Session Alert – Watch Illinois House Session LIVE
State Rep. Jeanne Ives
March 21, 2017
WATCH LIVE: Illinois House Session
Another week in Springfield produced yet more examples of a lack of priorities. You would think that working toward a responsible bipartisan solution to the state budget impasse would be the highest priority, yet once again last week, the House of Representatives frittered away precious time on issues that illustrate bureaucracy at its worst. Here are two examples:
The House debated a bill that would spend an estimated $1.5 million to translate the Illinois General Assembly website into Spanish. My colleagues, Representative Keith Wheeler and Representative Mark Batinick got up to speak and demonstrate how we can already provide this service to our constituents for FREE, not only in Spanish, but in up to 57 different languages! When asked to withdraw the bill from consideration in light of this fact, the bill’s sponsor, Chicago Democrat Rep. Silvana Tabares, stubbornly refused, insisting that spending taxpayer dollars on something we can do for free is necessary. Click HERE to read the story and watch the video.
Less egregious, but still an example of absurd bureaucracy, was a bill to provide that from December 3, 2017 through December 31, 2018, a United States flag bearing 21 stars will be flown from the flag pole of the Illinois State Capitol in celebration of Illinois' bicentennial as the 21st state to join the Union. You would think a decision like this should be an administrative one, not something that requires the time of the state legislature to debate and approve, especially when we still don’t have a budget.
The Illinois House of Representatives returns to session today. You can watch the action LIVE by clicking HERE and entering password “zephyr”. Session is scheduled to begin at 12:00pm.
Wirepoints: Ives may have saved taxpayers billions of dollars — no exaggeration
Legislation has been filed in the Illinois House of Representatives (House Bill 2584) to require that all bonds issued by local governments be secured by a statutory lien. Here’s a good, concise synopsis:
“The bill would retroactively slap a blanket mortgage on all future tax revenue and fee income to secure repayment of all bonds issued by Illinois towns and cities, both bonds already issued and those to be issued in the future. Why is that important? Because every cent of your local tax money will go to bondholders if needed to pay bonds, not towards government services. And for countless Illinois municipalities that are insolvent or headed that way, bondholders indeed may have to use that mortgage to seize tax dollars to get paid. For those places, if the bill passes, no tax revenue would ever be available for services until bonds get paid in full.” – Mark Glennon, Wirepoints.com
The question this legislation raises is, do bond markets foresee that municipal bankruptcy is in Illinois’ future and are trying to protect themselves? This has very serious implications for Illinois taxpayers. Click HERE for a more complete look at this issue.
Ives to Recognize Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans
Today on the House Floor I will recognize Mr. Bob Adams, co-founder of the Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans in Wheaton on the occasion of their 10th anniversary serving the needs of veterans in our community. The shelter’s mission is to provide veterans and their families with housing and supportive services that lead to self-sufficiency. They work to ensure that no veteran is left behind due to homelessness, joblessness, poverty and/or mental-health issues. To learn more about this organization or to get involved, please visit www.helpaveteran.org/.
Rep. Ives: Keeping You Informed
Taxes – Property Tax Burden
- With one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, property tax relief must be priority. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday at the Capitol, State Rep. Mark Batinick and his House Republican colleagues drew attention to the number one issue for many Illinois homeowners: the need for property tax relief.
A recent poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 47 percent of registered voters in Illinois say they want to move out, with 27 percent of them citing property taxes as their top reason. The Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit, reported just this week that Illinois has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country (3rd), which contributes to the 5th highest overall tax burden in the nation.
“Families and seniors are being forced from their homes, not because they cannot afford their mortgage, but because they cannot afford their property taxes increasing each and every year,” Rep. Batinick said. “If we’re going to be asked to support a budget package, whatever that may end up looking like, we’re here to say there must be real, significant property tax relief for our constituents.”
The impact of property taxes is not limited to homeowners. Businesses are moving across state lines or closing entirely partially due to the high cost of property taxes in Illinois. The recent Tax Foundation analysis shows that Illinois’ property tax burden ranks as one of the least favorable for businesses, coming in at 46th in the nation.
Budget – Unpaid Bills
- Bill backlog hits all-time high of $12.8 billion. The Office of the Comptroller reported this week that Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills has reached $12.8 billion, representing $1,000 for each of the 12.8 million men, women and children who call Illinois home.
Money owed by the State and awaiting payment includes monies to Illinois health service providers, institutions of higher education, providers of social services, and many other program service providers. The last full Illinois General Assembly budget expired on June 30, 2015, and the last partial Illinois budget ceased to operate on December 31, 2016. The Illinois General Assembly is currently debating budget action for FY18, starting July 1, 2017. Challenges facing Illinois budgeteers include a pattern of flat Illinois tax revenues, reflecting few new jobs created, and rising Illinois spending commitments, particularly commitments relating to medical services provided under Medicaid and other programs.
