February 20, 2015
It’s officially time to get down to serious business in Springfield. On Wednesday, Governor Rauner laid out his budget plan for our state’s future.
His address was a cold dose of reality. Our budget crisis is what happens when you have one party rule for more than a decade. It’s no surprise the budget decisions that will have to be made to get our state back on its fiscal track are difficult. The solutions to our fiscal problems are deep, so fixing them requires bold reforms, very tough decisions, and the courage to make it happen. Pain will be felt, but the opportunities that lie ahead for us from these tough decisions will be rewarding.
States around us have faced fiscal problems. They made the tough decisions, and now they are reaping the benefits. More jobs, a better economy, a better future, and a better education system. I believe Illinois can do the same, but it will take time, and it will take everyone coming together to make it happen. Illinois doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. I know many of you have had to make difficult cost cutting decisions over the past several years so your budget stays in the black. So why can’t Illinois government do the same? It’s about time our government is responsible with your money, just like you are responsible with you money.
I look forward to working with Governor Rauner and all legislators in restoring fiscal sanity to our state and making Illinois great again.
I hope you have a great weekend,
State Senator Sue Rezin
Here are more of my thoughts on Governor Bruce Rauner’s Budget Address:
Top: Senator Rezin Listens to Governor Rauner’s Budget Address with Rep. Terri Bryant
Next: Governor Rauner walks out of the House Chamber after giving his Budget Address
Next: Senator Rezin pleased to be joined by Isaac Orr, from the 38th Senate District today at the statehouse.
Bottom: Senator Rezin with Oswego Village President Brian LeClercq after the “State of the Village Breakfast.” That was Brian’s last “State of the Village Breakfast” address, and we wish him all the best!
Letter to Governor Rauner:
This was a letter I wrote to Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this week about why funding and support of the developmentally disabled is of the essence.
Dear Governor Rauner,
When you began your term as our state’s leader, you focused on two very important things: being competitive and compassionate. When it comes to the most vulnerable people among us, showing compassion is of the essence – being there for them, advocating for them, protecting them, giving them a positive life experience they deserve, and loving them.
Many families in my district have a child who is developmentally disabled. Many of those families tell me they are fed up with the way state government is treating their child, especially when it comes to funding for programs and services. This unfair treatment, the opposite of compassion, has been going on for years. It needs to change now, and I am hopeful you can make it happen.
The problem for years has been those who are the most vulnerable among us are being cheated out of millions of dollars. The biggest problem is the failure of the Medicaid system. Started with good intentions, this program has almost become synonymous with waste and abuse. Just recently, it was reported the Illinois Auditor General found the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS) paid $3.7 million for medical services to more than 1,000 people who were already recorded as dead. In 2013, a state-hired private contractor, Maximus, identified more than 220,000 people it said should be dropped from the Medicaid rolls. Illinois then removed more than 114,000 from the system. But, before Maximus could finish combing through the millions of more names in the system, the state pulled them off the job.
This waste and abuse has to stop now. It is costing our state hundreds of millions of dollars – dollars that should be going to people who actually need it the most, not scammers. It’s common sense: verify income, hire someone to check the Medicaid rolls for abuse, and make sure people who are receiving aid are actually alive. For too long, our state government has not even come close to living up to its requirements in this area. For some reason, those people who need it the most doesn’t always receive the funding.
When we achieve these savings and reprioritize how money is distributed, funding has to go to those who are vulnerable, especially those with developmental disabilities. Prior cuts to that state assistance for medications must be restored. We must restore payments that were cut for medically-necessary services.
Like you and your Administration, I think our priority – as a society and as a government – must be showing compassion to those who are most vulnerable and need our help. Thank you for allowing me to bring this important issue to your attention.
Working together, our state can make this right.
State Senator Sue Rezin
On Thursday, I was pleased to meet and talk with several people from the Going Home: A Full Life in the Community Coalition. (See below)
Senate Week in Review
SPRINGFIELD – Two weeks after giving his initial assessment of the challenges facing Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner unveiled a tough, but necessary plan to put the state’s fiscal house in order, according to State Sen. Sue Rezin said.
Also during the week, Senate members worked to meet a Feb. 20 deadline for filing their bills.
On Feb. 18, Gov. Rauner outlined his $31.5 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget proposal to a joint session of Illinois lawmakers. His plan eliminates $6.2 billion structural deficit; relies on no tax increases or borrowing; includes $500 million to pay down unpaid bill backlog; increases K-12 education spending by roughly $300 million; increases early childhood education funding by $25 million; provides the most money for education general state aid in Illinois history; focuses on core functions of government and delivers essential services.
Senator Rezin said many of Gov. Rauner’s tough budget decisions stem from the cumulative effect of 12 years of tax-and-spend government under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich and former Gov. Pat Quinn.
Lawmakers will now review the Governor’s budget, and begin working with the Administration to negotiate the state’s fiscal blueprint for FY 2016, which runs from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016.
In other action, Senate members worked to meet their Feb. 20 deadline for filing legislation.
