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Notable Bill Signings
It’s that time of the year again. A flurry of activity surrounds the governor’s office as he issues his signatures on new laws or vetoes the bulk of the bills that have been sent to his office.

Donor Registry Bill
If you can drive, you can choose to be a donor. That’s the concept behind a new law, the Drive for Life Act. 16 and 17 year olds can now join the donor registry with the Secretary of State’s office. Parents and guardians still have the right to give or revoke consent until the donor turns 18.

IT Security 
Cyber security threats and hacks are popping up in the news more and more often. States are increasingly the targets of these attacks, and security threats pose a daily risk to the state’s ability to serve taxpayers and protect critical and confidential information. In response, House Bill 2371, requires all state employees to undergo annual cyber security training. This training will help employees understand the risks and learn the best practices to defend against these kinds of attacks. The training itself will be implemented by the Department of Innovation and Technology, a new agency created by Governor Rauner in 2015 to consolidate the state’s IT functions and update the state’s cyber security. Illinois is now the 15th state to adopt mandatory this kind of awareness training for employees.

Procurement Reform
Governor Rauner signed Senate Bill 8, a bipartisan bill that makes the state procurement process more efficient and transparent, thus saving money for Illinois taxpayers. Specifically, it eliminates unnecessary administrative delays for state universities. The bill also permits Illinois to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other units of government, allowing state and local government entities to save money because of their increased purchasing power.


Breaking Down Senate Bill 1’s Amendatory Veto
On May 31st the Illinois House passed Senate Bill 1 with the bare minimum number of votes necessary, 60. A parliamentary hold was placed on the bill so that it did not have to be sent to the Governor. When the budget was passed it included a provision that requires the state to implement an evidence based funding formula or schools cannot recieve any state money. To be clear, the issue with Senate Bill 1 has never been the use of an evidence based model, which is widely accepted as the right shift for the state school funding formula. The issue has always been an unfair allocation of additional funds to CPS. Under SB1 there is an additional $778 million invested in K–12 education, of which CPS receives $495 million. This means that CPS will receive 64% of all new money despite having only 19% of the students in Illinois. The breakdown of CPS dollars is as follows: $221M for pensions, $202M Block Grant, and $72M for New Tier Funding. SB 1 essentially buries CPS pension reform in the school code, not in the state pension code where it belongs.
After two months, the procedural hold place on Senate Bill 1 by the Democrats was lifted and the bill was finally sent to the Governor last week. Shortly thereafter he issued his anticipated amendatory veto. 
There are three options now:
1) Pass the amendatory veto with a three-fifths (71 votes in the House) vote in both chambers 
2) Override the governor's veto with a three-fifths vote in both chambers
3) Allow the bill to die and pass new legislation for school funding
The first set of school payments are scheduled for Aug. 10, so the legislature must take action as soon as possible. However, I have yet to see movement in either the Senate or the House to call members down to Springfield to take urgent action.
The governor’s amendatory veto makes the following changes to ensure an adequate and equitable school funding formula:
  • Maintains a per-district hold harmless until the 2020-2021 school year, and then moves to a per-pupil hold harmless based on a three-year rolling average of enrollment.
  • Removes the minimum funding requirement. While the governor is committed to ensuring that the legislature satisfies its duty to fund schools, the proposed trigger of one percent of the overall adequacy target plus $93 million artificially inflates the minimum funding number and jeopardizes Tier II funding.
  • Removes the Chicago block grant from the funding formula.
  • Removes both Chicago Public Schools pension considerations from the formula: the normal cost pick-up and the unfunded liability deduction. 
  • Reintegrates the normal cost pick-up for Chicago Public Schools into the Pension Code where it belongs, and finally begins to treat Chicago like all other districts with regards to the State’s relationship with its teachers’ pensions.
  • Eliminates the PTELL and TIF equalized assessed value subsidies that allow districts to continue under-reporting property wealth.
  • Removes the escalators throughout the bill that automatically increase costs.
  • Retains the floor for the regionalization factor, for the purposes of equity, and adds a cap, for the purposes of adequacy.

Frankfort, IL…  Area residents are encouraged to sign-up to donate blood at an upcoming Blood Drive to be held at 11032 W Lincoln Hwy in Frankfort on Wednesday August 9th from 3:30-7:30pm. This is the 3rd annual blood drive sponsored by State Rep. Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) in conjunction with Heartland Blood Centers. Those interested in donating blood should call Rep. McDermed’s office to schedule an appointment at (815) 277-2079 or visit heartlandbc.org.

Blood donation is quick, easy, and has a tremendous impact,” Rep. McDermed said. “I encourage local residents to sign-up today to come out for a great cause and save lives.”

The Chicago Tribune and other outlets have reported on the unprecedented blood shortage this summer. Although during the summer blood banks normally see a downturn in donations and there is usually an uptick in accidents needing blood bags, this year’s shortage is reportedly much worse than in years past.  

“We can’t manufacture blood; lives are on the line when blood centers and hospitals see donation shortages like the one they’re currently experiencing,” Rep. McDermed continued. “I urge my constituents to sign up for an appointment, at this blood drive or any other.”

