Pritchard's Perspective for June 29th

Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com

June 29, 2015
In This Issue:
  Ø  Government Shutdown Imminent
  Ø  Public Private Partnership Bill Passes
  Ø  Fire Districts Honor Legislators
  Ø  Governor Vetoes All But One Budget Bill
  Ø  Poker Run Bill Rides to Governor

Government Shutdown Imminent
Without a state budget for FY2016, many state operations will be required to shut down on Wednesday as the new year begins.  The courts have ruled that the Comptroller cannot pay any new bills if the money has not been appropriated.  Among those programs that will continue are essential services like state police, some prison operations, federally funded programs, court ordered payments and programs funded by continuing appropriations.  
While the state budget for K-12 education has been approved, money to operate the State Board of Education which oversees many school functions has no budget.  State workers may choose to continue working with no assurance they will be paid on time, meanwhile many non-profits and other businesses, without a state contract, have no assurance they will ever be paid.
I’ve been asking a lot of people how they think a shutdown of state government will affect them.  Representative Tom Demmer and I asked the question of those at our first ‘Discussion over Coffee’ last Saturday in DeKalb as well.
Obviously some rely very little upon state programs and don’t think they will be affected.  Perhaps the major impact will be upon their friends or neighbors.  For other individuals and non-profits who rely on government funded programs the answer is much different.  One person I visited with uses subsidized child care for her children so she can work.  In the future she must choose between missing work and perhaps losing her job, or finding someone she can afford to pay just to watch her children. 
Still others who work to deliver state programs anticipate being laid off until their employer gets a new state contract.  Higher education employees may not be affected because the college or university has sources of funding other than the state to carry them for awhile. 
Going without pay will present immediate hardships for people with mortgages and those living paycheck to paycheck.  Such uncertainty affects the emotions and mental health of families.  The delay in a state contract can tip a business just on the financial edge to have to close.
I clearly understand that closing down state government has serious consequences so I will continue urging the legislative leaders to work with the Governor to reach a compromise; and quickly.  Meanwhile we can all look out for those affected directly by the shutdown and offer whatever help we can; even a word of encouragement and prayers will help.

Public Private Partnership Bill Passes
This past Tuesday the House debated and passed a bill that creates a public private partnership to encourage economic growth and innovation.  I discussed the concept advanced by the Governor in last week’s newsletter, but HB574 sponsored by Speaker Madigan added eight amendments.
The amendments could not be considered improvements and were anything but friendly to the concept.  Amendment nine ends the program in three years which sends a clear message about the state’s lack of commitment to the concept and is hardly enough time for such a partnership to produce many results.

Fire Districts Honor Legislators
The Illinois Association of Fire Protection Districts honored two legislators Saturday for their sponsorship of legislation important to its members.  Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and myself were selected “Legislators of the Year” and will have a patio brick at the Illinois Firefighter Memorial by the capitol engraved in our honor. 
Charles Vaughn, IAFPD Lobbyist, Senator Holmes, and Representative Pritchard
This is the second time in my 12 years in the House that I’ve has been honored by the Fire Association as Legislator of the Year.  The Association represents over 650 fire districts throughout the state and offers training, counsel, and other services to fire district trustees and chiefs.

Governor Vetoes All But One Budget Bill
Governor Rauner vetoed 19 of the 20 budget bills last Thursday, approving only the Elementary and Secondary Education budget.  He explained his decision in a Chicago Tribune op-ed which can be read here.  
The education budget (HB3763) funds $6.9 billion for K-12 education which is about $300 million higher than the previous year and a number that closely resembles the level recommended by Governor Rauner.  The bill also funds the Teacher Retirement System and Teacher Retirement Insurance Program, and makes a contribution toward the Chicago Teacher Pension System. 
The state has underfunded its contribution to school districts for years now, but this move does increase the funding level from an average 89 percent of the legislature’s goal per student to 92 percent.

Poker Run Bill Rides to Governor
HB 3538 will help to smooth the licensing approval process for this popular fundraising tool throughout suburban and downstate Illinois.  The bill was approved by both chambers last week and now heads to the Governor.
Current law creates local snags in the ordinances that groups use to win licenses to carry out these popular fundraising activities, and HB 3538 pushes to streamline these snags by placing poker run licenses in the hands of Illinois county boards other than Cook County.  The bill also clarifies that all bona fide nonprofit groups are eligible to seek to operate a poker run. 
Poker runs are activities, usually one day long, in which a group of people make an event of traveling from place to place and playing a game at each location.  At the end of the poker run, the players concentrate at a finish line and play out the game, and prizes are awarded.  Under the provisions of HB3538, the poker run must be set up so as to raise money for a needy person, a good cause, or the financial survival and stability of the group sponsoring the run.  Many motorcyclists and biker groups carry out poker runs.
 
I had the privilege of participating in the Relay for Life of DeKalb County over the weekend and especially enjoyed this message by one of the teams.  These relays sponsored by the American Cancer Society seek to honor cancer survivors, remember those who have lost the battle, and contribute funds for researching a cure for cancer. 


Bob

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