Rezin’s Report: Your Sky High Property Taxes

May 15, 2015

Dear Friends,

It was a pleasure to talk to so many of you on Monday, when I hosted a live teleforum. I received so many great questions about pensions, my opposition to the Rock Island Clean line, why helping our energy sector is so important, and how we can solve our budget crisis. A constituent also asked, what can we do about our sky high property taxes?

That’s why I am asking Illinois lawmakers to make freezing property taxes a top priority for families and businesses. No matter what community I visit in the 38th Senate District, a common concern of families and businesses is, “Our property tax rates just keep going higher and higher, and it’s really hurting us.” Freezing property tax rates will go a long way in boosting our economy, while helping working families with some much-needed relief for their own budgets. I will also note, any property freeze action could include an exemption for communities where local voters approve a referendum.

I know you already understand the pain of our high property taxes, but take a look at this:

According to a recent study from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the country, only behind New Jersey. Illinois was found to have 17 counties ranked in the top 100 counties nationally for median property tax rates.

– Kendall County: median effective property tax rate of 2.53% (16th nationally)

– Will County: median effective property tax rate of 2.31% (33rd nationally)

– LaSalle County: media effective property tax rate of 2.23% (41st nationally)

When a family has to pay so much of their hard-earned money in property taxes, it’s no wonder people have lost faith in Illinois. That’s why the solution is freezing property tax rates, reforming state government, and passing responsibly balanced budgets. All of that goes hand in hand toward creating an environment in which our families can thrive.

In that teleforum from Monday, I asked a poll question regarding property taxes. Answering that question, 71% of you support a property tax freeze. Of that, 36% said to freeze property taxes statewide and 35% said to freeze property taxes unless voters approve an increase. I hope we can get it done to bring you some relief!

I hope have a great weekend!

State Sen. Sue Rezin

From the Statehouse

Top: Sue at the Illinois Fall Firefighters Memorial (Video below)

Next: Senator Anderson, Sue, Myrla Randall and retired Kendall County Sherriff Richard Randall and LaSalle County Sherriff Tom Templeton at the IL Sheriffs’ Association Legislative Tribute.

Next: Sue speaking on the Senate floor in honor of fallen Morris firefighter James Allen.

Next: Sue in a committee hearing at the Statehouse.

Bottom: Sue on the phone during her live teleconference with hundreds of people from across the 38th District.

Resolution honors fallen Morris Firefighter

The Illinois Senate passed House Joint Resolution 6, which designates the section of Illinois Route 47 over the CSX Railway in Morris between High Street and Benton Street as the Firefighter James Allen Memorial Highway. Sen. Rezin was the sponsor of the Resolution in the Senate. Allen was a volunteer fireman from Morris who lost his life in a residential fire because of a backdraft. Sen. Rezin says Allen is a true American Hero and honoring him with this resolution is the least we can do.

Memorial Day Remembrance Wall

As a way to honor loved ones and friends who have served in the U.S. Military, we encourage you to submit a photograph andwritten remembrance of your deceased veteran to be displayed on the Illinois State Capitol Memorial Day Remembrance Wall. Your contributions will be displayed in the State Capitol Rotunda starting on Memorial Day,Monday, May 25 through Saturday, May 30.

Any deceased veteran will be honored. Please email a photo and written remembrance (Max: 250 words) along with the following information: name, military branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, Navy) and conflict served (Afghanistan and Iraq,September 11, Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, Peacetime, Other) toMemorialDay@senategop.state.il.us. Military photos preferred but not necessary.

The deadline to submit isWednesday, May 20.If you wish to send by mail, send your remembrance and photo to:

Memorial Day Remembrance Wall
309G State House
Springfield, IL 62706

Questions can be directed to 217.782.2181.

Thank you for participating as we honor our brave service members in uniform this Memorial Day and every day.

Let’s honor our heroes and keep their legacies alive.

As a way to honor loved ones and friends who have served in the U.S. Military, we encourage you to submit a photograph and written remembrance of your deceased veteran to be displayed on the Illinois State Capitol Memorial Day Remembrance Wall. Your contributions will be displayed in the State Capitol Rotunda starting on Memorial Day,Monday, May 25 through Saturday, May 30.

 

Any deceased veteran will be honored. Please email a photo and written remembrance (Max: 250 words) along with the following information: name, military branch (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, National Guard, Navy) and conflict served (Afghanistan and Iraq,September 11, Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, Peacetime, Other) toMemorialDay@senategop.state.il.us. Military photos preferred but not necessary.

 

The deadline to submit isWednesday, May 20.If you wish to send by mail, send your remembrance and photo to:

Memorial Day Remembrance Wall
309G State House
Springfield, IL 62706

 

Questions can be directed to 217.782.2181.

Thank you for participating as we honor our brave service members in uniform this Memorial Day and every day.

Let’s honor our heroes and keep their legacies alive.

