It’s just two days to Christmas. The tree is up, the Nativity scenes and decorations are out, and the shopping is (mostly) finished.

Now, we wait.

In an ancient and wonderful Christian tradition, this is the season of “Advent”: a planned four weeks of waiting for the birth of Christ. The passage of time is marked in various ways, most often by daily Advent calendars or by weekly candles in an Advent wreath. As the weeks proceed, the light recedes and the days grow shorter and shorter.

Then, during the darkest week, the light emerges: the Christ child is born.

Whatever your religious tradition, the themes are familiar. The story is one of hope, redemption, and peace. All wrapped up in the image of a little baby, born into humble circumstances.

Our modern world is full of instant stimuli, where everything is presented “your way, right away,” and folks cannot disconnect from devices and technology. Advent provides an antidote to the vagaries of modern life—a small way to reclaim some of our peace and be reminded of our shared humanity. For me, this is a time of year to find a quiet corner and a warm cup of coffee and read, write, or just think.

We live in the greatest country ever conceived of by humankind. While there are many problems in our state, life is better here than in most of the world. And even in Illinois, the decades of corruption and decay have been laid bare for the people. The seeds of reform and renewal are slowly germinating, despite the fits and starts. (The General Assembly even came together to release funds so that local governments will have enough road salt on hand for the snowy and icy weather to come.) Next year will bring great political fights, from a wide-open presidential contest to numerous state and local elections, along with continued struggle in the Illinois legislature.

But for now, we wait.

As we proceed through this holiday time, please know of my deepest wishes for health, happiness, and blessing for you and yours. I’m thankful and honored to represent you.
Governor Rauner and the four legislative leaders will meet for the third time in as many weeks when they sit down on Thursday, December 17 to discuss the budget impasse. While I am encouraged that the leaders are continuing to meet, I was disappointed when House Speaker Michael Madigan declared last week that the state income tax rate should be raised back to at least 5 percent. Following a speech he gave at the City Club of Chicago, Speaker Madigan was asked how high taxes should go. “Let me avoid creating a headline for tomorrow’s newspaper and say that a good place to begin… would be the level we were at before the income tax expired,” the Speaker said. “Starting there, you can go in whatever direction you want to go.”

Raising Illinois’ income tax rate back to the previous 5 percent level would equate to a 33 percent tax hike. It is important to note that Speaker Madigan clearly stated that the 5 percent level would be “a good place to begin…” which suggests the Speaker would like to raise taxes even higher than the record level set by the Democrats’ 2011 temporary income tax hike.

$3.1 Billion Appropriation Bill Signed by Governor
The enactment of SB 2039 appropriated $3.1 billion in what are called “other state funds,” which are funds that flow into Illinois from taxes and fees other than sales, income, and other general-revenue taxes. An example of this cash flow is the hundreds of millions of dollars paid annually by motorists who buy diesel fuel and gasoline for their cars and light trucks in Illinois. Release of this money has been “frozen” so far this year due to the lack of an approved balanced budget.

Passage of SB 2039 into law unblocked these program lines and allowed the money to flow. The move released funds for streets, roads, and highways; 9-1-1 call centers; firefighter training; lottery payouts; and other moneys for local first-responders and local governments. The bipartisan House vote of 107-1-1 was one of the key moves sending this bill to the Governor for his signature. Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 2039 on Monday, December 7.

IDOT Considers Adding Toll Lanes on Stevenson Expressway (I-55)
The freeway that serves much of the city of Chicago, as well as the Chicago area’s southwest suburbs, has become increasingly clogged in recent years. Owners of greater-Chicago commercial and warehouse space have concentrated much of their operations along Interstate 55. Many additional employees use I-55 to commute to and from work. The “Stevenson Expressway” includes all of I-55 that stretches between the north-south Interstate 355 and the Dan Ryan Expressway.

With current motor fuel tax revenues completely inadequate to construct additional free lanes on the existing expressway, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is now formally studying an alternative strategy: the grafting of Express Toll Lanes onto the Stevenson. Toll lanes such as these, which are carefully marked, have been built in many other cities in the U.S. and abroad. Motorists that wish to use these lanes are often required to purchase transponders and to deposit electronic payments into accounts with the local toll highway authority. IDOT has created a webpage to describe the proposed study. Interested persons may submit comments here.

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As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to invite me to speak to a group in the 48th District, please contact my office at (630) 403-8135, or visit reppeterbreen.org and click the Contact button.
A little over two weeks ago, the nation watched the video of a police officer firing 16 shots at Laquan McDonald, a young black man, armed with only a small knife and walking away from police. Two of those shots were fired at McDonald while he was standing, with the remainder ripping through his body after he fell to the pavement.

None of the at least five other officers on the scene attempted medical assistance for the young man as he lay on the ground. Witnesses were “shooed away” from the scene, without their contact information even being taken. Numerous other police vehicles were on scene, but none of their dashboard video or audio has been released—and may have been destroyed. Even the security video from the local Burger King, which officers demanded password access to in the aftermath of the shooting, has a void in its footage during the critical time of the shooting.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was in the midst of a tough re-election campaign in October 2014, desperately needing the support of the City Council’s Black Caucus to defeat his Latino challenger. As details slowly emerged from whistleblowers about the shooting, the City steadfastly refused to release the video. Once the Mayor—and those who supported him—were clear of the April 2015 election, the City Council agreed to pay the family of the young man $5 million, with the further caveat that the video not be released. But an independent reporter sued and, over a year after the shooting, finally forced the City to release the footage.

This video would’ve made national news, whenever it was released. But for the people of Chicago and of Illinois, it’s not merely the killing but the cover-up that has shaken us. This incident has laid bare how far our elected officials will go to protect the established political power structure in our state.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was informed of the relevant facts and had the video much earlier, but decided to charge the officer involved 13 months later, only after she knew that the video would be released. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office dragged its feet on enforcing the Freedom of Information Act against the City of Chicago to release of the video, even allowing the City to violate Illinois law in thwarting the legal review process under the Act. And when Madigan’s office did finally issue a decision, it was issued as “non-binding,” which against the City of Chicago, meant the decision was not worth the paper it was printed on.

Mayor Emanuel has now fired the police superintendent and is trying to focus the attention on State’s Attorney Alvarez, who is up for re-election in March 2016. However, it’s reported that Speaker Mike Madigan will support Alvarez in the next election, so as to shore up his Latino and suburban Cook County vote.

In any other structure, whether public or private, you’d fire every single person involved and start over. But not in Illinois. At least not up to this point in Illinois.

Fortunately, the people are outraged. The press is on the attack. Some have urged “calm” in the wake of this video, but that’s not quite right. Peaceful, yes, but we should not be “calm.” Any person with a conscience and a sense of right and wrong should be furious about this entire situation: both the tragic unnecessary killing of a human being, and the deep corruption of a political system to the point that people will do anything to protect their power and elective offices.

Moreover, this outrage isn’t—and shouldn’t be—limited to folks in the City of Chicago. The same people who covered up the killing of Laquan McDonald hold vast influence over our entire state and its politics. The way forward from here will not be driven by calm, but by that special sort of righteous anger that drives positive change: the type of feeling and thought which throughout history has inspired political movements and revivals.

