State Senator Morrison Legislative Update
Last week, the Senate was unable to pass the “Grand Bargain,” a group of bipartisan proposals that would have ended our budget impasse, reformed our pension systems and frozen property taxes. While I did not support everything that was included in this plan, the package offered a realistic starting point in finally passing a balanced budget. There is no question that passing a balanced budget remains the top issue facing the state of Illinois. Every day we wait, the larger our debt grows and potential solutions become harder and harder to implement.
As the newly appointed Chairwoman of the Senate Human Services Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to focus on the impact the budget impasse is having on individuals with disabilities, the elderly and the poor as well as on practical solutions that will lead us out of our situation
I In the meantime, if I can ever be of any assistance or if you would like to relay your thoughts on any state issue or concern, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Senator Julie Morrison
29th District – Illinois
Comments from Hon. Lauren Beth Gash
Tenth Dems Founding Chair
I know how you feel. I feel the same way. The outcome of the presidential election upset me, too. And, let’s face it, the country that we live in will be different—for the time being at least—from what we had envisioned. That much is undeniable.
But you know what? I’ve been here before. Several years ago, as a member of the Illinois state legislature, I ran for Congress in one of the most closely-watched races in the entire country that year. It was tough. It was close. And I lost with 49% of the vote.
I’d be lying if I said losing that campaign didn’t hurt—it did. But I turned my disappointment into action. We founded Tenth Dems. For over a decade now, our grassroots group has worked to elect Democrats to all levels of government within the 10th Congressional District. Since then Democrats won control of Congress, giving the country its first female Speaker of the House. My General Assembly colleague Barack Obama won his Senate campaign in Illinois and then won two presidential elections. And the House seat that almost went to Democrats in 2000 has now been won twice by Brad Schneider!
A lot has happened…but not by accident. Boy, have things changed from the days when I served as the only Democratic legislator in the state legislature from Lake County! We have won so many races. And in 2016, while other parts of the country saw a rightward pull, the 10th District bucked the trend and elected Democrats up and down the ballot.
Congratulations to all of our wonderful Democratic candidates. Some of our victorious candidates include Tammy Duckworth, Susana Mendoza, Brad Schneider, Kim Foxx, Melinda Bush, Julie Morrison, Sam Yingling, Carol Sente, and Erin Cartwright Weinstein. We’re grateful to all the candidates who ran under the Democratic banner, whether they won or lost, and were willing to put themselves forward in order to make our world a better place. Your work helping to grow the Democratic infrastructure WILL make a difference. Thank you.
In one of the most closely-watched races this campaign cycle, Democrat Brad Schneider defeated the incumbent Republican Congressman. Now, more than ever, the people of the 10th District must be represented in Washington by someone who is not afraid to stand up to Donald Trump and a right-wing Congress when they continue their assault on the environment, gun violence legislation, women’s choice, immigration reform, LGBT rights, and an economy that works for all. Fortunately, we will have Brad fighting for all of us.
And I’m so glad that Brad will represent us in the Illinois delegation along with Tammy Duckworth, who defeated Republican Mark Kirk to become our new U.S. Senator from Illinois. I must say, this is a defeat I’ve been working toward for a very long time.
Tenth Dems activists helped make a significant difference for our local 2016 candidates. Those candidates will continue to build on the progress we’ve made nationally and locally and will stand up to those looking to take us backwards.
In the end, we get the elected officials we want by starting at the grassroots level, whether it’s knocking on doors, making phone calls, or staffing offices. Though it was a good night for many of our candidates in the 10th District, the national results were heartbreaking.
So, friends, take some time (but not very much) and let’s dust ourselves off and get started again soon. It’s the only way we can build on the momentum we created in 2016. I know we can do it together.
FROM 8TH DISTRICT CANDIDATE RAJA KRISHNAMOOTHI
We elect people to Congress to solve problems. They swear an oath to address the needs of the American people. Now, it’s no secret that Congress isn’t the most popular institution in America, but I’m sorry to say that sometimes they really let us down in a big, big way.
Earlier this year, President Obama requested $1.1 billion dollars to deal with the opioid epidemic, of which Illinois alone would be eligible for $28 million dollars. Unfortunately, Congress recently passed a bill containing none of the funding requested by the president.
In 2014 alone, 28,000 people died of opiod abuse, and the rate of overdose has tripled since 2000. Chicago’s suburbs are feeling it — there were more than 526 people who died of an overdose in Cook County and more than 43 people in DuPage County in 2015. And it’s only getting worse.
If I’m elected to Congress, I’ll be ready with legislation I’ve been developing to establish the National Opioid Safety Fund and Database. This would provide a secure and stable, deficit-neutral funding source for the $1.1 billion the President has requested and create a national Prescription Drug Monitoring Program by turning the existing state-by-state efforts into an interactive, nationwide network.
Make no mistake — opioid addiction has affected people of all ages, genders, economic backgrounds, and races, in every corner of this country. A problem of this magnitude requires Congressional action.
We need to put pressure on Congress to address opioid abuse, and we need to elect leaders who are willing to take action now.
I hope you’ll stand with me in this incredibly important fight.
