Capitol Update 6-7-16

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. 

Local Legislation Helps Yield Plan to Reopen the Illinois State Museum in July

After months of work and discussions to make sure the State Museum opens its doors, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has announced 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, and I am very proud that legislation I filed along with Representative Tim Butler helped yield the plan that will enable it’s reopening next month.

The reopening plan will allow for the charging of a small admission fee for adults to help fund museum operations.  Children under 18 will continue to be admitted free.  The plan will
be considered and hopefully approved at the June 14th meeting of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR). The State Museum is facing a July deadline to reopen or possibly lose their accreditation, so approval at the hearing will be a win for everyone.

Auditor General Mautino Should “Step Aside” While Investigations Continue

With the recent announcement that Auditor General Frank Mautino is now under federal investigation in addition to a state investigation into questionable campaign expends and reporting practices, I believe it is now necessary for him to step aside until the investigations are completed.  I joined 20 other members of the House and Senate last week formally requesting that Auditor General Mautino take a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence until the investigations are completed. The full letter is posted below.