It was a busy week down in Springfield last week for session. The House is next in session on December 2nd and the Senate is not scheduled to meet again this year. 

House Action
        The House had several important votes take place. As part of the emergency measures put in place when the fiscal year began without a budget, the governor set new rules for the state childcare program. This past week, through bipartisan compromise, Governor Rauner agreed to reverse or review the majority of those changes. Additionally, the governor’s office said that it will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program. House Democrats still ran an override vote on Senate Bill 570, a bill which would have reversed the governor’s changes completely and stripped the Governor of the ability to act in a fiscal emergency to preserve funding for the program. The bill failed to reach the necessary super majority needed to override a veto.
         Another bipartisan agreement had been reached before the House met with regards to House Bill 2482 and the DON score. The Rauner administration recently withdrew its plans to raise the DON score, which requires federal approval. Illinois is the last state to still use the DON score as a method of determining whether someone qualifies for services through state home or community care, but we are in the process of transferring to an updated assessment tool. HB2482 would have locked in to statute a DON score of 29 and a provision that would allow qualifying individuals to be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based long term care services, thus driving up costs and eliminating the possibility for cost efficiency. In his amendatory veto, the governor changed an “and” to an “or”, which meant that qualified program recipients could receive either community or institution based care, but not both. Despite having reached a bipartisan compromise on the DON score and acceptance of his amendatory veto from related state programs and groups, Speaker Madigan scheduled a vote to override the governor. The amendatory veto override, like that of SB570, failed to gain the necessary votes. The bills pushed ahead by the speaker, even though compromise was reached would have stripped the governor’s office of flexibility in administering state programs.
Governor Bruce Rauner has issued the following statement regarding Illinois’ acceptance of Syrian refugees after the terror attacks in Paris:

“Our nation and our state have a shared history of providing safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us of the all-too-real security threats facing America. We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens. Therefore, the state of Illinois will temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees and consider all of our legal options pending a full review of our country’s acceptance and security processes by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
Residents of the 37th district wishing to turn in an old US flag for proper disposal may bring their used flag to the district office of State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena).

In honor of Veterans Day, Rep McDermed is also sponsoring a flag exchange to allow veterans to obtain a new flag to fly at their home or business, while supplies last. Area residents may bring their flags in for proper disposal, while veterans may receive a new flag even if they do not have one to exchange. The program is free of charge and provided at no cost to taxpayers. 

Rep. McDermed’s District Office is located at 11032 W Lincoln Hwy in Frankfort and is open from 9 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. The office is not open for Veteran's Day. For further details, call 815-277-2079.
Governor Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders are set to meet on November 18th. We are in our 5th month without a budget and yet this is the first meeting between the state leaders in months.

That is not to say that efforts haven’t been made towards solutions. State Representative Franks (D-Woodstock) has proposed a two year budget to give much-needed stability to health and human service providers, taxpayers, and job creators alike. Representative Batinick (R-Plainfield) has proposed a series of hearings on how the State could potentially approach a lump sum pension or partial pension exchange option as a method to ease the pension crisis. Both of these proposals have yet to receive consideration by the House, remaining bottled up by Speaker Madigan. On the House floor, I’ve appealed for a bi-partisan approach to evaluate each program’s funding as a part of a larger process of setting spending priorities. However, bi-partisan efforts from the rank and file to move the ball forward have thus far been stymied.

I would welcome an opportunity to debate every proposed solution to the state’s budget challenges on the House floor or in committee in an open and honest fashion. The House is back in session on November 10th, but if it’s anything like the past several months, no meaningful solutions will be considered or serious negotiations held on reforms to resolve this impasse.

I’m hopeful that the leaders’ meeting with the Governor on November 18th will jump start much-needed discussions on setting budget priorities and business reforms, which will ultimately help expand our tax base. I am optimistic because the rank and file members of the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle realize this, and real solutions have been put forward. I’m hopeful that all parties involved will make a bi-partisan balanced budget our shared priority.

However, I’m wary because in spite of the sincere attempts at finding common ground among legislators on both sides of the aisle and all of the concessions made by Governor Rauner toward reaching compromise, Speaker Madigan remains unmoved.

For the sake of a productive meeting, restoring opportunity and growth to Illinois, and taking vulnerable children and families out of the political crossfire in Springfield, I’m calling on Speaker Madigan to come to the table on November 18th in a true spirit of compromise.

Margo McDermed
State Representative 37th District