We have a long road ahead to turn Illinois around, but it starts with a people who are disgusted by the status quo and ready for a new way.
Here in the 48th Legislative House District, we are fortunate to have some very successful sports programs at our public and private high schools. Last week two of our football teams posted perfect seasons which culminated with State Championships in football. Glenbard West High School topped Libertyville in a 34-28 victory in the Class 7A Championship game held at Northern Illinois University on Saturday, November 28. The Hilltoppers, coached by Sam Brodner finished their impressive season 14-0, and the championship on the 28th marked the school’s third State Football Championship.

Montini Catholic High School also finished a dream season this year with a 14-0 record, claiming the Class 6A Title in a convincing 38-15 victory over Crete-Monee. It was the football team’s first perfect season in the program’s 48-year history. The team is coached by Chris Andriano.
Congratulations to all of the athletes and coaches from both of these special teams!

Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting Montini President James Segredo with a House Resolution congratulating the staff, faculty, alumni, parents and students of Montini Catholic High School on the 50th anniversary of the high school.

Breen Participates in Nativity Scene Dedication Ceremony at State Capitol
On Tuesday, my wife and I attended the dedication ceremony for the State Capitol’s Nativity Scene, which can be found in the first floor rotunda. The nativity scene, depicting the newborn Christ Child lying in a manger, and a Christmas Tree that stands two stories tall,
provide perspective during difficult days for Illinois. It was my honor to speak at the dedication event. The display is open to the public during normal business hours throughout December. If your holiday travels bring you near Springfield, please try to find time to see the display in the rotunda. My thanks go out to the Springfield Nativity Scene Committee for bringing this symbol of this sacred season to the Illinois Capitol.

Unemployment Insurance Reforms Receive Bipartisan House Support
In a rare showing of bipartisanship in Springfield, lawmakers in the house gave final approval on Wednesday to sweeping reforms to the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act. The reforms, agreed to jointly by the Governor, the business community, and labor organizations, represent a significant step forward to strengthen the backbone of our economy, innovators and entrepreneurs. HB 1285 received unanimous support by the 110 legislators in attendance. Specifically, HB 1285 prevents a $470 million tax increase on employers by eliminating a scheduled increase in employer contributions that would have taken effect in 2016. The legislation also eliminates the Social Security Offset to provide greater security to elderly and disabled workers, and strengthens the misconduct provisions to ensure greater protections to employers.

On Wednesday the House also sent over to the Senate a bill that would allow Motor Fuel Tax receipts and funding for 9-1-1 service to flow to municipalities and townships. The language, which was presented as an amendment to SB 2039, also included funding for lottery winners and for programs that serve veterans and battered women, for low income energy assistance programs, and for mental health services for vulnerable citizens. The bill now awaits “concurrence” by the Senate, and I’m told they will convene early next week to approve the bill. Governor Rauner has already said he will sign it when it lands on his desk. These two successes in Springfield this week show us all what is possible when lawmakers work in a bipartisan manner. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come.

Breen Reminds Citizens to Sign Up For Email Renewal Notices
In October, Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office was suspending the mailing out of vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. By using this link you can register for email reminder notices that will provide an alert when your vehicle registration sticker is about to expire.

I have filed legislation that would prohibit the Secretary of State’s office from issuing late fees during this time, because I do not believe Illinois residents should be penalized for lawmakers’ inability to approve a budget. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to sign up for the email notifications right away. You will need to locate and have handy your annual vehicle registration document, which contains your "Registration ID" and "PIN," usually located in the top right corner of the registration document. If you receive an email reminder, that will also include the PIN number for on-line renewal of vehicle registration stickers. Click here to view an FAQ about to this issue.
With the combatants at a stalemate in Springfield, we’ve been back in the district for most of the past few weeks. I’ve used the time at home to give talks and meet with folks. Many of the groups are young people—schools, churches, Boy Scouts, etc.—so I decided that my primary message during these talks would be that: “you were put on this earth for a purpose, and you’ll be happiest if you find yours and live it.” Another way to put it is that: “each of you has a path to trod, and if you try to stay on your path and out of the brush, life is a lot more fulfilling—not to mention easier!”

One of those groups was a combined meeting of the 7th & 8th grade religious education classes at Sacred Heart Parish. They were an engaged, sharp, and inquisitive group of kids. We talked about a range of topics, from “how the sausage is made” in the Capitol, to how faith impacts one’s public life, to what I wanted to do with my life when I was their age. As for being a state representative, I must have made that sound interesting, because at the end, they all wanted to come to Springfield and serve as my “page for a day” on the House floor.

Afterward, the kids also took “selfie” pictures with me—I’m told you can find them on Instagram, which is apparently all the rage now (I still resist going on Twitter, so Instagram is a real stretch).

It’s times like these that a guy starts to feel like his father or grandfather, dispensing unsolicited advice to children and wondering about their newfangled web sites.

With Thanksgiving this week, it’s a good time to give thanks for blessed moments like these, moments of genuine interaction with others. These kids weren’t worried about terrorist attacks, refugee crises, and the crushing effect of government debt spreading across the globe. They were fully engaged in the moment and the wonder of a new experience. Thank God for that.

Thank God that we live in the United States of America, the greatest and most generous nation in the history of humanity. Our country is certainly not perfect, but the bounty we enjoy here is unprecedented. And we’re a lot closer to perfect than most.

Even in our home state of Illinois, which is in the grip of the forces of corruption, mismanagement, and self-dealing, there are plenty of people and institutions of character and enterprise fighting to free her and bring her back to prominence. Thanks be to God!

Hold your family and friends close this week. Have a few more of those memorable moments. Give some unsolicited advice to nearby children. And thank God for all of it.

Breen Gives Springfield Update at Meeting of Central DuPage Kiwanis Club
On Wednesday, November 18, I had the pleasure of speaking to members of the Central DuPage Kiwanis Club at their regular meeting held at Barone’s in Glen Ellyn. I talked to the group about the budget impasse in Springfield and how lawmakers are trying to work toward an agreed budget which includes funding for vital programs and important reforms that will address waste and abuses within State systems.

The Central DuPage Kiwanis Club was organized in 1990, and is part of a global service and leadership program in more than 80 countries and geographic areas. Internationally, 2015 marks 100 years of service through Kiwanis organizations worldwide.

Breen Visits with Religious Education Class from Sacred Heart Parish
Later on in the day, I had the privilege of speaking to the 7th and 8th grade confirmation students from the religious education program at my home parish, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Lombard. I talked to students about my faith and how it shapes my work as a lawmaker and constitutional attorney. The students asked some great questions, and I was impressed by their knowledge and interest in how State government affects their lives.

As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to invite me to speak to a group in the 48th District, please contact my office at (630) 403-8135, or visit reppeterbreen.org and click the Contact button.

May you and your loved ones have a happy Thanksgiving holiday!
My thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by the horrific attacks on innocent human life in Paris, France on Friday night. These gruesome acts of terrorism stand as a reminder that we must take steps as a nation and as a state to ensure our people’s safety.

