Charlie E. Meier serves as the State Representative in the 108th House District. Prior, Charlie served six years on the Washington County Board.

Charlie is a lifelong resident of Washington County. In 2009, Charlie was awarded the State of Illinois Conservation Farm Family of the Year, which recognizes leaders in land conservation that uphold the responsibility to restore its natural productive beauty for future generations.  Read more about Rep. Meier.

Budget – cuts

Quinn administration has FY15 budget; taxpayers on hook for increased spending while many areas see reduced funding. The FY15 budget, passed by Democrat partisan majorities in the Illinois General Assembly but largely not yet signed into law as of Thursday, June 26, will see reductions in spending in some areas while overall spending increases. The budget bills are on the Governor’s desk and he must sign or veto them prior to the startup of the new fiscal year on July 1st for spending to continue.

Observers say that Quinn, in deciding whether or not to sign the budget bills, is facing a dilemma. Although the numbers will impose spending shortfalls on many specific areas of the overall budget for State operations, the budget continues to call for spending more money than the State will have. In addition, Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka’s June 2014 report to taxpayers, “Monthly Money Matters”, shows that Illinois continues to owe $5.1 billion in unpaid bills (

Anticipated revenue numbers, unlike spending numbers, are hard numbers based upon the overall status of the State’s economy and the tax rates the State has pledged to charge against its citizens and residents in the private sector.

An example of future FY15 reductions can be found in projected spending numbers for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA), operator of 56 visitor sites throughout Downstate and the Chicago area. The IHPA operates most of Illinois’ sites relating to Abraham Lincoln, including the Lincoln Tomb and the future president’s first home in Illinois, Lincoln’s New Salem village northwest of Springfield. Amy Martin, agency director, said on Wednesday, June 25 that the agency plans to complete a list of sites in which hours and days of public operation will be reduced or eliminated in the summer or fall of 2014.

Other Illinois agencies have also had cuts imposed on their FY15 budgets for the fiscal year starting on Tuesday, July 1. If the Governor signs the budget, either as a whole or after making amendatory and line-item veto changes, similar announcements can be expected from these offices and departments in the days ahead to describe the cutbacks they will have to make.


  • Subpoenas issued in continuing NRI investigation; head of the former Illinois Violence Prevention Authority under increasing scrutiny. State auditors, in recent months, have begun checking into the disbursement of $54.5 million in taxpayers’ money by the so-called “Neighborhood Recovery Initiative,” a 2010 program operated by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority (IVPA) under the close supervision of Gov. Pat Quinn and his office. Audit findings show a comprehensive failure by the Authority to comply with standard record-keeping procedures to track where the money, slated for community social work, actually went.

These audit findings have triggered action by the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC), a bipartisan panel of the General Assembly. Pushed by Representative David Reis, a key House Republican in this investigation, the Commission previously voted to grant itself subpoena powers to pursue this investigation. Continuing this inquiry, a subset of the Commission met on Monday, June 23, to discuss and implement these subpoena powers so that key Quinn administration personnel can respond to these audit findings and answer questions raised by the findings.

The audit findings have raised new questions about the actions taken by the IVPA. This lack of compliance with established norms of conduct in the accounting and spending of public-sector funding has become coupled with individual reports that specific sums of IVPA money were distributed to well-connected Chicago political insiders, such as Benton Cook III. Cook is the husband of the elected circuit clerk of Cook County. Reports, not yet fully investigated, indicate that substantial sums derived from the funding for this program may have been distributed as “walking-around money” during the weeks immediately prior to the November 2010 general election. In November 2010, Gov. Quinn was elected to a full term by a margin of less than 33,000 votes after losing 98 of the 102 counties of Illinois. The winning candidate was not selected by voters in the Chicago suburbs or Downstate, but was pushed over the top by his margin within Cook County.

The Legislative Audit Commission (LAC), a nonpartisan arm of the General Assembly, has pursued the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative audit and investigation. A panel within the LAC discussed this issue at its meeting on Monday, June 23 in Chicago; the Commission has issued subpoenas to seven officials, including IVPA Director Barbara Shaw, former Quinn chief of staff Jack Lavin, and former deputy Quinn chief of staff Toni Irving. The full Commission will meet on Wednesday, July 16, and Thursday, July 17, and investigators hope to get some answers from these key personnel at this time.

