The cost of funding a college education continues to rise every year. Many Illinoisans cannot afford to pay out of pocket to attend a university and the options for funding that education can often be complicated.

Below you will find a great starter guide that breaks down different ways to fund a higher education along with various types of scholarships, grants, and loans that are available to Illinois families.

One of the hallmarks of a Democrat-built budget in the Illinois General Assembly is its passage in the dead of the night. The late night call for a vote seems fitting since the budget was crafted behind closed doors, another hallmark. Let’s face it, debating the budget in the light of day and inviting people with divergent views and experiences to provide input, would expose nuances in the budget they want to keep under wraps.

The “nuances” in the $50 billion state budget that passed very early this morning with only Democrat votes, will lead to Illinoisans paying more for gas, groceries and medicine, not to mention property taxes. At the same time lawmakers will get a second boost in pay this calendar year. 

The budget bill made its appearance in the House chamber just before midnight and minutes after passing out of the Senate. The timing of its arrival allowed the House clerk to read it into the record for the first of three days required by the Rules of the House of Representatives.

It is uncertain if additional amendments will be considered; nonetheless, the stage is set for the budget’s final passage tomorrow, likely in the wee hours of the morning. Republicans and most of the Democratic caucus have little time to comb through thousands of pages of the $50 billion budget before it is called for a vote.

Late Afternoon Update. As we approach the 4 o’clock hour in Springfield, there has been no movement on the budget.

It was announced yesterday that the House and Senate Democrats had agreed on the budget language, but it is apparent that is not the case. While a Senate appropriations committee held a subject matter hearing on the budget bill (SB250, Senate Amendment 1) this morning, a vote was not taken.

It is unclear if the budget bill will be assigned to a Senate standing committee for a public hearing since a subject matter hearing was held, or if the amendment will go directly to the Senate floor for final action. Ultimately there may be additional amendments to be considered. We anticipate learning more once the House Democrats return from their caucus meeting.

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Morning Update

The much-anticipated state budget did not make its expected debut last night. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the Governor and Democratic leaders announced they had come to an agreement among themselves and planned to introduce the budget in the Senate that evening, after which it would pass over to the House. That late night move would have allowed the budget bill to be read a first time in the House and expedite its path through the General Assembly, for a possible final vote on Friday night. 

It appears rank and files members of the Democratic caucus had other thoughts. The Democratic Senate president finally announced at 11 p.m. last night that they would be unable to address the budget bill that evening and would try again in the morning. 

The Senate intends on presenting the budget bill in a Senate Appropriations Committee at 9 a.m. today.  Live audio of the hearing in Capitol Hearing Room 212 may be available here shortly before the start of committee. 


The Governor and Democratic leaders announced this afternoon that they have finally crafted a budget, patting themselves on the back for coming to an agreement with themselves six days after their own deadline.

The Senate President indicated the budget will be called in his chamber this evening and expects the House to take it up on Friday. They did not include specifics in their announcement but generally spoke about several expansive new programs that will be funded in their budget, neglecting to mention costs or revenue sources.

Democrats are finally addressing the budget and we are demanding a seat at the negotiating table. Democrats need to lift their moratorium and work with Republicans to ensure all Illinois families are considered in decisions that ultimately affect the pocketbooks of Illinois taxpayers.

From balancing your finances to succeeding academically, attending college can be an overwhelming experience as well as an exciting time for incoming college freshmen.

In an effort to provide guidance to those heading off to college for the first time,  Illinois lawmakers offer practical advice to help new students excel while in school. 

National Police Week is celebrated May 14th through May 20th to honor the dedication, bravery, and unwavering commitment of the men and women who wear the badge. This annual commemoration is a reminder of the sacrifices made by our law enforcement officers, who, day in and day out, stand as our communities' first line of defense.

Every police officer begins their day with the fact that they might be called upon to face danger, to protect a life, or to keep the peace. Their uniform isn't just a piece of clothing; it's a symbol of courage, service, and public trust. These individuals are our neighbors, friends, and family members and have chosen a profession that puts others' safety above their own. For that, they deserve the highest level of respect and gratitude. 

