House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) announced on Thursday that State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) will join the Republican Leadership Team as the House Republican Caucus’ Floor Leader.

As Floor Leader, Breen will be the House Republican Caucus’ primary bill debater as legislation comes to the floor of the House for consideration. “Representative Breen’s critical thinking skills will prove to be a benefit to the Caucus, particularly as the chief advocate for House Republican viewpoints on legislative matters,” said Durkin, after making the announcement to the 51-member House Republican Caucus.

Breen, a constitutional attorney specializing in defense of free speech, said he is honored to take on the role of floor leader during such a pivotal time in the state’s history. “As the General Assembly works to bring fairness and equity to our school funding formula, it will be a privilege to be our caucus’ leading voice during this important debate,” said Breen. “It is an honor to serve in this role, and I appreciate the trust and confidence placed in me by Leader Durkin.”

Breen was elected to the General Assembly in November of 2014, after serving as a Village Trustee and Acting Village President for the Village of Lombard. He is the only member of the General Assembly to hold an electrical engineering degree, which he earned in three years from Vanderbilt University. Breen also holds a law degree from the University of Notre Dame.

“I look forward to voicing our caucus’ priorities and goals as we continue with reform efforts to move our State from the brink of collapse to substantial recovery,” Breen said. “The leadership team is dedicated to restoring people’s confidence in the State of Illinois and I am pleased to be taking a larger role in sharing our message.”

Breen will take his seat as Floor Leader immediately.
Lawmakers are returning to Springfield today for a special session called by Governor Rauner. In response to the Governor's call for a special session to discuss funding for K-12 Education for the 2017-2018 school year, State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) has issued the following statement:

"Instead of accepting a bipartisan compromise education funding plan, Illinois Democrats following the lead of their Speaker, Mike Madigan, rammed through a massive giveaway of suburban tax dollars to the Chicago Public Schools, which the governor has rightfully stated he cannot sign. Despite the governor’s promise of an Amendatory Veto, Democrats still press their education funding scheme, which puts suburban residents on the hook for the continually mounting debts of the CPS pension system. Chicago residents already pay 30-50% less in property taxes than residents of DuPage County, due to chronic and purposeful underfunding by city politicians. We should be providing relief to suburban homeowners suffering under the highest property tax burden in the country, not rewarding decades of deliberately poor behavior by Chicago Democrats.

With schools on the verge of not opening in August, Governor Rauner is doing what the Democrat majority of the General Assembly should have done and won’t do: get the legislators to Springfield to fix this mess. There are plenty of votes for a compromise education funding measure—if only House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton will allow legislators to vote on one."
This morning Governor Bruce Rauner joined State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) and other elected officials to sign landmark legislation that makes Illinois the first state in the nation to provide insurance coverage of medically-advised treatments for PANDAS (pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections). HB 2721 was signed into law as Public Act 100-0024 and will be known as “Charlie’s Law.”

Breen, Chief Co-Sponsor of HB 2721, invited the Governor to sign the bill at the Lombard home of Kate Drury, whose son Charlie developed severe mental health complications after a case of strep throat, at the age of eight. After the diagnosis, the Drury family had to pay out of pocket for expensive treatments to reset the boy’s autoimmune system. Also present at the signing was Wendy Nawara and her son, also named Charlie, who suffered from PANDAS. Together with other area parents, Kate and Wendy have worked tirelessly to pass HB 2721. “Charlie’s Law” is named for both Kate’s and Wendy’s sons.

“In cases of PANDAS, a strep infection causes the immune system to essentially attack the brain, leading to obsessive-compulsive behavior or other extreme or harmful behaviors,” said Breen. “No child should have to suffer through the neurological effects of this devastating syndrome, just because their families cannot afford the costly treatment regimen. Moving forward, because of the passage of this bill, every insurance company in Illinois will cover medically-recommended treatments for PANDAS.”

Prior to the bill signing, Governor Rauner praised the bipartisanship that was involved in the legislation’s approval in the House and Senate. “Our young people should be the top priority in everything we do in the state of Illinois,” said Rauner. “Today shows what we can get done when we work in a bipartisan basis and move quickly and expeditiously. Illinois will now be the first state in America to guarantee insurance coverage for this vicious disease.”

The bill received unanimous support from lawmakers in the House and Senate this spring.

After a marathon special session in Springfield, legislators returned home, bringing with them a 32% permanent income tax increase. The General Assembly provided no relief on property taxes, no help for small businesses, and no reprieve from our massive pension debt. In response, over the last few days, I’ve had more folks than ever tell me they’re leaving Illinois. Some are angry, others just demoralized, but all are frustrated beyond belief.

