Budget already in distress; Local control resolution

Early report indicates state revenue is not keeping up with spending

This spring the legislature passed an unbalanced budget, which Governor Pritzker then signed into law. The warnings about state revenue not being able to keep up with the record-breaking spending in the budget are now beginning to come true, according to a report from the state’s fiscal watchdog agency.

The July report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) studied where the state’s revenue and spending picture stands one full month into the new fiscal year. COGFA found that revenue in July 2021 was down by more than a billion dollars compared to July 2020. COGFA warned that personal income tax revenue was down by more than a billion dollars and that revenue from Illinois casinos had also declined. It does not help matters that Illinois still has the lowest credit rating of any of the 50 states. We cannot keep spending more than we take in.

Resolution calls for restoring collaboration, local control

This week I joined dozens of representatives in co-sponsoring House Resolution 416, which calls for the restoration of local control in the state’s coronavirus response. After 18 months of one-man rule and governing by executive order, I believe we need to return to a collaborative approach which engages legislators and local elected officials. As we tackle these important issues, many Illinoisans feel they have been left out of the conversation, and some feel there has not even been a conversation: just an endless series of mandates. Our resolution calls for restoring the proper balance of power to include all branches and levels of government.

Investigation into LaSalle outbreak still needed

I am among the more than 20 representatives who recently renewed our call for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul to open an investigation into what went wrong at the LaSalle Veterans’ Home last fall. A coronavirus outbreak at the home in October took the lives of 36 veterans.

We first made this call back in May, after a scathing inspector general’s report detailed numerous failings at the facility, but so far the Attorney General has not responded. Our follow-up letter demands to know why the AG’s office is not investigating and asks what changes in the law can be made by the legislature to better protect our veterans.

Another Bennett bill becomes law

Governor Pritzker has signed House Bill 266 which I sponsored this spring. The legislation was the second of two bills I sponsored which were intended to better protect the rights of adults who are wards of the state. This brings to four the number of my bills which have been signed into law so far this year.

Three other bills I sponsored remain on the Governor’s desk awaiting action. House Bill 165 creates a task force to study carbon capture, utilization and storage as a way to fight air pollution, House Bill 656 enhances the safety of passengers on motorcycles and House Bill 3928 is an initiative of students at Pontiac Township High School to find ways to conserve 30% of our land by 2030.

Good food and conversation in Bismarck

There was a great turnout over the weekend for the Bismarck Lions Club sweet corn and fish fry. It was wonderful to see the support from the community. The food was delicious and the conversations were great, as always. I appreciated the chance to help out.

What was really nice about the evening was that people were not in a hurry to leave. After folks ate many stayed around getting caught up with family and friends. It was the kind of fellowship that has been sorely missed over the past year. A big thank you to the Bismarck Lions for a job well done!

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,121,384,098 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $4.9 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

Future of ethics in Illinois is in Governor’s hands

Back to Business grants available from Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity

Customize your Illinois State Fair experience with mobile app

State Fair offering refunds on grandstand tickets for those who no longer wish to attend

Treasurer returns $226 million in unclaimed property last year

Department of Human Services rental assistance still available

$10 million grant program to boost Illinois tourism

Illinois corn and soybean progress is above average

Parkland College planetarium open for shows again

Referees are fleeing high school football and other youth sports

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