Legislative Update: January 13, 2016

Today was supposed to be the first day of the 2016 legislative session for members of the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, my colleagues and I received a memo on Friday from Speaker Madigan, letting us know that he was cancelling our first week in Springfield. He did not provide reasoning for the cancellation, but we learned later through a statement by a member of his staff that the Speaker felt there was not a sufficient amount of work to require us to be in Springfield!

We need to negotiate and enact a balanced budget, along with the many other significant reforms necessary to improve the economic climate in our state. The General Assembly should be working nonstop until a compromise is achieved.

Our first day in Springfield will now be January 27, the day Governor Bruce Rauner is scheduled to present the annual “State of the State” address.

Consolidation Task Force Releases Report
After almost 12 months of hearings and consultations with citizens from throughout Illinois, the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force recently released a 400-page report to reduce burdens on local units of government and taxpayers. The Task Force was chaired by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, who also happens to be a resident of the 48th District.

Illinois currently has nearly 7,000 individual units of local government. That’s more than any other state in the nation, and almost 2,000 more than the runner-up state of Texas. This often leads to duplication of services. Taxes are simply too high, and a primary factor for our over-taxation is the extraordinarily high number of local governments, coupled with financially burdensome unfunded mandates.

I support significant reform to the way that government services are delivered in Illinois. In my time on the village board in Lombard, we considered and enacted a number of the suggested reforms included in the report. Unfortunately, our state’s laws often prevent local officials and taxpayers from implementing creative and collaborative solutions to deliver services more efficiently. As a lawmaker I am committed to amending or repealing those laws, so as to ensure necessary government services can be delivered in a cost-effective manner.

House GOP Legislators Call for Tougher Balanced Budget Law
With the State’s budget impasse entering month seven, I’ve joined with a number of my colleagues to forward legislation that would withhold pay from lawmakers if a balanced budget is not passed. HB4399 would build upon and strengthen the state constitution’s balanced budget requirement. The bill demands that within 30 days of the enactment of a budget, the Auditor General’s Office must certify that the budget will be balanced, with expenses not exceeding expected revenue. If the Auditor General declares that the budget is not balanced then the Comptroller will:
Stop payment for the salary of General Assembly members and Constitutional Officers
Within 10 days of the Auditor General’s certification that the budget is not balanced, the General Assembly must convene to enact a new state budget

The bill is awaiting action in the Rules Committee.

Illinois Ranks 3rd in Net Outmigration as Citizens Continue to Flee the State
A recent survey found significant numbers of Illinois residents moving elsewhere within the United States in 2015. According to the survey, in 2015, the typical Illinois emigrant moved to Texas, Georgia, Colorado, Washington, or North Carolina. Net outmigration from Illinois is attributed to the almost stagnant job picture in the Land of Lincoln. The number of new Illinois private-sector jobs created since the 2008-09 economic downturn has not been sufficient to make up for jobs lost, leading to a bleak outlook for young Illinois adults and new entrants into the labor force.

The Census Bureau’s survey numbers are backed up with data from moving-van firm United Van Lines, which closely tracks the number of runs their trucks are forced to make as a result of imbalances in the numbers of households entering or leaving a state. In 2015, as in previous years, Illinois was ranked near the bottom of states in terms of net moving in activity. The overall table, published as the Annual National Movers Study, showed Illinois as the #3 net outbound state in 2015. New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut also had substantial quantities of outbound moving-van activity. States with net in-migration included Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont.

The one consistent key difference between our state and these other states is our political structure. Too many of our elected officials refuse to acknowledge that our laws and regulations are strangling businesses and destroying jobs and that our corruption and spending are draining our residents dry and even driving them out of state. The states taking our citizens are red states and blue states, so the divide shouldn’t be a partisan one.

Government reform isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue: it’s a vital issue of our state’s survival. I’ll keep fighting for reform, and I hope that you will stick with me in that fight.

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.