Happy New Year to one and all!

This year, the month of January will usher in the 100th General Assembly in Illinois, and 191 new laws. Click here to read about those of which your family should be aware.

Greetings! I hope as we head into the holidays, you are able to spend some good, quality time with your family and friends.

Congratulations LCA Graduates
On Saturday December 17th I had the honor of delivering the commencement address to the
Lincoln’s Challenge Academy’s (LCA) Class 47-16. LCA is a program administered through the Illinois Department of Military Affairs that gives youths a second chance at education. The 22 week academy uses a military style format to give the cadets a chance to be the best they can be. The graduates came from 87 different counties throughout the state of Illinois.

Congratulations to the Lincoln Challenge Academy Class 47-16!

Toys for Tots Collection
Over the past week, State Representative Tim Butler and I have been collecting toys in our office for the Springfield Toys for Tots campaign. A big thank you to everyone who stopped by to donate a toy. These toys will bring a lot of joy to children in the Springfield area this Christmas.

Budget
Unfortunately, not much news to report on a budget compromise- although I am continuing to push the leadership, my colleagues in the House, and the Governor to negotiate a path forward. It is so important for our area. The Speaker of the House plans to have us back in session on January 9th.

This will be my last update for 2016. I just want to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas and happy holidays. It is an honor to serve as your State Representative and I am looking forward to a productive and healthy 2017.


No Budget Agreement - Yet

Last Thursday was the General Assembly’s final scheduled day of our fall veto session, and I’m deeply disappointed that Speaker Madigan adjourned the House without addressing the urgent need for a budget for the rest of the fiscal year. As you know, our temporary budget expires at the end of the year, and as I write this the Speaker has not scheduled any additional session days before December 31st.

Families, businesses and vendors in our area are counting on us to get a balanced budget in place so that they can begin to get paid on time for services they provide to the state and our residents. The good news is that the leaders have agreed to continue meeting every day this week to arrive at common ground on ways to make our State’s finances sustainable. That’s reason to be hopeful that we could discuss final proposals yet this month. Our time is running short to get this done.

Proposals to curb spending on automatic payments to legislators stalls

In an effort to cut costs during our fiscal crisis, I filed three bills that would stop automatic payments to legislators.  These bills would stop automatic pay increases for legislators, eliminate per diem and mileage payments to legislators who live in Sangamon County (I don’t take these payments currently), and would make sure legislators are paid only for time worked.  Unfortunately, these bills were not even allowed to be heard in a committee this veto session.  I will continue to push to make these common sense proposals law in Illinois.
Statement of Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez on veto session adjournment without a new budget:

"I’m deeply disappointed that Speaker Madigan adjourned our veto session Thursday with no agreement on a new budget. Our temporary budget expires at the end of the year, and as it stands now, the Speaker has not scheduled any additional session days before December 31st. Families, businesses and vendors in our area are counting on us to get a balanced budget in place so that they can begin to get paid on time for services they provide to the state and our residents.

The good news is that the leaders have agreed to continue meeting for the next week, every day, to arrive at common ground on ways to make our State’s finances sustainable. That’s reason to be hopeful that we could have an agreement emerge this month. Now, we must keep the pressure up on the leaders to ensure the final, difficult decisions are made.  Our time is running short to get this done."


Representative Jimenez’s student advisory group returned to the Capitol for veto session this week and had a thoughtful discussion about what is happening in their schools. The students were also able to tour the Capitol building and met with the State Treasurer’s Staff as well.
A newly-released state jobs report indicates the potential for close to 400 jobs to move back to the capital city. Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) passed legislation in the spring urging state agencies to compile the workforce data in an effort to identify where state jobs are currently located and provide justification for their location.

 “This report is the first step in the process to determine the number of positions that could potentially be relocated to Sangamon County.  I look forward to analyzing it with Central Management Services and the Governor’s office to ultimately develop a policy that would prioritize the placement of future state jobs in Springfield,” Rep. Jimenez said.
Getting a little extra in the pay envelope may sound good to you, but it looks bad when a state lawmaker gets the largesse.

State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) is introducing bills to do away with automatic raises, a full month’s pay for lawmakers who are sworn in after the first of a month, and mileage and per diem expenses for Springfield-area lawmakers on session days.  Read the rest here from WTAX radio.
State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez today introduced a package of bills that will eliminate
several of the avenues by which members of the General Assembly now receive automatic extra pay. Representative Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) said limiting money going to lawmakers is the right thing to do for the state budget, and for taxpayers who are footing the bill.

