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Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego)
SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to propel the state budget process forward, State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Thursday calling on her to use the power of her office to force the Illinois General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills, in order to prevent further damage to the state’s finances and the many social service providers who serve the most vulnerable individuals and families across Illinois. Representative Wheeler’s letter to the Attorney General was co-signed by 39 other House Republican legislators.

In the letter, Representative Wheeler cites several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year, an action which legislators have failed to take in either of the past two years and haven’t yet done for the coming fiscal year.

“It is time for the Attorney General to step in,” Representative Wheeler said. “The majority party in the General Assembly refuses to do their job and take the first, most basic step in the state budget process, which is to adopt a revenue estimate. It is common sense that you can’t determine how much you’re going to spend; and on which priorities, until you know how much revenue you have. Illinois families and taxpayers understand this principle; and until two years ago, the state did too.”
Budget
·         Fresh thinking will fix Illinois.  House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno

For too long, Springfield politicians have been stuck in the past. They think the pressing issues of our day — large budget deficits, unfunded public pensions, and dangerously high out-migration — are similar to the ones Illinois has faced in eras past. 

Have a problem? Look to the glory days of state government, they say. Just cut a little spending here and there, do a massive tax hike, and another short-term pension fix to top it off. Just remember to keep the overall system intact. They swear it’ll do the trick for a few years, maybe even a decade.

Current and former elected officials may deny it, but the old ways of doing business have been anything but glorious for the people of Illinois. For the past 15 years, state government has been operating with budgets in structural deficit. That’s 15 years of complete and total failure. Fifteen years of the General Assembly failing to meet its most basic constitutional obligation — to pass a balanced budget for the governor to sign into law. Read the rest of the editorial in SJ-R.

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·         Want an Illinois budget? Adopt a revenue estimate.  K-12 schools and state universities need a state budget. Social service providers need a state budget. The most vulnerable individuals and families across Illinois need a state budget.

State government in Illinois is financially adrift because the General Assembly hasn’t stepped up to lead and make the tough decisions to work through a budget. By law we are required to begin by adopting a revenue estimate. I have filed legislation to do just that.

Why is it so important that we adopt a revenue estimate? There are three reasons:

The revenue estimate is the actual first step in our budgeting process. How do we know how much each appropriations committee has to allocate for their assigned departments and agencies if we don’t start with the Revenue Estimate?

The revenue estimate is required by state law and the Illinois Constitution. Just look it up. We have to do it. If we appropriate funds without a revenue estimate, we are, in effect, breaking the law.

The revenue estimate is an important form of taxpayer protection. If we skip the revenue estimate and just appropriate according to our wishes and the requests of the departments and agencies of state government, we will likely spend too much, which will trigger a tax increase.

McHenry Times

The House returned to work on Tuesday after a brief break, but Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) said you wouldn't know if from where he stood.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler
“On the Tuesday before we left for our break, I filed three different revenue estimates and invited everyone in this chamber to join me in supporting the first step in the actual House budgeting process,” Wheeler said. “Other than a clerical error regarding sponsorship to HJR51, I’ve yet to hear from anyone of my friends on the other side of the aisle supporting any of these revenue estimates.”

Wheeler demanded that some kind of budget process be undertaken before the end of the session this month...
As published in the State Journal-Register

State Rep. Keith Wheeler
K-12 schools and state universities need a state budget.

Social service providers need a state budget.

The most vulnerable individuals and families across Illinois need a state budget.

State government in Illinois is financially adrift because the General Assembly hasn’t stepped up to lead and make the tough decisions to work through a budget. By law we are required to begin by adopting a revenue estimate. I have filed legislation to do just that.

Why is it so important that we adopt a revenue estimate? There are three reasons:

  1. The revenue estimate is the actual first step in our budgeting process. How do we know how much each appropriations committee has to allocate for their assigned departments and agencies if we don’t start with the Revenue Estimate?
  2. The revenue estimate is required by state law and the Illinois Constitution. Just look it up. We have to do it. If we appropriate funds without a revenue estimate, we are, in effect, breaking the law.
  3. The revenue estimate is an important form of taxpayer protection. If we skip the revenue estimate and just appropriate according to our wishes and the requests of the departments and agencies of state government, we will likely spend too much, which will trigger a tax increase.

Budget – Thompson Center
·         Selling the JRTC a win-win for Illinois taxpayers and Chicago schools.  Governor Bruce Rauner announced today that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin have filed legislation that will direct all future property tax receipts from the redevelopment of the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) to Chicago Public Schools. The bill numbers are SB 2209 and HB 4044.

"The JRTC is sucking up valuable space, time, and money," Governor Rauner said. "No one likes working here. It's expensive to maintain and it's a drain on taxpayer resources. The legislation introduced today gives us yet another reason to move swiftly in selling this building. Every day of delay just postpones Chicago's ability to earn millions in property taxes."

The JRTC currently occupies an entire city block in Chicago's Loop and presents a unique redevelopment opportunity for the city. By selling the building, Illinois taxpayers could earn hundreds of millions in a sale and Chicago could generate up to $45 million annually in property taxes. Under Leaders Radogno and Durkin's legislation, CPS could see an additional $1 billion in dedicated revenue by 2040.

Small business has been called the backbone of the American economy for good reason.  Small businesses create more than 2/3 of the net new jobs and employ more than half of the country’s workforce.

Unfortunately, the environment for small business and entrepreneurial growth was filled with uncertainty.  That resulted in an anomaly that saw more businesses closing than opening.  Many small business owners felt the pinch of increased regulations at the federal and state levels along with the substantial costs of Obamacare.  Without a clear path to a return on investment, small businesses took less risk and hired fewer workers.

In recent months, small business optimism increased dramatically which may lead to increased hiring.  The NFIB Small Business Optimism Survey has reached heights not seen since 2005.  Sixteen percent of small business owners have plans to increase employment while 30% currently have job openings.  More than 20% of small businesses believe that it is a good time to expand.

In Illinois, it’s time for state government to get out of the way of small business.  Instead, several bills have recently passed the Illinois House that are hostile to small businesses.  Other bills claim to help small business, but just carry appealing titles with empty reform.  For Illinois to benefit from an improved economy that creates new jobs, small business needs to know that state government isn’t going to pull the rug out from underneath them.
Rep. Keith Wheeler
SPRINGFIELD – House Democrats this week pushed through poorly-written legislation that would put the State of Illinois into the worker’s compensation insurance business. State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) issued the following statement in response to the party line vote approving House Bill 2622:

Specifically, House Bill 2622 would create a state-run nonprofit corporation to offer workers compensation insurance to employers; this despite the fact that Illinois already has the most competitive workers’ compensation insurance market in the nation, with over 330 private companies already operating in the state.

“HB 2622 would put the taxpayers of Illinois on the hook for an initial $10 million start-up loan for the creation of a not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company; $3 million of which comes right off the top to cover overhead costs. The bill sponsor presented no business plan and no information for how they would seek paying clients. Our state’s inability to pass a balanced budget and live within its means is well documented. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that this $10 million investment would deliver the results for Illinois’ jobs climate promised by the sponsor.”

“We need real reforms that drive down the actual cost of workers’ compensation insurance for Illinois job creators; beginning with stronger causation standards that curb fraud and abuse of the system. This alone would go far in moving the needle to reduce the astronomical costs our businesses pay.”