ETHICS REFORM
Illinois House Republicans: Democrats Must Act on Ethics. Just one week after guilty verdicts were handed down in federal court, sealing the fate of the ComEd Four for their corrupt actions, and following this week’s disclosure that former Democrat State Senator Tom Cullerton walked straight from his jail cell and into a lobbying firm, Illinois House Republicans sharpened their criticism on supermajority Democrats in Springfield for failing to clean up their own house and operating under the same corrupt Madigan rulebook. 

Just one week after guilty verdicts were handed down in federal court, sealing the fate of the ComEd Four for their corrupt actions, and following today’s disclosure of former Democrat State Senator Tom Cullerton walked straight from his jail cell and into a lobby firm, Illinois House Republicans sharpened their criticism on supermajority Democrats in Springfield for failing to clean up their own house and operating under the same corrupt Madigan rulebook.

In December 2020, Speaker Welch, acting as Madigan’s appointed Chairman of the Special Investigating Committee, shut down hearings after previously receiving testimony from ComEd’s compliance attorney. Despite repeated investigations, indictments, and arrests, Democrats have not acted on any meaningful anti-corruption reforms and have rarely called their colleagues out for wrongdoing. 

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a hot topic of discussion across the world. What once started as programs made for basic functions, such as a simple yes or no prediction tool based on statistical data, has evolved into a technology that can hold a conversation while seeming almost human.

AI usage has become mainstream, with a variety of programs readily available on the Internet. With any new form of technology, it’s important to remain aware of what that technology entails, and how to keep yourself safe. 

CORRUPTION
‘ComEd Four’ found guilty on all counts in bribery trial tied to ex-Speaker Madigan. A federal jury on Tuesday convicted three ex-lobbyists and the former CEO of electric utility Commonwealth Edison for their involvement in an alleged bribery scheme aimed at longtime Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Former ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore and Mike McClain – the utility’s longtime contract lobbyist and close confidant of Madigan – were each found guilty of nine counts of conspiracy bribery and falsifying records. Former City Club of Chicago President Jay Doherty, who also served for decades as an external lobbyist for the utility, and John Hooker, a former ComEd executive turned contract lobbyist for the company, were each found guilty of six counts. 

Illinois House Republicans are calling on the Democratic Super Majority to join our efforts in eliminating the culture of corruption plaguing the state of Illinois. And, to make ethics reform a priority as we head into the final weeks of session.

The legislature needs to take bold steps to weed out the underlying causes of corruption in state government by:

  • Allowing for greater transparency in the budget-making and lawmaking processes.  
  • Changing the "Rules" set up by Mike Madigan (and that are still used today) that gives a handful of lawmakers the power to decide which bills get a hearing, including ethics bills.
  • Enacting stronger laws that prohibit lawmakers from serving as lobbyists, grants greater authority to the Legislative Inspector General and enacts Fair Maps to let voters select their elected officials.

We’d like to hear from you. Should Ethics reform be a priority? How can we restore your confidence in state government? Please take our survey to let us know what you think about the need for ethics reform in Illinois.

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In the last decade alone, ten sitting or former elected state officials have been charged in federal court with public corruption-related activities. This includes longtime Speaker of the House Michael Madigan who is awaiting trial on charges of racketeering, bribery, fraud and extortion.

Was it hubris or outright defiance of the law that played a role in the corrupt actions of these political leaders? Perhaps they just didn’t fear the consequences? What is not in question is the current Democratic leadership’s lack of will to take up ethics reform any time soon. 

With summer right around the corner, many families are planning their trips across the country. But why leave Illinois when you can spend your summer enjoying the beauty, thrills, and educational opportunities our state has to offer?

Below is an extensive list of activities that families can enjoy right here in the Land of Lincoln.  

PUBLIC SAFETY
Truth in Public Safety Working Group Unveils New Legislation.  On Wednesday, the House Republican Truth in Public Safety (TIPS) Working Group introduced a series of measures designed to balance the rights of the accused while ensuring the safety of the public.

Members of the Working Group include Rep. Patrick Windhorst, House Republican Floor Leader and Chairperson of the TIPS Working Group as well as Representatives Dan Ugaste, Dennis Tipsword, John Cabello, Amy Grant and David Friess. 