Representative Jimenez introduced HB 6611 today, which will prohibit automatic cost of living adjustments (COLAS) for members of the General Assembly. Under current law, the Compensation Review Board recommends cost of living adjustment pay increases for members of the General Assembly and for state constitutional officers which go into effect automatically unless both the House and Senate pass legislation specifically to reject them.
State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) received the Friend of Agriculture
Award from the Illinois Farm Bureau at a farm in Sangamon County on September 23. The Friend of Agriculture Award is an honor given only to legislators who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the agriculture industry in Illinois.

“I am honored to receive the Friend of Agriculture Award today from the Illinois Farm Bureau. Agriculture is not only a critical industry in the 99th district, but across the state of Illinois as well. I will continue to advocate for issues that are important to the agriculture industry so farmers across Illinois can thrive during these very challenging economic and financial times”, said Representative  Jimenez

State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez spoke to members of the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities at the State Capitol in Springfield about her experiences in state government and her communications background and how members of IARF can effectively advocate the legislature on issues important to them.
From the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity:

State Announces September 1 Start of Low Income Energy Assistance Program Enrollment

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity’s Office of Energy Assistance announced today that the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will begin accepting applications for winter heating assistance for seniors and people with disabilities beginning September 1, 2016.
LIHEAP and the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) program are funded as part of the stopgap funding plan signed into law by Governor Rauner.
 
LIHEAP is a state and federally funded energy assistance program for low-income families, in which heating bill payments are made on behalf of households. Applications are processed through a network of 35 local administering agencies around the state. These agencies will begin accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis from the elderly and people with disabilities starting on September 1, 2016.
State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez participated in the unveiling of Walgreens’ latest medication drop-off box in the state of Illinois at the Walgreens location on S. Macarthur Blvd.

“I was honored to have been invited by Walgreens to participate in the unveiling of their latest medication drop off box in Illinois. With over 40 current locations in Illinois, this 24 hour drop box is a convenient location for residents of Springfield to turn in unused medications that have been in their cabinets for years. The issue of drug addiction and abuse is something that has impacted virtually every community throughout Illinois and the United States. With 41 opiate intoxications in Sangamon County in 2015, it is critically important that we work diligently to combat drug abuse in our area. Medication drop boxes are an excellent tool we can use to combat this epidemic that is harming too many of our communities. I am grateful that Walgreens chose this location for its first drop box in Springfield and am glad to see so many people utilize it since its establishment,” Representative Jimenez said.
State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez hosted her third economic development meeting in the 99th District on Monday August 29th at the New Berlin Village Hall. The meeting included elected officials and business leaders from New Berlin and Pleasant Plains. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) provided information to the attendees about economic development programs that are offered through the state that can help local communities with attracting businesses, improving local roads, and maintaining open lines of communication with the State.


“I was glad to be able to bring local officials in the 99th district together to talk about economic development issues here in Sangamon County. While we face tremendous challenges as a state, it is critically important to keep the lines of communication open between local and state government. IDOT and DCEO play an important role in our state’s economic development prospects and allowing our local leaders to hear from them and ask questions will be beneficial to the long-term economic progress of Sangamon County. My thanks to New Berlin Mayor Steve Frank for hosting us and for the great conversation at the meeting," Representative Jimenez said.

I represent a unique district on the west side of Springfield and Sangamon County – one with many dedicated state workers and many others who rely on the state for funding or services.  We also have folks who work at our hospitals and other medical facilities, social service agencies, many small businesses, universities and colleges, associations and local farms, governments, among others.  As I talk to residents in the 99th district, they tell me they want certainty from our state government, especially with a balanced, full year budget, and for us to work together. We all want stability and I am doing my best to make that happen. We need to move forward. I am doing my best to balance all of these interests for the good of the state and the good of central Illinois.

Members of the General Assembly worked together in June across the aisle and with the governor to formally end an 18 month long stalemate that had left Illinois languishing without a state budget. But our work on our Fiscal Year 2017 state budget is far from complete. The stopgap spending plan approved this summer to fund most state operations and services expires on December 31. If no new plan is in place by then, we will once again be without a budget.


