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Budget – Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter
·        House Republican lawmaker files bill to create Illinois Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter.  If enacted into law the new bill, filed by Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer, will impose controls on the currently out-of-control Illinois budget process.  It will freeze all discretionary, taxpayer-paid State of Illinois spending until the State gets its payment cycle to vendors below 30 days.  The bill bans enactment of new State programs until a full pension payment, based on actuarial requirements, is made.  It will move the State of Illinois towards Pay as you Go budgeting, prohibit the imposition of unfunded mandates, and create a sunshine procedure for future State budgets. 

Rep. Davidsmeyer calls for all legislators who file legislation that creates new spending to file, as part of their bill to create the new program, legal language to raise taxes or cut spending to pay for the new program.  The lawmaker represents a west-central Illinois district centering on Jacksonville.  The Taxpayer’s Fiscal Charter bill was filed on Tuesday, January 9, as HB 4229.
Rep. Wheeler was honored to participate in the 10th anniversary celebration at Heritage Woods of Yorkville on Thursday with residents and staff. Rep. Wheeler noted how Heritage Woods exudes a sense of family and community.

BUDGET
·        Revenues up, but overall budget picture clouded by poor retail spending numbers.  The December 2017 State revenue report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) shows that State revenues rose by $438 million over comparable levels in December 2016, an increase of 15.4%.  This increase is helping to pay off some of the $8.7 billion backlog of unpaid State bills. 

However, the Commission’s economic team has called the General Assembly’s attention to areas of weakness within the revenue numbers.  Sales tax receipts declined by 4%, or $34 million, on a year-over-year basis within the overall revenue increase.  The poor sales tax numbers were attributed by economists to the continuing challenges faces by participants in the U.S. retail sector.
Rep. Keith Wheeler speaks at the bill
signing ceremony for SB 867.
CHICAGO – State Representative Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) announced today that the State of Illinois has substantially reduced startup, annual filing and other fees for limited liability companies (LLCs), the organizational structure preferred by many of Illinois’ 1.2 million small businesses, after speaking at Wednesday’s bill signing ceremony for Senate Bill 867, legislation which he co-sponsored in the Illinois House of Representatives.

The new law will encourage more businesses to form in Illinois rather than go to other states to escape high fees. Effective today, the filing fee for new LLCs drops to $150 from $500 and annual report fees drop to $75 from $250. Previously, Illinois charged fees that were among the highest in the nation.

“Today marks a significant step toward making Illinois a more attractive and welcoming place for innovators and entrepreneurs to start a business,” Representative Wheeler said. “By reducing the litany of state fees, we are making it easier for new start-ups to contribute to our economy faster and create Illinois jobs for Illinois families.”
CHICAGO
·        CTA fare hike, previously signed off on by Mayor Emanuel, approved by CTA board.  The proposed fare hike will increase the standard price of a ride on a CTA bus or train by 25 cents.  Many CTA rides are paid for by passes, and pass prices will be increased in rough proportion to the cash fare hike.  The fare hike was approved as part of the CTA’s $1.5 billion budget for calendar year 2018. 

CTA officials had previously briefed transit management and the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel about the fare hike increase, and the Mayor had signaled that the increase was acceptable to City Hall.  The Civic Federation responded to the increase by criticizing the fiscal assumptions underlying the CTA’s budget and fare hike approval.  The Federation states that Chicago-area public transit is facing growing systemic challenges; they attribute many of these challenges to the overall State budget situation and the long-term dependency of the CTA system on insecure sources of revenue. 
When the subjects of jobs, unemployment, and small businesses come up on the House floor in Springfield, you can guarantee that State Representative Keith Wheeler will rise to be part of the conversation.

We talk with him about those issues and what needs to be done to help Illinois grow jobs.  In getting to know more about the representative, we hear about his passion for Chicago Bears football, Walter Payton, U-2, and an educator who influenced him not only in school but who has been a source of motivation ever since.

Budget – COGFA report
·        Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) issues monthly report on State tax revenues.  The nonpartisan arm of the Illinois General Assembly works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State departments to monitor ongoing revenues and maintain an information flow to State legislators on the current budget situation. 

In their “Monthly Briefing” which covers revenue facts and trends for November 2017, COGFA reports stable trends in both State revenues and the overall economy.  Pushed by higher income tax rates, November 2017 income tax revenues are up $394 million on a year-over-year basis when compared with parallel revenue numbers in November 2016.   Sales tax revenues rose by $54 million year-over-year.