Reports indicate that the NRI issue has become a serious embarrassment for Gov. Quinn as he seeks another full term in elected office. Springfield insiders say that the Quinn administration is pushing its political friends on the Commission and in General Assembly partisan leadership to set an internal deadline to abandon the inquiry, even if this move leaves behind an expanding list of unanswered questions. The Commission’s subpoena powers have so far been exercised upon other State officials, leaving behind the key questions of what the Governor himself knew and when he knew it.


  • Federal report confirms soaring value of Illinois agricultural land. Paced by natural resources concerns, wiling buyers have offered increasing sums in recent years for prime Illinois Downstate arable land. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report shows that the overall value of farm real estate in Illinois, including buildings, approached the $200 billion level.

The USDA tabulators estimated the average value of Illinois land used to grow corn, soybeans, and other cash crops was $7,190/acre in 2013, up 59% from 2009 (a compound increase rate of more than 12%). A similar figure for Illinois pastureland was $3,370/acre in 2013, appreciating 21.6% from 2009.

Farmland values are closely tied to crop prices, estimates of future crop prices, and the carrying cost of the investments needed to buy and mortgage land if it changes hands at current prices. Record-low interest rates for good-quality borrowers are a factor in these trends.

Education – bullying prevention

  • Anti-bullying bill signed into law; will affect Illinois public and private schools, including charter schools. HB 5707 mandates that all public and private schools develop and implement policies aimed at stamping out bullying behavior. Public school districts, charter school entities, and private schools are asked to adopt a package of policies that will include mandatory reporting of bullying activity, parental notification, investigations of all reports, and a checklist of potential response actions available to educators.

The move was imposed by the General Assembly as a way to strengthen the State’s existing opposition to bullying behavior. The General Assembly has taken previous actions against bullying; for example, a 2008 law (Public Act 95-849) struck back against “cyberbullying” in which isolated students are harassed or tormented online. Some House members, when they saw HB 5707, were concerned about the ever-increasing burden of State mandates on public and private schools, including charter schools. After full debate and a House vote of 75-40-0, the measure was sent to the chief executive and signed into law on Thursday, June 26. The bill number was Public Act 98-669 (P.A. 98-669).

Education – school safety

  • General Assembly school safety bill signed into law. SB 2710 expands the existing School Safety Drill Act to extend the safety drill requirements to all private schools, including charter schools. Each affected school will be required to conduct at least one annual meeting to discuss and review its safety procedures, including procedures for evacuating or partly evacuating a school should a safety incident arise. Emergency and crisis response incidents include incidents when a person without legal access to school grounds enters a place of education with a firearm.

SB 2710 was agreed to by members of both parties. The House vote to pass the bill was 105-0-0, and it was signed into law on Saturday, June 21 as Public Act 98-663 (P.A. 98-663).


  • Associated Press finds that Illinois’ chief State Lottery contractor is falling far short of revenue promises. Profits from the sale of net growth in Illinois State Lottery tickets, including tickets sold for the popular multi-state Mega Millions and Powerball games, are slated to be paid to schools, charitable organizations and public-sector infrastructure programs. However, the AP finds that Northstar, the chief contractual firm that operates the Lottery, has paid the State approximately $40 million less than anticipated during the last three fiscal years. Another shortfall of more than $200 million is expected in FY14, which ends June 30.

The Associated Press report described the reaction of disappointment expressed by Illinois lawmakers upon news of the shortfall. The transfer of the operational responsibilities over the State Lottery to Northstar had been expected to improve productivity and unleash aggressive and innovative lottery promotions. The contractual firm, as a condition of being granted this status, had promised four years ago to pay a tracked sequence of monies to Illinois over a 10-year period. Failure of the firm to meet this payment schedule could further worsen relations between the State agency responsible for the Lottery and its chief contractor.

