Newsletter: Rep. Breen Introduces "IL Tax Reform Plan"

Lawmakers Return to Springfield for Start of 2018 Session
Lawmakers are back in Springfield for the 2018 legislative session. Members of the House and Senate gathered in joint session on January 31 to hear Governor Bruce Rauner’s annual State of the State address. The Governor will present his annual budget address next week, at noon on Wednesday, February 14. The speech will be streamed live, and can be accessed at, by clicking on the House audio/video link.

Breen Champions Illinois Tax Reform Plan
In an effort to put more money in the pockets of Illinois taxpayers and infuse funds into the Illinois economy, this week I introduced the “Illinois Tax Reform Plan.” The plan, consisting of three taxpayer-friendly bills, was unveiled Tuesday at a press briefing in Springfield. You can watch that press conference here.

Each bill has the potential of lowering taxes on Illinoisans and Illinois businesses.

HB 4563 expands the Illinois Invest in Kids Act tax credit model to allow Illinoisans to make fully deductible charitable contributions to 501(c)(3) foundations supporting public school districts, while receiving tax credits to reduce their partially deductible state and local income tax (SALT) payments. The new federal tax law has increased take-home pay for the vast majority of Illinoisans, while also putting a $10,000 limit on deductions for SALT payments. Because the Democratic majority in the General Assembly has refused to allow consideration of real property tax relief and income tax relief measures, those taxes have increased much higher than our neighboring states—and for many people, to over $10,000. With this plan, folks can continue to get deductions for their excess tax liability, putting over $1 billion, every year, back into Illinois taxpayers’ wallets. Rather than sending this money to Washington bureaucrats, these dollars can be pumped into the Illinois economy, to help our state grow and prosper.

Through HB 4563, taxpayers could make annual contributions to school district foundations up to the total amount of their state income taxes and residential property taxes, in exchange for a state tax credit equal to 100% of their donation. The bill would then adjust state payments to K-12 districts, to ensure no loss of funds to either the districts or the state.

The second bill in the package, HB 4376, would allow parents who choose to send their children to K-12 private or parochial schools in Illinois to use their Illinois Bright Start program funds (529 Plan) to help offset those costs rather than only using those funds for college. Today’s Bright Start Program does not provide the flexibility provided by the recent changes in federal tax law, to allow families the ability to use their own 529 plan account for K-12 educational expenses. My bill expands the Illinois Bright Start Program’s definition of “qualifying expenses” so that families may enjoy the full tax benefits, newly available under federal tax law. Expanding the use of these tax-free funds will help hard-working Illinois families save for their kids’ education.

HB 4376 also provides for a rollover of 529 plan funds into an Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account to help individuals living with significant disabilities. Whereas 529 plans may only be used for education, ABLE accounts may also be used for housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services and health care expenses. Individuals with disabilities and their families often rely on public benefits for income, health care, housing and other assistance, and eligibility is largely based on meeting an income threshold. ABLE accounts allow families to create a long-term plan with defined tax benefits for covering the significant costs associated to living with a disability.

The final bill in the Illinois Tax Reform Plan is HB 4562, a common sense measure to support the small businesses that will start or grow as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. HB 4562 will lift the burden that forces individuals who operate a small business where they are the sole employee to make payments into the unemployment insurance system. Individuals who operate a business where they are the only employee certainly can’t “fire” themselves in the traditional sense of unemployment insurance, so they shouldn’t be forced to pay for this insurance. There are thousands of single-employee businesses in Illinois, and while these entrepreneurs are contributing greatly to the Illinois economy, they’re being nickel-and-dimed through laws that force them to pay for services from which they could never benefit.

I am hopeful to have wide bipartisan support for all three bills and will be pushing for prompt consideration of the legislation in Springfield.

Rep. Peter Breen Files Bill to Preserve Illinois Stalking Laws and Protect Victims of Stalking
On November 30, 2017, the Illinois Supreme Court, in People v. Relerford, struck down large parts of the state’s stalking laws on First Amendment grounds. The ruling striking the laws entirely left many victims of stalking without legal protection, so I immediately went to work on a bill to preserve and repair those laws, in accord with the dictates of the United States Constitution. The Illinois Supreme Court’s decision found several portions of the stalking statute overbroad, impermissibly infringing on the right to Free Speech. I reached across the aisle in drafting and filing my bill, HB 4506, consulting with the ACLU of Illinois to obtain its support in this effort. The bill would be immediately effective, to protect victims of stalking as soon as possible.

The bill revises several constitutionally suspect parts of our former stalking law, including prohibitions on communicating “about” a person or causing “emotional distress,” along with picketing exemptions that discriminated based on the content of the picketing. The changes I am proposing seek to provide sound, thorough protections for victims of stalking, while shoring up weaknesses in our current law, to head off future constitutional challenges.

Rep. Breen Authors Resolution Urging Congress to Implement No-Cost Paid Parental Leave Program
I also filed legislation this week that urges Congress to take swift action on an innovative new proposal that would allow new moms and dads paid leave by using their own Social Security benefits early, so they can bond with their new babies. My HR 798 would adopt the model of the Independent Women’s Forum, which provides this benefit at zero cost to employers and taxpayers. The proposal allows new parents a completely voluntary option, to collect Social Security benefits for twelve weeks, in exchange for delaying the collection of those same Social Security benefits by approximately six weeks, at retirement age. The new benefits would be offered in addition to any existing employer-paid parental leave policies.

Today, approximately 60% of new parents in America, especially working class parents, lack access to paid parental leave. The main impediment to the implementation of a federal paid parental leave policy has been cost, a problem this proposal would solve. The Social Security Administration already administers programs under which workers may choose to defer their benefits, so this program could be readily administrated by existing infrastructure. This is a no-cost solution that would provide priceless time between baby and parents during those important first months after birth.

State Representative Peter Breen Renews Push to Eliminate Red Light Cameras
This year I am renewing my efforts to eliminate unsafe, unwanted, and unnecessary red light cameras. HB 4372 would prohibit the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) from approving any red light camera installation until the requesting municipality or county provides proof that a significant increase in public safety will result from the use of the automated traffic law enforcement system. If red light cameras are about public safety, let’s see the data. There is no compelling evidence of improved safety from these cameras—just money out of your pocket.

HB 4373 is a measure that would ban red light cameras in DuPage County. I hear regularly from folks who feel red light cameras are nothing more than a hidden tax on drivers, meant to bring in revenue to local units of government. The cameras tag unsuspecting motorists with traffic tickets that no police officer on the scene would ever give. By limiting this measure to DuPage, I hope to avoid objections from the Cook County legislators who support red light cameras in that county.

Metra Seeks Public Input on Proposed Fare Structure
Metra is seeking input from customers regarding potential changes to fare structure and ticket options at several public forums this February. Input on the proposed changes can also be shared online here. To learn more about the proposed changes and for a full list of the upcoming hearings, click here.

Electronic Renewal Process Available for Renewal of Disabled Parking Placards
The Secretary of State’s (SOS) Office is now offering an electronic renewal process for all persons renewing their disabled parking placards. In addition to making the renewal process easier, it will also help to combat fraud. Any current placard holder may start the renewal process prior to their medical re-certification. Then, at the time of their medical visit, the medical professional may complete the process by providing the necessary medical information through documents that can be sent to the SOS office for processing. At this time the electronic renewal process is only available for renewals. It is not available to new placard applicants. The new system does not replace the existing paper system. Patients and medical professionals may still avail themselves of the paper process. Those who have questions about this new electronic renewal system are encouraged to call the SOS’s legislative affairs department at (217) 782-6640.

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