Capitol Update 6-15-16

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.

2016-17 school funding must remain a priority
We have two weeks left before the start of our new fiscal year, and while we may not have a complete budget in place by then it’s imperative that we have a state funding plan in place to ensure our schools open on time in the fall.  My House Republican colleagues and I have been working with the Governor and rank-and-file Democrats to make that happen.
Legislation introduced (House bill 6583) would provide FY17 funding for Illinois elementary and secondary education, essentially taking K-12 schools out of the budget crossfire.  The bill would take effect immediately, but its key impact would be felt in FY17 covering the 2016-17 school year.

JCAR approves Illinois Museum reopening plan
Representative Tim Butler and I have worked hard this Spring by working with both parties and filing legislation to make sure the State Museum opened back up in our community as soon as possible.  On Tuesday, The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) approved a similar plan that will allow the museum to reopen on July 2.

The Illinois State Museum contains exhibits of natural history, ethnology, and human culture to tell the story of Illinois to visitors from around the globe.  Many of the exhibits are child-friendly or designed for children.  Due to budgetary constraints, the museum temporarily closed to public visitation in October 2015.  Under the approved plan, the museum is expected to charge an admission fee of $5 to adults, with admission free to children, when it reopens.

Congratulations Senators and Cyclones!
Congratulations to the Springfield High School Senators baseball team for finishing 2nd in the Class 3A division this spring, and to the Sacred Heart Griffin Cyclones for their strong 3rd place finish in Class 3A softball!  Both teams and coaches had amazing seasons and the entire Springfield community is very proud of you!

Spring planting season ending on high note
 The most recent crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicates that seed has been planted in 97% of the Illinois acreage intended for corn, and sprouts have emerged in 92% of the acreage.  For beans, the numbers are 81% planted and 66% emerged.  Crop condition is classified as 76% good-to-excellent, 19% fair, and only 5% poor to very poor. 

The good growing conditions follow conscientious work by Illinois farmers to prepare for spring planting, including checking soil moisture, performing spring fieldwork, and application of fertilizer.  The cost of nitrate-based fertilizers continues to be a significant impact upon Illinois crop profitability and farmland values, with fields assigned to corn/corn rotation requiring as much as 254 pounds of nitrogen-based fertilizer per year.  Illinois’ agricultural scientists continue to study ways to reduce nitrogen application requirements on farm fields without impacting yields.

Have a good rest of the week and keep in touch!