REIMAGINE ILLINOIS

House Republicans push for fiscal responsibility. Reimagine Illinois, the comprehensive package of reform proposals issued by House Republicans in spring 2021, calls for responsible fiscal leadership for our state. Illinois’ credit rating has dropped to near junk-bond level. Illinois Democrats routinely make promises that they cannot keep, spend beyond our means, and then leave Illinois taxpayers with billions of dollars in unpaid bills. This pattern, repeated over and over, has created Illinois’ ‘BBB-‘ credit rating. Illinois routinely has to pay interest rates and charges that are five times, seven times, or even nine times the interest rates that taxpayers of ‘AAA’ rated states like Indiana have to pay.
In this episode, Rep. Amy Elik discusses Reimagine Illinois, responsible fiscal leadership and HJRCA27, legislation to allow voters to decide how the state balances its budget.
Promotional Postcard for the 1910 Rotary Convention. 
Photo from the Rotary Club of Chicago Archives. 
While it is true that over the past year there haven’t been many in-person luncheons or other meetings, it is also probably true that there isn’t a single member of the Illinois General Assembly who has not given a speech in front of a local Rotary club. These groups of local business and civic leaders have been formed in practically every city and town in America, but the very first Rotary club was founded right here in Illinois in 1905.
In this podcast episode, Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison talks about Reimagine Illinois and HJRCA26 that will make raising taxes more difficult.


REIMAGINE ILLINOIS

Illinois Senate & House Republicans Introduce the People’s Independent Maps Act. Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Senate Republican Caucus Chair Jason Barickman and House Assistant Minority Leader Tim Butler introduced the People’s Independent Maps Act to allow Illinois legislative redistricting maps to be created by an independent commission, rather than politicians.
As another Major League Baseball season gets started, the age-old argument in Illinois renews once again: Sox-versus-Cubs-versus-Cards. For more than a century baseball fans in the Land of Lincoln have sparred over the competition between the three big league teams with the largest following in Illinois.

There’s always much to argue about, and this year will be no different. But they do all have one thing in common: some of the most memorable moments in the history of each club were narrated by the great Harry Caray.
Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Senate Republican Caucus Chair Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and House Assistant Minority Leader Tim Butler (R-Springfield) today introduced the People’s Independent Maps Act to allow Illinois legislative redistricting maps to be created by an independent commission, rather than politicians. 
REIMAGINE ILLINOIS

“Reimagine Illinois” important to families throughout the state. The Reimagine Illinois platform, introduced by the House Republican Caucus earlier this month, calls for treating recent upheavals in Illinois’ economy and politics as an opportunity for new thinking. Our members’ four goals include:
  • Ending the culture of corruption
  • Responsible fiscal leadership
  • Growing jobs and opportunities for our families
  • Ensuring public safety 
Chicago and Illinois took their turn on the world stage in 1893 when the city hosted the World’s Columbian Exposition, better known as the World’s Fair. It was a chance to reacquaint the nation and the world with the Midwest’s pre-eminent city after it had risen from the ashes of the 1871 fire.

In the decades that followed, Chicago and Illinois re-emerged as the crossroads of America, with the construction of railroads and then highways, and the early days of aviation. With its status as a world-class city in the center of the North American continent; and with so many of the leaders in the nation’s movement toward equal rights for women based here in Illinois; it was only fitting that in 1925 Chicago would play host to the first Woman’s World Fair.
Imagine an Illinois with the best-trained public safety personnel, and where public safety agencies function the way they are supposed to.

Every night on the news we see stories of murders, carjackings, shootings and other acts of violence. Law enforcement officers don’t get the support they need from state government, and law-abiding citizens have to navigate endless bureaucracy just to get paperwork approved. 
Imagine an Illinois with limitless opportunities.

This year’s Census figures look to confirm a troubling trend: more people are leaving our state in search of opportunities elsewhere. Neighboring states and other regions of the country are surging ahead, while we lag behind. Economic development coordinators in every part of the state all have their stories of the big job-creator they hoped to land, only to see them pick a different state with a better jobs climate. 
REIMAGINE ILLINOIS

Illinois House Republican Caucus Launches ‘Reimagine Illinois’ Platform. The Illinois House Republican caucus has launched a new comprehensive platform called Reimagine Illinois. The plan outlines House Republicans’ priorities for the 102nd General Assembly and asks Illinoisans to ‘Reimagine’ their State government if certain public policy goals are met. 
Imagine an Illinois with real fiscal leadership.

Each year it seems like Illinois’ fiscal condition gets a little bit worse. Credit ratings fall, pension debts rise, debt gets piled upon more debt in an endless cycle. Legislators wink and nod at that line in the state Constitution which says “appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.”
Imagine an Illinois without political corruption.

