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.”
"In the age of discourse at the state’s capitol and on the national scene, we must find ways to work
together.  Find areas where we can agree, continue to work on the places we disagree.  Stop the name calling and the attacks.  This is part of the reason we find ourselves in this stalemate.  The other reason is that we have to stop spending money we don’t have.

We don’t have the money to pay our current backlog of bills.  Even if we ask taxpayers to pay more—that will help fill in the holes of current obligations—not new ones—for years to come.
Telling the truth about our financial situation is a difficult conversation to have.  All of the conversations we will have about potential cuts, reforms and revenue options will be uncomfortable.

I’ve been serving as the state representative for six months.  Many people will try to define me as this or that.  My door has been wide open to discuss concerns about bills and suggestions for solutions.   But the bottom line is—our state is broke.  Whether you are a person or business that does business with the state, gets paid by the state or is a taxpayer—we have to change our behavior.

On Friday, State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez  stood up on the House floor with her Republican colleagues, asking to continue to work through the weekend on a responsible compromise state budget solution.  



Rank and file members have been participating in working groups aimed at bridging the gap and coming up with both reforms and budgetary compromises, but Speaker Madigan this week dismissed the working groups' efforts saying they haven’t made progress. He's wrong.

Representative Jimenez is committed to working on a responsible, bipartisan solution.

Rep. Sara Jimenez is urging an immediate return to the bargaining table to work out a fair contract for AFSCME workers. Rep Jimenez and several of her House Republican colleagues this week sent a letter to Governor Bruce Rauner and Roberta Lynch, AFSCME's Executive Director, requesting both sides resume good faith negotiations.



“The budget proposed by the House Democrats today is $7 billion out of balance and only puts Illinois further into debt and will double the unpaid bill backlog. Speaker Madigan has decided to go around the bipartisan working group that has been meeting to find a compromise solution to our budget impasse. I voted against this budget so we can get back to the bipartisan working group that can find the balance of cuts, reforms, and revenue that will be needed to end the budget stalemate. I am confident that Republicans and Democrats can achieve a compromised solution if we end the phony budgeting and get back to the work we are sent here to do.”- State Representative Sara Wojcicki JImenez
This is the final week of our regularly-scheduled session and there’s much important work yet to be completed – most notably, agreement on a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017.  Budget talks are continuing behind the scenes with the legislative leaders and governor now re-engaged, so it can be done.

This week I will also be working to get legislation approved to go to committee that would re-open the state museum near the Capitol. The museum is important to our state’s history and to our local jobs base, and if it is not reopened by July 1 it may lose accreditation. We can’t allow that to happen.

Leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations, but many obstacles remain

Last week, the four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year. With the budget clock ticking down to the final days of our scheduled legislative session, leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House Republican Caucus, to discuss issues to be included in a budget agreement. The Illinois budget process has been stalled by an impasse that has now gone on for nearly 11 months.
Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year. We must work together in the coming days to get a responsible budget framework in place for the new fiscal year that starts July 1st.  it’s a daunting task, but not an impossible one.

Illinois moving closer to achieving REAL ID compliance

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office is upgrading security features to the Driver’s License/ID card design and expanding the central issuance process for driver’s licenses and ID cards to all applicants. With implementation of these changes, Illinois has moved closer to achieving full REAL ID compliance which is a federal mandate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

By the end of July, applicants visiting Driver Services facilities will no longer be issued a new permanent DL/ID card at the end of the application process. Instead, they will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver’s license, which is valid for 45 days and will serve as their DL/ID for driving purposes and proof of identification.

Meanwhile, the applicant’s information will be sent to a centralized, secure facility in Illinois. After fraud checks have been conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity, a higher quality, more secure DL/ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to the applicant’s address. For more information, visit the Caucus Blog here

Seed Library bill passes

Last week the House unanimously passed Senate Bill 3130, a measure aimed at preventing
government from interfering with seed libraries and seed sharing in Illinois. 
There are a couple dozen seed libraries operating in Illinois, including our local seed library at the Public Library in Chatham. The ability to save and share seed is important to food sovereignty (cultural heritage), biodiversity, and food security. By sharing, people ensure that, even if they have a crop failure, someone else nearby may be successful.

