Governor’s Budget Address
You can watch my immediate reaction here.

One of the biggest takeaways from the Governor’s budget address was a proposal to gradually shift pension costs to schools. In his address, Governor Rauner said, “if you separate the payment from the accountability, there is no accountability.” The reasoning is that costs unnecessarily balloon when the responsibility for picking up the tab is disconnected from those spending the money. While I agree we should work to help schools lower costs, work to bring more accountability to our finances, and to question the necessity of certain expenses, this proposal is unlikely to gain much traction in Springfield.

That being said, leadership and legislators need to get realistic about the state budget and the status of Illinois’ finances. Despite forcing a 32% tax hike on citizens last year, tax receipts are significantly less than expected and Illinois spending continues to climb along with pension obligations and debt service. It’s clear that tax hikes are not the answer to our budget woes. Common sense budgeting practices with an established revenue estimate and clear spending priorities are a good place to start. Illinois cannot afford any more last minute backroom budget deals that force rank and file legislators to choose between a bad deal or no budget at all. I'm worried that will be the case yet again this year as Speaker Madigan has cancelled 3 session days already. The House won't be back in session until February 27th.

‘Illinois Tax Reform Plan’
I am the co-sponsor of a recent taxpayer relief plan put forth by State Representative Breen to capitalize on the new federal tax legislation. This package of bills includes:


Last week the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) hosted local officials and residents at Joliet Junior College. The event was held to get feedback on a billion dollar 16-mile improvement plan for Interstate 80. The plan is designed to improve safety and reduce travel times, but the state is having difficulty getting together the resources needed to finance the project. Based on comments it receives, IDOT will select a preferred alignment and its interchanges this spring, conduct an environmental assessment in the summer, and develop a financing strategy by fall, which could likely include tolls.

You can see the plan here. IDOT is accepting written comments until February 14.

State Representative McDermed, who attended the event, is looking to hear more from constituents about transportation issues and financing. As the Republican Spokesperson on the House Transportation Committee, Rep. McDermed is eager to address constituent's safety and transportation concerns in Springfield. A brief survey is now available on her website. Click the button on the top right portion of her website to access the survey. 

State of the State
Governor Rauner gave his third state of the state address to a joint session of the House and Senate last week. He began by expounding on the great history and accomplishments of our state in celebration of this year’s bicentennial anniversary. He then turned to more somber issues like sexual harassment in Illinois politics and the legionnaires outbreak at the Quincy Veterans Home.
The 30 minute speech also touched on the historic school funding reform legislation passed last year and the need to unite under similar bipartisan circumstances to finally tackle out of control property taxes, term limits, and criminal justice reform.

You can watch my immediate reaction to the address here.

New Executive Orders
True to his comments in his State of the State Address, Governor Rauner signed an executive order that promises swifter help to victims of sexual harassment by creating a Chief Compliance Office that would review allegations in ten days or less. Right now this just applies to government employees, but the Governor hopes to expand that system statewide. The executive order also requires training on the best investigation practices by the end of this year and every two years thereafter. This executive order is potent, especially since it came to light that two dozen ethics complaints filed at the Legislative Inspector General’s Office went unaddressed because until last fall there had been no legislative inspector general since 2015.