On Wednesday, the House Republican Truth in Public Safety Working Group (TIPS) introduced a series of measures designed to balance the rights of the accused while ensuring the safety of the public.

Members of the Working Group include Rep. Patrick Windhorst, House Republican Floor Leader and Chairperson of the TIPS Working Group as well as Representatives Dan Ugaste, Dennis Tipsword, John Cabello, Amy Grant and David Friess.

According to Rep. Tipsword, “These bills, along with the other bills we’re proposing, are meaningful suggestions to ensure we’re supporting our first responders, and working with them for safer streets and safer neighborhoods…and that we’re also fulfilling our responsibility to taxpayers”   

April marks the observance of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an annual campaign that aims to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of child abuse and neglect. This month-long initiative highlights the importance of families and communities working together to safeguard the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children across the nation. Each one of us can play a vital role in preventing severe neglect, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse by being proactive and informed. 

BUDGET

House Republicans call for a moratorium, audit of Illinois’ billion-dollar health benefits program for undocumented immigrants. Illinois House Republican leaders are calling for a moratorium on expansion and a State audit of Illinois’ billion-dollar health benefits program for undocumented immigrants.

At a Capitol press conference Thursday, Deputy Republican Leaders Norine Hammond and Ryan Spain, along with Assistant Republican Leader C.D. Davidsmeyer, highlighted a bombshell State report detailing the massive cost and enrollment expansions of Illinois’ health benefits program for undocumented immigrants. 


On Tuesday, Illinois House Republicans hosted the 2023 Emerging Women Leaders Recognition Event. Nearly 50 women from across the state of Illinois were honored at this event. All of the honorees were invited by their State Representative for their achievements as leaders in their careers and communities.
DISASTERS

Tornadoes hit Illinois; five Illinois counties declared disaster areas. A severe storm system hit the central United States on March 31, 2023. In Illinois, this storm system generated high winds, tornadoes, and severe property damage in many regions of the state. At least four deaths and numerous injuries and massive property damage were confirmed. Three of the fatalities came from an EF-3 tornado that hit Crawford County in Southeastern Illinois. A fourth fatality was associated with a tragic structural failure in Boone County.  

FENTANYL

House passes McCombie bill to combat fentanyl epidemic. Last week, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation sponsored by House Republican Leader Tony McCombie to combat Illinois’ fentanyl epidemic and save lives.

McCombie’s bill, HB 3203, allows pharmacists and retail stores to sell potentially life-saving fentanyl test strips over the counter. Currently, test strips are classified as drug paraphernalia, which has made it impossible to make progress on identifying fentanyl in other drugs. The test strips will be able to identify if fentanyl is present in any drug, which is essential considering only a small dose (only 2 milligrams) of fentanyl can have fatal consequences. 

In the last week of Women’s History Month, we are concluding our series, The Women Who Shaped Illinois, with the final installment: The Women Who Wrote Illinois. This week we are telling the stories of three women who achieved remarkable success as authors, editors, and poets. 

Earlier this month, we began The Women Who Shaped Illinois series. Last week, we highlighted the incredible female architects who built our state in The Women Who Constructed Illinois.

In this week’s installment of the series, we are highlighting four incredible women who made history in politics and government. These trailblazers set the stage for decades of women who have served in elected offices in both Illinois state government and the federal United States government. 

ECONOMY

House Republicans Call for Business Reforms to Attract Manufacturing and Keep Jobs in Illinois. House Republican members held a Capitol news conference this week to call for reforms to Illinois’ business climate following the shuttering of the Stellantis Jeep Assembly Plant in Belvidere and Stellantis’ previously announced $150 million investment in Indiana.

Representatives Joe Sosnowski, Dan Ugaste, and John Cabello called for reforms to Illinois’ tax code and business regulatory environment, while pointing out that major manufacturers are passing over Illinois to invest in states with friendlier business environments. 

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we are highlighting trailblazing women in the Women Who Shaped Illinois Series. This four-part series began last week with the Women Who Taught Illinois, which details the work of influential female educators in the state of Illinois.

In this week’s installment, The Women Who Constructed Illinois, we will dive into the female architects who laid the groundwork for generations of women who would build the state we know today.  