In the District…

Special thanks to Adam Bailey and Sam Snell for inviting my family out to their farms to “help” and learn more about the planting season this past weekend.  As many farmers are planting soybeans right now in the 99th district, it is always important to keep in mind that agriculture is the number one industry in our state.
This week there is some good news to report. First, we were able to work across party lines to pass emergency funding to help human service providers that have been caught in the state budget cross fire. It’s not a solution, but it’s a needed lifeline that will help keep them afloat while we continue to work on a complete budget. I’m also pleased that I was able to unanimously pass legislation aimed at relocating many state jobs back to the Capitol city.

Throughout the week budget groups will continue to meet, and I will be working with other area legislators to pass newly-amended legislation to reopen the state museum.

General Assembly approves $700 million in stopgap human services spending – It’s a start, but not the solution

Senate Bill 2038 passed by the House and Senate last week will help desperately struggling service providers in our community that have been caught in the middle of the ongoing budget stalemate. It will provide nearly $700 million to fund services for some of our most vulnerable without adding to the state’s backlog because it comes from state funds that currently have money in them.

Program areas helped by SB 2038 are expected to get a percentage of the money they would otherwise have received in FY16, and the money is immediately available from the Commitment to Human Services Fund and other state funds.  This funding is crucial, but it’s important to stress that this is temporary, emergency funding only. We need to continue to work across party lines to pass a responsible, full-year budget agreement that will ensure a stable funding source for these needed services and for all of our priorities.

State Jobs Resolution Passes the House

For years, state jobs have left the capital city, and in many cases it just might not make sense
economically for the state, or for the employees and their families. Last week, I passed House Joint Resolution 133 through the House that may reverse that trend and bring more state jobs back to the Springfield area.

My 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 cannot be located in Springfield. The goal of the study is not to force any state employee to move to Springfield immediately, but to see if a vacated position could be re-located to Springfield to be filled. The reports should be completed by August 31.

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. 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.

HJR 133 passed the House unanimously. It now advances to the Senate for further consideration.

New Amendment Being Filed to Reopen the State Museum

State Representative Tim Butler and I have drafted a new amendment that would reopen the Illinois State Museum in Springfield with hopes of getting it passed through the General Assembly in the coming weeks.

Keeping the State Museum open is not only important to local jobs, it’s crucial to preserving for future generations our state history and those things that have and continue to make Illinois unique. But as you know, it was closed to the public last year due to the budget impasse. To secure an agreement that will reopen the museum I along with  other area lawmakers introduced two similar bills, House Bill 6179 and Senate Bill 317. Both would require the state to maintain an Illinois State Museum as part of its operations, and allow the charging of fees to visitors to help support the museum’s budget. Last week as part of discussions to help move an agreement through the General Assembly, we simplified the language of the bill in order to get it passed.  The request to file this new language to Senate Bill 2902 is under review by the clerk of the Illinois House.

Scholarship Opportunity!

The Culturally Integrated Education for Latinos Organization is looking for applicants for its scholarship program--you must live within 60 miles of Springfield. For more information, click here.

Congratulations to Horace Mann’s Teacher of the Year!

Congratulations are in order to Layne Zimmers, history teacher at Lincoln Magnet school, who was recently named Horace Mann’s Teacher of the Year.  It was an honor to meet and congratulate her this week in her classroom.
The Culturally Integrated Education for Latinos Organization is looking for applicants for its scholarship program--you must live within 60 miles of Springfield. For more information on the scholarship and how to apply, click here
State Representatives Sara Wojcicki Jimenez and Tim Butler draft a new amendment to reopen the Illinois State Museum in Springfield with hopes of getting it passed through the General Assembly in the coming weeks. 

“Keeping the State Museum open is not only important to local jobs, it’s crucial to preserving for future generations our state history and those things that have and continue to make Illinois unique,” said Representative Jimenez (R-Leland Grove). “We need to work together to get this done.”

“People come from all over the world because they want to learn more about the history of the State of Illinois and Abe Lincoln,” said Representative Butler (R-Springfield). “Reopening the Illinois State Museum will provide tourists with everything they want to know about the rich history of the State of Illinois. The more attractions we can offer tourists, the stronger our tourism industry will be.”
Statement of Rep. Jimenez:

“Senate Bill 2038 passed by the House today will help desperately struggling service providers in our community that have been caught in the middle of the ongoing budget stalemate.  It will provide nearly $700 million to fund services for our most vulnerable, and it’s available immediately from the Commitment to Human Services Fund and other state funds.  But it’s important to stress that this is temporary, emergency funding only.  We need to continue to work across party lines to pass a responsible, full-year budget agreement that will ensure a stable funding source for these needed services and for all of our priorities,” said State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove).
State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez today passed legislation through the Illinois House aimed at bringing as many state jobs as possible back to the capital city. House Joint Resolution 133 was approved unanimously.

