State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) recently surveyed constituents within Illinois’ 48th Legislative House District. Close to 200 individuals responded to the survey and the results indicated clearly that citizens favor term limits for legislators and statewide office holders, structural reforms to be enacted before any tax increase and decreased spending across the board as a budget balancing tool.

“I appreciate folks’ willingness to share their views in our annual survey,” said Breen. “These results show that the residents of the 48th District want to see commonsense reforms, spending discipline, and term limits from Springfield. I will vigorously voice those views during the upcoming term of the General Assembly.”

With regard to whether legislators and/or statewide office holders should be subject to term limits, an overwhelming 81% reported being in favor of term limits for legislators and statewide office holders, while an additional 6% favored term limits only for legislators and another 3% favored term limits only for statewide office holders. Just 8% of the respondents said they were not in favor of term limits, and 2% of those taking the survey skipped the question.

When asked if structural reforms should be implemented before a tax increase is considered, 86% of those who completed the survey said yes to reforms before taxes. Only 8% said reforms should not precede a tax increase, while 5% reported being undecided and 1% of the respondents skipped the question.

“I’ve worked hard to advocate for both term limits and structural reforms for our state over the past two years,” Breen said. “These survey results strengthen my resolve to increase those efforts for the next two years.”

The majority of those who took the survey also said they would favor an across-the-board percentage decrease in funding for all budget line items, as a way to help balance the budget. 55% of the respondents answered in favor of the across-the board reductions, while 29% did not want any spending reductions. 14% of the people who participated in the survey reported they were undecided on the issue, and 2% skipped that question.

Similarly, when given the options of reforming how services are provided, cutting services and raising taxes as tools for balancing the budget, 52% of the respondents said reforms should take place first, while 33% said that reducing the level of services should be the first course of action. 15% of those who took the survey recommended raising taxes as their first choice for balancing the budget.

Those who completed a survey were also invited to provide additional, open-ended comments. “As I reviewed the surveys, it was not surprising to read that many of my constituents want bipartisanship in Springfield and simply want lawmakers to do their job,” said Breen. “I share their frustration and believe an agreed budget is possible. I am very willing to do this, and I have spoken to many colleagues from the other side of the aisle who also want to solve this budget crisis for the long term.”
Our first week of veto session was cut short by one day last week when House Speaker Mike Madigan decided to cancel a scheduled session day we had on our calendars for Thursday, November 17. While we did take action on some Senate bills, resolutions, and vetoed items on Tuesday and Wednesday, I was disappointed by the Speaker’s decision to send us home while we still have no budget. We will return to Springfield the next week on Tuesday, November 29 to complete our veto session work.

Breen Investigating Oakbrook Mall Red Light Camera Approval; May File Legislative Fix
Like many of you, I was shocked to learn that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently issued a permit for the installation of red light cameras near Oakbrook Mall at the intersection of IL Route 83 and 22nd Street. I have been a long-time opponent of these cameras, which have become much more about revenue than about motor vehicle safety. I am working with other lawmakers and with local officials to determine if the General Assembly can, and should, intervene.

In March, IDOT denied the camera request, but officials said at the time that additional information could be submitted for consideration. Subsequently, a May letter stated the location would be approved pending the proper permit from IDOT. IDOT issued the permit on October 28 and the Village of Oakbrook Terrace, which controls the intersection, now has 180 days to complete the red light camera installation. Officials from neighboring Oak Brook, which have opposed the installation of the camera from the beginning, claim they were not notified of the new approval, and learned of the issuance of the permit from IDOT and not from the Village of Oakbrook Terrace. As lawmakers look further into this issue, I will keep you updated.

Legislative Survey Results Show Clear Preference for Term Limits, Controlled Spending and Balanced Budgets
I want to thank everyone who took the time to complete my 2016 Legislative Survey. The survey was included in the Legislative Report that was mailed to District 48 households over the summer, and it was also available through my legislative web site. Several hundred surveys were completed and the results are as follows:

Do you think legislators and/or statewide office holders should be subject to term limits?
Do you agree that structural reforms must be implemented before taxpayers are asked to provide additional revenue to support State services?
Would you support an across-the-board equal percentage decrease in funding for all line items to help balance the budget?
In general, there are three methods that can be used alone or in combination to balance the Illinois State budget (reform how services are provided, cut services, and raise taxes). What is your first choice of action that you believe should be used to balance the Illinois budget?
Those who completed a survey were also invited to include additional comments. As I reviewed the surveys (yes, I read every one of them), it was not surprising to read that many of you want bipartisanship in Springfield and simply want lawmakers to do their job. I share your frustration and believe an agreed budget is possible if rank and file lawmakers put partisanship aside and work together. I am very willing to do this, and I have spoken to many colleagues from the other side of the aisle who also want to solve the budget crisis once and for all. Unfortunately, Speaker Madigan is not interested in implementing even the simplest of reforms that would put our State on a path toward fiscal health, and raising taxes without controlling or reforming irresponsible spending practices is not an option for Republicans.

Still Time to Participate in “Support Our Troops” Drive
This month, Senator Chris Nybo and I are partnering with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for our second annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected throughout the month of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas.

The legislative office I share with Senator Nybo at 929 S. Main Street, Suite 105A in Lombard is a drop-off location for items to be donated. Donations will be accepted through November 30th during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

We 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 my office at (630) 403-8135 with their names and addresses.

