Back in Session This Week
Here’s what Politico reported Friday morning, and it mirrors what we are hearing as well:
Here’s the hangup: A state program that offers health benefits to undocumented adults is ballooning. When it was started a few years ago, lawmakers estimated it to run from $2 million to $4 million. Now health officials say the state needs more than $1.1 billion to keep it running because the number of participants far exceeds what the state had planned on.
Finding the dollars: The governor’s budget had accounted for $220 million of that. Now, House and Senate leaders must figure out how to make up the rest.
And here’s a twist: Advocates and supporters are trying to expand the program to even more people, but that would cost hundreds of millions more on top of the $1.1 billion cost for the current population served.
On top of everything else, Speaker Welch’s staff wants to unionize and Welch, despite receiving the President’s Award from the Illinois Education Association – the most powerful union in the state – is not in favor of having his staff in a union.
More on the Budget:
·Last month’s revenue is down $1.8 billion compared to the same month last year.
·Rumors are that DEMOCRAT members will receive $1 million in member initiative projects to hand out in their districts. I don’t favor earmarks, but every member of the General Assembly should be treated equally.
·In addition to the fight over non-citizen healthcare costs, there is a request from Chicago to help fund services for the huge influx of illegal immigrants.
·There are over $1 billion in new programs requested in the state government administration budget.
·Schools/Preschools/Childcare – all want more money.
·Another LEGISLATOR PAY RAISE is coming. That would be the 5th year in a row!
You Won’t Believe These Bills That Just Passed
1. HB 1286 –Gender neutral Bathrooms. It establishes a new building code for newly constructed or previously existing restrooms that are designated as all-gender multiple-occupancy restrooms. These bathrooms will eliminate urinals and require floor to ceiling stalls.
2. SB 850 – Taxpayer Funded Grocery Stores. Estimated First Year Cost – $20 million. This Bill will establish a Grocery Initiative to expand access to stores in food deserts by subsidizing independently owned for-profit and nonprofit grocery stores. The reason grocery stores are closing: burdensome regulations, high property taxes and undeterred retail theft. Taxpayer funding for grocery store takes us one more step toward SOCIALISM. This is such a bad idea.
3. SB 3500 – Allows a Joliet school district to exceed their debt limit. The debt limit was put in place for a reason – to limit property tax hikes. Instead of forcing the schools to pay off their current debt, legislators simply override the law. Another injustice for taxpayers.
4. SB 1818 –NEW STATE FLAG? Creates the Illinois Flag Commission for the purpose of recommending to the General Assembly whether the current State flag should be replaced with a redesigned flag.
5. SB 1526 – Requires IDOT to develop a mobile app to track traffic. This is redundant as other apps on the market already do this. A Fiscal Note was filed and the cost to develop it was over $2 million with annual recurring costs of $775,000.
My Colleague State Rep. Chris Miller with scholarship students
Republican members of the House circulated a letter supporting the extension of the Invest in Kids scholarship fund which is slated to sunset at the end of 2023. The program currently gives over 9,000 kids hope for a better education and a better life through tax-credit scholarships when the traditional public school system fails them. If the program is not extended Illinois will be the first state in the nation to kill a school choice program. This year neighboring states of Iowa and Indiana have made school choice universal or nearly universal.
Comments from my interview:
“Every legislator agrees that one of the most important duties we have is to help provide a good education to all children. Unfortunately, many public schools are failing our children. Statewide only one-third of students are at grade level. In Decatur, sadly, only 10 percent of students at our Eisenhower High School are at grade level. As we work to improve public schools, we must give parents trapped in these systemically failing schools a way out. For our children, we must extend the Invest in Kids Act. And we need to act now.
For the 2023-24 school year families and scholarship granting organizations must know if an extension of the program will be approved in order to register students and align scholarships with students and schools. This activity all happens over the next two months. Unfortunately, Illinois House Speaker Chris Welch’s office put out a statement that legislators have until the end of the year to extend the Invest in Kids Program- this is misleading. In practicality, the Illinois legislature must act before regular session ends to extend this program.”
This scholarship program has helped thousands of deserving Illinois students living in under-resourced communities to access a high-quality education, and this is what genuine school choice looks like.
To date, 32 members have signed the letter.
Click Below to Watch Videos Of My Recent House Floor Speeches.
Ending On A High Note…
Illinois may be known for its prairies and farmland, but nestled in the northwest corner of the state is Illinois’ highest point- Charles Mound. It is a hidden treasure that is surrounded by scenic routes that are a pleasure to drive through.
As your State Representative, my office is available to assist you with any issues you may have when interacting with a state agency.
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.