a fight that would eclipse every battle the United States had ever fought before it.

Illinois had been among the most enthusiastic of the states in answering President Abraham Lincoln’s call for troops at the outset of the Civil War. Thousands of Illinoisans had joined small military units in their home towns and counties. The company or battalion-sized units had been organized into regiments, units of roughly 1000 soldiers. These regiments were then joined with other Illinois regiments (typically four or so) into brigades, which were themselves attached to larger divisions made up of three or four brigades from other western states. This force formed the western army of the United States.
CHICAGO
McAuliffe Files Legislation Prohibiting Film Tax Credit for Employers of Jussie Smollett. In response to the surprising decision by prosecutors to drop the case against Chicago actor Jussie Smollett, State Representative Michael McAuliffe has filed legislation to prohibit any production using the actor from receiving Illinois Film Tax Credits.

“A lot of valuable Chicago Police Department (CPD) man hours and resources were wasted chasing down a bogus crime arranged by Smollett,” Rep. McAuliffe said. “Hate crimes are serious and so is the time and effort of the CPD. He has cost Chicago a lot more than a $10,000 bond. Smollett should not be able to get anything more from the City of Chicago or Illinois.”
This spring marks the 150th anniversary of professional baseball in the United States. The celebration will include the arc of baseball history: Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, Shoeless Joe, the Gas House Gang, Jackie Robinson, the Go-Go Sox, Brock-for-Broglio, McGwire vs. Sosa, the end of “the Curse” in 2016 and so much more.
DOWNSTATE
Push to reopen minimum-security unit within Tamms Correctional Center. The 700-bed facility, which contains a minimum-security work camp, used to support hundreds of jobs in economically-challenged Alexander County in far southern Illinois. Shut down during the budget crisis of the early 2010s, the facility has burdened the Department of Corrections ever since, as the Department has to expend funds to maintain the building complex and keep up its infrastructure.
After 30 years in the corporate world then stints as the Frankfort Township Clerk and a Will County board member, our guest decided to take her experience and talents to Springfield. Even so, she still finds time for kayaking, backpacking, and her passion for quilting.

Our guest is 37th District State Representative Margo McDermed.

Ruth Hanna McCormick and fellow women’s suffragist
Anna Howard Shaw, 1914.
When the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution became law in 1920 it might have extended voting rights to women, but it certainly did not mark the beginning of women’s involvement in American politics. For decades, women had been prominent leaders in the movements for abolition, social welfare, temperance and suffrage, just to name a few. In 1913 Ruth Hanna McCormick had helped lead the fight for the first women’s suffrage law in Illinois.
TAXES
Tax Foundation finds Pritzker tax proposal would have devastating effect on Illinois economy. Illinois, which is already one of the highest-taxed states in the nation in terms of sales taxes and local property taxes, would add income taxes to this dismal list of rankings. Under Gov. Pritzker’s proposed Illinois tax rates on individual and corporate income – rates that could be subject to revision – corporate income would be taxed at 10.45%, the third-highest rate among the 50 states. Pass-through business income used by a wide variety of farmers and small businesses would be taxed at 9.45%, the fourth-highest rate for pass-through small-business income among the 50 states.
Illinois state legislators Katherine Hancock Goode, Florence Fifer Bohrer,
Rena Elrod, and Lottie Holman O’Neill pictured in Springfield in 1925.
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.
One hundred years ago, Illinois became the first state in the nation to ratify the 19th Amendment, extending equal voting rights to women. It took another year for 35 more states to follow suit, but the Amendment was eventually ratified in August 1920. It did not take long for a pair of Illinois trailblazers to start on their way to becoming the first women elected to the Illinois General Assembly.
At just over 40, our guest today has already served on the city council of two northern Illinois communities and has been advocating for residents of the Rock River Valley in the Illinois House since 2011.

In our conversation he gives credit to a high school teacher for his interest in the political system and answers questions about a particular suit he wore to Arlington Raceway.

We talk issues under the dome with 69th District State Representative Joe Sosnowski.

TAXES
Gov. Pritzker proposes a $3.4 billion tax hike on Illinois families and businesses. On Thursday, March 7, Governor J.B. Pritzker finally unveiled his plan for a graduated income tax in Illinois. Pritzker’s proposed rates would result in a $3.4 billion tax hike on Illinois families and businesses.