During the floor debate, I called the package of tax and spending bills a “blackmail budget.” I did that because, for instance, Eastern Illinois University was on the verge of collapse, loss of accreditation, and eventual shutdown. The state representative covering that university was forced to choose between a massive permanent tax increase on the people of the entire state, on the one hand, and the loss of the primary employer in his legislative district, on the other. He had no compromise choice, no option for reforms, just vote yes for the budget—or lose your university. Take it or leave it, with the package of bills called at the last possible moment, right before junk status hits. I call that “blackmail.”

But on reflection, I realized this isn't just the way Illinois passes budgets.

On June 28, the General Assembly passed a bill reauthorizing 9-1-1 services for Illinois, which had to happen by July 1. For several months, the provisions of that bill had been making their way through the General Assembly, largely agreed. But at the last minute, Speaker Mike Madigan and the Democrat majority added on a near-doubling of fees on suburban cell phone lines, setting them more than 50% higher than a nonpartisan commission had found was required to run the 9-1-1 system. They also added large increases to Chicago residents’ cell phones, which Mayor Emanuel secured from Madigan to get more money for city pension funds.

Governor Rauner wasn’t sent the bill until July 1, and that same day, he issued an amendatory veto, removing these unnecessary fee increases. However, Madigan and his majority Democrats refused to allow the bill to be considered without those fee increases. Madigan gave us one choice: either override the governor and support the bill with the unnecessary fee increases, or risk 9-1-1 services shutting down in many parts of the state. By waiting till the last minute and providing us no alternative, Madigan literally threatened us with callers to 9-1-1 getting no answer, all to get additional cash to Chicago. I call that blackmail.

And like a slow-moving freight train, there’s another crisis headed down the tracks at Illinois taxpayers. In the spending part of this blackmail budget, Governor Rauner identified what he called a “booby trap.” It turns out, the billions of dollars allocated for K-12 education funding is restricted—the money won’t be sent to local schools, unless a new school funding formula is put into law.

You see, the Democrats recently rammed through a new school funding bill on partisan lines. That bill would give hundreds of millions more dollars to Chicago Public Schools, specifically because its pensions are underfunded. But, that underfunding is because Chicago aldermen put nearly nothing toward those pensions for decades. They kept property taxes low in Chicago and didn’t make pension payments, while our suburban property taxes skyrocketed. The new school formula would make suburban taxpayers cover the tab for those decades of malfeasance, not the Chicago residents who reaped the benefits of low property taxes. With property taxes in Lombard already 40-50% higher than those in Chicago, this additional burden on us is insane.

The governor has promised to veto that new school funding bill as soon as Madigan puts it on his desk. You know what will happen then. Madigan will hold off until the last possible moment, and the argument from Democrats will be that legislators must override the governor’s veto, or else no one’s schools will open. We would have to approve a massive gift to Chicago or risk ruin for the rest of the state. That’s high-stakes blackmail.

The people of Illinois deserve better than blackmail legislating by their General Assembly. Madigan and the special interests in Springfield get away with these practices because Illinoisans don’t know about them. These bad actors thrive in darkness and confusion. But if folks learn what’s going on, I hope they’ll get mad. I hope they’ll get so mad that they spread the word to their family, friends, and neighbors. And once enough people see what’s going on, the spotlight will be so bright on Springfield that there will be no place for these bad actors to hide. That’s how we’ll change our government. That’s how we’ll turn Illinois around.

Breen Speaks Out Against Price Gauging in 911 Bill
In the final days of the summer special session, members of the House of Representatives used their veto override authority to force a 911 bill that had received an amendatory veto by Governor Bruce Rauner into law. Whereas 71 votes were needed for the veto override, the final House vote on the measure was 90-22-1. While I favor improvements to our telcom system and recognize the importance of reliable 911 service, I voted against the override due to outrageous fee increases included in the bill that had nothing to do with the actual cost of providing 911 service. Click here to watch my full floor comments.
Today in Springfield, members of the House of Representatives approved revenue and spending packages that aim to end the budget impasse. SB06 (spending) was approved by an 81-34 vote and SB 09 (revenue) by a 72-45 vote. State Representative Peter Breen, who voted against both bills, spoke about his opposition during the floor debate, and said they include no mechanism for paying down the $15 billion backlog of bills, and do not take steps to reform Illinois’ bloated government or clean up corruption.

Click here to watch a key portion of Breen’s floor debate on SB 09.
This week members of the House of Representatives used their veto override authority to force a 911 bill that had received an amendatory veto by Governor Bruce Rauner into law. Whereas 71 votes were needed for the veto override, the final House vote on the measure was 90-22-1. State Representative Peter Breen (R-Lombard) voted against the override and said he objected to fee increases included in the bill that had nothing to do with the actual cost of providing 911 service. 

Click here to watch Breen’s full floor comments.