Legislative Update 3-21-22

We Must Fix This! The Unemployment Fraud cannot Continue.

Please listen to this conversation. Bad public policy and incompetence affects all of us.

Springfield Update

In just three weeks from today, the Illinois House is set to adjourn from regular session.  The most important job we have as legislators is to debate and pass a balanced budget. During my time in office, I have not voted for a single budget in any year.  I say that not with regret but with dismay – between 2001 and 2020, Illinois did not have a balance budget.  The budget last year was a bloated mess and was not responsible.   

The House has five appropriation committees:  general services, K-12 education, higher education, human services, and public safety. The committees begin budgeting by having grant recipients and agencies come in to justify/discuss their budget for the year, but in most cases programs and agencies receive at least the same amount as they did the year prior.  We do not have the mindset of zero-based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting requires every expenditure to be validated every year regardless of what was spent the year before.

The start of any budget is how much money does an organization have to spend.  Illinois is in good shape for revenue as the federal COVID money is still providing support.  WIrepoints wrote about the budget last week, overall base receipts are up an impressive $2.125 billion but …For the fiscal year starting this July, COGFA projects a 4.5% decrease in revenue. That means an overall reduction in revenues of $2.171 billion.  Read the whole article  here and here.

Lurking out there however, is the $4.5 billion in unemployment debt it owes the federal government (as discussed above) in addition to an estimated $500 billion in pension, other post retirement benefits, and general debt.  So we cannot afford spending profligacy.

Here is a snapshot from the General Services Appropriation committee’s discussion with just one agency they have budgeting control over – The Department of Natural Resources. 

The chart clearly shows that DNR is asking for a nearly 100% increase in the budget year over year.  DNR agency leaders testified that they currently cannot afford the upkeep on the lands they currently control, but would like to buy more land and put it under public control.  DNR also plans to spend money on more park grants to local governments.  No list of exactly which cities will receive these grants was available. As it is with school construction grants, IDOT projects and many other grants the details are never openly debated or even revealed ahead of the budget vote.

On that same note, last year millions of dollars were sent to local programs as directed by state legislators.  I oppose these earmarks. The state cannot afford to hand out state dollars simply based on a legislator’s favorite group which is often the case. Mike Madigan was famous for sneaking his projects into budget bills read here, but legislators have been able to direct millions of dollars in their own districts as well which is wrong.

In any budget there are trade-offs. Here is one of them.  HB4191 – Sponsored by Rep. Dan Caulkins, asked for increased funding for front-line public safety responders  including for their mental health.  I would argue that is far more important than park grants to local park districts.  We must remember that there is not an unlimited pot of money and that people are fleeing Illinois because of high taxes.

More on the Topic

It’s Bad Enough That Illinois Is Shrinking

What’s worse is we’re losing our wealthier residents and entrepreneurs.

In Other News

Here We Go…

 “Know that…if we are having to put masks back on, or we’re having to put vaccine requirements back in — that is just temporary”, Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a City Hall news conference reflecting on the coronavirus crisis. 


Honoring Officer Oberheim

“Officer Oberheim served and protected central Illinois for over twenty years, he made the ultimate sacrifice for our safety,” Caulkins said. “Dedicating a portion of Route 51 in Decatur will honor the sacrifice he made for the people of Illinois and let us not forget his bravery and commitment to central Illinois.”

We Are Here To Serve You!

As a state representative, my office is available to assist you with any issues you may have when interacting with a state agency. Whether you need help with unemployment claims, getting a FOID card, renewing your drivers license or resolving a tax problem, we are here to serve you.

Oftentimes, some of the best legislation comes from people who see where the law is unworkable or simply unfair.

If you have ideas on how the state of Illinois could improve, let’s sit down and discuss if a legislative fix is needed.

Please call our office at 217.876.1968 to get help or schedule an appointment to see me. The office is located at 715 W Imboden Dr, Decatur.

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