State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) has filed legislation that would help school districts in the state by fully funding the state’s “Foundation Level.”Senate Bill 1341 would require the Foundation Level grant within the state’s General State Aid formula be funded at 100 percent before directing education dollars to any other grant lines or programs. For example, this year’s budget, passed by Democrat legislative leaders and signed by former Gov. Quinn, prorates funding at 89% of what’s called for in state law.
State Sen. Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) has introduced Senate Bill 689 to clarify that a licensed nurse who provides hospice services or who provides home health services to a person may lawfully possess controlled substances prescribed for the patient.
State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) is introducing legislation that would allow auto dealers to sell car on Sunday if the dealer is a person who observes a religious day of worship other than Sunday.
Legislation also continues to move through Senate committees, with the following bills approved during the week:
Farmers Market Provisions (SB 49):Clarifies that regulatory provisions regarding Farmers Markets do not apply to the entire Food Handling Enforcement Act. This clarifies a law that imposed regulations on farmers markets and cottage food operations pertaining to local government authority, food samples, shutting down vendors, and other issues.
Annual Report (SB 688):Directs the Board of Higher Education to require all public and private institutions of higher education to submit an annual report by April 15, 2016, and by April 15 in years thereafter, about procurement goals and actual spending for female-owned, minority-owned, veteran-owned, and small business enterprises in the previous calendar year.
Consumer Debt Education (SB 672):Requires consumer educations classes to cover consumer debt, higher education loans and identity theft security as part of the curriculum.
Student-Teacher Background Checks (SB 706):Requires student-teacher applicants to submit to a fingerprint analysis performed by the Illinois State Police and FBI. Additionally, school districts must verify that the applicant is not listed on registries for sex offenders, child murderers or violent offenders against youth.
High School Innovators (SR 53):Designates May 8 as High School Innovators Day and May 4-10 as High School Innovators Week.
School Zoning Compliance (SB36):Provides that a school district is subject to, and its school board must comply with, any valid and applicable local government zoning ordinance or resolution.
Uniform Interstate Discovery (SB45):Provides procedures for the issuance of a subpoena to require deposition testimony or discovery production in this state in connection with litigation pending in a foreign jurisdiction.
Family Law Updates (SB57):Abolishes actions for alienation of affections, breach of promise to marry, and criminal conversation.
Foreclosure Special Representative (SB 735):Expands the list of situations where, in a foreclosure action, the court will not be required to appoint a special representative to defend the action on behalf of a deceased mortgagor. All of these situations involve cases where the title has been transferred prior to or upon the death of the mortgagor and there is a living person to defend the action.
Cook County Drug Field Test Program (SB 720):Creates the Cook County Drug Analysis Field Test Pilot Program that allows officers to use drug analysis field test devices for use in the Circuit Court of Cook County to determine whether a recovered substance is illegal cannabis, cocaine, or heroin.
Food Handling Regulation (SB 46):Requires any individual seeking a food service sanitation manager certificate or a food service sanitation manager instructor certificate to receive a passing score on the examination. Brings the exam score requirements food service managers and instructors in line with the Conference for Food Protection or its successor organization.
Dental Emergency Responder (SB 748):Clarifies the certification of dentists that are qualified to respond to emergency situations. Changes name from “dental emergency responder” to “dental responder” in order to cover a dentist or dental hygienist who is appropriately certified in disaster preparedness, immunizations, and dental humanitarian medical response.
SURS-Administrative (SB 777):Amends the State Universities Article of the Illinois Pension Code. Defines “Plan Year” as the 12-month period that begins on July 1 and ends on the following June 30.
Attorney’s Admission to Bar (SB 23):Asks the Illinois Supreme Court to grants law licenses to non-citizens provided certain conditions have been satisfied related to the recently enacted federal “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program. Provides that no person shall be prohibited from receiving an attorney’s license solely because he or she is not a U.S. citizen.
Minimum Wage Employers Negotiations (SB 38):Allows a collective bargaining unit to negotiate and contractually exempt themselves from the hourly wage requirements imposed by the Act. Instead, the union can agree to an alternate shift schedule as allowed under federal law. Currently, the Minimum Wage Law requires all employers to pay 1½ times the regular rate of pay when working over 40 hours in a week.
At-Large School Board Elections (SB 82):Provides that a proposition to change to an at-large school board can be approved by either a majority of those voting in each congressional township in the area comprising the school district, or by two-thirds of those voting in the election.
Gaming Licenses (SB 655):Gives the Gaming Board discretion to issue a license to an applicant previously convicted of theft and who is subsequently convicted of driving under the influence if that conviction occurred more than 10 years prior.
High Speed Rail Oversight (SB 675): Creates the Springfield High Speed Railroad Oversight Commission to monitor, review, and report on contracting and employment related to the planning, organization, and construction of the High Speed Rail Project.
Renewable Energy Law (SB 51):Changes the repeal date of the Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Coal Resources Development Law of 1997 from Dec. 12, 2015, to Dec. 12, 2020.