Education Task Force
- Illinois House Education Task Force holds first meeting. The 26-member bipartisan Task Force has been asked to develop proposals that can be offered to the General Assembly as legislative language to implement the recommendations of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. Earlier this year, the Reform Commission proposed that Illinois take steps to reduce the dependence of Illinois school districts on property tax revenues. Many Illinois lawmakers, citizens, and taxpayers believe that the current pattern of means used to fund Illinois schools is outdated in relation to other states.
The panel held its first meeting on Tuesday, March 14. Representative Bob Pritchard, the House Republican spokesman on the Task Force, called for key revisions to the Illinois school funding formula. The House Education Task Force is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, March 21.
This is the House Education Task Force #3! The creation of this task force is a stall tactic by Speaker Madigan to slow-walk doing anything to reform a system that needs to be reformed. I stand with my local school districts and will utilize my position as a member of this task force to protect our current revenue stream and the ability of our local schools to receive additional funding when it becomes available. Our local schools must not be frozen out of receiving new state money when available.
Elections – Fair Maps, Redistricting Reform
- House Republicans call for vote
on fair maps. Members
of the House Republican Caucus called on House Democrats to respect the
wishes of Illinoisans by allowing redistricting reform,
HJRCA17, to be called for a vote immediately.
“This is one of the strongest statements we can make about reforming Illinois,” said State Rep. Tim Butler. “This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, so it’s time for the Democrats to decide if they stand for the status quo or for a stronger, better Illinois for generations to come.”
HJRCA 17 would allow voters to decide, by statewide referendum, to amend the Illinois Constitution to create the Independent Redistricting Commission for the purpose of drawing legislative districts. A poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last fall found that 72% of voters, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, supported the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps.
Members noted that redistricting reform is directly tied to the state budget and the failure of having unbalanced budgets for more than 10 years.
“When people are no longer able to hold their representatives accountable due to the political leanings of their district, the people have lost,” said State Rep. Tom Demmer. “That’s especially true when it comes to the fiscal issues of this state. Instead of being held accountable for taking vote after vote after vote to spend money that the State doesn’t have, far too many elected officials get a pass as soon as they go home for no other reason than the letter behind their name on the ballot.”
“Democrats in Illinois like to tout that they and they alone stand for the little guy, but how can they say that with a straight face when it’s clearly not the case,” said State Rep. Keith Wheeler. “It’s time for Illinois Democrats to stop hiding and letting ‘surrogates’ fight this crucial constitutional amendment. The question that House Democrats now need to answer is who do you stand with? Do you stand with a million reform-minded Illinoisans or Mike Madigan?”
Higher Education – Enrollments
- Spring 2017 undergraduate enrollment drop at most state universities. Eleven of twelve Illinois public universities showed declines in 2017 spring term undergraduate enrollment in comparison with spring 2016. The statewide decline in student numbers was 2.8%, with every campus showing decreases in enrollment except the largest, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where undergraduate enrollment rose by 2.4%. The enrollment numbers were reported by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and some other state universities, are often characterized as “research universities” that are not as dependent on state general funds appropriations as are some other institutions of higher education. The U of I announced this week the launch of a new financial-aid program targeted at Illinois residents to help make college more affordable and keep talented high school seniors in the state.
Jobs – Revised December Numbers
- Revised figure shows 18,700 more jobs in December 2016 than previously thought. The revised number, from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), indicates that Illinois’ private-sector economy may be in better shape than has been publicly reported. Preliminary figures previously reported by IDES showed a net loss of 16,700 jobs in December, but a revision to these numbers erased this job loss and indicates that Illinois actually gained 2,000 jobs in the same month.
The problems noted by analysts upon release of the initial December 2016 figures remain in place. In particular, the “Christmas sales season” in job-creating retail activity was affected once again this year by the migration of significant transaction volumes to the Internet.
Although the revised numbers show Illinois’ job market continuing to grow slowly, the Land of Lincoln continues to underperform most other U.S. states in terms of economic growth and activity. Illinois continues to have fewer jobs than it did at its peak unemployment level, reached in September 2000 prior to 9/11 and the collapse of the so-called “dot com” boom. Illinois added 1,700 jobs in January 2017, maintaining its unemployment rate of 5.7%.
You’re Invited: ‘Straight Talk Tour’ Comes to Naperville
Sen. Connelly, Rep. Ives continue ‘Straight Talk Tour’
WHO: State Senator Michael Connelly (R-Naperville)
State Representative Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton)
WHAT: A town hall meeting giving constituents straightforward answers to all their state-related questions.
Monday, March 27 at 7pm
Naperville City Hall, Council Chambers
400 S Eagle St, Naperville, IL 60540
Senator Connelly and I will be providing constituents with the latest information on the budget and efforts to reform the business climate in Illinois. All constituents are invited to attend this town hall to give their input and to ask questions about state government.
Keeping constituents informed and listening to their feedback is my most important priority. I encourage every local resident and taxpayer to attend our town hall meeting to make your voice heard and learn how Senator Connelly and I are fighting for you in Springfield.