In case you missed it, on Monday, Governor Bruce Rauner issued the following statement:

“Our nation and our state have a shared history of providing safe haven for those displaced by conflict, but the news surrounding the Paris terror attacks reminds us of the all-too-real security threats facing America. We must find a way to balance our tradition as a state welcoming of refugees while ensuring the safety and security of our citizens. Therefore, the state of Illinois will temporarily suspend accepting new Syrian refugees and consider all of our legal options pending a full review of our country’s acceptance and security processes by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

Last week the General Assembly was back in Springfield for the conclusion of the 2015 Veto Session, and while several bills were heard in both legislative chambers, none of the bills that were brought back for reconsideration due to a veto by Gov. Rauner were overridden.

Bill to Keep State Museums Open - SB 317 - Does Not Include Enforcement Mechanism
Following the inability to pass a balanced budget earlier this year, the Rauner Administration announced in June a series of budget reductions, including the temporary closing of the Illinois State Museum and all branch locations. The museum closures officially took place on October 1. On November 10, members of the House voted 82-32 on a bill that supposedly required the executive branch of our government to keep open all branches of the state museum, including the small museum branch at the Thompson Center in Chicago.


I'm not against the state museum, but after reading the bill, I realized it didn't actually force anyone to do anything. In the floor debate of this bill, I pointed out that SB 317, as written and approved by the Senate, did not include an enforcement mechanism that would require the museums to be open to the public during any set hours. In fact, I interpret the language of SB 317 as having no impact whatsoever upon the status quo condition of the museums. The bill does not change state law or state practice, and ultimately does nothing to provide public access to the museums. Even apart from that, it doesn't make sense for the General Assembly to demand that the museums stay open when we haven't put together a balanced budget to properly fund state government, including the museums.

Senator Nybo and Representative Breen Host Successful “Support Our Troops” Drive
On Monday morning I met volunteers from the local Lilac Post 5815 and the Ladies Auxiliary at my Lombard office to box up donations gathered during my recent “Support Our Troops” Collection Drive. In all, we filled more than 30 large boxes with items that will be sent to overseas troops.

Community members were extremely generous with their donations, and gathered items will be packed up into care packages that will be sent to overseas troops in time for Christmas. A very special thank you goes out to Blistex, Inc. in Oak Brook for their donation of three cases of lip balm/chap stick.

My office is still collecting names and addresses for local military personnel, so we can ensure they receive care packages. If you have a friend or loved one currently serving away from home, please call my office at (630) 403-8135 and provide us that information. Due to security regulations, we can't get names of our local service members from the military, so folks locally are our only source.

In the top photo, I’m shown loading the truck with Tony Maroney, Senior Vice Commander of Local Post 5815, and the post’s Junior Vice Commander, Dennis Jensen. In the other photo, I’m proud to stand next to Chris Breyne of the Ladies Auxiliary, Commander George Miller of the Lilac Post 5815, Dennis Jensen and Tony Maroney. Thank you to all who donated so generously to this collection for our troops! I am certain that these care packages will brighten their Christmas season as they serve and protect our nation.

Rauner to Host Budget Meeting for Legislative Leaders of House and Senate
A December 1 meeting will be hosted by the Governor and will be attended by House Speaker Mike Madigan, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno. The five will discuss the budget impasse and attempt to work toward a compromise that is acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats. The meeting will take place in Rauner’s Capitol office at 8:30 AM on the 1st, and the Governor has suggested that the meeting include both public and closed door conversation. Rauner has suggested broadcasting the first hour of the meeting, during which the Governor and each legislative leader would make a 10-minute statement. The group would then retreat to a closed meeting so that negotiations could take place in private. At the conclusion of the negotiation session, the Governor suggested that closing remarks be broadcast publicly. Here's hoping for more meetings like these, which are key for us to reach public consensus on how to turn Illinois around.

As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my district office at (630) 403-8135, or visit reppeterbreen.org and click the Contact button.
On Monday, November 16, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) met volunteers from the local Lilac Post 5815 and the Ladies Auxiliary at his legislative office to box up donations gathered during a recent “Support Our Troops” Collection Drive done with State Senator Chris Nybo. In all, more than 30 large boxes were filled with items that will be sent to overseas troops.

Community members were extremely generous with their donations, and gathered items will be packed up into care packages that will be sent to overseas troops in time for Christmas. Representative Breen extended a very special “thank you” to Blistex, Inc. in Oak Brook, for their donation of three cases of lip balm/chap stick.

Representative Breen is still collecting names and addresses for local military personnel, so he can ensure they receive care packages. Those with a friend or loved one currently serving away from home should call Representative Breen’s office at (630) 403-8135 and provide that information by November 30.
Following the inability to pass a balanced budget this year, the Rauner Administration announced in June a series of budget reductions, including the temporary closing of the Illinois State Museum and all branch locations. The museum closures officially took place on October 1. On Tuesday, members of the House voted 82-32 to require the State of Illinois to operate the main State Museum in Springfield and the branch locations at Dickson Mounds, Lockport, Rend Lake and at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago. During the floor debate, Rep. Breen pointed out that the bill SB 317, as written and approved by the Senate, did not include an enforcement mechanism that would require the museums to be open to the public during any set hours. The language of the bill has no impact whatsoever upon the status quo condition of the museums. "The bill does not change state law or state practice, and ultimately does nothing to provide public access to the museums,” stated Breen.
“No one in this body thinks the Senate is laser-focused on the most pressing issues facing the nation. No one. Some of us lament this fact; some are angered by it; many are resigned to it; some try to dispassionately explain how they think it came to be. But no one disputes it.”

Those were the words this past week of U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, during his first speech on the Senate floor. By Senate tradition, a new member does not speak on the floor for the first year after election. While that tradition has not been followed as much lately, Sen. Sasse pledged during his campaign to respect it. (It’s not that he has nothing to say, either: Sasse graduated Harvard, has a Ph.D in History from Yale, and at age 43 was the youngest university president in the country before his election.) Instead of talking, Sasse listened. He took these past twelve months to observe the proceedings, engage and interview other senators privately, and focus on his committee work. He then took the opportunity of his first speech to make an honest assessment of the problems plaguing the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body,” the United States Senate.

I was elected the same day as Sen. Sasse, just over one year ago. Listening to him decry the partisanship and “lazy politician speech” that has gripped the U.S. Senate, he just as easily could have been describing the Illinois House.

Here’s the thing about Sen. Sasse: he ran for office as a conservative. He wasn’t unclear about his principles or his willingness to advocate for them. But when he arrived in the Senate, he chose the desk of the late-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of New York. Sen. Moynihan was known as a strong liberal, but he was a deep thinker—one who would question every assumption and bring scientific data to bear on every issue. Sen. Moynihan went where he believed the facts and logic led, not where the political pundits pointed.

The conservative Sen. Sasse then laid out a compelling bipartisan vision that Sen. Moynihan, the liberal lion, would have endorsed:

“This is not a call for less fighting—but for more meaningful fighting. This is a call for bringing our A-game to the debates on the biggest issues here, with less regard for the 24-month election cycle and the 24-hour news cycle.”
There’s much more to the speech, and I was so moved by it that I’ve linked to the video here. I can’t recall a clearer, more thoughtful assessment of why our U.S. Senate and our politics generally are so broken in America today. Every high schooler should watch or read this speech as part of their civics education. Every American of voting age will receive benefit from this speech, as well.