Budget – cuts

  • Illinois State Police agrees to $40 million settlement. The State law enforcement agency, which is also the operator of a major Illinois crime lab, agreed to pay the settlement to the “Dixmoor 5.” The five men, arrested in 1992, were exonerated in a process ending in 2011. DNA evidence released by the State Police, and made available to attorneys for the five defendants, belatedly shows they had been innocent of the rape and murder of 13-year-old Cataresa Matthews in Dixmoor in 1991. The agreement was made public on Wednesday, June 25.

Prosecutors had trumpeted their arrest and processing of the five defendants in the notorious case. Press coverage and courtroom evidence included the publicizing of “confessions,” allegedly from three of the defendants that had appeared to implicate all of them. The size of the settlement indicates that forensic evidence, even with the state of knowledge available at the time, should have pointed law enforcement in another direction. The murder case has since been re-opened.


  • Teachers Retirement System (TRS), largest State-managed defined-benefit pension panel, again lowers its estimate of future returns on investments. The expected move from 8.0 percent to 7.5% brings TRS’s actuarial projections closer into line with global projections of future investment returns to be enjoyed by prudent money managers with a substantial presence in high-grade fixed-income assets. Continued economic trends have reduced the rate of interest earned by investors in highly-rated dollar-denominated bond assets down to near zero, and investment of part of a prudently managed defined-benefit portfolio in specific equity investments cannot make up the gap enough to enable professional money managers to pledge 8.0 percent returns in future years.

The TRS move is expected to increase the State’s unfunded pension liabilities by a further $6 billion and to require the annual payment of an additional $500 million/year by State taxpayers to TRS to enable fulfillment of existing pension laws demanding make-up payments to try to get the State’s pension systems back toward “full funding” at a distant future date.

Taxes/Zurich Insurance

  • $20.35 million in State tax breaks for Wall Street-listed financial firm. While the General Assembly once again failed to enact significant tax reform legislation in the 2014 spring session, the Pat Quinn administration has taken steps to grant individualized packages of assistance to favored business firms. Attacked by advocates who point out Illinois’ high tax rates and perceived low stature as a place to make investments and create jobs, the current State administration has dangled targeted tax incentives to companies, including global-sized firms, that are strong enough to ask for them.

In a recent move of this type, Springfield announced on Monday, June 23 that it had awarded a package of tax incentives totaling $20.35 million as compensation for the decision by Zurich North America, the U.S. subsidiary of an internationally known financial firm that writes policies in specialized fields of property/casualty insurance, to break ground on a headquarters facility in Schaumburg. The Zurich Insurance Group is traded on major equities exchanges worldwide. Zurich, which already employs approximately 2,500 in Schaumburg, did not promise to create any new Illinois jobs in exchange for the tax incentive package. Other states, including jurisdictions with higher rankings as centers of low taxes and enterprise, had offered to help Zurich move its headquarters operations out of Illinois.

The tax incentives provided by the Quinn administration to the Zurich Group’s wholly-owned subsidiary is expected to further increase the “structural budget deficit” in which revenues from existing taxes continuously fall short of the State’s urgent spending needs. The “structural deficit” is blamed for the creation and maintenance of the January 2011 Quinn-signed individual income tax increase on Illinois families.

Week in Review
  • The “Week in Review” is available by email! Sign up today to keep track of major events and trends. As the Illinois General Assembly finishes its 2014 spring session, “Week in Review” subscribers will follow many of the State’s major bills as they move to the Office of the Governor for final action. Subscribers will also get a first-hand look at the continuing challenges facing lawmakers in Springfield, and what our leadership team and Caucus members are doing about these challenges.

Rep. Ron Sandack a member of the Legislative Audit Commission spoke at a recent press conference about the scandal-ridden anti-violence program.
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed into law a farmers market measure that is the result of a six-year campaign to support the booming local foods movement in Illinois.

The measure, first introduced in 2009, was passed unanimously by the Illinois General Assembly last month. It was sponsored by Rep. Mike Tryon, of Crystal Lake, and Sen. David Koehler, of Peoria. Read more by Robert Themer in The Daily-Journal.