– See more at: http://www.senatorrezin.com/Media/News/TabId/451/p/37621/v/2000/memorial-day-remembrance-wall.aspx#sthash.S2EgPmfo.dpuf

38th Senate District would see millions of dollars in road and bridge work

Many roads and bridges in State Sen. Sue Rezin’s (R-Peru) 38th Senate District are slated to see millions of dollars in repairs or replacements in Fiscal Year 2016, as part of the state’s annual highway improvement plan.

“Our infrastructure is vital to our communities, families, and travelers,” Rezin said. “It also plays a major role in helping us boost our economy as employers look at our infrastructure when deciding if their goods can be delivered safely and on time. With Illinois’ central location and major distribution centers, not to mention our millions of visitors, our roads and bridges need to be in tip-top shape so people and products can move across our state safely.”

In Rezin’s 38th Senate District, proposed projects in IDOT’s highway construction plan for Fiscal Year 2016, which starts July 1, include:

Joliet/New Lenox/Minooka: reducing congestion – Ridge Rd. to U.S. 30 (Lincoln Highway ($500,000)

LaSalle County: bridge replacement – Milliken Creek (1.7 miles east of Illinois 71) ($800,000)

Grundy County: resurfacing – Gore Rd. north of I-80 to Benton St. in Morris ($2.5 million)

Bureau/Putnam Counties: bridge replacement – Illinois River bridge at Spring Valley ($29,500,000 – construction and engineering)

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) plans on spending $8.4 billion over the next six years on road and bridge construction projects and repairs throughout the state, as part of their Proposed Highway Improvement Program. The IDOT plan comes as Illinois’ infrastructure faces serious deterioration. Of the $8.4 billion, $1.85 billion will be invested in Fiscal Year 2016.

To see the multiyear program in its entirety and what projects are planned in certain regions in the state, can be viewed at goo.gl/gLOqt7. To see projects planned in the 38th Senate District, go to: http://www.idot.illinois.gov/Assets/uploads/files/Transportation-System/Reports/OP&P/HIP/2016-2021/ilsenate/sdist38.pdf.

Illinois Senate Week in Review – May 11-15, 2015

With roughly two weeks until the scheduled May 31 adjournment deadline, State Sen. Sue Rezin said lawmakers from both chambers have continued to meet with representatives from the Rauner Administration to try and find common ground on some of the state’s most pressing—and controversial—issues.

State budget talks have been ongoing, and Senate lawmakers have spent much of their time moving legislation through the committee process. Additionally, numerous measures were considered by the full Senate body during the week, including one proposal decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Meanwhile, political games continued in the House of Representatives this week, when Speaker Michael Madigan called for a vote on Right-to-Work legislation. An initiative of the Speaker that was not introduced or supported by the Governor, the move was criticized as political theater and was panned by lawmakers from both parties.

However, lawmakers came together on May 12 to honor fallen fire fighters at the annual memorial ceremony at the Capitol, while later in the week the Department of Transportation made public its yearly list of road and bridge projects throughout the state.

Outside the Statehouse, Chicago took a significant hit from credit ratings agencies.

 

Weatherization program raises concerns in Senate Committee

A 2009 program intended to “create jobs in low-income areas and improve energy efficiency” sparked debate in a Senate Committee May 14, when Senate Republican lawmakers raised concerns about problems within the state’s Urban Weatherization Program, recently identified by the Better Government Association (BGA).

Five years into the program, the BGA found that the Urban Weatherization Program was “in disarray.” The government watchdog organization noted that of the $16 million spent, $13 million—or more than 80 percent—of that had been spent on administrative and training costs, instead of actual home improvement repairs. Additionally, the program fell significantly short of its 1,000 home improvement goal, having only upgraded 183 homes since the program was created in 2009.

Senate Republicans on the committee voted against House Bill 3194, which would have increased grant awards for the Urban Weatherization Program from the current $500,000 to $2 million, and upped the amount spent to improve homes from $6,500 to $10,000. They expressed serious concerns about the amount of money being directed into a program that has failed to meet its initial benchmarks, particularly when the state is facing a serious financial crisis.

 

Measure to decriminalize marijuana held in Senate

Legislation to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis was debated in the Senate on May 14, but later held by the sponsor in response to concerns with the legislation. House Bill 218 would reduce penalties for possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis, establishing a maximum $125 fine for the offense.

Supporters of the legislation, including the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, say that the measure will create a uniform penalty through Illinois and remove non-violent, minor offenders from the state’s overcrowded court system. Additionally, proponents say the measure, which allows for numerous ways to test for cannabis DUI charges, will make it easier to prosecute drivers found to be under the influence of marijuana when behind the wheel.

The bill also cracks down on “butane hash oil,” an extremely potent form of cannabis that is manufactured using butane. Because butane is highly flammable, butane hash oil has caused home explosions and serious fires, which pose a significant threat—particularly to first responders arriving at the scene.

However, opponents raised concerns about the impact of a provision in the bill that establishes THC levels—the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects—that are allowable while driving. Critics found fault with the standards for cannabis DUI in the bill, which are not as strict as those in place for an alcohol DUI. Many law enforcement organizations continue to oppose the legislation.

