September 18, 2015
I hope you had a great week and have lots of fun things planned this weekend.
So many of you are asking me about the budget situation in Illinois and when something will get done. For that second question, my answer is, I am hopeful soon. The sooner the better.
It’s very unfortunate Illinois has now entered its third month without a fiscal year 2016 budget in place.
I realize this is very frustrating for you, and many others across Illinois. I share your frustration. Passage of a comprehensive, balanced and responsible budget is the constitutional responsibility of the state Legislature, and I take that duty very seriously.
Unfortunately, the budget offered up by my Democrat legislative colleagues in May was unbalanced and unconstitutional—a fact they even they acknowledged. It was $4 billion out of balance. Now, Democrats are passing piecemeal portions of the budget, that when combined with what the state is paying out now through courtorders, consent decrees, and statutory continuing appropriations, total about $6 billion more than what the state is expected to take in. This is the opposite of responsibility.
Democrats continue to play party politics with the budget impasse, muscling through legislation they said will pay for human services and other programs but that’s not true. Appropriating money in this fashion is short-sighted and unrealistic, considering Illinois’ spending is far outpacing available revenues. The bottom line, Democrats are making false promises to human services providers promising them money that isn’t there. Eventually, the money will run out.
That’s why I am stressing passing a balanced budget now so every group, organization, and individual who relies on state funding can plan for their future. It’s the right thing to do. We have very difficult decisions to make, but decisions that have to be made to right the state’s fiscal ship. I believe we must be compassionate to groups and organizations that help the most vulnerable among us, but promising them money that isn’t there does little to help their cause.
We cannot in good conscience vote for a total spending plan that digs Illinois into an even deeper fiscal hole. However, I remain willing and eager to work in good faith with my Democrat colleagues to craft a balanced budget, in conjunction with much-needed structural reforms to state government.
Instead of embracing the status quo, Illinois must focus on fundamental change. It makes sense that budget discussions should prioritize real reforms that will boost our economy, reduce costs for taxpayers, and make Illinois more competitive.
I hope you have a great weekend!
State Sen. Sue Rezin
Around the District
I had the honor to deliver my Patriot Day speech on Sept. 11th in Morris.
Loved my time speaking at the LaSalle Rotary today with a big group of 40 students from LaSalle-Peru township High School!
Thanks to Nate Plautz, Outreach Coordinator from Sen. Mark Kirk’s office for coming to our office in Peru for their Mobile Office hours.
I had the honor to speak at the Central Illinois chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s meeting in Springfield.
Great Things in the District
This weekend the 38th District will play host to “Vintage Illinois,” the largest wine-festival in the state at Matthiessen State Park! The event features wines from many Illinois vineyards, as well as special accommodations for designated drivers to ensure this fun event is safe for everyone. Find out more at www.vintageillinois.com.
LIVE, on the air!
Senate Week in Review: Sept 14-28
Comptroller to begin making payments for early childhood intervention
On Wednesday, Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger announced that her office would immediately begin making payments to early intervention providers who work with disabled infants and toddlers to create developmental strategies.
State Senator Sue Rezin applauded the Comptroller’s move, saying that providing funding to vital state services like this one needs to be a priority as legislative Democrats continue to stymie budget negotiations with short-sighted, incomplete budgetary measures.
The Comptroller’s office looked more closely at several active consent decrees and determined that early intervention services were covered. This determination allowed her office to begin the process of setting up accounts so that payments can be processed as soon as it begins to receive vouchers from the Department of Human Services (DHS).
“I know the tremendous benefits that early intervention services can provide to our delayed and disabled infants and toddlers, and I was extremely concerned when I learned many providers would likely be suspending their vital therapeutic services at the end of this month,” Munger said. “My office is working today to set up the accounts and we will immediately begin making payments to Early Intervention providers as soon as we receive vouchers from DHS so we can avoid further hardships.”
Preliminary PARCC results released
Preliminary statewide results from last spring’s Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers Exam (PARCC) were released this week, causing concern for some as a number of Illinois students fell short of expectations. State Schools Superintendent Tony Smith, however, stressed that these results should serve as a baseline for schools and student and cautions against using them to “shame or punish” anyone.
The PARCC exam, based on the Common Core standards, measures what students should know for their grade level, emphasizing the importance of skills like critical thinking and problem-solving. PARCC replaced the Prairie State Achievement Examination, which had been administered to high school juniors, and the Illinois Standards Achievement Test, which had previously been used to assess grade school students.
While some have expressed frustration over Common Core and PARCC, others argue that this new curriculum and testing is here to stay. They maintain that instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, Illinois should focus on fixing the flaws in the new system so the state can ensure students are properly prepared for higher education and the work-world.
However, other parents and educators are concerned about the pace at which the state is moving forward with Common Core standards and PARCC testing, arguing that many schools don’t have the necessary technology to administer the exams. Additionally, critics worry that the Common Core curriculum isn’t ready for the classroom and suggest the testing could negatively affect children.
2015 harvest picks up steam
As fall approaches, the harvest has begun for many farmers across Illinois. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the statewide corn harvest is now 6% complete, up from just 2% during the previous week, though still below the 5-year average of 12%. A total of 61% of the corn crop is now rated as mature, which is actually above the 5-year average of 53%.
Progress shows some strong regional correlation. Corn harvest in the Central, West-Southwest, and Southwest regions of the state has reached 10% complete, while 0% of the Northwest region’s fields have been harvested.
Soybeans continue to make progress as well, with 32% of the plants dropping leaves, which is one of the last steps before maturity. That’s a major increase from just 12% during the previous week. The third cutting of hay is also nearly complete, with 90% of acres now baled.
Benefits for the dead
According to a report from the Better Government Association released earlier this week, more than 1,000 deceased Illinoisans received pension payments from 2010 to 2014.
In one instance more than $90,000 was direct-deposited into the bank account of a woman who had died four and a half years earlier. The woman’s daughter, who had failed to report her mother’s death to the pension fund and instead pocketed the payments, ultimately plead guilty to felony theft.
Read more about this case and other pension payments to the dead in this report from the BGA.
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