Update from the Capitol 7/21/15

We’re back in Springfield again this week, but  I’m afraid there’s still no sign of any real progress on negotiating a budget. I’m ready to travel to Springfield as long as it takes, but its a disservice to you and all of our constituents that our time at the Capitol each week is being wasted on Speaker Madigan’s seemingly endless political theatre rather than the real work we need to be doing to pass a balanced, full-year budget.

I’ll keep you posted.


Democrats send unbalanced partial-month budget to the Governor

As the State of Illinois entered the third week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget in place, the Democrat majority continued last week to take a piece-meal approach to the budget crisis.
The Illinois Senate concurred with House changes to Senate Bill 2040 an unbalanced partial month budget, and sent it to the Governor.  The plan is basically a partial-month slice of the plan passed earlier in the spring by Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton that, in total, spends more than $36 billion – $4 billion more than we expect to bring in in revenue.

Meanwhile, the Speaker tried but failed to pass yet another unbalanced temporary budget (House Bill 4142).

Year after year of spending money the state doesn’t have is how we got into this mess in the first place. Living within our means is the only way we’ll get out.

State workers’ paychecks go out as court fight continues

Comptroller Leslie Munger has forged ahead with plans to send out full paychecks to state workers this month despite an ongoing court battle over whether public employees can be paid while state government operates without a budget.

Checks went out to 6,800 employees who were due to be paid Wednesday for work performed in the first two weeks of the state’s budget year. Others in Illinois’ roughly 60,000-person state government workforce are on different pay schedules, and their checks aren’t due until later this month.

Following Comptroller Munger’s decision to issue paychecks to state employees, Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed an emergency motion for direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.

In the House, my Republican colleagues and I have for two weeks pushed for passage of two bills, House Bill 4235 and House Bill 4245, to make state employees’ pay an ongoing appropriation, making sure no one will miss a paycheck. Speaker Madigan continues to refuse to allow either bill to even be debated on the floor.

Governor Rauner surveys Watseka flooding, activates State Emergency Operations Center

Illinois has certainly had its share of rain and severe weather this spring and summer, including recent flooding in Watseka and some communities near Peoria.  Governor Rauner came to Watseka over the weekend to survey the flood damage. Mayor Bob Harwood, his staff, IEMA, DNR, Red Cross, the Trinity Church and a host of volunteers have done a tremendous job in a challenging time!  Senator Barickman and I are continuing to work with local officials on how the state can help.

Meanwhile, with the potential for more severe weather this summer, the Governor has activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield to ensure state personnel and equipment are ready to be quickly deployed if needed to help local emergency responders with public safety issues. The SEOC will remain activated as long as necessary. For updates on the current situation, visit the Ready Illinois website at http://www.illinois.gov/ready/Pages/default.aspx.

“Happy Hour” is legal again in Illinois

 Governor Rauner has signed Senate Bill 398 into law as P.A. 99-046. The Culinary and Hospitality Modernization Act restores “Happy Hour” in Illinois.
The law allows for discounts for up to 4 hours a day and up to 15 hours a week as long as they are promoted a week in advance. The Happy Hour Law does include some limitations on practices such as serving two or more drinks to one person f, increasing the volume of liquor contained in a drink or the size of a drink without proportionally increasing the price regularly charged for that drink.