Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that his office will suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminder notices to the public due to the lack of a state budget.

White noted that by suspending this service, which will save approximately $450,000 per month, his office will be able to prolong the ability to mail vehicle registration renewal stickers, titles and license plates to vehicle owners for a few months longer before the postage account is depleted.
Blue-Green Algae May Cause Harmful Algal Bloom

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency urge residents to use caution while in or on the Illinois portion of the Ohio River due to potential toxins from blue-green algae.  Blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) are microscopic organisms that naturally occur in lakes and streams.  Rapid growth of algae is referred to as a “bloom.”

Both Illinois agencies have been working with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission to respond to reports of a harmful algal bloom in the Ohio River.  The Commission and partners from various states along the Ohio River have been tracking an algal bloom in the river that stretches from West Virginia to the Illinois/Indiana border.  While a harmful algal bloom has not yet been confirmed in the Illinois portion of the Ohio River, river and weather conditions are favorable for such a bloom, particularly along shorelines.
FY16 Budget
Democrat majority continues piecemeal budget strategy. Although Illinois is close to ending its third month without a spending plan for the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2015, the House session this week did not show any signs of progress. On Thursday, Democrats on the House Executive Committee passed a $3.8 billion spending bill without specifying a funding source for the monies pledged by the committee to be spent.
Even before Illinois legislative mapmakers drew chunks of our region into state Rep. Don Moffitt’s Illinois House district four years ago, he already was working for our community’s interest.

So we were disappointed to learn that this 23-year veteran of the Illinois Statehouse and friend of the Quad-Cities is not seeking re-election. The Republican made the announcement at his annual Moffitt Family Farm Picnic in Gilson Sunday.

“Everyone leaves the General Assembly ... Some are carried out, some are voted out, and some leave on their own terms, and I have chosen to leave on my own terms,” Rep. Moffitt reportedly said.

It was welcome, but hardly surprising news that his own terms included a commitment to finishing out his term. That ensures it will be voters of this sprawling district who will decide who replaces him, not party leaders or the officeholder himself who will choose his replacement.

Read the editorial in the Dispatch Argus.

Governor Rauner signed pivotal legislation today that will limit the future size and scope of community college severance agreements.

Prompted by a $763,000 contract buyout approved by a former College of DuPage (COD) Board for outgoing College President Dr. Robert Breuder, State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) filed HB 3593, which limits future buyout or severance agreements to no more than one year of salary and benefits. Even though a newly-elected COD Board of Trustees voided the Breuder deal, Ives said her bill will prevent other college boards from inking similarly excessive deals for underperforming administrators.

“That agreement was irresponsible and disrespectful to the taxpayers who fund the College of DuPage,” said Ives. “While the new board seems to be acting more in line with the best interests of the college’s stakeholders, this new law will prevent mismanagement at the levels we’ve seen at COD from happening in the future.” Read more.
Agreement saves taxpayers $22 million instantly. Northstar fully terminated as private manager of the Illinois Lottery

The Administration of Governor Bruce Rauner announced today it has reached a termination agreement with Northstar Lottery Group, LLC and its parent companies as the private manager of the Illinois Lottery.

“This deal is an instant win for taxpayers because it immediately saves them $22 million,” General Counsel Jason Barclay said. “In addition, it releases taxpayers from the eleventh-hour deal former Governor Quinn signed on his way out the door.”
FY16 Budget
Comptroller Munger: Early Intervention payments will be made. Comptroller, DHS agree EI services fall under active consent decree.

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that her office is setting up accounts and will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as it receives vouchers from the Department of Human Services (DHS).
College of DuPage trustees voted 4-3 Thursday night to void the employment contract of embattled President Robert Breuder and declare him an at-will employee, putting his controversial severance package in jeopardy.

During a meeting of a deeply divided board, trustees also passed a measure that effectively rescinds an agreement to name the school's Homeland Security Education Center after Breuder. The building instead will be named, effective immediately, for Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, who grew up in Wheaton and died in Afghanistan in 2008 while saving his team during a firefight. The measure passed 4-2, with one abstention.

The two decisions are the latest efforts to undo past board actions and change the legacy left by Breuder, who is on paid administrative leave pending termination proceedings. Read the story in the Chicago Tribune.

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Illinois Secretary of State and AAA today launched the 2015 National Child Passenger Safety Week in Illinois. The annual safety campaign brings attention to the importance of properly securing all children in car seats, booster seats and seat belts.

“Safety of the motoring public, especially children, is a top priority here at IDOT,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Making sure your child is in the right seat is an important responsibility that all parents need to take seriously.”
Comptroller, DHS agree EI services fall under active consent decree 

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that her office is setting up accounts and will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as it receives vouchers from the Department of Human Services (DHS).