Gov. Pat Quinn's scandal-plagued anti-violence initiative directed thousands of state dollars to a nonprofit that purported to provide services for former inmates, but actually never existed, according to a published report Wednesday.

Project Hope, Inc., which was run out of a suburban Chicago day care center, received $15,770 through Quinn's 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The newspaper cited state records that also showed it took months for officials to notice.  Read more from the Associated Press in the Pantagraph.

A legislative subcommittee voted Monday to subpoena seven former state officials connected to Gov. Pat Quinn's troubled anti-violence initiative that's also under federal and Cook County probes.

The rare move — the Legislative Audit Commission last issued subpoenas in the early 1980s — would mean that the former state officials would be compelled to turn in documents and testify next month over two days about the 2010 Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which was blasted in a state audit earlier this year for mismanagement and misspending. The subpoenas still required a sign off from state Rep. Frank Mautino, a Democratic co-chair of the commission that reviews state audits.  Read the Associated Press story by Sophie Tareen in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Norine K. Hammond was appointed on Dec 9, 2010 to fill the vacancy of the late Representative Rich Myers.  In 2013, Representative Hammond was reelected and sworn in as the State Representative for 93rd district, which includes all or parts of Brown, Cass, Fulton, Knox, Mason, McDonough, Schuyler, and Warren Counties.

Rep. Hammond has been a constant advocate for agriculture and improving Illinois’ education system.  As a gun owner and member of the NRA, she is a strong Second Amendment supporter.  She believes that in order to improve the Illinois economy we must put in place strong spending reforms and make changes to our worst in the nation workers’ compensation laws.
Health Care – Medicaid Expansion
Medicaid expansion bill signed by Governor. Many health care advocates have expressed concerns to the State about various payments made and not made, and treatments offered and not offered, within Medicaid under current law. SB 741 contains a complex package of changes to the Medicaid system negotiated by the State, hospitals, nursing homes and other medical care provider organizations. Some of these revisions are designed to draw in matching funds from the federal government, but the State and its taxpayers will also have to put up a stream of money. The annual cost of the changes contained within SB 741 is estimated as at least $221 million per year. Persons concerned about this bill believe the cost could be more accurately estimated at $275 million per year.
Rep. David Reis
The former head of the now-disbanded state agency put in charge of Gov. Pat Quinn’s discredited Neighborhood Recovery Initiative may be compelled to testify in front of a legislative panel next month.

A four-member subcommittee of the Legislative Audit Commission posted notice Tuesday that it intends to meet next Monday in Chicago to vote on whether to subpoena Barbara Shaw to appear before the commission. 

Governor Pat Quinn has signed legislation to support repairs to the Big Muddy Levee.

Senate Bill 2721, sponsored by State Senator Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville) and State Representative Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), allows Jackson County leaders to use an expired bond referendum to raise up to $1.7 million for critical repairs.  WSILTV has the story.
Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in April she knew nothing about potentially illegal patronage hiring at the state agency she runs.

Now, Schneider is refusing to discuss how her stepdaughter secured a job and promotion at the Illinois Department of Transportation — and whether the proper personnel procedures were followed.

Read the story by Patrick McCraney of the Better Government Association in the Chicago SunTimes.
Rep. Darlene Senger calls for investigation of costs
associated with Get Covered Illinois
A Republican lawmaker has called for investigations into spending costs associated with promoting President Barack Obama's health care law in Illinois.

The Associated Press reported that a key subcontractor working on the "Get Covered Illinois" campaign was owned by three former aides to powerful Democrats.

They were among consultants whose hourly billing rate of $282 is raising questions about whether Illinois did enough to rein in taxpayer costs. Their firm could take assignments directly from Gov. Pat Quinn's administration under a provision of its subcontract. The Southern reports the AP story.

Represenative Mike Tryon was born in Terra Haute, Indiana, on July 31, 1955. He graduated from from Indiana State University in 1978 with a degree in Environmental Health Science.