“For years, state jobs have left the capital city, 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.”
We’re in the final month of our scheduled spring session so that means it’s “crunch time” for passing legislation and getting important issues resolved. But on Thursday we paused to remember and honor Illinois law enforcement officers who have given their lives to protect our families and communities. We held our 31st annual remembrance ceremony at the Police Memorial at the Capitol, attended by members of law enforcement and their families from across the state. I was honored to be in attendance.  This week firefighters from all over the state came to Springfield to remember those who passed away in the line of duty.

Today we’re back in session. Discussions are continuing behind the scenes on key budget issues. This week, I’m hoping to move forward two issues very important to our district – legislation to reopen the State Museum, and a resolution calling for s study of where state jobs are located and why with the aim of returning as many state jobs as possible to the Springfield area. You can click the 'Bring State Jobs Back to Springfield'  button in the right margin of this site for much more information about the resolution.


Transportation “lockbox” constitutional amendment approved for the fall ballot

 HJRCA 36 is a response to the lack of an overall state balanced budget and the movement of money from taxes and fees levied specifically to support transportation to fund other programs.  If approved by the voters in November, this amendment will put all revenues from transportation taxes and fees into a “lockbox” that can only be used for transportation purposes including road construction and enforcing traffic laws.

The transportation “lockbox” amendment was the only constitutional amendment approved by both houses of the General Assembly in time to be submitted to the voters on the November 2016 general election ballot. Other proposed amendments, such as measures to abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor, to legalize a graduated individual income tax rate, or to change the way districts for members of the Illinois General Assembly are drawn on maps, failed to get the required three-fifths approval of both legislative houses by the constitutional deadline.

Circulators of petitions for the Illinois Independent Map Amendment have stated that they have gathered more than the 290, 216 signatures needed to place their amendment on the Illinois ballot in November.  The amendment, if adopted, will create an independent commission to draw future district maps for Illinois legislators.  The next mapmaking cycle will follow release of the numbers generated by the 2020 census.

Auditor General needs to immediately answer lingering questions about campaign expenses

I joined a group of Illinois lawmakers publicly requesting that Auditor General Frank Mautino work expeditiously to answer serious questions about campaign expenditures and reporting procedures dating back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives. More than three months later, with no answers forthcoming, legislators in both the House and Senate sent the Auditor General a strong message last week that the foot dragging needs to stop.

22 members of the House and Senate Thursday released a series of letters sent to Mautino beginning in February calling for him to answer the lingering questions. On Thursday we sent a final request respectfully demanding that answers on behalf of Illinois taxpayers. You can read the final letter here.

New Student Advisory Group

I was excited to join my student advisory group for meetings and conversation last week in my office. I am honored to have one high school student from each of the schools in the 99th district represented in the advisory group.
L to R: : Ka’ Dia Dhatnbia (Calvary Academy), Elaina Martinez (Glenwood High School), Jimmy Riemer (Springfield High School), Will Raftis (Pleasant Plains), Rep. Jimenez,  Steven Cowles (Lutheran High School),  Zach Hoyle (Sacred Heart Griffin), Luke Humphrey (Auburn High School), Riley Anders (New Berlin), and Hannah Gudgel (Pawnee High School).
 Girl Power at the Capitol

Thousands of Girl Scouts converged on the Capitol in Springfield Friday for Girl Scout Day at the Capitol 2016. The Scouts and their leaders marched from the Convention Center to the Capitol, and I was grateful to be among those asked to speak to them about being a leader. I told them that you don’t need to be elected to be a leader, you just need to look for ways to make a positive difference in your community, and in that they are all well on their way!


A group of Illinois lawmakers began in February formally requesting that Auditor General Frank Mautino work expeditiously to answer serious questions about campaign expenditures and reporting procedures dating back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives. More than three months later, with no answers forthcoming, Representative Sara Jimenez and fellow lawmakers stressed that Mautino’s foot dragging needs to stop immediately.

“I’m not pre-judging Auditor General Mautino. I don’t know whether the unusual campaign  expenses and reporting procedures being reviewed will ultimately prove problematic or not, but these are serious questions about possible financial impropriety surrounding the man who is now in charge of safeguarding Illinois taxpayers’ money from fraud and abuse. For the credibility of his office, he needs to answer the questions and bring this issue to a close immediately,” said Representative Jimenez.
Representative Jimenez has formed a Student Advisory Committee consisting of high school students from each of the public and private high schools in the 99th District.

