PRB reform needed; Report on bond sales and revenue

Reform needed at Prisoner Review Board

Late last month the state’s Prisoner Review Board (PRB) voted to release two convicted murderers from prison, just the latest example of why we need reform of this process. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin called on Governor Pritzker to stop appointing members to the PRB who “disregard the rights of victims.”

One of the convicted murders approved for release by the PRB was a man who in addition to being found guilty of murder was also part of a group of inmates who took four correctional officers hostage at Statesville Correctional Center. His record while in prison also includes starting fires, possessing an illegal weapons in prison and assaulting a correctional officer. The other inmate killed a member of a rival gang and wounded three others at a hotel. The state’s attorney’s office in the county where the crime occurred opposed his parole.

Since Governor Pritzker took office, the PRB has granted parole in about one-third of the cases it has reviewed, a much higher rate than under previous governors. House Republicans introduced bills earlier this year to increase transparency at the PRB, require some board members to have a law enforcement background and require a higher threshold vote when considering parole for persons convicted of first degree murder.

The PRB needs to do more to prioritize the safety of the public.

COGFA reports on state bond sale and revenue numbers

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability examined the state’s budget numbers in May, and put together a report on the sale of more than $1.6 billion in state bonds during the month.

These bonds included more than $700 million in refinancing bonds; in which existing state debt was rolled over at a lower interest rate; and over $900 million of new bonds for such purposes as building projects under Rebuild Illinois and creating funding for the public-sector pension buyout program. The interest rate that will be paid by the state and its taxpayers is much higher than the rate that would be paid by AAA-rated states such as Indiana, but is lower than the rates paid by individuals who borrow money at current rates to mortgage a home.

COGFA also gave us an update on the state’s revenues in May. Individual income tax payments by individuals declined in May 2022 compared to May 2021, but that was in part due to delayed filing deadlines in place last year due to the pandemic. Overall revenue from income taxes, and sales taxes for Fiscal Year 2022 are up sharply from FY21.

But the COGFA staff also included a warning about the continued inflation, which could possibly lead to a sharp slowing in overall economic growth and even a possible recession. With our fragile economy, Illinois continues to be more vulnerable to future recessions than other U.S. states.

Crop report indicates most Illinois fields planted in spite of wet conditions

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 89% of Illinois corn had been planted and 76% had begun to emerge from the ground as of the end of May, this coming in spite of wet field conditions throughout the state. This was slightly behind last year’s standing at this time, but still put the state in strong condition, with three quarters of the state’s cornfields rated as “good” or “excellent.”

Soybeans, which are typically planted and harvested after corn, were also off to a good start statewide, with 72% of bean fields planted and 52% emerged. The wet field conditions did hold back cutting of alfalfa and hay for stock feed, but the report found that many Illinois farmers still had a hay inventory in reserve from last year to help make up for the slow start.

Honoring President Reagan

Ronald Reagan was the only President who was born, raised and educated here in Illinois. In 1932 he graduated from Eureka College. Every year on the anniversary of his death Eureka hosts a Ronald Reagan Memorial Ceremony at the college. Dr. Wright kicked things off with great opening comments. Peggy Grande, President Reagan’s assistant for 10 years after his retirement, gave the keynote. She provided wonderful comments and fun-loving stories about President Reagan and stressed his kindness, focus on a better future, strength and courage when dealing with the issues of the day. These are virtues that we all need today.

It was good to see longtime friends Curt Oyer and John Morris. John Morris has been a longtime supporter of Eureka College and is very knowledgeable about President Reagan. Thanks to everyone involved!

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $2,824,936,945 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $3.7 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.

Did You Know?

U.S. Route 24 is the only highway which crosses both the easternmost and westernmost boundary of the 106th district. Route 24 enters Illinois from Indiana near Sheldon in Iroquois County and then continues west through parts of the 105th and 106th, before finally crossing the westernmost edge of the 106th district near Cruger in Woodford County. The road runs for about 96 miles between Cruger and the Indiana line. In total, Route 24 is more than 1500 miles long, running from Michigan to Colorado.

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