Dan’s Capitol View 2-24-17

The Governor has now laid out his budget priorities and parameters before a joint session of the General Assembly. Here are a few of the most notable points from his budget address:

• Any compromise agreement approved must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators.
• New revenue is on the table, as long as it is coupled with economic reforms to help us grow jobs.
• No permanent income tax increase will be considered unless it is offset by a permanent property tax freeze for families.
• There are no “must have” reforms needed for a budget compromise, but the Governor maintained  that term limits are important to restoring confidence in state government, and workers compensation reform is crucial to attracting new jobs to our state.

You can view the governor’s full budget proposal here.

We must get a responsible, full year budget in place as soon as possible. I’m encouraged by the progress made in the Senate in recent weeks; especially the bi-partisan consensus that we must begin doing some things differently to repair our economy and our state finances. I’ll keep you updated as the negotiations progress.

Judge Rules Against Attorney General Madigan’s Attempt to Halt State Employee Pay
A St. Clair County judge has denied Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion that would have stopped state workers’ paychecks during the budget impasse.

As you know, state employees have continued to be paid in the absence of a state budget due to a district court injunction handed down in July 2015 by District Court Judge Robert LeChien of St. Clair County. Last week, Judge LeChien refused to lift that injunction, thereby maintaining the current status of Illinois state workers’ paychecks.

But the judge’s refusal does not close the case. The Attorney General has pledged to appeal this district court decision, which is why we are continuing to push for a hearing on legislation (HB 1787 and HB 2803) that would provide a continuing appropriation for workers’ pay.

Committee Assignments
Committee assignments for the new 100th General Assembly are official, and I’m pleased to let you know that our district will have a seat at the table throughout the process as a wide range of critical issues are debated this year and next.

I will serve as the Republican spokesman on the Higher Education-Appropriations Committee, and as a member of the Higher Education Committee which together handle state policy and funding issues for colleges and universities. Our local universities are a cornerstone of our community, and are among our largest employers. My participation on these committees ensure students, faculty and employees will have a voice in these important decisions.

I will also serve this year and next on the House Insurance-Health and Life and Insurance-Property and Casualty Committees. With State Farm and Country Companies Insurance located in our district, this assignment is also important for local families and the jobs they depend upon.

My additional committee assignments include Republican Spokesman on the Elections and Campaign Finance Committee, and a member of the Special Needs Services Committee.

Nearly 4,000 House Bills Filed
February 10 was our deadline to file bills in the House that we want considered this spring. By the deadline, more than 3,900 House Bills had been filed by members of both parties.

A few of the bills I’m sponsoring this spring include HB 2894 that expands the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze/Homestead exemption; HB 2803 which makes state employee pay a continuing appropriation to prevent employees’ pay from being used as leverage during state budget negotiations; and HB 1805 which allows 16 and 17 year old minors to declare on their new drivers licenses their wish to be an organ and tissue donor.

House committees will now have six weeks to look at these measures and make determinations on which will be sent to the House floor for full debate. In some cases, the bills will be amended in committee before they reach the House floor. The deadline for House committee action will be March 31.

State Police Turn 95!
I was honored to join House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and other legislators this week to present House Resolution 58 to a group of state police officers recognizing the 95th anniversary of the Illinois State Police Department.

The Illinois State Police Department was formed on April 1, 1922 under the direction of Superintendent John T. Stack; its motto is, “Integrity, Service and Pride”. Currently, the Illinois State Police has 21 patrol districts, seven investigative zones, six operational forensic science laboratories, and five regional crime scene services commands.