While Sen. Sasse’s assessment of the problems plaguing our Senate and our political institutions is distressing, his message is one of hope, what he calls “not naïve idealism, but aspirational realism.” Imagine the difference in our political life if elected officials and voters agreed that, “we do not need fewer conviction politicians around here; we need more of them. We do not need more compromising of principles; we need clearer articulation and understanding of competing principles.”

This kind of vigorous robust debate is how the world’s great enterprises—whether businesses, organizations, or government—succeed and flourish in times of crisis. And it’s how we can turn Illinois around, too.

“Support Our Troops” Collection Deadline this Friday
The deadline for dropping off care-package items for our servicemen and women who are serving overseas this Christmas is Friday, November 13, at 3:30 p.m. The drop-off location is my legislative office, at 929 S. Main Street (Suite 105A) in Lombard, and it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This activity is a wonderful way to say thank you to our troops for their dedication to protecting our freedoms. Click here to find a list of suggested items for care packages.

As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, please contact my district office at (630) 403-8135 or visit reppeterbreen.org.
“No one in this body thinks the Senate is laser-focused on the most pressing issues facing the nation. No one. Some of us lament this fact; some are angered by it; many are resigned to it; some try to dispassionately explain how they think it came to be. But no one disputes it.”

Those were the words this past week of U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, during his first speech on the Senate floor. By Senate tradition, a new member does not speak on the floor for the first year after election. While that tradition has not been followed as much lately, Sen. Sasse pledged during his campaign to respect it. (It’s not that he has nothing to say, either: Sasse graduated Harvard, has a Ph.D in History from Yale, and at age 43 was the youngest university president in the country before his election.) Instead of talking, Sasse listened. He took these past twelve months to observe the proceedings, engage and interview other senators privately, and focus on his committee work. He then took the opportunity of his first speech to make an honest assessment of the problems plaguing the “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body,” the United States Senate.

I was elected the same day as Sen. Sasse, just over one year ago. Listening to him decry the partisanship and “lazy politician speech” that has gripped the U.S. Senate, he just as easily could have been describing the Illinois House.

Here’s the thing about Sen. Sasse: he ran for office as a conservative. He wasn’t unclear about his principles or his willingness to advocate for them. But when he arrived in the Senate, he chose the desk of the late-Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, of New York. Sen. Moynihan was known as a strong liberal, but he was a deep thinker—one who would question every assumption and bring scientific data to bear on every issue. Sen. Moynihan went where he believed the facts and logic led, not where the political pundits pointed.

The conservative Sen. Sasse then laid out a compelling bipartisan vision that Sen. Moynihan, the liberal lion, would have endorsed:

“This is not a call for less fighting—but for more meaningful fighting. This is a call for bringing our A-game to the debates on the biggest issues here, with less regard for the 24-month election cycle and the 24-hour news cycle.”

There’s much more to the speech, and I was so moved by it that I’ve linked to the video here. I can’t recall a clearer, more thoughtful assessment of why our U.S. Senate and our politics generally are so broken in America today. Every high schooler should watch or read this speech as part of their civics education. Every American of voting age will receive benefit from this speech, as well.

While Sen. Sasse’s assessment of the problems plaguing our Senate and our political institutions is distressing, his message is one of hope, what he calls “not naïve idealism, but aspirational realism.” Imagine the difference in our political life if elected officials and voters agreed that, “we do not need fewer conviction politicians around here; we need more of them. We do not need more compromising of principles; we need clearer articulation and understanding of competing principles.”

This kind of vigorous robust debate is how the world’s great enterprises—whether businesses, organizations, or government—succeed and flourish in times of crisis. And it’s how we can turn Illinois around, too.
We are now in the fifth month without an approved budget, and it might seem as all hope is lost. But that’s not the case. There are signs of positive movement as seen with last week’s announcement that Governor Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders will return to the negotiating table on November 18. The Governor, along with House Speaker Mike Madigan, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno are expected to examine the delayed Fiscal Year 2016 budget process, and begin working toward a compromise agreement. This is definitely a small step in the right direction. I am very encouraged by this new development.

Although FY16 began on July 1, a constitutional balanced budget has not been enacted by the Illinois House and Senate. The State has continued to operate under consent decrees, court orders, continuing appropriations, and school appropriations, but this has created many operational problems. Recipients of State services, and providers of goods and services to the State, have been affected by the lack of a legal budget document. Spokespersons for all four legislative leaders expressed positive interest in the meeting. The gathering was requested by a consortium of nonpartisan advocacy groups. Sponsors of the request included the Better Government Association, the League of Women Voters, and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Donations Coming in for “Support Our Troops” Drive
I have been touched by the generosity of those wishing to help send our military men and women Christmas care packages. Thank you for your support! While the deadline of November 13 is quickly approaching, there is still time to make a donation that will bring Christmas cheer to the brave individuals who serve and protect our freedoms. Click here to find a list of suggested items for care packages. The drop-off location is my legislative office, at 929 S. Main Street (Suite 105A) in Lombard, and it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Chicago City Council Approves Largest Property Tax Hike in City History as Part of FY16 Budget
he new budget includes $755 million in property tax, and other tax and fee increases. The City Council voted on Mayor Emanuel’s budget and revenue measures on Wednesday, October 28. Although many aldermen expressed dismay at the tax and fee hikes, the final outcome of the vote was not in doubt. The Council vote was 35-15 in favor of the tax-increase package.

Concerns were expressed that even the significant taxes approved this week would not be enough to see the city and its troubled school system through the 2015-16 school year and calendar 2016 budget cycle. The debt rating of Chicago Public Schools has been reduced to junk-bond status, and entities related to the city’s government continue to rely on $800 million in additional financial aid and fiscal relief measures from the equally-troubled state government in Springfield.

September 2015 Unemployment Rate Declines to 5.4%; Few New Jobs Created Statewide
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) reported this month that the statewide jobless percentage for September was 5.4%, down 0.2% from the August 2015 total of 5.6%. However, this drop in the jobless rate was not caused by net new hiring. Illinois seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment actually dropped by 6,900 jobs on a month-to-month basis in September, with sector weaknesses continuing in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities. Strong sectors included education services, health services, and government.

Illinois unemployment rates remain higher than rates in neighboring states. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonally adjusted jobless rates for September 2015 were 4.5% in Indiana, 3.6% in Iowa, 5.0% in Kentucky, 5.3% in Missouri, and 4.3% in Wisconsin. In addition, these states (unlike Illinois) were producing net new jobs. September 2015 unemployment was lower than the statewide average in greater Chicago (4.9%) and remained at above-6.0% recession levels in the three historically manufacturing-oriented cities of Danville (6.4%), Decatur (6.4%), and Rockford (6.2%).

Illinois’ State Employees Retirement System (SERS) Asks to Withdraw $225 Million
The withdrawals, which will be completed on December 10, will cover retiree benefits to be paid in November and December of this year. SERS believes this is the largest cash withdrawal it has ever made. Pension checks to existing beneficiaries are expected to go out on schedule.

