Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
June 8, 2015
In This Issue:
Ø War of Words
Ø SBA Approves Area for Loans
Ø Sycamore Unveils Action 2020 projects
Ø Commitment to Stay Within Budget
Ø On a happier note…
War of Words
The struggle between the Governor and the Speaker of the House was in full view as the House officially kicked off its overtime session last week. The only bill presented for consideration was HB1287 which was drafted in response to the Governor’s call for workers’ compensation reform. Additionally, the Appropriation Human Services Committee held a hearing to question the Governor’s staff about which account it used to pay the Governor’s Education Advisor.
The Governor has been calling for reforms that will make Illinois a more attractive state in which to do business. The Speaker’s staff introduced HB1287 focused on just two aspects of Workers’ Compensation—causation of the injury and injuries incurred while employees are traveling in their work.
The sponsor of the bill admitted that the bill was drafted without even having conversations with the Governor’s staff and didn’t contain any of his suggestions. The bill was opposed by nearly every business group and was worded so as to not reduce the cost of insurance for Illinois worker’s compensation which is among the highest in the nation. Nevertheless, the bill passed out of the House on a partisan vote.
The hearing into which account the Governor uses to pay his Education Advisor was orchestrated to further divide the Governor and legislature. One of the Speaker’s assistant leaders who isn’t even a member of the committee attended the meeting so he could speak about it on the House floor. Not only did his comments mischaracterize the testimony, but also they were intended to be divisive and indicative of someone looking for a fight.
Until the Speaker and Governor come to terms about any reforms that will take our state in a better direction, meetings of the legislature are going to continue to be non-productive.
SBA Approves Area for Loans
Through a lot of our efforts, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved DeKalb and its contiguous counties for low-interest, long-term loans for the victims of the April 9th tornado. The declaration followed an inspection of the damage by state, local, and federal officials which concluded that 31 homes and 7 businesses sustained major uninsured losses.
This announcement means that people affected can now apply for loans up to $200,000 for destroyed real estate and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property with interest rates as low as 1.8 percent. Businesses can receive loans of up to $2 million.
I appreciate the work of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Director James Joseph in pursuing these loans. Thanks also go to the Governor and the Illinois Congressional delegation for expressing their support of this request. The area has not received any federal aid so these loans will be important tools for the long-term rebuilding effort.
Sycamore Unveils Action 2020 Projects
On Saturday I attended an event where Sycamore’s park and school districts unveiled a joint project to aid in a safer and healthier community. The walking and bike trail is part of the park’s Action 2020 plan and connects neighborhoods with parks and schools. It’s great to see our local units of government working together and developing public-private partnerships.
Commitment to Stay Within Budget
The Governor made clear last Tuesday that he will make cuts in any budget that is not balanced. He outlined $400 million in cuts that will be made should the legislature continue the all-to-frequent practice of under estimating expenses and over estimating revenue.
Both the House and Senate have passed a budget that spends $4 billion more than expected revenue but the bills have yet to be sent to the Governor for him to either reject or sign. If a budget is not signed by July first, the state loses a significant amount of its authority to spend money. The Governor is wisely preparing for that possibility.
The Governor announced steps to ground state planes, suspend the state portion of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, freeze state police vehicle purchases, suspend the Illiana expressway, and suspend all future incentive offers to companies for business attraction and retention.
On a “Happier” Note…
A ban may be lifted on retail establishments offering alcoholic drink specials during certain hours called “Happy Hours.” Legislation has been sent to the Governor that would lift the ban that has been in effect in Illinois since 1989.
The legislation is intended to improve the number of customers for bars. As a compromise, new employee training requirements will be mandated that include learning the signs of underage drinking. The 1980s-era ban was enacted in a time when authorities were fighting to reduce DUI (driving under the influence) violations and to enforce an increase in the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. Senate Bill 398 passed both chambers on May 31.