Munger learned from her Nonprofit Advisory Council last week that Early Intervention services were "slipping through the cracks" of consent decrees requiring payments during the budget impasse, and she contacted DHS officials to discuss what payment options were available. After looking more closely at several active consent decrees, DHS and the Comptroller agreed that Early Intervention services were covered and they immediately began setting up the processes for making payments to providers.
For years, good-government advocates have pushed for a new way to draw Illinois House and Senate district boundaries to curb the influence of partisan politics in deciding who controls the General Assembly, only to fall short due to legal hurdles.

Now a new group funded by well-heeled backers is taking another run at the issue as it tries to learn from mistakes of the past by getting an earlier start and drafting a proposal it believes can withstand an inevitable court challenge. The Independent Map Amendment effort says it's well on its way to getting enough signatures to put the measure on next year's ballot, aided by voter frustration over the stalemate at the Statehouse.

Read the story in its entirety in the Chicago Tribune.
No more snow days?

Starting Jan. 1, that might be a reality for West Chicago High School District 94 students.

The district -- which put Chromebooks in the hands of every student at the beginning of this school year -- has plans to submit an application to be part of the state's new pilot e-learning program. The program will allow three Illinois school districts to teach students through digital devices on days when they can't attend school, due to snow or other emergencies.

E-learning on emergency days is the brainchild of the District 94 Superintendent Douglas Domeracki. After hearing how districts in other states were launching e-learning programs, he proposed the idea to state Rep. Mike Fortner of West Chicago, who then sponsored legislation to create the 3-year pilot program. Read more in the Daily Herald.

The Illinois General Assembly is living up to its reputation. Fourteen weeks after we were set to adjourn on June 1, we don't have a budget. It is clear that we need more than spending changes; we need an entirely new culture of government in Springfield. Because of this budget impasse, the important issues we should be tackling have been pushed to the backburner. The challenges we face, including Illinois' poor reputation and years of financial mismanagement are what led me to get involved and are what continue to motivate me.

No matter party lines, we all agree that we deserve better from our state government. We deserve thoughtful conversation, compromises and common sense. It's too bad that throughout my first seven months in office, I can't recall much progress on any of these fronts. Too often, amidst having $6 billion in unpaid bills, a $111 billion unfunded pension liability and having the worst credit rating in the nation, the agenda in Springfield has been "look busy" instead of "get things done." Read more in the Journal-News.

9-11 Observances
State observes anniversary of 9-11, honors victims and first responders. In Illinois by order of Gov. Rauner, flags flew at half-mast throughout Patriot Day in honor of the victims and heroes of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and rural Pennsylvania.

Leading the way towards observance of the somber day of remembrance were Republican members of the University of Illinois student and teaching community, who successfully advocated for permission to set up a memorial installation on the U of I Quad. After a facet of the university administration temporarily attempted to block organization of the installation, the Illini Republicans led the way in a successful push to reverse the prohibition and allow the placement of 2,977 flags on the Quad. Each U.S. flag will represent one victim of the atrocity.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who a week ago stood firmly in opposition to attempts by the largest state employee union to circumvent labor negotiations, commended their leadership for moving past last week and signing the indefinite tolling agreement extended by Governor Rauner.

“I would like to commend both Governor Rauner and AFSCME for recommitting to negotiations.  It is my genuine hope that both parties eventually emerge with an amicable agreement,” said Durkin. 

The agreement signed this week reinforces language that existed in the second 60-day tolling agreement intended to keep the agreement going in the absence of another agreement. Specifically, the agreement calls for good faith negotiations and prevents either side from unilaterally declaring an impasse. 

Downstate Republicans last week secured a similar letter of intent from the Governor clarifying the indefinite nature of the second tolling agreement; however, many view the new agreement as a sign that both sides recognize the importance of arriving at a solution. 

A group of suburban legislators led by State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) unveiled a new initiative to address the state’s mounting unfunded pension liability on Thursday, calling for a series of hearings on offering a lump sum buyout option to current and future annuitants nearing retirement; potentially netting the state billions in long-term savings.  Read more.

Today Governor Rauner signed into law legislation which will include severance and settlement agreements that use public funds under the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. Current law did not prohibit such agreements from containing confidentiality clauses. Representative McDermed’s House Bill 303 is a much needed win for government transparency. Read more.

Illinois moving toward rehab and data to reform youth prisons

Nine years after splitting from its parent agency, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice continues to struggle at fulfilling its mission. However, a new action plan released earlier this year seems to be pushing the agency in the right direction.