Yesterday, Governor Rauner delivered his State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly.Given the unprecedented length and the painful impacts of the budget dispute it was jarring to hear the governor speak about the great successes of his administration. Certainly there have been impressive bipartisan accomplishments over the past two years, but the General Assembly and the public hoped to hear more specific ideas from the governor about how to resolve the impasse.As an example, Governor Rauner expressed a wish to see Illinois become a hub of technology innovation that surpasses Silicon Valley by bolstering the research and development capabilities of our state universities. It’s a laudable goal that is worth working towards, but the governor’s own proposed 2016 budget called for steep cuts to the higher education system. Assembling a balanced budget calls for difficult choices- generally either reductions in popular programs or unpopular increases in taxes. When the governor talks about big new programs in parts of state government subject to cuts it can appear he’s trying to have his cake and eat it too.That being said, I join the governor in expressing support for the ongoing process in the legislature promoted by Senate leadership for a comprehensive settlement. There seems to be consensus on the problems we face: inadequate resources to fulfill core government services, high property taxes and workers compensation costs, and unaffordable pension costs. Our failure to address these problems impacts confidence in the state as a place businesses want to invest.Putting the state on firm financial footing remains the top priority. I’m committed to continue working with my legislative colleagues and the governor to accomplish that task through reforms, reductions in spending, and new revenue.Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with thoughts or suggestions. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. You can contact me at (847) 229-5499 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you as ever for the opportunity to serve you.
MESSAGE FROM DAN BISS ON THE BUDGET
I am pleased to inform you that there was a breakthrough in the Illinois budget stalemate this afternoon. While we are far from a comprehensive resolution, and while most of the work still lies ahead, this is an encouraging sign, both for the specific progress it includes, and also for the indication that collaboration is possible even in these challenging times. The Illinois General Assembly voted on a stopgap spending plan that will ensure Illinois schools open on time in the fall, provide long-overdue money to struggling human service providers and protect jobs throughout the state. The package is the result of negotiations between the legislature and Gov. Bruce Rauner. The governor has indicated he intends to sign the legislation and relieve some of the financial pressure that the state has inflicted upon human service providers, schools, universities, community colleges, and others who have been adversely affected by the yearlong budget stalemate. I encourage him to do so immediately.
The package includes the following components:
Human services: More than $670 million for grants and programs not covered by consent decree or court order. This includes money for breast and cervical cancer screenings, AIDS/HIV services, the adult and juvenile Redeploy programs, senior services, homeless services, youth programs, funeral and burial services for the poor, immigration services, minority family commissions, autism services, Teen Reach, youth programs and more.
Human service programs have been among the most tragic casualties of this impasse. Our most vulnerable citizens have been denied critical, often life-saving services, and our providers have been pushed to the brink, in many cases shutting down, laying off staff or eliminating programs. This funding is meant to provide a lifeline to these providers to cover their activities during fiscal year 2016 and the first half of fiscal year 2017.The resources provided here don’t constitute a full 18 months of funding. Instead, they’re about 65 percent of that. For providers that have signed contracts with the state, this is helpful but clearly inadequate; for providers that do not have signed contracts, it will at least be a bridge to a saner future. In any case, we will have to come back in six months and find a resolution for the second half of fiscal year 2017. This resolution should fulfil the state’s commitment and make providers whole. It also must include a comprehensive revenue plan that creates a sustainable and balanced budget (though more on that later). P-12 education: One of the main factors that moved this deal to completion was the very real threat that public schools across the state would fail to open without adequate state support. This agreement includes funding to ensure public schools throughout Illinois open on time and with adequate resources to operate the entire school year.This includes a $250 million equity grant as well as a $75 million increase to early childhood education. Additional measures would use a mix of state and local resources to provide much-needed support to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund.Higher education: We approved about $1 billion in additional support for universities, community colleges, MAP grants, adult education programs, career and technical education programs, IMSA operations and other higher education related grants and programs.This will accomplish a few things. First, it provides the $151 million needed to pay remaining MAP grants from fiscal year 2016. These are need-based tuition assistance grants, and in addition to being good policy and necessary to enable a modicum of college affordability, they were also already promised to these students more than a year ago. It’s essential that we make good on that promise, and I’m very glad that this agreement does that. The agreement also brings support for community colleges and universities up significantly, and while that still falls short of a full appropriation for fiscal year 2016, it will be enough to keep the institutions up and running. Capital projects: You’ve likely read about the threatened stoppage of work on a number of Illinois Department of Transportation road and transit projects. We enacted appropriations for these, as well as to the Capital Development Board to restart a variety of halted projects- So that’s what’s in the bill. Let me be clear: This is not a full budget. However, it is a step in the right direction as we try to stop the disintegration of important Illinois institutions, including schools, universities and human service programs, as well as the jobs that go along with each of them. I think that everyone still agrees that Illinois needs much more than this, namely a comprehensive budget that includes an agreement on tax reform that raises adequate revenue to fund the spending priorities that a huge bipartisan majority has now enacted. I hope we can build on today’s progress to move in that direction as quickly as possible. These two years have wreaked havoc on our state’s fiscal condition, on our reputation and on our ability to deliver the services our citizens rely upon. We now have an example wherein both parties and the General Assembly and governor have the capacity to make compromise and set fiscal priorities together. We must finish that work so that we don’t inflict more of this same type of damage – or worse – for a third consecutive yea