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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.

 

Rep. Keith Wheeler
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday, House Bill 4100, aimed at protecting nurses and other health care workers in Illinois hospitals, clinics, veterans homes and correctional facilities from violent acts committed by patients or inmates. State Representative Keith R. Wheeler, R-Oswego, is Chief Co-sponsor of the legislation which now heads to the State Senate for approval.

Specifically, Representative Wheeler’s legislation would mandate that all health care employers implement workplace violence programs. It also includes protections for whistleblowers who file a complaint, report allegations of misconduct, or provides information or testimony in any investigation, hearing, or inquiry with regard to a violation of the law at any licensed health care facility; including hospitals, any facility licensed under the MC/DD Act* or ID/DD Community Care Act**, or an Illinois  veterans home.

“Our hardworking and dedicated nurses and other health care workers put themselves at physical risk each and every day treating patients either in a hospital setting or in an Illinois correctional or juvenile justice facility,” Representative Wheeler said. “These men and women deserve to work in an environment that looks out for their physical well-being and ensures protections for those who report lapses within the system.”

CRIMINAL LAW
·        Governor Rauner proposes major public safety package to reinstate death penalty and extend 72-hour wait to all guns.  Gov. Bruce Rauner has asked the Illinois General Assembly to reinstate the death penalty for mass murderers and those who kill law enforcement officers.

The proposal is part of a precedent-setting public safety initiative that the Governor unveiled in an amendatory veto (AV) of House Bill 1468 which also urges legislators to:

o   Extend the 72-hour waiting period for delivery of all gun purchases in Illinois.
o   Ban bump stocks and trigger cranks.
o   Authorize restraining orders to disarm dangerous individuals.
o   Make judges and prosecutors more accountable by making them explain – on the record – why charges are reduced in plea agreements for violent offenders in gun cases.
o   Free up local revenue to hire resource officers and mental health workers to help intervene and prevent student violence before it occurs.

“Gun violence has rocked the nation and our state,” Rauner said. “This is a responsible, bipartisan approach to the problem that will help ensure the safety and security of our children, our peacekeepers, our families, and our communities in Illinois.”