Capitol View 12-6-16

Veto Session Ends With no Budget Agreement

Last Thursday was the General Assembly’s final scheduled day of our fall veto session, and I’m deeply disappointed that Speaker Madigan adjourned the House on Thursday with no agreement on a new budget.  As you know, our temporary budget expires at the end of the year, and as I write this the Speaker has not scheduled any additional session days before December 31st. That’s completely unacceptable.

Families, businesses and vendors in our area are counting on us to get a balanced budget in place so that they can begin to get paid on time for services they provide to the state and our residents. The good news is that the leaders have agreed to continue meeting every day this week to arrive at common ground on ways to make our State’s finances sustainable.  In the coming weeks, we  must keep the pressure up on the leaders and the Governor to ensure the final, difficult decisions are made.  Our time is running short to get this done.

Illinois House Approves Lame Duck Tax Increase Constitutional Amendment

Speaker Madigan has scheduled two “lame duck” session days in January for the 99th General Assembly before the new 100th General Assembly is sworn in on the 11th. To help prevent outgoing legislators from voting for a “lame duck” tax increase on their way out the door, the House last week approved a constitutional amendment that would increase the voting margin required to  increase an income tax rate or a sales tax rate during the so-called ‘lame duck” session.

The General Assembly, under current law, can enact “lame duck” tax hikes by simple majority in both houses.  If HJRCA 62 were to become law, the margin would increase to three-fifths – the same “supermajority” as is currently required to increase State general-obligation debt, approve amendments to the Constitution of Illinois, and approve amendments to the federal Constitution of the United States.   The House approved the recommended change on a bi-partisan vote of 84-18-2.  The Senate has not yet taken action.

House Members Honor a Local Labor/Volunteer Leader in McLean County

I was very proud last week to lead the House in recognizing Paul Penn for his decades of dedicated service to McLean County communities. Mr. Penn’s family joined House members in Springfield to remember his achievements, and to accept their condolences on his passing.

Paul Penn was a WW11 Veteran, serving with the United States Army’s famed “Red Ball Express” in the European Theater. He was elected business manager of Laborers Local 362 in 1958 and used that position to create job opportunities and openings for McLean County workers, regardless of background, race, color, creed, or gender.

Paul Penn was also a strong believer in giving back to the community, organizing Laborers, other union crafts, and union contractors to share their skills through donated labor to enhance McLean County’s human services and public monuments.  Simply put, Paul knew how to put people to work, and how to get things done.  He will be missed, but not forgotten. You can read the resolution in its entirety here.

Congratulations to Jonathan M. Miskulin  H.E.A.L. Scholarship Winners at Heartland

Recently, I attended the Heartland Community College Foundation fundraising event and was the winning bidder on an incredible opportunity to sponsor and name a Heartland Community College Foundation Scholarship; and so the Jonathan M. Miskulin H.E.A.L.  (Heroes Embracing Autistic Lives) Scholarship was born. The scholarship will provide a “full-ride” to two students for the Spring 2017 semester.  The students must be working towards completing a Concentration in Special Education.

I’m proud to announce that this year’s scholarships will be awarded to two outstanding young women from our community:  Rachael Repeta and Ashlin Sherley. Rachael is planning to major in Special Education with an emphasis on Elementary Education.  Ashlin is currently working on her basic education classes, but next semester will begin special classes focused on behavior and learning disorders.  I know they will both excel!

The scholarship’s namesake, Jon Miskulin, made a significant impact on many lives in our community.  I hope this scholarship in his memory will continue his commitment of inspiring others to “be a hero” and embrace diversity with dignity and compassion.