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, I would like to thank the residents of the 48th Legislative House District for allowing me to serve in the General Assembly. It is the honor of a lifetime, and a privilege to help shape policy to improve the lives of Illinoisans. I hope you all are able to spend time with friends, family and other loved ones during this long Thanksgiving weekend. 

Next week lawmakers will return to Springfield for the conclusion of veto session, and then we will return to finish out 2016 in our home districts and prepare for the inauguration of the new, 100th Illinois General Assembly on January 11, 2017.
On the first day of veto session this year State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) had a very special guest join him on the House floor. Matthew Elijah Breen was adopted by the Representative and his wife Margie after his birth in Virginia on August 9. The new family spent the first two weeks of Matthew’s life in Virginia while they waited for the interstate adoption paperwork to clear before they were able to bring him home to Illinois. Mom, Dad and Matthew all all doing very well.
This has been the most unique political campaign season of our lifetimes. But with the election now over, lawmakers are refocusing their efforts on addressing Illinois’ most pressing problems. In the 48th District, I was reelected to serve for a second term. I sincerely appreciate the trust placed in me, and I will continue reaching across the aisle to find common ground on the important problems facing our state.

Tomorrow, lawmakers return to Springfield for the fall veto session. During this year’s spring session, 438 substantive bills were approved by both chambers of the General Assembly and reached the Governor’s desk for final action. Of those 438 bills, 24 received a total veto, and nine received an amendatory, or partial, veto from the Governor. Veto Session is the time when we will reconsider many of these bills and possibly consider other legislative issues that remained unaddressed during the spring session, such as the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) Act Tax Credit program, which that will expire in December without General Assembly action.

According to the Governor’s office, many of the bills that received vetoes this year sought to add new spending to the Illinois budget, while other bills were deemed as duplicative or unnecessary, and still others included language that the Governor felt was harmful to taxpayers. I have spent the days leading up to veto session reviewing the vetoed bills and the reasoning behind each veto.

Tuesday’s election will significantly change the landscape in Springfield in 2017, as the House Republican caucus saw a net gain of four seats and the Senate Republicans a net gain of two seats. The gains in the House are extremely significant. By reducing the House Democratic caucus membership from 71 to 67, House Speaker Mike Madigan will no longer have a veto-proof majority. While the Speaker will still hold a majority for the next General Assembly, he will no longer be able to rely solely on his caucus to override gubernatorial vetoes. The significance cannot be overstated. For the first time in many years, when the new General Assembly is sworn in on January 11, all paths toward bill approval and overall progress must rely on bipartisanship and compromise. In particular, the temporary stopgap spending bill the General Assembly approved in June will end at the conclusion of this calendar year. The rationale for the delay in reaching a full balanced budget was Senate President John Cullerton’s assertion that compromise could not be reached until after the election. With the election over, it’s time to get the budget balanced and Illinois turned around.

Breen Partners with Senator Nybo for Second Annual “Support Our Troops” Drive
This month, Senator Chris Nybo and I will partner with the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the local Lilac Post 5815 for our second annual “Support Our Troops” collection drive. Items collected throughout the month of November will be delivered to military personnel serving overseas near or before Christmas.

The legislative office I share with Senator Nybo 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. Donations will be accepted through November 30th during normal business hours of 9:00 AM until 3:30 PM, Monday through Friday.

We would also like to send care packages specifically to local soldiers from the area (IL House District 48 or IL Senate District 24). Friends and family with loved ones from the area who are currently serving in the military are encouraged to contact my office at (630) 403-8135 with their names and addresses.

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.
Voting is underway throughout the Land of Lincoln. As folks here go to the polls, they’re seeing a state government that is spending more than it takes in, and it was recently announced that Illinois’ general fund is expected to be nearly empty by the end of the month.

Due to the lack of action by the General Assembly majority to adopt a balanced budget, Comptroller Leslie Munger has stated that general fund payments into the pension systems will have to be delayed. Leslie Munger has the herculean task of trying to juggle the state’s inadequate moneys, to ensure payments for the most vital government services. She stopped regularly paying General Assembly members earlier this year, instead putting their checks on the same payment schedule as the small businesses who provide services to the state.

Let’s just say that Leslie is not popular right now among the political class in Springfield—every time I go to an event where there are legislators from the other side, they gripe about not getting their money on time! That was Leslie’s point: local nonprofits and small businesses are waiting a year or more to be paid, and she felt that legislators would better understand the pain that their inaction has caused, if those legislators had to experience the same delayed payment schedule.

We’re also facing a tougher environment for jobs and economic growth in Illinois, compared to the rest of the country. We lost another 800 manufacturing jobs this month, and across all sectors, we’re almost 40,000 jobs below where we were in 2000. And that’s with 500,000 more people living in Illinois today, as compared with 2000.

I’ve written here about the possibility for compromise and reform in Illinois—whether it’s getting property taxes under control, so folks aren’t forced out of their homes, or reducing our worker’s compensation costs, which are so high that they keep existing companies from hiring more workers and new companies from starting or moving here in the first place.

But all that compromise and reform work is on hold, pending the outcome of this election. These issues are in your hands now. You get to choose who you want to send to Springfield to work on those reforms.

Some elected officials on the ballot will be more willing to work together on reform, and some will be less willing. Some want taxes to go up without any changes to government, and some believe that we first have to tighten our belts before looking at additional taxes. Some believe that things in state government are just fine and will fix themselves, and some believe that the risks to the health and well-being of our state have never been higher.

These are the stakes in our state elections. Voting is one of the most blessed duties—and awesome responsibilities—of citizens in a free republic. It’s now your turn to decide: choose wisely!