March 27, 2015
For the first time in more than a decade, we have a balanced budget in Springfield. How great is it to say that! This week, the Illinois Senate passed legislation that balances the current fiscal year budget (fiscal year 2015) without any tax increase or borrowing. Governor Rauner has since signed that legislation into law. I voted for this budget fix because it was necessary, given the state’s current fiscal mess.
Gov. Bruce Rauner inherited a completely out-of-whack budget when he took office; however, working together in a bipartisan fashion, we did what was necessary to solve the first chapter of our state’s budget mess. We wouldn’t have solved this immediate budget crisis without Governor Rauner’s leadership. Funding for areas like child-care, court reporters, and corrections would have had severe funding shortfalls without this legislation.
Many of you talked to me or called my office concerned about funding for certain programs, especially child-care. Hearing those concerns, I am pleased lawmakers did the right thing, taking action to save these vital services and protect jobs. Funding for local governments remains intact. There are also exemptions for funding for developmentally disabled, mental health, and autism programs.
While we did have to make some cuts and use other funds to plug holes left by Democrat legislative leaders and former Governor Pat Quinn, this solution helps get our state back on track, and it stops leaving so many families in limbo about the immediate future.
I am hopeful we can use this process as an example to move forward and make real reforms to fix Illinois, so we don’t have to make an emergency budget vote again. We have a long way to go with many difficult decisions to come, but working together, under the leadership of Governor Rauner, we can turn the fiscal condition of our state around.
I hope you have a great weekend.
Senator Sue Rezin
From the Statehouse
Top: Sue visits with Governor Rauner after the Senate passed the fiscal year 2015 budget fix.
Next: Sue visits with Sen. Neil Anderson and a Illinois Senate Page.
Bottom: Sue visits with Sen. Michael Connelly
Visiting the Statehouse
Top: Sue with Bob Wills (Deputy Fire Chief) and Tracey J. Steffes (Fire Chief) from the Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District. They were in Springfield for the Firefighters Advocacy Day.
Next: Sue with 4H students Anthony Warmack, Carson Groezinger and Tristan Degrush.
Next: Sue with Streator Police Chief Kurt Pastirik, Illinois MEG and Task Force Tony Kestner and Aaron Harsy.
Around the 38th District
Top two: Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti visits with Mike Sutfin. She spent time in LaSalle County getting a Eakas Corporation Tour and Starved Rock Dam Tour. It’s nice to know she recognizes our waterways as an economic engine, not only for our region, but the state (thanks to all who took part and organized the event).
Bottom two: Sue at the LaSalle Co Farm Bureau on Monday.
Concealed Carry: Helping you get a license:
My office can help you apply for your concealed carry license:
What you need to know:
– Applicants must schedule the free appointment with Senator Rezin’s office (no walk-ins, please).
– The application process takes 30 minutes.
– Applicants must bring the Certificate of Training (must be signed by the trainer and applicant), driver’s license, and FOID card (the address on the driver’s license and FOID card must be the same).
– The application fee is $150 (payment accepted with credit card or electronic check only).
– 10 years of residency must be established. (If the applicant has lived at their current address for 10 years, they will need to know the month and year to present. If they have had multiple residences within the last 10 years, they will need to bring in a list of those addresses and the duration as previously listed.)
– Applicants must bring a current photo or a photo will be taken in Senator Rezin’s office
To schedule an appointment, call Senator Rezin’s office at (815) 220-8720.
Her office is located at:
103 Fifth Street
Peru, IL 61354
Jen Reva from Senator Rezin’s office helps a constituent apply for a concealed carry license.
Vote for Ottawa!
Congratulations to the City of Ottawa on being named a finalist in Solution Search: Reducing Our Risk:Innovation for Disaster Preparation! Ottawa is one of 10 communities in the nation remaining in the final competition. You can vote via text message. To do so, they will text SOLUTIONSEARCH to 22333 once and then text OTTAWA to vote for your solution. We also need IAFSM members to mobilize and support our friends in Ottawa.
We encourage IAFSM members to vote once per day using the website:
Senate Week in Review: March 23–27, 2015
Budget Fix signed by Governor
After weeks of negotiations, Gov. Rauner and legislative leaders agreed to a solution during the week to patch a massive $1.6 billion hole in the current-year budget. The legislative package, which is contained in two separate bills, passed with strong bipartisan majorities in both chambers and was signed into law by Governor Rauner.
In 2014, Gov. Quinn and Democrat leaders knowingly approved an unbalanced budget that didn’t contain revenues necessary to fund state government for an entire fiscal year. The one-time emergency budget fix approved March 26 will plug the hole, while protecting the state’s top priorities from significant reductions in state assistance—without relying on tax hikes or new borrowing.
The legislative package will enable the Governor to move money around to patch holes in the current budget. A program to provide funding for daycare for working adults was the first to feel the pinch, but there wasn’t enough cash on hand to pay court reporters and prison guards as well. The budget fix plan passed by lawmakers March 26 funds the corrections workers, court reporters and child-care programs that would have otherwise suffered devastating shortfalls.
Senate Republicans stressed that going forward, the state needs real, fundamental reform, instead of continuing to rely on emergency measures and stop-gap solutions that have dominated state government for more than a decade.
