Dem Talk

 

morrison State Senator Morrison Legislative Update

The Senate’s bipartisan work over the last several months to bring stability to Illinois has produced legislation, passed by the Senate and sent to the House, which responds to Governor Rauner’s request for reforms and a balanced budget. The Senate budget bill, passed on May 23, has $3 billion in cuts and contains $37.3 billion in spending, which reflects the amount of spending the governor advocated for in his budget address on February 15.

While I was not able to support every element of this package of bills, I believe that getting a budget on the governor’s desk that he can sign is paramount. This will require compromise from every legislator as well as the governor.

The following bills, all passed by the Senate, reflect that compromise to attain a budget:

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

 

 

 

  gash        Comments from Hon. Lauren Beth Gash
Tenth Dems Founding Chair

Dear Friends,
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.
Onward,

 

raja FROM 8TH DISTRICT CANDIDATE RAJA KRISHNAMOOTHI

Today’s Congressional Budget Office report on the Senate health care bill confirms our worst fears. Under this plan, 22 million Americans would lose coverage, including 15 million next year alone. That includes 4 million people with employer-provided care. An additional 27 million Americans with employer-provided care could see the return of lifetime caps on their health coverage and even those who keep their insurance will see their premiums increase by an additional 20 percent next year.

For anyone wondering why this bill was written in secret and may come to a vote without an open debate, now we have the answer. There are some issues so important they become a referendum on our values. This is one of them. We must defeat this bill. #CBOScore #BCRA https://krishnamoorthi.house.gov/…/congressman-raja-krishna…

 

 

nekritz

Nekritz News:I am happy to report that for the first time in two years, Illinois state government has enacted a bipartisan budget in to law.

The bipartisan budget that was adopted includes both significant cuts and new revenue.  The legislature also has sent the Governor a number of reforms, per his request.
Cuts
The budget that was adopted spends $800 million less than the budget proposed by Governor Rauner in February, 2017.   This includes $500 million in savings from changes to the pension system – changes proposed by the Governor and for which he claimed $500 million in savings in his own budget.  (Unfortunately, one of the reasons Governor Rauner vetoed the budget was because he claimed these were not “real” savings.)  We also cut 5% from every state agency’s operations budget and higher education took a 10% cut.
Revenues
In July, 2015, the backlog of bills was $4.5 billion.  With an annual budget of approximately $37 billion, that was just over a 30 day pay cycle.  Now, the backlog of bills has grown to over $14 billion and counting.  There was no way to balance the budget and still provide the programs and services required by Illinois citizens without new revenues – even accounting for the significant cuts made previously and in this budget.  The legislature – Democrats and Republicans – voted to increase the income tax rate from 3.75% to 4.95%.  There were also some tax break loopholes for big corporations that were eliminated.
Reforms:  Pensions, Eliminating Local Governments, Workers Compensation, State Purchasing
The legislature passed a bill that creates a new benefit plan for newly hired teachers, university and state employees.  This plan was proposed by Governor Rauner.  Nonetheless, the Governor vetoed this legislation (Senate Bill 42).
The House passed a number of changes to make it easier for local governments to consolidate or be eliminated.  Again, this was a request of the Governor.  This legislation is awaiting a vote in the Senate (House Bill 171).
The House has passed changes to the workers compensation insurance system in Illinois – again at the request of Governor Rauner.  The House added a provision to give oversight of the workers compensation system to the Illinois Department of Insurance.  This was necessary to assure that the savings achieved by reforms to the workers compensation system get passed along to employers and do not simply become more profits for insurance companies.  Changes to the workers compensation insurance system were enacted in 2011 resulting in a 30% reduction in claims paid.  Unfortunately, none of those savings found their way to employers.  This legislation, House Bill 200, is also awaiting a final vote in the Senate.
Also on the Governor’s desk, per his request, are changes to the Illinois state government purchasing laws, authorization for the Governor to sell the James R. Thompson State of Illinois building in Chicago and the elimination of the Abraham Lincoln Museum agency.
I acknowledge that the Governor did not get every reform he requested.  However, he has agreed with the legislature on a number of reform items and we have attempted to meet him more than halfway on others.  He continues to move the goal post so that compromise is impossible.  Thus, we were forced to act and override his vetoes.
Farewell
Finally, as you may have heard, I have announced my retirement from the Illinois House.  I will not be running in 2018 and will be resigning shortly.  It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents of the 57th District for fifteen years.
I appreciate all the ideas you have shared with me over the years and your thoughtful input.  Your participation in our state government has made me a better legislator and I hope that you never lose your enthusiasm for citizen engagement.  We will never work through the deep seated cynicism and hyper partisanship that exists right now unless you stay involved.
Thank you for everything!

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you. You can contact me at (847) 229-5499 or enekritz@repnekritz.org. Thank you as ever for the opportunity to serve you.

biss

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

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