Budget
Economic Forecast for FY24. In sharing this forecast with the House Revenue Committee, the Commission also updated its FY23 Revenue Estimate, the estimate covering the now-more-than-half-completed fiscal year ending June 30, 2023. Although numbers are still coming on for FY23, the State now has an improved picture of how the revenues for this year are likely to end up.  

In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed, making it federal law that individuals with disabilities are protected from discrimination. Since that passage, accommodations for students with learning disabilities in Illinois have increased dramatically.

To ensure every child has access to quality education, the State of Illinois has implemented a strong statewide program with robust accommodations for various learning disabilities. With the variety of resources and accommodations available to students and parents, it is important to stay informed. This article details the types of accommodations available in the State of Illinois, as well as resources and information for parents.

Women’s History Month is an important time to highlight and honor the women who worked hard to shape our state. This month, the caucus blog will be highlighting trailblazing women in multiple different fields through a series titled The Women Who Shaped Illinois. This is the first installation of this series, The Women Who Taught Illinois, focusing on women who worked in the field of education.
FIRST RESPONDERS

Illinois House pays tribute to fallen Chicago police officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso. Slain in the line of duty, Officer Andres Vasquez-Lasso was a five-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department. Responding to a report that a woman was being chased down the street by a man with a gun on Chicago’s southwest side, Officer Vasquez-Lasso exchanged fire with the suspect at close range. Officer Vasquez-Lasso was shot multiple times and later died at Mt. Sinai Hospital. The 18-year-old suspect was shot in his head and is in critical condition. Officer Vasquez-Lasso’s family and fellow officers honored his heroism and mourned his death. End of Watch: March 1, 2023.  

HUMAN SERVICES

Republicans demand hearings on Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center, propose a plan to make improvements. House and Senate Republican legislators held a Capitol news conference Thursday to call for immediate joint House and Senate hearings to investigate disturbing reports of abuse and neglect of the residents of Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center. 

BUDGET
House Republicans react to Gov. Pritzker’s budget plan. Governor JB Pritzker delivered his annual State of the State and Budget Address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield Wednesday.

The Governor’s introduced Fiscal Year 2024 budget includes a $49.64 billion proposed spending plan, which is a net $2.75 billion increase over FY23 and represents a 7.9% spending increase. 

House Republicans share their reactions to the Governor's joint State-of-the-State and Budget Address where he outlined his spending plan for Fiscal Year 2024.

House Minority Leader Tony McCombie was joined by several members of the House Republican caucus today in Springfield to unveil legislative priorities for the 103rd General Assembly. Leader McCombie announced the creation of five working groups to produce actionable solutions to some of Illinois’ most pressing issues. The five Republican working groups include the following:

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Welcome new representatives, Jason Bunting and John Egofske. House Republican Leader Tony McCombie and members of the Caucus welcome two new Republican legislators who took the oath of office last weekend. Joining the ranks of the Illinois House of Representatives are State Representatives Jason Bunting and John Egofske. Both were in Springfield this week to take up their legislative duties. 

House Republican Leader Tony McCombie and members of the Caucus welcome two new Republican legislators who took the oath of office this weekend. Joining the ranks of the Illinois House of Representatives are State Representatives Jason Bunting and John Egofske. Both will be in Springfield on Tuesday to take up their legislative duties.
Even after voters overwhelming rejected the Governor’s 2020 plan to amend the state’s Constitution so he could raise taxes, Democrats remain steadfast in their efforts to try once again to raid our pocketbooks.

One new plan for 2023 reintroduces the Governor’s failed tax increase scheme. According to the Democratic senator promoting the progressive tax effort in a recent news story,  “…(R)evenue trajectories long-term don’t match our debt trajectories.” But what he doesn’t disclose is the skyward-bound debt trajectory was catapulted even higher this year when Democrats passed a 17% pay raise for lawmakers. Instead of aiming their sights on cutting costs to reduce debt, Democrats are hoping taxpayers will change their minds and vote to amend the Constitution to increase taxes and support reckless spending. 