State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez hosted the second economic development meeting in the 99th District on Monday August 15th. The meeting was held at the Auburn City Hall and included elected officials from Auburn, Pawnee, and Divernon. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) provided information to all three towns about programs offered through the State that can assist those communities in economic development through attracting businesses, improving roads and infrastructure, and maintaining open lines of communications with the State.

I was pleased to meet with officials from Auburn, Pawnee, and Divernon to discuss economic development issues that are important to their communities. As I said at the meeting, what is good for Auburn, Pawnee, and Divernon is good for Sangamon County as a whole. I feel that it is important to ensure that our local communities are given the resources they need to succeed. Connecting them with DCEO and IDOT is critically important for these towns to begin planning their growth and development for the long-term.” Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez.



Representative Jimenez will host a 3rd economic development meeting in New Berlin on Monday August 29th at 5:30pm. Learn more by clicking here.
https://drive.google.com/a/ilhousegop.org/file/d/0B--kX4sC8rqWUTdIYW5qOUhmV2ZZbXhhaElRQWtIRVVjY05Z/viewArea families can read more about the state’s stopgap budget, state funding increases for local school
districts and other important issues from this year’s legislative session here on State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s website.  Rep. Jimenez has posted a Session Review to keep local residents up to date without the costs associated with a mailed newsletter.

“While the budget and school funding were certainly the most critical state issues we tackled this spring, we also made progress on other initiatives important to Sangamon County families and our local economy. You can read more about them all in the Session Review posted on my website.” Rep. Jimemez said.

Representative Jimemez said the Session Review is readily accessible here on the website by clicking the Session Review 2016 icon in the top right hand margin of the homepage. The Review is also printable.
“On Monday, I hosted an economic development meeting in Chatham that brought together local elected officials and business owners in Chatham to hear from and discuss with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity (DCEO) economic development issues. Both IDOT and DCEO provided information about economic development programs offered through their agencies that local units of government can utilize that can help spur economic growth in their communities. I am pleased that the Village of Chatham, along with the Chatham Chamber of Commerce, participated in this important discussion. “ - Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez.

You can read more about the Economic Development Summit here.

Pictured left to right:  Ben Denney (DCEO Office of Business Development), Chatham Village President Thomas Gray, State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, Denise Johnson (IDOT Economic Development Program), and Shellie Petty (Chatham Chamber of Commerce).

 

Springfield-area Representatives Tim Butler and Sara Wojcicki Jimenez will help advance state cost saving suggestions from Illinois state employees as part of the newly-reactivated State Government Suggestion Award Board.  The Board (SGSAB) reviews and forwards to state agencies specific suggestions that will help state government reduce costs and improve efficiency.  Employees who submit successful cost saving suggestions are eligible for cash awards.

“I hear from folks pretty regularly who have good ideas on how we can improve government services – how we can work smarter and more efficiently. I am very excited to be a part of this board that can help see some of these good ideas implemented and reward the workers who come up with them,” said Rep. Jimenez (R-Leland Grove).
Illinois State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) released the following statement on Auditor General Frank Mautino again refusing to comply with the State Board of Elections:

“Yesterday, Auditor General Frank Mautino missed another deadline to issue a report to the State Board of Elections to answer questions relating to expenditures made by his campaign committee over a number of years. If Auditor General Mautino continues to ignore the State Board of Elections’ request for this information, it is my belief that he should resign as Auditor General. Illinois faces enormous financial challenges and a strong fiscal watchdog is needed now more than ever. If this cloud continues to hang over Auditor General Mautino, it will only cast doubt over his ability to effectively audit the finances of the State of Illinois. It is my hope that he clears this up immediately."


On Monday, State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (IL-99th) hosted the third meeting of her Agriculture Advisory Committee at the Sangamon County Farm Bureau office in Springfield.

Congressman Rodney Davis, member of the US House Agriculture Committee, spoke to the committee about some of the issues facing agriculture in Congress. After speaking on agriculture issues, Congressman Davis took questions from the group on a wide variety of ag related topics such as the price of corn, EPA regulations, and genetically modified organisms (GMO)”
















Representative Jimenez spoke today to the Illinois Agri-Women Leadership Training conference about her experiences as a State Representative, mother, communications professional, and member of the media.