More than 500 donations are needed daily to save patient lives and donating one unit of blood can help save up to 3 lives. Heartland works with 63 Illinois hospitals and commits to donating all the blood they collect to local area hospitals.

Please call Rep. McDermed’s office with any questions at (815) 277-2079. Walk-ins are accepted, but scheduling an appointment is preferred.
From the ILHouseGOP Caucus Blog:

Where would you rather your hard earn tax money be directed, into the classroom for kids or to prop up Chicago’s mismanaged pension system?

Image result for classroomA new 32% income tax increase just went into effect on July 1 and Chicago politicians want to use it to bail out a pension system they failed to fund instead of using it to educate children across the state. The once bipartisan SB1 was a plan that would have equitably funded all schools in Illinois, ensuring each and every child was treated fairly. However in the waning moments of regular session, Chicago interests hijacked the bill and earmarked some of the money for the City of Chicago. 

An effort to get a clean bipartisan equitable funding formula back on track emerged with HB 4069. Every district is treated fairly and benefits at the highest level under HB 4069. To see how your schools benefit click here.
Below are some updates on upcoming events I am hosting in the district: 

Second Senior Driving Seminar
20170606_103804_1496764308252.jpegDue to the overwhelming response we received to our senior driving seminar last month, my office worked with the Secretary of State’s office to schedule another as soon as we could. Our second seminar will be next Tuesday July 25th at the Pipe Fitters Local 597, 10850 W. 187th St. in Mokena at 10am. With this new venue we can accommodate more people, but unfortunately we cannot provide any food, only water. We have attempted to reach out to everyone who put themselves on the waiting list for the earlier seminar. If you haven’t heard from us or you would like to sign up for this great opportunity to relearn the rules of the road, please call my office.

Illinois Finally Has a Budget, But at High Cost
         After weeks of being in Springfield with little progress, everything came to a head last weekend. On the last day of the fiscal year, negotiators met late in to the evening and a bipartisan deal seemed within grasp. However on Saturday, the start the new fiscal year, Speaker Madigan announced that no votes would occur over the weekend. This was surprising and drew a vocal response on the House floor from legislators on both sides of the aisle who wanted to see a deal done and didn’t appreciate the break in urgency implied by the Speaker’s words. Shortly thereafter in a statement to the press, the Speaker pulled a 180 and announced a vote on a budget for the next day. Negotiations on other reforms to repair the state stalled. On Sunday we were asked to vote on hundreds of pages of legislation just hours after it was filed. With some Republican support, the General Assembly passed and then overrode the Governor’s veto on both a budget and a tax increase. Illinois now has a budget for the first time in over 2 years, but little else. You can read my op-ed on why I voted no, here
          When the temporary income tax ended in 2015 with no budget in place, spending continued at the FY15 level primarily due to court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriations. As a result, our state has been overspending revenue for years at around $39 billion. This budget spends $36 billion, a $3 billion cut, but well above the $32 million the state has been taking in over past years. The budget relies on increasing income taxes to 4.95% for individuals and 7% for businesses as well as provisions for borrowing billions to pay down the historically high bill backlog.
           A primary reason for so many to sign a budget, any budget, was to prevent the state from being labeled as junk by investor services. Signs from Moody’s say that Illinois is still at risk for a downgrade because we did not do enough to address Illinois’ main credit problems; our astronomical pension obligations and substantial bill backlog. 
In an Op-Ed, State Representative Margo McDermed explains her "No" vote on the tax increase and budget bills brought forth by the majority Democrats:

During the debate, many claimed that their votes to raise taxes and end the budget impasse would be the biggest vote of their lifetime. They’re right, but many for the wrong reasons. 

The process by which these bills came to the floor was rushed, unfair, and lacked transparency. It’s a process we’ve seen too often in Illinois government, a process made famous by former State Representative Bost’s outburst on the House floor and further proof that Madigan has no interest in playing fair or negotiating in good faith. We were told we had to vote on Sunday because the state couldn’t possibly afford another day of negotiations on pension reform and other reforms. And yet the vote to seal the deal had to wait days because so many members left town. 

Illinois’ current path is untenable. We hold 10% of the entire nation’s pension debt. We’ve got some of the highest property taxes in the nation. We’re losing population at concerning rates and have still not returned to the level of jobs we had in 2000. 

More than that our resident are tired. They're tired of Illinois being a national laughing stock. They’re tired of the mismanagement of their money by the state legislature and their local governments. They’re tired of short sighted, selfish politicians. 

We cannot in good conscience reach even further in to the pockets of overburdened constituents and offer them nothing in return. Nothing to convince people to stay and raise their families here with confidence in our state’s future. They deserve better than a tax increase and a booby trapped budget. 

After two years of this impasse, the state needs the stability of a budget. But more than that it needs substantive change. This move undercuts the momentum of negotiations on the issues that no one wants to tackle, but the ones that we must. We voted on a budget, but we didn't vote on any of our underlying problems and now the legislature goes home. When we return remains unclear.  

Legislators and local governments alike must remember that the money it spends comes from the hardworking men and women of this state. We need to earn back their trust. The veto is overridden and Illinois has a budget for the first time in two years, but the real work is not done. Not even close.