BUDGET

Illinois House GOP Leader Tony McCombie and House GOP Budget Team Call for Bipartisan Budget Process. At a press conference in Springfield Tuesday, Illinois House Minority Leader Tony McCombie was joined by members of her newly appointed budget team to call on Democrats to engage in a truly bipartisan budget process and bring reform to the most important legislation passed at the Capitol each year. 

At a press conference in Springfield yesterday, Illinois House Minority Leader Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) was joined by members of her newly appointed budget team to call on Democrats to engage in a truly bipartisan budget process and bring reform to the most important legislation passed at the Capitol each year.

“Many people say Republicans want to vote no. That preconceived notion is false,” said Leader McCombie. “House Republicans are here to govern. We are here to give solutions. We want to help and are willing to share our ideas that address the budget shortcomings and provide tax reform policies that Illinois taxpayers and job creators need to stay in Illinois and need to grow in Illinois.
BUDGET

Hammond & Elik named heads of Illinois House Republican budget team. House Republican Leader Tony McCombie announced the House Republicans’ budget team on Friday, naming Deputy Leader Norine Hammond as Chief Budgeteer for the caucus for the 103rd General Assembly as well as announcing that Representative Amy Elik will be elevated to Deputy Budgeteer.

Deputy House Republican Leader Norine Hammond (left)
and State Representative Amy Elik (right). 
House Republican Leader Tony McCombie (89th District- Savanna) announced the House Republican’s budget team on Friday, naming Deputy Leader Norine Hammond (94th District- Macomb) as Chief Budgeteer for the caucus for the 103rd General Assembly as well as announcing that Representative Amy Elik (111th District- Alton) will be elevated to Deputy Budgeteer.
A new study in the journal of Pediactics urges healthcare providers to be prepared to treat a growing number of children who are accidentally ingesting edible cannabis. It also serves as a warning to parents and caregivers to keep edibles out of the reach of young children.

Over the past 5 years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of children ingesting edible cannabis, resulting in acute toxicity for some of the young patients who were treated. According to the study, between the years 2017 and 2021, there were 7,043 cases of pediatric edible cannabis exposures recorded in the National Poison Data System (NPDS). The number of cases rose from 207 in 2017 to 3,054 cases in 2021, a whopping increase of 1,375%.
FIREARMS
Lawsuits filed against Illinois’ new gun ban law. Starting on Friday, January 13, opponents of the new law have filed lawsuits in State and federal courts to have the measure stayed and then struck down. The State-enacted measure is seen by constitutional lawyers as highly vulnerable to court action. The law purports to ban certain firearms and magazines, and would require the registration of a wide variety of firearms that are listed as so-called “assault weapons.” Action in the courts will continue, with the preliminary goal of staying enforcement of the law.
With new leadership for the caucus in place, I am eager to hit the ground running as the first woman to serve as House Minority Leader. With new leadership comes potential new opportunities to work for our team. As positions become available we will list them on HRSCareers.com and encourage those who thrive in a fast-paced environment and have great multi-tasking skills to sign up to receive notifications when there are openings.

103rd GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Illinois House convenes for inauguration, with House Republicans electing new Leader Tony McCombie. The inauguration of the Illinois House of Representatives for the 103rd General Assembly took place Wednesday at the University of Illinois Springfield. The Illinois House Republican Caucus formally elected Rep. Tony McCombie as the new House Republican Leader

House Republican Leader Tony McCombie hit the ground running by announcing her new leadership team today. She has assembled an accomplished group of lawmakers from across the state who will help guide the Republican caucus through the 103rd General Assembly.

McCombie and her team will focus their efforts on restoring checks and balances in state government and protecting the rights and freedoms of Illinois residents. Members of the House Republican Leadership Team include: 


On Wednesday, January 11, 2023, Tony McCombie began her fourth term of office as State Representative and first term as House Republican Leader. McCombie is the first woman to serve as House Republican Leader in Illinois. She has focused her work in Springfield on job creation, property tax relief, and improved government accountability. McCombie leads the House Republican caucus in efforts to restore balance to the system of checks and balances and protect the rights and freedoms of Illinois residents.

We join Leader McCombie in welcoming our new legislative members to the House Republican Caucus and the 103rd General Assembly.