Mike represents the 66th District that includes portions of McHenry and Kane Counties. He first came to the district to take a job with the McHenry County Health Department after graduating from college. While working for the county, he not only fell in the love with the area but also met his future wife Cathy, who at the time worked in the building and zoning department. Read more about Rep. Tryon.
Legislative Audit Commission schedules next NRI briefing for July 16. The Legislative Audit Commission, which reviewed the performance audit of the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) on May 28, is continuing its investigation of the troubled NRI program. This was the program, overseen by the since-disbanded Illinois Violence Prevention Authority, which distributed grants to Chicago social workers for the stated purpose of increasing neighborhood and community ties and fighting street crime.
Clifford clause addresses severance controversy

Spurred by the uproar over the potential $871,000 severance payout awarded last summer to ousted Metra CEO Alex Clifford, state lawmakers have approved a measure requiring tighter scrutiny over future payouts for transit agency employees.

The so-called Clifford clause is part of a broader bill containing several reforms intended to strengthen oversight of the CTA, Metra and Pace and provide more accountability of those agencies, according to legislators.

 The legislation would give more teeth to the Regional Transportation Authority, which critics contend lacks enough power to ride herd over the agencies.

State Rep. Michael Tryon, R-Crystal Lake, a chief co-sponsor, said the bill is needed to "rebuild the trust" of transit users and taxpayers dismayed by the Clifford episode. Gov. Pat Quinn supports the measure, known as Senate Bill 3056, and intends to sign it, a spokesman said. Read the rest of the story by the Chicago Tribune's Richard Wronski.
Ever given any thought to what it must take to become a state trooper? The Illinois State Police has created a new recruitment video to give you a brief glimpse into what it is like to be a trooper.

Interested? The links below provide additional information.

Rep. Rich Brauer
Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to help organizers of charitable poker runs in Illinois. The legislation ensures that more of the money raised from these grassroots events will go toward the intended recipient by reducing required fees. Today's action is part of Governor Quinn's commitment to encourage volunteerism in Illinois.

"These rides are a creative way to raise funds to support worthy causes," Governor Quinn said. "This new law will help even more events get rolling and help support organizations across Illinois."

According to Representative Rich Brauer, the House sponsor of the bill, "This legislation cleaned up some regulations that were impeding motorcycle-based fundraising events."  Read more here.

Rep Charlie Meier and Chole Stirling earlier this year
presenting legislation in committee.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the "cupcake bill" in the kitchen where it all began, with 12-year-old baker Chloe Stirling and her family looking on Tuesday.

The signing had the atmosphere of a neighborhood block party, with dozens of people in the Stirlings' Troy home - and a lemonade stand in the driveway, operated by Chloe's little sister Sophie. The governor bought two cups of lemonade on his way into the house.

Flanked by state legislators and the Stirling family, Quinn signed the bill that made Chloe's baking business legal again.

"I'm happy I'm going to be baking again, and happy that other home cooks can bake again without getting in trouble like I did," Chloe said. The New-Democrat's Elizabeth Donald has the story.

Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield, will be utilizing his knowledge as a former sheriff’s deputy in his new appointment to two panels dealing with criminal justice reform and illegal gun trafficking.

Anthony has been appointed by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, to serve on the panels, according to a news release.

The Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee, comprised of five members from the House and five from the Senate, will examine the impact of the current sentencing structure, ensure enforcement and punishment of crimes does not disproportionately or unfairly affect certain racial, ethnic or minority groups; and develop solutions to address issues that exist within the system. The committee is required to submit a report to the General Assembly by Dec. 1.

The other three House members on the committee, appointed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, include Rep. Ken Dunkin, D-Chicago; Rep. Arthur Turner, D-Chicago; and Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside. Former prosecutor Rep. Dennis Reboletti, R-Elmhurst, is the other Republican appointed. The committee was established May 30. Read the story by the Morris Daily Herald.
State Representative John Anthony is a full-time legislator who previously served his community as a Law Enforcement Officer since 2005 when he joined the Champaign Police Department.  In 2008 John joined the Kendall County Sheriff’s Department where he served as a Deputy Sheriff.