The withdrawal was made necessary by the inability of the State of Illinois to meet its statutory obligation to SERS, and to parallel State-managed pension funds that cover the retirement needs of education professionals, for the payments of money in FY16 from general funds. Payments by the State to the pension funds are one of the areas where, in the absence of specific appropriations authority, the money cannot flow. In other areas of the State’s FY16 budget, money is flowing as a result of a cobbled-together combination of continuing appropriations, school appropriations, consent decrees, and court orders. The withdrawal of money from SERS’s deposited investments is expected to further deplete its funds and add to its long-term unfunded liability.

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As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any suggestions, questions or concerns, please contact my district office at (630) 403-8135 or visit reppeterbreen.org.
“What is truth?” It’s a question as old as western civilization. But with each passing day, it feels like lies and “spin” are winning in the public arena over truth.

For instance, there’s a new movie in the theaters with the title, “Truth.” Such a title would be fine, except that this alleged “real-life story” was definitively proven to be false. The topic of that particular movie is the CBS 60 Minutes investigative report in 2004 which attacked George W. Bush’s military service. Independent investigations found the story to be fabricated, to the extent that this false report even cost larger-than-life anchor Dan Rather his job.

In our state politics, it’s getting even harder to recognize the truth. Some editorial pages covering Illinois’ budget stalemate talk about how terrible House Speaker Mike Madigan is, while others complain about how unreasonable Governor Bruce Rauner is. And, if you get your news from AFSCME, the primary state worker union, you’re getting regular emails telling you how Gov. Rauner is allegedly trying to put government workers out of house and home.

Even former Gov. Jim Edgar recently claimed that Gov. Rauner was holding the budget “hostage” by pushing for term limits, property tax relief, worker’s compensation reforms, and other items that would invigorate Illinois’ economic climate. Gov. Edgar urged that Gov. Rauner focus on what’s “doable.” That sort of talk sounds reasonable. However, the reality is that our elected officials have been “doing what’s doable” for decades. That sort of get-along, go-along government is the primary reason our state is in such a mess today.

As painful as it may be to admit, both parties helped sow the seeds of this problem. During Gov. Edgar’s administration, a “pension ramp” was adopted, which meant low payments to pensions in the then-near term (the 1990s and 2000s), with huge payments later (in the 2010s, 2020s, and beyond). By putting less money to pensions back then, the politicians had lots more money to spend on their pet projects and special interests. At this point today, most of those politicians are retired and receiving generous pensions, at your expense.

Well, Gov. Rauner wasn’t the governor in the 1990s or 2000s. Speaker Madigan was in place through the whole thing. Madigan negotiated that pension ramp and spent the excess money. Tough decisions on pension reform should have been made back in the 1990s, but the principle of “doing what’s doable” instead resulted in doing whatever Speaker Mike Madigan wanted.

When you read the news about the budget impasse, keep in mind that many of these supposed “non-budget” reforms are actually necessary to balance the budget. After decades of waste and abuse in Illinois government, it makes sense that substantial reforms would be required. For instance, the Governor has proposed reducing the state funds that are sent to municipalities, but he’s done so while also proposing to roll back state mandates that make local government too expensive. In this instance, cost savings from taking away those mandates has the potential to even out the reduced fund transfers from the state. That way, there’s no loss of services at the local level.

We started with a question about truth. Truth isn’t in the news reports and the prepared statements taken at face value. Truth in politics instead is found by following the money and the personal and special interests of the players. With a bit of work, we can see that truth with clear vision and hold our elected officials to account.
The Illinois House and Senate met in fall session on Tuesday, October 20, but once again the majority caucus in both chambers did not allow substantive action on the general funds portion of the FY16 budget. Instead of working on a balanced budget with necessary reforms, House Speaker Michael Madigan, once again, held a Committee of the Whole to discuss the negative consequences from there being no state budget. In the end, the majority offered only a piecemeal approach to funding certain programs. In order to turn Illinois around, we need a balanced budget with key reforms that will empower our state and local units of government to more effectively and efficiently spend our tax dollars. These reforms have been offered, but the majority has not seriously addressed them in the overall solution to the budget impasse. The next General Assembly session day is scheduled for Tuesday, November 10.

Rep. Breen Speaks with Students, Seniors and Scouts
Last week, I spoke with three different groups in the 48th District, discussing a wide range of topics. First, I addressed 150 social studies students from Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, where a group of very engaged students stayed late on an early dismissal day to learn how their government works at the state level. We discussed topics from how I became a state representative to the budget impasse and the pension crisis. I let these young men and women know that while I am frustrated with the current happenings in the state capitol, I remain optimistic that fundamental reforms are coming soon that will put our great state onto a better economic path. I also told them how my education in electrical engineering and law was integral to my preparation for public service in the Illinois General Assembly.

Second, I stopped by the Brookdale Senior Center in Glen Ellyn to talk with the residents about the stalemate in Springfield and how the pension obligation is preventing Illinois from being able to adequately fund other areas of the budget.

Lastly, Boy Scouts Troop 51 in Lombard invited me to help the Scouts earn the Citizenship in the Community merit badge and an additional requirement for the boys’ advancement to their Boy Scout First Class rank. I was honored to facilitate the oral report process for such an impressive group of young mn. As an Eagle Scout myself, I truly appreciate the work these boys are doing and recognize how scouting prepares them for a successful adult life.

Rep. Breen Partners with Sen. Nybo and Local Groups for Drive to Benefit Overseas Troops
I’m pleased to be partnering with Senator Chris Nybo, the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for a “Support Our Troops” Collection Drive for Christmas this year. The tradition of sending care packages to our service men and women who are serving overseas is a simple way that we can express our thanks for their sacrifices on behalf of our country. Together, in this local effort, we can let them know of our deep appreciation for them and their dedication to protecting our freedoms.

The legislative office that Sen. Nybo and I share will serve as a drop-off location for items to be collected. Donations will be accepted from October 26 through November 13 during our normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Our office is located at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard. We would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL Senate District 24 or IL House District 48). If you know of a local friend, family member or loved one who is currently serving in the military and is deployed overseas, please contact my office at (630) 403-8135 and provide the service member’s name and address.

Recommended items to be included in the care packages include:
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games 
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil and fragile items cannot be accepted. I hope you’ll help us make this event a successful one.

Rauner Administration Reaches Agreements with Trade Unions
After several months of good faith negotiations, Governor Bruce Rauner agreed to terms on new four-year collective bargaining agreements with the International Union of Operating Engineers, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry, and the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers. The last set of agreements expired June 30, 2015.

The new contracts cover workers at the Departments of Agriculture, Central Management Services, Corrections, Historic Preservation, Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Military Affairs, Transportation, Veterans’ Affairs, and the Illinois State Police. The employees are all professional tradesmen and women who work as stationary engineers and plant operators, plumbers and steamfitters, and machinists.

The tentative agreements are being submitted to the membership of the trade unions for a ratification vote. The terms of the tentative agreements are confidential until the end of the ratification process.