The Governor’s proposal would move Illinois from a flat income tax rate of 4.95% to a graduated income tax with six tax brackets. Families and small businesses with income between $250,000-$500,000 would pay a state tax rate of 7.75%, while the highest rate of 7.95% would apply to all income over $1,000,000. As many small business owners file their tax returns as individuals, Pritzker’s tax hike would hit Illinois small businesses especially hard.
Two members of the National Woman’s Party being arrested
as they picket in front of the White House, 1917
When Dr. Anna Howard Shaw arrived in Springfield in the spring of 1919, her accomplishments in the cause of women’s suffrage were well known. A close friend of Susan B. Anthony, Dr. Shaw had been a leader in the fight for equal voting rights since the late 1880s. Even before then she was a trailblazer, as the first woman to become a minister in the Methodist Protestant Church and a powerful voice for the temperance movement. She also picked up a medical degree along the way.
TAXES
House Republicans File Resolution Opposing Gov. Pritzker’s Unfair Tax. This week,Illinois House Republicans filed House Resolution 153, which states unified opposition to Governor Pritzker’s plan to tax small businesses and middle-class families out of the state through the implementation of a graduated income tax - an “Unfair Tax”.

“Illinoisans cannot afford another income tax increase and we cannot afford a system that allows politicians to play with rates and brackets just to fill budget holes,” said Assistant Republican Leader Avery Bourne. “A graduated income tax will inevitably bring a tax increase on a majority of Illinoisans and will hurt small businesses - making us even less competitive with our surrounding states. I’m proud to stand in opposition to Governor Pritzker’s proposed tax increase.”
Ulysses S. Grant standing alongside his famous war horse,
“Cincinnati” – 1864
When Illinois attained statehood in 1818, it had the smallest population of any state on the day it entered the union – a distinction we still hold today. Most of Illinois was unsettled, and Chicago was just a few cabins around an old fort.

But fifty years after statehood, Illinois’ population had raced beyond one million, we were the nation’s fourth-largest state and Chicago was already its ninth-largest city. In that 50th-birthday year, a second Illinoisan was elected to the White House. It was 150 years ago next week that Ulysses S. Grant of Galena, Illinois, took the oath of office as the 18th President of the United States.
He’s a central Illinois farmer who has traveled the world representing the agricultural industry but has also found time to serve as the chairman of the Vermilion County Board.

For relaxation he participates as a saddle bronc rider in rodeos. Our guest is State Representative Mike Marron.

BUDGET
Gov. Pritzker’s Tax, Borrow & Spend Budget More of the Same Failed Democratic Playbook. Governor J.B. Pritzker delivered his first Budget and State of the State Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield on Wednesday, February 20th.

The Governor’s introduced Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal estimates general funds revenue at $38.9 billion and proposes $38.7 billion in general funds spending. To help close a $3.2 billion budget deficit, the Governor is proposing pension savings through a ramp extension, new revenues through taxes on new and existing services, and closing so-called “corporate loopholes.” Altogether, the Pritzker Administration estimates a $1.5 billion increase in revenue over FY19.
Butch O'Hare seated in the cockpit  of his Grumman
F4F "Wildcat" fighter, circa Spring 1942.
Two months after the disaster at Pearl Harbor, America needed some good news.

The nation had been shocked by the crushing defeat suffered in the surprise Japanese attack on Hawaii on December 7, 1941. And it seemed like there had been nothing but bad news since. General Douglas MacArthur’s forces in the Philippines had been driven into retreat, and the capital city of Manila had fallen. Japanese troops had captured Hong Kong and Singapore. German armies stood within sight of Moscow, while their submarines prowled the U.S. east coast close enough to observe the lights of Atlantic City and Coney Island. Things were bad all around.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Representative Bourne leads appointment of new Legislative Inspector General. Rep. Avery Bourne led a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators in the selection of a person with trusted legal experience to take on the duty of examining allegations of misconduct within the General Assembly. Significant allegations of misconduct, including allegations of sexual harassment, were made against General Assembly members and senior members of legislative staff during the 100thGeneral Assembly (January 2017 – January 2019). Under state law, allegations of these types must be referred to the office of an independent Legislative Inspector General for scrutiny and possible referrals for discipline. This includes, in rare cases, referral of an allegation to law enforcement.
Rep. John W.E. Thomas, Rep. Adelbert Roberts,
and Congressman Oscar Stanton DePriest
As the 30th General Assembly convened in January 1877 it was an exciting time for Illinois. The post-Civil War economic boom had come to Illinois at full speed, and the state was now among the fastest-growing in the nation. Legislators were meeting for the first time in the new State Capitol building at 2nd and Monroe in Springfield.

