4 Days and Counting
We have four scheduled session days left in our spring session and, you guessed it, still no budget draft from the majority party. House Republicans have not been included in the closed-door budget negotiations.
This is my first budget process, but if it goes as it has in previous years a several-thousand page budget will be dropped on our desks at 8 or 9 o-clock at night and will be called for a vote just a couple of hours later. Last year’s budget was more than 3,300 pages.
In February, Governor Pritzker proposed a nearly $50 billion plan that basically would use temporary and one time revenues to justify putting new, permanent spending programs in place. We can’t continue year after year to spend money we don’t have.
While we haven’t seen what we will actually be put to us for a vote late this week, here’s what I’m looking out for:
- Additional legislative pay raises.
- Expansion of healthcare for illegal immigrants. The estimated cost for Illinois to continue providing health care coverage to noncitizens who are otherwise ineligible for Medicaid benefits is $1.1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. Meanwhile, a Democrat proposal would further expand Medicaid coverage to noncitizens age 19 and older. That would cost another $380 million. House Republicans have called for a moratorium on expansion.
- Funding for expansion of abortion services.
Time is Running Out on Other Critical Issues
Sadly, we have seen no movement from the majority, or even a willingness to consider dozens of proposals House Republicans have put forward to address critical issues impacting all of our families:
Concern over the disastrous path we’re going down in the area of public safety was one of the main reasons I decided I needed to run for State Representative. The Safe-T-Act has emboldened criminals and prevented law enforcement from being able to do their jobs…with predictable results.
We need a full repeal, beginning with the provision that eliminates cash bail.
A few weeks ago the Truth in Public Safety Task Force that I serve on introduced several pieces of new legislation focused on three specific areas in which changes are sorely needed including protecting victims of crime and recruiting and retaining law enforcement officers. None have been considered.
Despite resounding guilty verdicts returned against all defendants in the “Com-Ed Four” corruption and bribery trial, and the former Speaker’s corruption trial looming, there has also been no real, meaningful action to strengthen our ethics laws for elected officials. House Republicans have introduced dozens of ethics and corruption reform bills that address issues ranging from lobbying reforms to new requirements for elected officials.
More Gun Bills
Additional gun restrictions emerged late last week and were promptly passed by the House majority. House Bill 676, an omnibus bill, (many measures rolled in to one bill) would require the surrender of a FOID card and all firearms from a lawful gun owner when there is an order issued stating that the gun owner could pose a serious threat of domestic abuse. As a long-time member of law enforcement I take protecting victims of violent crimes very, very seriously; but this bill is not focused on restricting those convicted of crimes, or even those arrested and charged with crimes. It strips away constitutional rights from individuals without due process.
The measure also creates a task force to look into mandatory insurance coverage for gun owners.
Nothing in the bill addresses escalating gun violence in Chicago and other communities across our state.
Around the House
Last week we stood with first responders at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony in Springfield to remember the Illinois firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty and to recognize those who have gone above and beyond in their service to their communities. God bless and protect those that put their lives on the line to protect us.
It was great to meet with Brian M. Gorsich and Andrew Fuhräwr on Illinois MS Action Awareness Day. Thank you for championing the fight against MS!
Back in the District
Please join me, staff, and members of the Pontiac Area Chamber for an Open House/Business After Hours at the 105th Representative District Office at 305 W. Madison in Pontiac on May 25th! We will have conversation and hors d’oeuvres, and we will be collecting donations of diapers and other baby items for Hope Pregnancy Center in Pontiac. See you there!
If you’re the parent of a 1st through 5th grader be on the lookout for my summer reading club information that should be coming home with your student. You can also sign up your summer reader on my website at reptipsword.com!