As a continuation of the productive negotiating sessions, the trade unions and the Governor’s Office also pledged to form a long-term relationship to improve employer-labor relations in state government.

Fitch, Moody’s Downgrade Illinois
Fitch Ratings, whose credit ratings are closely watched by Wall Street and the global investment community, reduced Illinois’ “general obligation” (GO) bond rating from single-A-minus, the former ranking, to one notch closer to junk-bond status on Monday, October 19. The new BBB+ rating is only two notches above the lowest investment-grade rating (BBB-) and is three notches above BB+, which signals non-investment-grade (“junk bond”) status. Illinois’ GO bond rating is the lowest among the 50 states.

Following Fitch’s downgrade, Moody’s Investor Services downgraded its ratings on Illinois bonds. Thursday, Moody’s downgraded Illinois outstanding $27 billion of GO bonds to Baa1 from A3, while also lowering ratings on the state’s sales-tax (Build Illinois) bonds to Baa1 from A3, and on the state’s subject to appropriation bonds to Baa2 from Baa1. The outlook for all of these obligations remains negative.

As your voice in Springfield, I’m working to make our state and our communities the best they can be. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my district office at (630) 403-8135 or visit reppeterbreen.org.
State Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) and State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) are partnering with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for a “Support Our Troops” Collection Drive for Christmas this year.

“The tradition of sending care packages to our service men and women is a simple way that we can express our thanks for their sacrifices on behalf of our country,” said Breen. “Together, in this local effort, we can let them know of our deep appreciation for them and their dedication to protecting our freedoms.”

The Nybo/Breen legislative office at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard will serve as a drop-off location for items to be donated to U.S. troops serving overseas. Donations will be accepted from October 26 through November 13 during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday. The legislators would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL Senate District 24 or IL House District 48). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact the Nybo/Breen office with their name and address.

"Our nation's greatness comes from the leadership and dedication of our military - both past and present - and the sacrifices they make on our behalf. Rep. Breen and I want these brave young men and women to know how much we all appreciate their service," said Nybo. "Supporting our troops is as easy as buying a few of the suggested items the next time you're in the grocery store, and bringing them to our legislative offices. Your thoughtfulness will mean so much to the men and women who are a long way from home."

Recommended items to be included in the care packages include:
  • Books, magazines, crossword and word search puzzles, coloring books, colored pencils, dominoes, checkers or chess games 
  • iTunes Gift Cards, headphones/ear buds, DVD movies or television shows, small video games, international calling cards 
  • Baby wipes, deodorant, Kleenex, lotion, toothpaste/toothbrush, shampoo, soap, female hygiene items, shaving cream, razors 
  • Beef jerky, powdered drink mix, coffee, granola or protein bars, trail mix, dry snacks, mixed nuts 
  • Laundry detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners 
  • Footballs, basketballs, soccer balls and frisbees 
Because the items will be mailed, aerosol cans/containers, food items that could melt or spoil and fragile items cannot be accepted.

For more information about the collection drive, or to leave contact information for a specific member of the service, please call Senator Nybo’s office at (630) 969-0990 or Representative Breen’s office at (630) 403-8135.
To say that folks are angry and frustrated with politics right now would be an understatement. In fact, it seems that the entire country is fed up with politicians and the political establishment. You can see it in the rise of “outsider” candidates in the presidential primaries. From Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders, majorities of Americans want a change from the status quo—and they don't care how outrageous the statements or positions of a particular candidate may be, as long as they will upend the established order.

Here in Illinois, we are no strangers to anger and frustration at the political process. I recently gave a talk to a bipartisan group at the Beacon Hill senior community in Lombard. We talked about the lack of an Illinois budget, about House Speaker Michael Madigan, and about Governor Bruce Rauner.

While folks were almost unanimous in their dislike of Speaker Madigan, there were divisions on Governor Rauner. To that end, I wanted to see what the folks at Beacon Hill thought of recent poll results I’d seen relating to the Governor. The poll stated that the Governor’s approval rating is around 45 percent of Illinoisans, and his disapproval rating is around 40 percent. (Normally, an incumbent with an approval rate below 50 percent is considered “in danger.”)

However, that poll also had tested another question—whether folks agreed or disagreed with the statement, “Bruce Rauner is trying to shake things up in Springfield, but the career politicians are standing in his way.” The poll results were 71 percent yes to just 21 percent no.

I asked the seniors at Beacon Hill whether they agreed with that statement or not. Nearly every head in the room nodded in approval. In fact, not a single person in that room full of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents disagreed.

To me, that result speaks louder than the standard approval/disapproval numbers that pundits watch. In this environment of anger and frustration, the public will support an authentic elected leader every time against a status quo politician.

We’ve seen examples locally, too, most recently with the housecleaning at College of DuPage, where the voters chose all new leaders for that school board, even though all of those candidates had little or no prior elected experience.

As we are now in the fourth month of our Illinois budget impasse and government “shutdown,” the lines are clearly drawn between reform and “the way it’s always been.” But, unlike previous years, the people of this State have had enough—they’re sick and tired of the same old, same old.

That’s why I tell folks that I’m more hopeful today about the future of this State than I’ve been in decades. We all know that our elected officials failed us, by not dealing with our structural financial issues of debt, pensions, health care, and the like, many years ago. But, the upside is that fight for the heart and soul of Illinois is raging, right here, right now.

Not only is that debate finally happening, but it’s happening under the bright spotlight of public scrutiny.

I am confident that, at the end of this battle over budget and reform, the people of Illinois will know exactly where their political leaders stand. My great hope is, at that point, the people of this State, through their sacred right to vote, will then act accordingly.

Comptroller Munger: Illinois Can’t Make its November Pension Payment
Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger announced yesterday that her office is unable to make the state’s $560 million pension payment for November. Comparing the state to a household drowning in debt, Munger said the lack of a budget has created a situation where the state simply does not have enough money to make the mandatory payment. She reiterated, however, that retirees will still receive their benefit checks. “The monthly pension payment of $560 million is the largest consistent expenditure that we have through the year, and it is one of the few areas we have had some flexibility because it is not covered by a court order and the delay will not cause immediate hardship,” Munger said. “We will still send out retirement checks, but we will have to tap the corpus of the retirement funds to do so.”

According to Munger, as of this week the state has only $142 million on hand, and the debt total stands at $6.9 billion. She expects that number to grow to $8.5 billion by the end of the year.

Governor Rauner Announces Intention to Sell Thompson Center in Chicago
This week Governor Rauner announced that he wants to sell the James R. Thompson Center, home base for more than 2,200 state employees and 280 non-government workers. During his announcement on Tuesday, Rauner said the 1.2 million square-foot building could generate $20 million annually in new Chicago and CPS taxes. The building cost $172 million to build, and it was completed in 1985. The Governor said he would like to see the building on the auction block within the next year. “From a pure financial point of view, this is a compelling opportunity for the people of Illinois,” said Rauner during his press conference.