And one of the 153 men taking the oath of office in the House of Representatives was making history that day.

John W.E. Thomas had been born into slavery in Alabama in 1847. He discovered the joy of reading and writing at an early age. In his youth he would courageously defy the local authorities by teaching other African-Americans to read, and the desire to be an educator stayed with him his entire life. Together with his wife Maria and their daughter Hester he came to Chicago just after the Civil War.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Illinois House committees hold first hearings of new session. Much of the session work of this week was spent in organizing the 39 standing committees of the Illinois House of Representatives. These are the panels that will hear almost all of the legislation introduced in the House through January 2021. Many of the committees, such as the House Committee on Labor and Commerce and the House Committee on Personnel and Pensions, took prompt action to set up subcommittees from the members appointed to their membership.
Congressman-Elect Abraham Lincoln
Presidential experience comes in many forms. Washington and Eisenhower commanded armies which changed the course of world history. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and was Vice President. Franklin Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy and later Governor of the nation’s largest state. Other Presidents were Governors, Senators, generals, businessmen and farmers. John Quincy Adams perhaps holds the record, having devoted 70 years of his life to public service.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
House Republicans oppose Madigan’s Rules. One of the first legislative actions of the Illinois House in the 101st General Assembly occurred this week, with the consideration and adoption of rules that govern the chamber’s proceedings.

The 12.8 million residents of Illinois deserve a legislative process that is transparent and fair. We are supposed to be a representative democracy, where all Illinoisans from every district are represented equally. Unfortunately, that is not the case right now in the Illinois House of Representatives.
President Reagan in the press box with Harry Caray
during a Chicago Cubs game, 1988.
Late in the 1988 season, fans of the Chicago Cubs who tuned into a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on WGN heard legendary announcer Harry Caray yield the microphone for half an inning to one of his predecessors as the voice of the Cubs. He was a little rusty, but in his defense it had been more than 50 years, and he had been busy doing other jobs: starring in Hollywood motion pictures, serving as Governor of California and for the previous eight years, sitting in the Oval Office as President of the United States. But even after all that, Dutch Reagan seemed right at home in the broadcast booth.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Leader Durkin, House Republicans Introduce Fair Maps Amendment. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced this week that he, along with the entire House Republican caucus, has filed HJRCA 10, a constitutional amendment for the independent drawing of legislative maps.

“Governor Pritzker has urged the legislature to create an independent commission to draw legislative maps, so House Republicans are proposing to do just that,” said Leader Durkin. “Not only are we answering the Governor’s call on this issue, but we are also prepared to provide the majority of the votes required to pass this out of the House and on to the Senate. So I call on my Democratic colleagues to join us and Governor Pritzker in supporting the independent drawing of legislative maps and pass HJRCA 10 this legislative session.”
Governor Richard J. Oglesby
The young orphan grew up to be a Civil War hero and a three-term Governor of Illinois. No matter where he went in life, something kept bringing him back.

His time in the governor’s office also reflects something of a paradox: he served the shortest term of any Illinois Governor, but spent the second-longest amount of total time as Governor.
In November of last year, Rep. Dan Swanson was successful in overriding the Governor's Amendatory Veto of his legislation to provide more treatment options for those suffering with Lyme disease.

The Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention & Protection Law was inspired by Lauryn Russell, a 12-year-old student from Mercer County, who has Lyme Disease and has had to seek treatment out of state due to potential disciplinary action that could be taken against her Illinois physician for treating Lauryn’s post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) or Chronic Lyme Disease.  Advocates for Lyme Disease sufferers say the current recommended treatment of the disease, 10 to 21 days of antibiotics, is insufficient for people with advanced or persistent levels of the disease.