 

Firefighter Memorial held at State Capitol

Hundreds of firefighters from across the state gathered at the State Capitol grounds on May 12 for the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony. The event honors those who have given their lives in the line of duty and to those who heroically serve with courage, pride, and honor.

The Fallen Firefighter Memorial monument, which sits near the southwest lawn of the Capitol, was erected at the direction of the Illinois Fire Services Association in 1993 to serve as a reminder of the sacrifice and bravery made by firefighters who save lives on a daily basis.

Watch a video about this year’s memorial service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS0oJKEGsXI

Senate Republicans Pay Tribute to Fallen U.S. Military Heroes

Memorial Day is a time to honor fallen heroes across the nation and the state of Illinois. The Senate Republican Caucus will pay tribute to U.S. Military members who have passed away, with a Memorial Day Remembrance Wall. The Remembrance Wall will be displayed in the State Capitol Rotunda from May 25 through May 30.

Senate Republicans are asking Illinoisans to submit a photo and written remembrance to MemorialDay@senategop.state.il.us by May 20 to honor a loved one or friend on the Memorial Day Remembrance Wall. Participants are asked to include the following information: name, military branch and conflict served. Military photos are preferred, but not necessary.

 

IDOT Releases multi-year highway construction plan

On May 14, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) released an $8.4 billion six-year highway construction plan as part of the state’s Proposed Highway Improvement Program. Of that, $1.85 billion is to be invested in Fiscal Year 2016, which begins July 1.

The program allows for maintenance on the state’s existing roads and bridges, financing improvements to 1,431 miles of highway and 357 bridges. IDOT noted that while 83 percent of state highways and 93 percent of bridges are currently in acceptable condition, without significant improvements over the next five years only 62 percent of highways and 86 percent of bridges will be in acceptable condition.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been advocating for a statewide capital construction program to make improvements to the state’s transportation infrastructure.

The multiyear program in its entirety, and projects planned in certain regions in the state, can be viewed at goo.gl/gLOqt7http://goo.gl/gLOqt7>.

Illinois’ budget crisis the worst in the country

A recent Associated Press report underscored the significant challenges Illinois faces when it comes to filling its anticipated multi-billion dollar budget hole. The Associated Press found that of 22 states facing budget deficits, Illinois has the worst deficit by far, at more than $6 billion.

According to the AP’s analysis:

· The only state neighboring Illinois that is also facing a deficit is Wisconsin, which has two year deficit of $650 million or only 1/10 of Illinois’ deficit.

· The other 21 states with a shortfall have an average deficit of $974 million – less than 1/6 Illinois’ deficit. Additionally, many of those are two-year budgets.

· The only other state with a deficit half as big as Illinois’ is Alaska. Alaska faces a $3.6 billion deficit, which has been attributed to plunging gas and energy costs.

Record-breaking number of visitors made a trip to the Land of Lincoln

More than 107 million visitors traveled to Illinois in 2014, a new record. With a nearly a four percent increase over 2013, the state can celebrate the fourth consecutive year of record-breaking visitor numbers.

“Increasing tourism and its resulting economic impact are central to driving Illinois’ economy forward,” said Gov. Rauner. The increase in visitors resulted in an increase in the state’s hotel-motel tax revenue, which brought in an addition $250 million, up more than six percent.

Destination information, trip inspiration ideas, the latest Illinois Travel Guide and more can be found at www.enjoyillinois.comhttp://www.enjoyillinois.com>.

Illinois farmers making major progress

Illinois farmers continue to make major strides throughout the state. Overall, 88 percent of corn fields have been planted, compared to 73 percent at the same time last year, and the five-year average of 64 percent. The total amount of corn plants that have emerged jumped to 42 percent, up 27 percentage points from last week.

Farmers have planted 33 percent of their soybean crops, compared to 23 percent last year and the 5-year average of 19 percent.

To watch a video on the planting season, the 2015 crop outlook, and the importance of agriculture at the Capitol, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPhDpO-faog.

 

Chicago’s credit ratings drop this week

Following last week’s decision by the Illinois Supreme Court that found Illinois’ pension reform law unconstitutional, bond-rating companies weighed in.

Early in the week Moody’s Investors Service lowered the City of Chicago’s credit rating to one step below the investment grade—considered “junk bond” status, while S & P lowered the city’s A+ rating two steps to A-, still considered investment grade.

Lower credits ratings translate into higher costs associated with future borrowing, as investors demand higher interest payments due to the increased risk they are taking.

Chicago is the second lowest-rated city in the U.S., only behind Detroit. Moody’s also downgraded the credit rating of both Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District this week.

 

Senate action round-up

Action continued on the Senate floor and in committees this week as legislators consider various pieces of legislation before the scheduled May 31 adjournment. You can find a full round-up of all the measures that passed in committees and on the Senate floor this week visit the Senate Action Page at the Senate GOP website: http://www.senategop.state.il.us/AbouttheSenate/SenateAction.aspx

 

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