The dilapidated 17-story building is in a state of disrepair, and Rauner estimated that it will need more than $100 million in maintenance over the next few years.
Breen Files Bill to Protect Vehicle Owners from Late Registration Renewal Fees
With 90% of our state’s budget dollars flowing even in the absence of an approved budget, most Illinoisans have only been minimally impacted by the budget stalemate in Springfield. However, now the effects are beginning to trickle down and impact vehicle owners. Last week Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office would no longer be able to mail vehicle registration renewal reminders. In his announcement, Secretary White said the suspension of the letters would save his office approximately $450,000 per month, and free up funds that would allow him to continue mailing vehicle stickers to vehicle owners. He encouraged people to use this link to sign up for an email reminder that a vehicle registration renewal is coming due.

The email reminders are a great idea, but what about seniors and others who do not have routine access to computers or email? To keep these people from falling in between the cracks on this issue, this week I took legislative action by filing HB 4306, a measure that would protect motorists from fines and extra fees during this unprecedented budget impasse. Current Illinois law does not allow the Secretary of State to legally waive these late fees.

HB 4306 would prohibit the Secretary of State from imposing a delinquent registration renewal fee when the registered owner of the vehicle has not been provided with either a postage mail or an emailed notice of the date the registration expires. The bill also provides for a one-month grace period for those who have received notice, before a $20 delinquent fee is imposed.

I would encourage everyone to sign up for the email reminders utilizing the link above. For those without email or internet access, you can also renew your sticker either in person at your local Secretary of State office or through the mail. For both options, you need to identify your pin number, which is on your registration card. If mailing, you will need to include your license plate type and number and your renewal check or money order, and mail to Secretary of State, Vehicle Services Department, 501 S. 2nd Street, Room 011, Springfield, IL. 62756. The renewal cost is the same as last year.

Breen Talks with Beacon Hill Residents about the Budget, Taxes and other Springfield Issues
On Monday I had the pleasure of talking with about 50 seniors who live at the Beacon Hill Retirement Center in Lombard. I provided an update about what is (and unfortunately what is not) going on in Springfield, and spoke about how, four months into the budget impasse, Illinois’ pile of unpaid bills continues to grow. I explained that while I am deeply concerned about the current state of Illinois, I am also extremely optimistic that meaningful change to the status quo is right around the corner.
After my 15-minute presentation, I spent a great deal of time answering questions from the intelligent group of interested taxpayers. We discussed pension reform, Governor Rauner’s Turnaround agenda and how his initiatives would positively impact future budgets. It was a delight to meet with these constituents, and I look forward to a return visit.

Legislative Advisory Council Reconvenes for Meeting of the Whole
The Legislative Advisory Council that I created with Senator Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) and State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) presented committee updates at Monday’s meeting. This dedicated group of involved citizens is helping us develop new ideas for legislation and evaluate current proposals being considered in Springfield. The Council’s committees include Education, Health and Human Services, Energy and Environment, Seniors and Veterans, State Finances and Economic Growth, Transportation, and Business and Economic Expansion. Each group spent 10-15 minutes providing an update of their research completed over the last four months, and discussions were held about how to target future research. I was truly impressed by their depth of knowledge and commitment to our state.
At the meeting, Emily Shields, a special education teacher for the DuPage County Cooperative Association for Special Education (CASE), received the first ever Inspiring Educator Award for Senate District 24, which includes the House Districts for Rep. Bellock and me. She was nominated by a Glen Ellyn parent of a CASE student who made tremendous progress during his time in Shields’ classroom. In the photo to the right, Shields and I are shown with Rep. Bellock, Senator Nybo, CASE Executive Director Jim Nelson and CASE Assistant Director Cindy D’Ambrosio.

The Council and its subcommittees will continue to meet monthly throughout the legislative year. New members are always welcome to apply. If you are interested in volunteering your time and talents on one of our committees, please contact my office at (630) 403-8135, or email me using the contact form found at www.reppeterbreen.org.

Lombard Residents Honored at Community Senior Fair
On Wednesday, my office had an information booth at the 10th annual Lombard Senior Fair, and my staff and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the residents who attended the event. I was glad to be able to talk to so many residents about issues that matter to them. Congratulations to Lombard residents Lonnie Morris and Marv Schulgen for receiving the Senior of the Year awards for 2015! I am grateful to their service to the community. It was an honor to be a part of the award presentation with Lombard’s Village President Keith Giagnorio and Trustee Robyn Pike.
Lawmakers follow a report given by the Legislative Advisory
Council's Education Funding Committee.
The Legislative Advisory Council created by three local lawmakers presented updates on its research into state issues as it reconvened for a Meeting of the Whole Oct. 5 at Beacon Hill Retirement Community in Lombard.

State Sen. Chris Nybo (R-Elmhurst) said Council members are working with him, State Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) and State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) to develop new ideas and evaluate current proposals being considered in Springfield. More than 50 local residents attended the meeting.

“During the Council’s Meeting of the Whole Oct. 5, we heard from each Committee about its work since the first meeting in June,” Sen. Nybo said. “These Council members are working closely with my office on the kind of in-depth research and significant information that can be the basis of legislation I can introduce before the General Assembly.”

A local teacher is honored for her selection as the Legislative
Advisory Council's Teacher of the Year.
The Council’s Committees include Education, Health and Human Services, Energy and Environment, Seniors and Veterans, State Finances and Economic Growth, Transportation, and Business and Economic Expansion.

“The citizens who have volunteered their time and talents to these committees have an impressive depth of knowledge,” Breen said. “I am specifically impressed that their research includes a study into what other states are doing well with regard to key issues such as school funding, managed health care and economic growth.”

Committee members must be at least 18 years of age and residents of the 24th Legislative Senate District, which includes the 47th and 48th Legislative House Districts.

“The local residents on our Legislative Advisory Council continue to provide exceptional feedback on a wide range of issues facing our community and state,” Bellock said. “As legislators, we are grateful for their input and look forward to building on the Council’s success by actively bringing their ideas to Springfield to improve the quality of life for every family in Illinois.”

The Legislative Advisory Council will continue to hold monthly meetings throughout the legislative year, and new committee members are always welcome to apply. For more information or to submit a membership application, contact Breen’s office at (630) 403-8135, or email his office through the web form located at www.reppeterbreen.org. You may also receive information by contacting Nybo’s office at (630) 969-0990, or by emailing his office at chris@chrisnybo.org.
As the effects of Illinois’ budget impasse begin to impact vehicle owners, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) filed legislation today to protect them from late fees that could result from the Secretary of State’s recent decision to suspend the mailing of reminders for vehicle registration renewals. Current Illinois law does not allow the Secretary of State to legally waive these late fees.

“The suspension of this important service is the latest fallout from the lack of an approved Fiscal Year 2016 budget in Illinois,” said Breen. “Secretary of State Jesse White has made a decision that will allow the functions of his office to continue for a few more months, and I respect his decision. However, motorists rely on those notices and should not be penalized for the legislature’s inability to get a budget approved.”

HB 4306 would amend the Illinois Vehicle Code by prohibiting the Secretary of State from imposing a delinquent registration renewal fee when the registered owner of the vehicle has not been provided with either a postage mail or an emailed notice of the date the registration expires. The bill also provides that reminder notices will state that a $20 delinquent fee may be imposed if a vehicle owner does not renew the registration within one month of the expiration.