Rep. Swanson along with Lauryn and her mother Jennifer Russell led a discussion on the legislation last fall on WRMJ.  Listen to the Interview.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Durkin appoints Leadership Team for 101st General Assembly. On Wednesday, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced the appointment of his Leadership team for the 101st General Assembly. Congratulations to this dynamic group of leaders:

Deputy Republican Leaders
Rep. Dan Brady
Rep. Tom Demmer

Assistant Republican Leaders
Rep. Avery Bourne
Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer
Rep. Norine Hammond
Rep. Michael McAuliffe
Rep. Grant Wehrli
Rep. Keith Wheeler

Other Leadership Positions
Rep. Tim Butler will serve as Conference Chair
Rep. Mark Batinick will serve as Floor Leader
Armistice Day Celebration in Springfield on November 11, 1918
In his stirring Second Inaugural Address in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln called upon the nation to, “care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.” It was a pledge that the United States government would take care of those who had sacrificed so much for our nation’s survival. But after Lincoln’s death a month later it became a pledge that for decades the government did not live up to until a group of veterans got together in Salem, Illinois, and changed history.
Top Row: Leader Jim Durkin, Reps. Dan Brady &  Tom Demmer
2nd Row: Reps. Avery Bourne, CD Davidsmeyer & Norine Hammond
3rd Row: Reps. Michael McAuliffe, Grant Wehrli & Keith Wheeler
Bottom: Reps. Tim Bulter & Mark Batinick

Today House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced the appointment of his Leadership team for the 101st General Assembly.
For decades, Illinois and the nation have worked to support those who served in our nation’s armed forces. From pensions for wounded Civil War veterans to the G.I. Bill of Rights which traces its roots to an Illinois American Legion Hall, the state and the nation have tried to find concrete ways to, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “…care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.”

As part of this effort, Illinois enacted the Veterans Preference Act, a state law designed to put in place a hiring preference for veterans applying for state jobs. However, the law contained a loophole which left some veterans out in the cold.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Inauguration of 101st General Assembly. The new session of the state legislature will be the first group of lawmakers to meet in Illinois’ third century. The House elected Jim Durkin as House Republican Leader, and the majority chose Michael J. Madigan to be the returning Speaker of the House. In his remarks to the newly-convened House, Leader Durkin pledged to uphold Republican principles and to work together with newly-elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker whenever possible for the good of the State of Illinois.
Man measures snowfall from his roof after the
Blizzard of '79. Photo from the Illinois Digital Archives.
Can a snowstorm swing an election?

Forty years ago this week, northern Illinois was hammered by one of the most memorable blizzards on record. The storm struck Chicagoland with such severity that the famed “city that works,” ground to a halt for days. As the snow piled up and the frustration dragged on, seething city residents looked for a place to direct their anger. They started looking at City Hall, and the rest is history.

The 1979 blizzard was a truly historic storm. Following another blizzard in 2011, meteorologists Jim Allsopp and Ricky Castro compiled a study on the four worst blizzards in Chicago history. They wrote that a previous blizzard, in 1967, actually dropped more snow, but that the 1979 storm was followed by even worse conditions: “a brutal arctic blast and (it) took the longest time to melt.” The 1979 snow also fell on top of existing snow pack from earlier storms, making it that much worse.
Today 13 Republican lawmakers took the oath of office and joined the ranks of the Freshman class of the 101st General Assembly.

We are proud to introduce the new members of the House Republican Caucus:
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development has received a Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) Initial Grant Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant is one of 45 distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Child Care to enhance early childhood programming, which includes Head Start and Early Head Start, state prekindergarten programs, child care, and home visiting services. The Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development will serve as the lead agency for the grant, which will allow the Office to develop a needs assessment and strategic plan and to strengthen the State's system of early childhood programs. 
Sandy Baksys of Springfield hadn’t seen her elderly father since December of 2016 when she took the matter to Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) for help.

Baksys says she was being prevented from seeing her father by his caretaker, another family member who refuses to allow her to visit. 
Field trips are an important part of any student’s education. There is nothing quite like visiting a museum, historic site or other outside venue that helps expand a student’s horizons and knowledge of the curriculum they are studying in school.

But for students at one school in Lombard, state law prevented them from being able to have that experience. That is, until their executive director worked with State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) to make a change.
Governor Shadrach Bond. Photo from the Illinois Digital Archives.
Last fall was the 52nd time in our state’s history in which Illinois voters went to the polls and chose a Governor. Millions of people in 102 counties made their choice for who should lead Illinois for the next four years. On January 14 our new Governor will take the reins of a well-established state government which includes dozens of agencies, boards and commissions and thousands of state employees from Galena to Cairo.

It will be very different than the challenges that confronted our first state officials.