The Committee met for the first time on May 3rd at the Capitol and observed the House of Representatives pass a constitutional amendment on redistricting. The Committee met with Representative Jimenez and discussed issues relating to State government and education. The Committee plans to meet again later this year.

From left to right are : Ka’ Dia Dhatnbia (Calvary Academy), Elaina Martinez (Glenwood High School), Jimmy Riemer (Springfield High School), Will Raftis (Pleasant Plains), Rep. Jimenez,  Steven Cowles (Lutheran High School),  Zach Hoyle (Sacred Heart Griffin), Luke Humphrey (Auburn High School), Riley Anders (New Berlin), and Hannah Gudgel (Pawnee High School).
Statement of Rep. Jimenez on the importance of today's House Passage of  a Constitutional Amendment allowing voters to reform  how Congressional and State Legislative districts are drawn in Illinois:

“Today the Illinois House of Representatives took a big step in the right direction by advancing House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment (HJRCA) 58. HJRCA58 is a constitutional amendment to change the way our legislative district boundaries are drawn. If this amendment is passed from the Senate, the amendment will be placed on the ballot this November for voter ratification. HJRCA58 takes the power to draw legislative districts out of the hands of politicians and creates an independent, bipartisan commission to create legislative districts after the next census. This is an important step towards reforming the State of Illinois and bring accountability to those in Springfield. Residents around Illinois have been demanding this reform for years and I support this amendment wholeheartedly and hope the Senate passes this amendment as quickly as possible in order to get it on the ballot this November.”
Late last month, General Assembly members from both parties worked together to pass emergency funding for higher education and the Governor has signed it into law.  It’s not a permanent solution, but it’s an important step forward.  We’re back in session today, and I am hopeful that we will continue to work to pass a bi-partisan plan to fund important state services.  May is the final month of the regularly scheduled session.

End of month sees payless payday for 118 members of Illinois House

House members from both parties are paid, by law, at the end of every calendar month.  Due to the State’s continued lack of a constitutional balanced budget, however, the Comptroller determined last month that these payments to elected state leaders should be treated the same as other bills the state owes and put into the “queue” to be paid only when money is available.  The last day of April last week became legislators’ first payless payday.  This move also impacts the pay of Comptroller Munger herself, and the other constitutional officers.

I hope this pay delay will help convince those who have been reluctant to compromise to return to the bargaining table so that we can resolve our budget crisis.  Comptroller Munger’s office is currently posting a backlog of official unpaid bills that exceeds $6.8 billion.

Health care fraud task force getting organized

The task force, created last month by executive order, will look into possible fraud, waste, and abuse in state-administered health care programs.  Illinois taxpayers pay $19 billion a year to administer and pass through payments on state-run health care programs.  Most of this money is paid directly by state taxpayers to Illinois.

The task force is charged to review the best practices currently used by the private sector to examine and control soaring health care costs.  Other states’ efforts to reduce Medicaid fraud and other forms of public sector health care abuse are also to be looked at.

The task force has been asked to write a report that will make recommendations for policy changes, and refer specific cases of wrongful reimbursements to authorities to seek recovery on behalf of Illinois taxpayers.

Thank you for inviting me to participate in the IACAA Families of Distinction celebration

Dalitso Sulamoyo, IACAA President, and his wife Sara host
 Rep. Jimenez at their annual Families of Distinction event
at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield.

I have been blessed to have been invited for several years to participate in the Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies’ annual awards program here in Springfield.  On Sunday, I was pleased to once again be able to participate and help recognize 17 families from across the state that have, with help from state and community organizations, overcome tremendous obstacles and fought their way back to self-sufficiency.

Community Action Agencies currently serve more than 9.3 million people across the country, helping
 provide services from head start programs for the youngest members our community to in-home care for our seniors, and they do an amazing job.  But it was the 17 Families of Distinction that we recognized Sunday that are truly inspirational.  Thank you for allowing me to share in the celebration of your success.

Future leaders of all ages at Raising Ms. President

Claire Wright (center) with Reps. Jimenez and Avery Bourne.

The College Republicans, Democrats and I had a great turnout on the UIS campus last week for our viewing of Raising Ms. President, a documentary about encouraging girls and women to participate in leadership roles, including running for elected office.  I’m especially pleased to report that we had current and future female leaders of all ages attend, including our youngest viewer, 9-year old Claire Wright.  She’s definitely a future leader!