John was awarded the Ervin H. Warren “Cop of the Future” award given to police officers who show strong leadership under duress and maintain integrity and character.  Continuing his desire to serve the local community, John and his wife, Deborah, began a non-for-profit charity organization called YARN.  The YARN Foundation seeks to strengthen families hand help children by providing educational programs and scholarships. Read more about Rep. Anthony.
“You cannot imagine how a small group of people
really is making a change and (will) get this done,”
~ Rep. Patti Bellock
Government officials met in Hinsdale with Salt Creek as a backdrop June 5 to announce the state has approved a $626,000 grant that will allow a flood control project for the Graue Mill subdivision to go forward, and to praise the homeowners for making it happen.

The creek looks very tranquil and calm today, said Peter Schroth, president of the Graue Mill Homeowners Association, “but those of us who lived here in 2010 and 2013 know how vicious this little creek can get.”

Homeowners hired Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. and started working on a flood control plan after heavy rains caused Salt Creek to overflow its banks in July 2010 and cause more than $5 million in damages to the 243-unit development, known as Graue Mill Country Residences, as well as to other homes and businesses in the area.

The damage was more extensive after storms in April 2013, when village employees evacuated residents in dump trucks and boats, and the complex was without electricity for days. Kimberly Fornek with Hinsdale Doings has the story.
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Capital Road Projects 
$1.1 billion for roads and bridges. HB 3794 and SB 3224, a two-bill package, sets aside $1.1 billion for road and bridge repairs in Illinois. Of this sum, $100 million will be distributed to local governments by pre-existing formula, and $1.0 billion will be spent through the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) on urgent road and bridge projects identified in the Department’s existing multi-year plan.

Proponents of these bills point to inadequate funds from motor fuel taxes. The legacy of increasing numbers of Illinoisans buying gas-sipping smaller vehicles, and repeated raids on the Road Fund to meet other spending programs of the State, have made it impossible in the eyes of transportation experts for IDOT to fully fund its commitments to construct and reconstruct the road and bridge projects that its long-term plan had already committed to accomplish. The $1 billion committed in this two-bill package is meant to provide resources to maintain the usable status of Illinois roads and highways and to keep these road safety and usability commitments.
Sign the Petition
Politicians are like water – they always take the easiest path.

When faced with difficult decisions this year, the Illinois General Assembly sat on its hands and told you a fib. We were told Illinois government is entering a period of “austerity.”

This year’s budget is $850 million more than last year’s.

And folks, most of that extra spending is being paid for through borrowing.

The politicians raided special use funds throughout state government, harvested $650 million and then promised to pay it back in 18 months.

But I haven’t heard anyone explain just how they plan to pay it back.

If we don’t have the money to pay for that extra spending now, how will we have the money in a year and one half to pay for that continued level of spending and pay back the borrowed money? Scott Reeder has the rest of the story at
Ron Sandack is the State Representative for the 81st District, serving Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Darien, Lisle, Naperville, Westmont, and Woodridge.

Before serving in the House, he was appointed to complete the term of former State Senator Dan Cronin in November of 2010. Upon taking the oath to serve the 21st District in the State Senate, Sen. Sandack immediately declined all state benefits associated with the position; including health insurance and participation in the legislative pension program. Prior to his appointment, he was the Mayor of Downers Grove, where he served from 2007 to 2011. Previously, Sandack served on the Downers Grove Village Council from 2003 to 2007.  Read more about Rep. Sandack.

Sign the Petition
They did it again.

For the umpteenth year and counting, Democrats in the General Assembly last week approved a sham of a budget that relies on many of the same gimmicks that have all but bankrupted Illinois.

The 12-month spending document, passed with no Republican support, doesn’t reduce the state’s record spending. It further relies on delaying paying the state’s bills. It borrows money from special funds to pay for operational expenses. And it counts on inflated future revenue projections that may never materialize.

The budget also doesn’t account for the declining revenue from the scheduled Jan. 1 rollback of the 67 percent “temporary” tax hike passed by Democratic lawmakers in January 2011. Read the entire editorial by The Northwest Herald Editorial Board.