When making the announcement about suspending the mailings, Secretary White encouraged vehicle owners to utilize a website link to sign up for an email reminder that a vehicle registration is about to expire. “While I believe many people will take advantage of the email notification alternative, I worry about seniors and others who do not have routine access to computers and email,” said Breen. “People who don’t use email are going to fall through the cracks and face unfair fees through no fault of their own. HB 4306 would provide protective measures during this unprecedented time in Illinois history.”

Breen is hoping his bill will be debated and voted upon during the upcoming veto session.

To sign up for email reminders, go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com. For those without email or internet access, you can renew either in person at your local Secretary of State office or through the mail. For both options, you need to identify your pin number, which is on your registration card. If mailing, you will need to include your license plate type and number and your renewal check or money order, and mail to Secretary of State, Vehicle Services Department, 501 S. 2nd Street, Room 011, Springfield, IL. 62756. The renewal cost is the same as last year.
Representative Breen Calls for Amnesty for Late Vehicle Registration Renewals During Budget Impasse
As Illinois enters its fourth month without an approved and sustainable budget, the effects of the impasse are now reaching Illinoisans who own vehicles. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office will immediately suspend mailing out vehicle registration renewal reminders to the public due to the lack of a state budget. Those who want to continue receiving a reminder must now sign up to receive electronic notices through this link.

I am in the process of filing legislation that would prohibit the Secretary of State’s office from issuing late fees when motorists have not been notified by email or U.S. Mail that their registration renewal is due. Folks should not be forced to pay late fees or tickets if they are late renewing their registration during this unprecedented budget impasse.

When making the announcement, Secretary White noted that the renewal reminder mailings cost the state approximately $450,000 per month. According to White, unless a budget is approved, his postage account will be completely depleted in a few months, which would prevent the mailing of vehicle registration renewal stickers, titles, and license plates to vehicle owners.

In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to sign up for the email notifications right away. You will need to locate and have handy your annual vehicle registration document, which contains your "Registration ID" and "PIN," usually located in the top right corner of the registration document. If you receive an email reminder, that will also include the PIN number for on-line renewal of vehicle registration stickers. Click here to view an FAQ about to this issue.

Representative Breen Hosts Celebration for Summer Reading Program Participants
This week, we celebrated with more than 65 children and parents for their successful completion of my first annual summer reading program. We gathered at Sacred Heart Parish Center in Lombard and enjoyed dinner, deserts, and prizes, all supplied by generous local businesses. After dinner, I even got to read to the children and talk with them about their favorite books. Each child received an Illinois House certificate of recognition, along with an insulated lunch bag filled with coupons for local businesses and restaurants. Reading is an essential part of everyday life, and reading over the summer is especially important to help children grow in their love of this vital skill and rewarding pastime. A total of 67 children participated in the reading program this year, and I hope to see an even greater level of involvement next summer.

Representative Breen Reflects on Papal Visit
This past week, Pope Francis captured the attention of our nation. His visit brought tears to the eyes of otherwise-cynical TV commentators. The Speaker of the U.S. House, John Boehner, even decided to step down in the wake of the first-ever address by the Roman Pontiff to Congress. We haven’t seen a papal reception like this since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

In the wall-to-wall TV coverage of Pope Francis, the reporters discussed his speeches in detail, which covered a range of subjects, from the environment to religious liberty, from immigration to the protection of life. But the Pope didn’t lay out a political program – what he shared with our nation is a set of guiding principles. While we are deluged every day by various “programs,” “solutions,” and “four-point plans,” we don’t hear a lot of talk about principles in our political discussions. Not so with the Pope.

If you look past the political commentators, you see that the real focus of the Pope’s message was on the virtues of faith, hope and love. In his final homily at Sunday Mass in Philadelphia, Pope Francis summed it up in his words on the family. What touched me was when he talked about the little ways we show love in our family. He spoke of how these gestures of love begin in the family and radiate out into the world and those we encounter:

“How are we trying to live this way in our homes, in our societies? What kind of world do we want to leave to our children? We cannot answer these questions alone, by ourselves. It is the Spirit who challenges us to respond as part of the great human family. Our common house can no longer tolerate sterile divisions.”

These words can be applied to many different scenarios and issues – to what happens in your home and mine. How do we treat each other? Are we truly doing unto others as we would have them do unto us? The Golden Rule is simple, but certainly not easy to follow!

Despite the media reports, Pope Francis is not preaching a different Gospel than that preached by Pope Benedict or Pope John Paul II. For instance, Pope John Paul II regularly spoke of “solidarity” and the common bonds of fraternity and responsibility between all peoples.

Looking specifically at Pope Francis’ words, I ask myself how the Illinois General Assembly is doing. What kind of state are we leaving for our children? On the one hand, are we truly caring for the most vulnerable when our funding for the developmentally disabled is the worst in the country? Yet we rack up debt because we refuse measures like pension reform – and refuse to even discuss how to pay for government pensions. Is it right to put off paying for these obligations and instead force our children and grandchildren to pay for them?

The principles that Pope Francis has shared are timeless, and if we can agree on the principles, they can guide our consideration of specific policies to improve our common life together. We can look critically at how our government should spend the taxpayer dollars entrusted to it. We can carefully review our laws and legal structures to cut waste and abuse. We can ask whether government policies promote or hurt the family. Then together, we can truly make our state a bit more faithful, a bit more hopeful, and a bit more loving.
On Friday, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 1421, which could have resulted in fee increases for drinking water customers in DuPage County to pay for wastewater improvements downstate. The bill would have allowed private utility companies to charge drinking water customers for wastewater improvements, no matter where located and even if the customers receive wastewater services from their local municipalities and not from those private utility companies.

The bill easily passed the Illinois Senate on April 23 by a vote of 40-4-2, but Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) led a floor fight against the bill in the House, almost killing it. The bill eventually passed the House 63-50-2 on May 28, receiving just 3 more than the minimum 60-vote margin needed for passage. Breen then publicly requested that the governor veto the measure.

“Folks shouldn’t have to pay for services and improvements that don’t benefit them,” said Breen, whose 48th District includes Glen Ellyn, Wheaton, Lombard, and Lisle, towns with numerous residents served by private utility Illinois American Water. “People don’t have a choice of drinking water and wastewater providers. Because of the monopoly those providers enjoy, the government carefully regulates the types of fees they can charge. This bill would have weakened these careful regulations. Governor Rauner’s veto is a victory for homeowners across the state.”

In his veto message, Governor Rauner noted that, "Whenever we permit utilities to pass on their costs to consumers, we should ensure that costs are passed to consumers who use and benefit from the particular services to the extent possible. Unfortunately, because not all consumers receive both their water and wastewater services from the same utility, Senate Bill 1421 would permit a public utility to pass on wastewater costs to consumers who do not receive wastewater services. This type of subsidy is not appropriate or necessary."

The bill now returns to the Illinois Senate, where it originated. In order to override the veto, 36 votes would be necessary in the Senate and 71 votes in the House. Breen is optimistic that the proponents of the measure will be unable to obtain the additional 8 House votes needed to reach the 71-vote margin needed for override. The sponsors of the bill are Sen. David Koehler (D-Peoria) and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria).