Illinois House completes spring session
The House adjourned on Tuesday after finishing its spring session. Here is a quick recap of what was done (and not done) in the closing days and hours of the session.
State budget adopted, new taxes on businesses
I voted against the $42 billion state budget just before midnight after it was hastily brought to the floor and put up for a vote. The final version of the 3000-page bill was introduced just minutes before it was called for a vote. It relies on more than $600 million in new taxes on businesses and it scuttles a bipartisan agreement on taxes that was part of the 2019 budget deal.
This budget is a relic of the old days which we all hoped had ended this year. A massive, last minute bill with tax increases at its core: this is no way to pass a budget.
Gerrymandered district map passed, election laws rewritten
Less than 24 hours after it was introduced, the bill creating new Illinois House and Senate districts was passed through both houses of the General Assembly on Friday. The map was drawn in a back room behind a locked door where a select group of politicians met to select which voters they would represent. Just like the final draft of the budget, there was no transparency in this process whatsoever. It was done solely for partisan gain.
Governor Pritzker has repeatedly promised to veto an unfair, partisan district map. Now he is going to get the chance to keep his word. I hope that he does.
A few days after rushing the redistricting plan through, Democrats rammed through a re-write of Illinois’ election laws which included polling places in jails and a change to election law after a high-ranking state official was found to be in violation of the existing law. It was a good summary of so much that is wrong with how state government operates.
Most of trailer fee increase rolled back
It wasn’t all bad news in the closing days of session. One piece of good news came when the House passed legislation to roll back most of the fee increase put in place in 2019 for registering a trailer in Illinois. I would have preferred to have seen the entire increase eliminated, but I was glad to see that most of it will be removed. Fees were raised to $118 two years ago. Now they will drop back down to $36.
Ethics bill passes, much more work needed
I reluctantly supported a watered down ethics bill which passed late on Monday night. The bill was much weaker than the many good ethics reform proposals which I and other members have made this year, but our proposals were ignored. We will continue to push for real ethics reform. As much as some people might want it to, this issue is NOT going away.
After last week’s indictment of former Speaker Michael Madigan’s Chief of Staff I had expected a stronger ethics reform proposal. But this is all that was allowed to come up for a vote. Some reform is better than none, so I voted for the bill, but I continue to believe that we have to do much better.
Natural gas support for area community
House Bill 3404 was passed on Tuesday morning, a bill which helps to bring much needed natural gas supplies to the village of Hopkins Park in Kankakee County. It creates a pilot program within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to bring natural gas infrastructure to the village and help residents convert appliances to natural gas.
Join the discussion about issues from the end of session
Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. join me and Deputy Republican Leader Tom Demmer of Dixon for a Facebook Live discussion of all the issues that came up at the end of session. We will talk about the budget, ethics reform, redistricting and more.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $3,053,824,228 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.9 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $141 billion.
More news from around the state
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