Senator said the bipartisan, bicameral process that produced the current budget agreement should be used as a template for future negotiations. Working together, keeping the priorities of Illinois’ families in mind, and identifying areas to cut and reform will be critical to addressing the state’s most difficult challenges: a struggling jobs climate, a growing multi-billion dollar bill backlog, staggering pension debt, the nation’s worst credit rating, and some of the country’s highest property taxes.
Lawmakers to Focus on FY 16 budget
With the Fiscal Year 2015 budget shortfall addressed, lawmakers will now shift their focus to the upcoming budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which starts July 1.
Gov. Rauner presented his fiscal proposal in February, which aims to balance the state budget in the face of a projected $6 billion shortfall—the repercussion of years of reckless budgeting that occurred during 12 years of absolute Democrat control of state government.
Film studio returns grant
A Chicago-based film studio has returned an eyebrow-raising $10 million grant after Gov. Rauner demanded its return. A Senate Republican lawmaker has requested the Attorney General look into the matter.
A March 21 report by the Chicago Sun-Times showed that Cinespace Chicago Film Studios was awarded the $10 million grant by Gov. Quinn in December 2014 for the stated purpose of buying industrial land around its west-side studio facility where TV shows and movies are produced.
But the article also pointed out that the properties may not actually be for sale, and identified several other potential issues:
“ Quinn’s administration gave Cinespace the $10 million without any appraisals to justify the projected purchase prices listed by the studio’s owners.
“ The former governor’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity had nothing to show that Cinespace had pending contracts to buy any of the properties or had been in negotiations to buy them.
“ The state agency gave Cinespace the ability to buy just about any land it wants, allowing it to “substitute properties . . . in the event the applicant is unable to successfully negotiate the purchase of the listed properties.” Cinespace would need the state’s permission to do so. It has not asked for that.
“ The grant went out even though the studio’s owners had trouble complying with reporting requirements on another grant the studio had gotten under Quinn. In 2012,the state sent Cinespace four “not in compliance” letters. The state then suspended the $1.3 million construction grant because the studio hadn’t turned in “project status reports” on time — an issue that wasn’t resolved until March 2014, records show. Even as the Quinn administration was sending those letters, the state gave the studio three other grants totaling $16 million. ”
After the story broke, Gov. Rauner ordered Cinespace to return the grant to the state, which the studio did, with interest.
State Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) noted that the large grant was awarded despite the state’s multi-billion dollar backlog of bills and unbalanced budget. Bivins said the former Governor’s action demonstrated an “utter disregard for the resources provided by Illinois taxpayers.”
Senate Executive Committee advances major bills
Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) moved two health-related bills through the Executive Committee during the week.
The Executive Committee approved Radogno’s Senate Bill 986, which would require employees at any childcare facility that cares for children ages six or younger to receive measles and rubella vaccinations. Employees would be exempt from the requirement if they can provide proof that they had the illness and are now immune. The legislation was inspired by recent outbreaks of serious diseases in Illinois, which affected some children too young to be vaccinated.
Another measure, Senate Bill 987, would create the Down Syndrome Awareness Act, requiring the Illinois Department of Public Health to make available up-to-date, evidence-based written information about Down Syndrome to the parents of a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome. According to Senator Radogno, at this time many parents don’t have medically-reliable information about the condition or the numerous recent advancements made in caring for children with Down Syndrome.
The Senate Executive committee also approved legislation that would make Illinois a “Safe Harbor” state for immigrants. Senate Bill 22 would prohibit Illinois law enforcement agencies from complying with federal immigration detainers, mandate law enforcement agencies to certify anyone claiming to be a crime victim, and create penalties for violations of the act. Opponents noted that the legislation would block the detainers even if the federal government considered the subject to be a threat to national security, while supporters hail the measure as a step toward immigration reform. However, both sides appear to believe that the legislation will receive changes before being considering for a vote by the full Senate.
Bobcat season, round two
Last year, former Gov. Quinn vetoed bipartisan legislation to create a bobcat hunting/trapping season, which was proposed by his own Department of Natural Resources. Now both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees have once again advanced similar legislative proposals.
Both measures would allow the Department of Natural Resources to establish a bobcat hunting/trapping season, establish a limit of one bobcat per hunter per year, and charge a $5 fee for each permit.
According to sponsor State Sen. Sam McCann (R-Carlinville), the legislation was proposed by the Department of Natural Resources to allow them to manage bobcat populations using the same methods allowed for other game species such as deer and waterfowl.
Currently, Illinois is one of only eight states without a bobcat hunting season. In 1972, due to concern over declining bobcat populations, the season was closed. The species was listed as threatened in 1977. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the state’s bobcat population is now growing four to nine percent per year, and has reached the level where it requires management.
The legislation would allow the Department of Natural Resources to establish which counties are open for bobcat hunting, based on the local populations of the animals.
The Senate Agriculture Committee also approved a measure from State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) that would allow hunters ages 16 and younger to use a crossbow to take coyotes. Current law allows crossbows to be used only by hunters at least 62 years old, with a certified medical condition that inhibits the use of a traditional bow, or by any hunter during the latter part of deer and turkey seasons.
For information on crossbow permits for hunters with disabilities visit the Department of Natural Resources Office of Law Enforcement web page: http://dnr.state.il.us/law3/.