Latest News

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

·        Patti Bellock named DHFS director.  Gov. Rauner announced last week that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.

“Illinois is so fortunate to have an advocate for health and human services as dedicated and talented as Patti Bellock,” said Rauner in announcing the appointment. “She has been instrumental in virtually every health advancement our state has made in the last two decades and I am looking forward to her leadership of the state’s ongoing effort to reform our delivery systems and improve our outcomes.”
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Nation’s highest court issues decision in Janus case.  In a blow to public employee labor unions, the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday overturned a 41-year-old precedent and ruled in favor of an Illinois state employee who said he should not be forced to pay fair share fees to the union that represents his job.

In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with Mark Janus, who contended his free speech rights were violated by being forced to pay fair share dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Janus works as a child support specialist for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job is a union position represented by AFSCME.

AGRICULTURE
·        $16 million in grants will help foster future of Illinois agriculture.  Gov. Bruce Rauner joined the Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe, local officials, and the Stremsterfer family at Stremsterfer Farms in Pleasant Plains last week to announce the release of $16 million in agriculture grants. The funds being released from the fiscal year 2018 budget will fund soil & water districts, county fairs and agriculture societies, and the University of Illinois Extension services. 

“These three entities provide services that are vital for the future of Illinois agriculture,” Rauner said. “From protecting our farmland for future generations to fostering agriculture careers and educating consumers, these organizations support Illinois agriculture, the backbone of our state’s economy.”

“Funding for these organizations comes at a critical time,” said Ag Director Raymond Poe. “We must continue to fund these organizations in order to sustain their key programs. I want to thank our agricultural partners for commitment to Illinois agriculture and for their cooperation in these fiscally challenging times.”

BUDGET
·        Moody's cites 'positive' moves in new Illinois budget.  The fiscal 2019 Illinois budget enacted last week includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for the relatively low-rated state and its school districts, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

The $38.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds.

“The state’s buyout offer is credit positive because it will generate significant pension liability savings to the extent that employees accept the offer,” Moody’s said, adding that actual savings could fall short if participation fails to meet targets of 22 percent of vested former workers and 25 percent of retiring current workers.
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BUDGET
·        FY19 budget passed with bipartisan support and signed into law.  On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.

“For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don’t have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it,” Rauner said. “Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts.”

“I’m signing this legislation because it is a step in the right direction, but it is not perfect,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do before we fully restore the state’s fiscal integrity. We still need to enact reforms that bring down the cost of government, make the state friendlier to job creators, and ignite our state economy so it grows faster than government spending.”
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, issued the following statement in response to final passage of a state budget for Fiscal Year 2019 today by the Illinois General Assembly:

"This budget fails to enforce a spending cap, which is a needed backstop protection for taxpayers to ensure the state lives within its means during the entire year. While I am grateful that Illinois has approved a budget on-time this year, it is disappointing that the budget process did not allow for collaboration amongst all legislators through the normal committee process, which would have allowed each of us to advocate for families, taxpayers and service providers in our districts, including those right here in the Fox Valley. What we got instead was a top-down process, which unfortunately does not serve the best interests of Illinois families or our local communities. For that reason, I was compelled to vote No.”


State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, speaks during debate in opposition to HR 1025, a resolution calling for Illinois to implement a Progressive Income Tax system.