Representative Jimenez shared her insights into the current state of affairs in Illinois and how she has handled the growing challenges in the state.
On Monday, July 29th Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez's Agriculture Advisory Committee will meet at 9:30am at the Sangamon County Farm Bureau Office in Springfield. Congressman Rodney Davis, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, will join the Committee to provide an update on what’s going on at the federal level concerning agriculture policy.

All are welcome to attend.

For more information, contact Rep. Jimenez’s office at 782-0044.

Statement of Rep. Sara Jimenez on legislative passage today of education funding and a stopgap (temporary) state budget plan:

"Today, we took a positive step forward as we passed a stopgap budget for state services and higher education as well as a full year’s budget for our Kindergarten through High School students. 

While we are far from finishing our work on all of the challenges we face, we must continue to work on compromise solutions with our colleagues in the House and Senate.  Although not perfect, our action today proves that this general assembly and Governor can accomplish reasonable solutions when we work together. 

The stopgap budget measure will provide urgently needed funding for human service providers, social services, and state operations for the rest of this calendar year.  I have said since I took office that the only path forward is for Republicans and Democrats to work together and compromise to put Illinois back on the right track."
"Illinois lawmakers are poised to vote Thursday on a K-12 school budget that will allow schools to open on time this fall and a six-month stopgap spending plan for a variety of other programs to keep state services operating through the end of the year..."

Read Rep. Jimenez's comments and  more in the State Journal Register.
Budget Working Groups continue to meet, Speaker cancels a third week of session

Once again Speaker Madigan has decided to cancel another week of session. With less than 10 days to the beginning of the new budget year, it is disappointing there seems to be no urgency from the Speaker’s office to bring us together to discuss these important, challenging issues. 

If members of the General Assembly are not in session—there is a 0 percent chance that a balanced, responsible budget can be passed that would provide certainty and stability to all of those who rely on state government.

With so much riding on the outcome of the progress of the working groups, I believe we need to return to session immediately and have all the members of the General Assembly have input in ending this impasse. The people we represent expect us to be at work in session, as promised, so we can work toward an agreement that will allow our schools to open on time, provide certainty to the human service community, state employees and operations, businesses and taxpayers.
 
Statement of Rep. Jimenez on Speaker Madigan's Cancellation of Three Session Weeks in a Row:

"Once again Speaker Madigan has decided to cancel another week of session. With less than 10 days to the beginning of the new budget year, it is disappointing there seems to be no urgency from the Speaker’s office to bring us together to discuss these important, challenging issues. 
If members of the General Assembly are not in session—there is a 0 percent chance that a balanced, responsible budget can be passed that would provide certainty and stability to all of those who rely on state government.

 With so much riding on the outcome of the progress of the working groups, I believe we need to return to session immediately and have all the members of the General Assembly have input in ending this impasse. The people we represent expect us to be at work in session, as promised, so we can work toward an agreement that will allow our schools to open on time, provide certainty to the human service community, state employees and operations, businesses and taxpayers."
Here's the latest from the Capitol:

House Session Cancelled two weeks in a row

When Speaker Madigan left Springfield two weeks ago without working out an agreement on a responsible budget, he pledged that we would be in “continuous session” every Wednesday until an agreement was adopted.   Since then, he has cancelled both Wednesday session days.   That brings our cancelled session days this spring to nine.

Illinois has operated without a constitutionally balanced budget since July 1, 2015. While some budget spending has continued uninterrupted through continuing appropriations and court orders, many  institutions an services are suffering, and our state has built up a backlog of unpaid bills that Comptroller Leslie Geissler  Munger estimates at more than $7.3 billion.  We need to be in session working on a budget. If the Speaker continues to delay members coming back in session, I believe the Governor should call all members back to Springfield to work on the budget.
Statement of Rep. Jimenez on the cancellation of yet another week of session as we approach the start of another new fiscal year without a compromise budget agreement:

“I am disappointed that for the second week in a row, the House session has been cancelled. There are now only 2 weeks left before the end of our current budget year and the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. This budget impasse has gone on for far too long. It is shameful that session has been cancelled when the clock is running out on the current fiscal year. While I am hopeful that the bipartisan working groups continue negotiating in good faith, I believe every member of the General Assembly needs to be in Springfield as much as possible, working to find an end to this impasse. I urge the leaders of the House and Senate to return both chambers to session next week and every week until there is a resolution to this budget impasse. If they continue to delay, I believe the Governor should call us back into session.  We cannot wait any longer. The time to act is now. I am prepared to support a solution that includes the combination of reforms, cuts and revenue options that will end the impasse, grow our economy, and create stability and predictability for State government.”
For the second year in a row our scheduled May 31st adjournment date came and went with no agreement on a responsible state budget, and like you, I am extremely frustrated.