Every single day Illinoisans pay the price for corruption in state government. We pay that price through inefficiencies in government agencies, through contracts awarded due to clout rather than competence, through wasteful spending tied to politically-connected lobbyists, and so much more.

Corruption drives up property taxes and income taxes. It drives down funds available for important priorities like education, veterans and senior services. It also drives down citizens’ confidence in their state government, and job creators’ willingness to invest in our state.

Many American First Ladies have left their mark on history and society. Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan were among some of the highest-profile First Ladies of their time and those with some of the most lasting legacies. It was another 20th-century First Lady, the Chicago-born Betty Ford, who not only made her mark during her time in the White House but who continues to have an effect on the lives of many Americans to this day.

The Illinois House Republican caucus today launched a new comprehensive platform called Reimagine Illinois. The plan outlines House Republicans’ priorities for the 102nd General Assembly and asks Illinoisans to ‘Reimagine’ their State government if certain public policy goals are met.
If you could build a better Illinois, what would it look like?
  • How would we end the culture of corruption?
  • What would we do to lower taxes and balance the budget?
  • How can we create more job and opportunities for our families?
  • What should be our strategy to keep our communities safe and reduce crime?
We asked ourselves the same questions and our answers resulted in a plan we call Reimagine Illinois.  Our plan for building a better Illinois focuses on the following four components:
BUDGET

State revenue watchdogs present report on past twelve months, estimates on future Illinois economic picture. The estimates were presented to the House Revenue Committee on Thursday, March 11. The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR), which directly collects State general-funds revenue, shares its numbers with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB), the administrative budget-monitoring office, and the Commission Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), which performs a parallel task for the Illinois General Assembly. Their concurrent monitoring maximizes the ability of the State to forecast future revenue trends. CGFA and GOMB’s revenue estimates for FY22 were close by economic forecasting standards, with a difference of $185 million (less than 1% of total State revenues) between the two numbers.
Last year Illinois and the nation celebrated the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which finally extended voting rights to women in 1920.

Illinoisans could proudly point out that our state was ahead of the times. The Land of Lincoln was the first state to ratify the amendment after its passage by Congress in June 1919. Before that, Illinois had enfranchised women in school elections in 1891 and in the remainder of local elections in 1913. But the fight had actually begun decades earlier, with one of its starting points coming at a suffrage convention held in Chicago a half century before the 19th Amendment was ratified.
TAXES

House Republicans Stand with Illinois Families, Oppose Democrats’ Second Tax Hike Attempt.

Last year, Illinois House Democrats supported a fantasy budget that relied upon the passage of the graduated income tax amendment and a “fingers crossed” hope for a federal bailout. Instead of living within our means, Democrats attempted to trick voters into raising taxes, and were sorely rejected by Illinoisans across the state.
One hundred sixty years ago today Abraham Lincoln stood beneath the unfinished dome of the United States Capitol and delivered a last, desperate plea for unity.

In the weeks following his election four months earlier, seven southern states led by South Carolina, had voted to secede from the Union and had formed themselves into the Confederate States of America. Border states including nearby Virginia and Maryland, as well as Lincoln’s birth state of Kentucky, were still hanging in the balance. The dark clouds of civil war loomed over the nation’s capital as Lincoln stepped forward to take the oath of office and become the 16th (and some feared the last) President of the United States.
CRIMINAL LAW

Our greatest responsibility is to protect the health and safety of Illinois citizens. On Monday, February 22, Governor JB Pritzker signed a controversial criminal justice bill that barely passed at the end of the January lame-duck session of the Illinois General Assembly.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement on the signing of House Bill 3653 into law: 
The origins of many different styles of music are difficult to trace. But one is unquestionably all American. Jazz is widely credited with having gotten its start in New Orleans, growing out of American blues and ragtime music popular around the turn of the 20th century. While its roots are in the American South, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time got started right here in Illinois.

The great Miles Davis was born in Alton, Illinois, on May 26, 1926. The Davis family lived in a middle-class neighborhood on Milnor Street in Alton before moving to East St. Louis. Miles’ classical musician mother, Cleota, encouraged young Miles to pursue the violin. But he instead chose to take musical advice from his dentist father and went on to learn the trumpet. It was a fateful choice.
Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement on the signing of House Bill 3653 into law: 

“The Governor’s support of House Bill 3653 is an insult to our first responders, law enforcement and the law-abiding citizens of Illinois who want to be free from violence and destruction from the criminal element. It’s clear that Governor Pritzker does not understand this bill and what it means to our criminal justice system. Illinois and its citizens will not be safer because of this bill. 

