Capitol Update 5-17-16

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.