The plan calls for both legislative and procedural changes that would see fewer young people behind bars and more receiving the help they need to successfully reenter society. A progress report released last week shows IDJJ has a clear vision for reforms and is already implementing some. Read the story in the Illinois Times.

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced Wednesday that if the state continues its current rate of spending without a balanced budget, Illinois' backlog of unpaid bills to schools, hospitals, businesses, social services and other vendors will exceed $8.5 billion by the end of the calendar year.

Munger said court orders, consent decrees, and statutory continuing appropriations (including debt service, pension payments, tax refunds and lawmaker salaries) are funding 90 percent of the state's bills even though the General Assembly and Governor have been deadlocked on a budget since July 1.  The problem is, the spending is based on FY 15 levels while revenue is based on FY 16 levels, which is running considerably lower due to the sunset of the temporary tax increase in January.
The College of DuPage’s top two finance officials were fired Wednesday, following internal reports that found weak financial controls and violations of the school’s investment practices.

Treasurer Thomas Glaser and Controller Lynn Sapyta, who have been on paid leave since June, were the first college officials to be fired following a regime shift at the Glen Ellyn-based school, where a new majority took over the board of trustees in April. President Robert Breuder remains on paid administrative leave.

“We are going to be embarking on a search for highly capable individuals and it is part of the new era for the College of DuPage,” said board Chairwoman Katharine Hamilton.

Glaser’s attorney, Shelly Kulwin, said he plans to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination and breach of contract.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune.

Law Enforcement – Fox Lake Tragedy
Illinois House honors Lt. Charles Joseph “G.I. Joe” Gliniewicz.  The Fox Lake Police lieutenant was murdered on the morning of Tuesday, September 1.  Gliniewicz and his family were praised on Wednesday, September 2 by House Republican members John Anthony and John Cabello, who are retired police officers themselves.  The Illinois House was silent as Rep. Anthony, who had been personally acquainted with Gliniewicz, told the body that the veteran of 30 years’ service in law enforcement had been looking forward to retirement with his family.  Rep. Barb Wheeler, who represents Fox Lake, told the House of the lieutenant’s long service to his community.
During national emergency preparedness month we are highlighting how to keep your family safe during an emergency.

Do you know what actions to take when you receive a flood watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service? Do you know what to do before, during, and after a flood?
State lawmakers decided to stick with their own version of legislation meant to prevent heroin overdose death, dealing a big blow to Gov. Bruce Rauner's attempt to rewrite the plan.

The Illinois House overrode Rauner's veto of a proposal to push courts to use more treatment options with heroin addicts and require local authorities to keep overdose antidotes on hand.

The governor removed a section of the legislation that requires Medicaid to pay for opioid addiction treatment without some of the cost-saving mechanisms Rauner supports.

But in the end, Democrats and some Republicans in the House voted to drop Rauner's changes by a 105-5 vote. Now, the Senate will have the option to do the same in the coming weeks. If senators override Rauner, the plan becomes law despite his objections. If they don't, the whole proposal languishes. Read the rest of this story by Mike Riopell in the Daily Herald.
The Illinois Constitution provides the Governor with four possible veto alternatives, below is a brief description of each:

Total Veto
The Governor can veto an entire bill by returning it with his objections to the chamber in which it originated. The General Assembly can override this veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each chamber.

Item Veto
The Governor can veto any item of appropriations in a bill by returning it to the chamber in which it originated. The General Assembly can override this veto by a vote of three-fifths of the members elected to each chamber.
Preparing for an emergency before it happens will not only protect your family, pets, important documents, photos and priceless heirlooms but also ensure a faster recovery. Follow these steps from FEMA:

Store supplies so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate.
Know in advance what you will need to take. Take time now to make a list of the things you would need or want to take with you if you had to leave your home quickly.
Comptroller committed to paying most vulnerable

Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger released the following statement Tuesday in response to a Federal Court's denial of a motion to hold the state in contempt of court over payments tied to the Ligas Consent Decree impacting services for people with developmental disabilities:

"I am grateful to the Court for recognizing that our office has done, and will continue to do, everything in its power to ensure that the state's budget shortfall does not impact payment for services for people with developmental disabilities.
Photo by Adam Belles. Creative Commons License 
Fires, tornados, floods, hazardous waste spills and other emergencies can occur with no warning. Do you know how to get in touch with your family if you are not together when an emergency occurs?

Before an emergency happens, have a family discussion to determine who would be your out-of-state point of contact and where you would meet away from your home — both in the neighborhood and within your town.