We live in a civilized state where our elected officials’ greatest responsibility is the health and safety of Illinois citizens. This past year, Chicago has been traumatized with epic acts of violence through murders and carjackings with no apparent end in sight. At a crucial time when we should coalesce around the good men and women of law enforcement, Governor Pritzker has turned his back on them with his signature on House Bill 3653.”


Illinois State Representative Ryan Spain talks about gerrymandering, redistricting, fair maps and protecting your vote in this Leading Voices podcast episode. 

Learn more about Rep. Spain: repryanspain.com


BUDGET

Gov. Pritzker’s Budget Proposal Places Burden on Families and Job Creators. On Wednesday, February 17, Governor JB Pritzker presented his FY22 Budget proposal and “State of the State” virtual address to the Illinois General Assembly. 

The Governor’s budget proposal includes nearly $1 billion in new taxes on job creators. Illinois has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs since the start of this pandemic. Given the massive job losses and the Governor’s utter failure to fix the unemployment benefits mess at IDES, it is outrageous for him to propose eliminating important job creation incentives that are desperately needed to revitalize our economy. 

Since the dawn of flight, Illinoisans have been soaring into the heavens. Whether it was helping the Wright Brothers get off the ground, crossing an ocean or flying to the moon, Illinois aviators have been at the forefront of making history in flight. In the late 1930s another Illinoisan took a crucial step that opened the doors of aviation to many more Americans who sought to spread their wings.

Willa Brown was born January 22, 1906, and spent her early years as a Chicago social worker and a schoolteacher. But she wanted something more. Coming of an age in an era in which the daring trailblazers were aviators, she sought to become a pilot herself. She was inspired in part by Bessie Coleman of Chicago who had become the world’s first African American woman pilot when she earned a pilot’s license in France.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Meet the new Rules, same as the old Rules. On Wednesday, February 10, the Illinois House of Representatives met for a one-day session at the State Capitol. For the first time in nearly a year, the House met for session in the House chambers, following CDC guidelines for social distancing and requiring smaller groups of legislators to come to the floor separately to cast their votes in a staggered manner.

The purpose of the one-day session was to adopt the new House Rules for the 102nd General Assembly. After promising reforms and declaring that it was a new day for the House, new Speaker Emanuel Chris Welch and his House Democratic Caucus rammed through partisan Rules that made few substantive changes to the Rules enforced for decades by former Speaker Michael J. Madigan. 
Abraham Lincoln and Ward Lamon (seated)
at Army of Potomac headquarters, 1862. 
In the stunned silence following the President’s unexpectedly brief comments dedicating the national cemetery at Gettysburg, a downcast Abraham Lincoln returned to his seat and dejectedly recalled a prairie idiom for ineffectiveness. “That speech won’t scour,” Lincoln said. “It is a flat failure.”

But the President’s perspective was not shared by the man sitting next to him on the stage, who looked over the crowd and saw not disappointment but awe at the majestic words just spoken. Seeking to reassure his friend that his speech had been anything but a failure, Ward Lamon, a longtime Lincoln associate from Illinois, thus became the first of millions to argue that Lincoln had in fact delivered the greatest Presidential speech in American history.
Rep. David Welter talks about his legislation to protect Illinois Veterans in the Leading Voices podcast.  He points to the lack of action taken by the administration that resulted in the deaths of our nation's heroes from COVID-19 at the LaSalle Veterans' Home.

Learn more about Rep. David Welter.
CRIMINAL LAW

House Republicans, victims’ advocates say victims not protected in criminal justice bill, urge veto. State Representatives David Welter, Mike Marron and Chris Bos were joined by Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy, as well as domestic violence survivor and victims’ advocate Cassandra Tanner-Miller for a press conference on Thursday. The group addressed several issues with the recently passed criminal justice reform legislation, House Bill 3653, that pose serious consequences for victims of violent crime, as well as witness and their families.
In a press conference today, Cassandra Tanner-Miller expressed deep concerns that the provisions in HB3653 will make it more difficult to hold violent offenders in jail. In 2019, she lost her young son to violence because her abusive ex-husband was released without a cash  bond. Ms. Tanner-Miller barely survived the assault and has been an advocate for survivors and reforming Illinois law ever since.



State Representatives David Welter (R-Morris), Mike Marron (R-Fithian) and Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) were joined by Vermilion County State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy, as well as domestic violence survivor and victims’ advocate Cassandra Tanner-Miller for a press conference this afternoon. The group addressed several issues with the recently passed criminal justice reform legislation, House Bill 3653, that pose serious consequences for victims of violent crime, as well as witness and their families. 
Chicago became the largest city in Illinois in the 19th century. It quickly became one of the largest in the United States, and then the world. First the lake brought visitors and settlers. Then it was the rivers, followed by the railroads, the highways and the airports. Millions of people call Chicago home, and millions more visit every year.

