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.