In the final weeks of our regularly scheduled session House Republicans filed a budget bill (HB 6585) that would have appropriated badly-needed money to a wide variety of essential and job-creating state agencies and educational institutions, such as state universities and prisons. The appropriations contained in this bill were fully paid for from existing revenues.  We also filed a separate bill to keep our children above the fray by fully funding our schools for the coming year (HB 6583). Neither bill was called for a vote in the House.

With no agreement, the House will remain in “continuous session”, meaning we will convene when called by the Speaker, but the good news is that bi-partisan budget working groups are continuing to meet and discuss areas where we can compromise. I remain hopeful that a compromise agreement can still be reached before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st. 

Study Will Begin Aimed at Returning State Jobs to Sangamon County

The final week of our regularly scheduled session did yield some very positive developments for the 99th district; one of which was final approval of my legislation that may help return state jobs to our area. House Joint Resolution 133 calls on state agencies to produce a workforce report that would include data about state jobs, their locations and an explanation regarding why that job could not be located in the capital city.

Over the years, the capital city has lost thousands of state jobs, and in many cases it just might not make sense economically for the state, or for the employees and their families. It’s important for efficiency and for our bottom line to return as many state jobs as possible to the seat of state government. This has been a priority of mine, and also of Springfield city leaders, including Mayor Langfelder.

The resolution will now go to each state agency which will submit a report to the General Assembly and the Governor by August 31st. I thank Senator Andy Manar for sponsoring this Resolution in the Senate and working in a bipartisan fashion to support the capital city. 
Representative Jimenez today joined a growing group of legislators calling for Illinois Auditor Frank Mautino to take a voluntary leave of absence while state and federal investigations continue into previous campaign expenses and reporting practices.


State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez applauds the Senate for passing legislation this week that aims to ultimately bring state jobs back to Sangamon County.

With the help of Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), House Joint Resolution 133 was approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday.  HJR133 calls on state agencies to produce a workforce report that would include data about state jobs, their locations and an explanation regarding why that job could not be located in the capital city.

“Over the years, the capital city has lost thousands of state jobs, and in many cases it just might not
make sense economically for the state, or for the employees and their families,” Representative Jimenez said. “If there’s a compelling reason why a specific state job needs to be located in another part of the state that’s fine, but it’s important for efficiency and for our bottom line to return as many state jobs as possible to the seat of state government. I thank Senator Manar for sponsoring this Resolution in the Senate and working in a bipartisan fashion to support the capital city.”

Jimenez’ resolution calls on agencies under the Governor to compile a report listing the number of state employees in each county, their job description and a justification of why those positions, specifically upper and middle management cannot be located in Springfield. The report would not require detailed information about direct service workers, just the number of such positions by division and facility. The goal of the study would not be to force any state employee to move to Springfield immediately, but to see if a vacated position could be re-located to Springfield in the future.

“This is a priority of city leaders and families here in the 99th district. In fact, Springfield Mayor Langfelder testified on its importance before the House Executive Committee. We need to be able to make good, informed decisions about where state jobs will best be located, and this study will help us do that,” Representative Jimenez said.


HJR 133 passed both the House and Senate unanimously.  The resolution will now go to each state agency which will submit a report to the General Assembly and the Governor by August 31.
After months of work and discussions to make sure the State Museum opens its doors, State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez today applauded the announcement by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) that they plan to reopen the Illinois State Museum on July 2nd.

“This museum is a very important part of the Springfield community and the Illinois community as a whole. Its home to exhibits that allow us to learn about and connect with our state’s history. Today’s announcement is very good news for future generations who will continue to be able to explore their Illinois heritage at the Illinois State Museum,” said Representative Jimenez.  “This session I’ve filed legislation and have done my best to work with all parties to make sure that this became a reality.”