It all started with one pioneer.
CRIMINAL LAW

House Republicans urge Gov. Pritzker to veto flawed criminal justice bill. Illinois House Republicans held a press conference Wednesday to urge Gov. JB Pritzker to veto a sweeping criminal justice bill passed by bare Democrat majorities in the waning hours of the lame duck session of the 101st General Assembly.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said the state must “thoroughly and carefully address police reform and criminal justice reform. It is the right thing to do.”
State Representative Mark Luft is focused on bipartisanship, ethics reform, and economic recovery for our state as he begins his first term in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Photo from the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library & Museum. 
Illinois is certainly not a stranger to cold winters, and this year is shaping up to be no different.

Throughout history the state has endured some truly brutal and bone-chilling winters. Just two years ago, on January 31, 2019, a weather station in the northwestern Illinois town of Mt. Carroll reported the coldest temperature ever recorded in Illinois: -38 degrees. It broke the old record of -36 which had been set in Congerville, near Peoria, on January 5, 1999.

But these record-setting cold snaps do not stand alone in Illinois’ frosty history.
Law enforcement officials and public safety agencies across Illinois believe HB3653 as written, will threaten the safety of Illinois families. This flawed bill will make it more difficult for law enforcement to keep communities safe and gives more rights to criminals than to their victims. 

We urge the governor to veto HB3653 and bring all stakeholders together to craft real criminal justice reform and police accountability legislation that will truly make our communities safer.

Top Row: Leader Jim Durkin, Reps. Dan Brady, Tom Demmer, Tom Bennett, Avery Bourne & Tim Butler
Bottom Row: Reps. CD Davidsmeyer, Deanne Mazzochi, Ryan Spain, Keith Wheeler, David Welter & Mark Batinick

Today House Republican Leader Jim Durkin announced the appointment of his leadership team for the 102 General Assembly.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY

New members of the House Republican Caucus. Ten new Illinois House Republicans took their oaths of office on Wednesday, January 13, in Springfield. Joining their colleagues were new Representatives Chris Bos, Amy Elik, David Friess, Jackie Haas, Paul Jacobs, Seth Lewis, Mark Luft, Martin McLaughlin, Adam Niemerg, and Tim Ozinga. Making up almost one-quarter of the members of the new Illinois Republican Caucus, the freshman members of the Illinois House of Representatives are a demonstration of the Caucus’ forward-looking, growth-oriented identity.
Political conventions in the 19th century were wild, chaotic affairs. Unlike today’s quadrennial events which ratify nominees chosen weeks or months earlier, conventions in the 1800s saw enormous amounts of wheeling and dealing among those vying for nominations, as well as for cabinet posts, patronage and a myriad of other potential spoils from the victor.

Ironically enough, the President who has gone down in history as the most honest man ever to sit in the Oval Office secured his nomination through this traditional method of horse-trading, and it was a Bloomington judge named David Davis who helped him to do it; ensuring that Abraham Lincoln would be the Republican nominee for President at the 1860 convention in Chicago.
Illinois State Representative Martin McLaughlin serves the 52nd District. He is a strong advocate for small business and better management of the state's finances. As a Village President for the past 8 years, he lowered the tax levy six times, by 25%, and he is looking forward to bringing that experience to Springfield. 

Senators Charles Percy and Everett Dirksen, 1967. 
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. 
On January 3 in Washington DC the members of the 117th Congress were sworn in. As the members of the House and Senate took their seats they followed a long line of legislators which extends so far back through history that it pre-dates the Capitol building itself. Among these historic figures are the 51 United States Senators from the state of Illinois.

We are proud to introduce the newest House Republican members of the 102nd General Assembly. 


Sworn into office on January 5 of this year, State Representative Tim Ozinga of the 37th District hits the ground running. In this Leading Voices podcast episode he talks about using his business and civic experiences to help make the state a more attractive and affordable place to live. 

Learn more about Rep. Tim Ozinga.


Len Small (center) Governor of Illinois 1921-1929. 
Photo from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum. 
As the 204 members of the 52nd General Assembly took their seats in the state Capitol on Wednesday, January 5, 1921, it was a hopeful time filled with the potential of new beginnings.

This optimism wasn’t felt just in Illinois. One hundred years ago this month many believed that the entire world had changed for the better and was entering a new era of peace and prosperity. The calamitous “war to end all wars” had come to an end and a peace treaty had been secured after a months-long conference. Scientific innovations were being repurposed from the development of battlefield technology to creations for the betterment of societies. The deadly Spanish Flu pandemic which had swept the globe was by this time mostly a thing of the past.


State Representative Jackie Haas of the 79th District was sworn into office last month. In this Leading Voices podcast episode she talks about jobs, taxes and working in a bipartisan manner.