Latest News

Taxes – Property Tax Burden
·         With one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, property tax relief must be priority.  Speaking at a press conference Tuesday at the Capitol, State Rep. Mark Batinick and his House Republican colleagues drew attention to the number one issue for many Illinois homeowners: the need for property tax relief.  

A recent poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 47 percent of registered voters in Illinois say they want to move out, with 27 percent of them citing property taxes as their top reason. The Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit, reported just this week that Illinois has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country (3rd), which contributes to the 5th highest overall tax burden in the nation.

“Families and seniors are being forced from their homes, not because they cannot afford their mortgage, but because they cannot afford their property taxes increasing each and every year,” Rep. Batinick said. “If we’re going to be asked to support a budget package, whatever that may end up looking like, we’re here to say there must be real, significant property tax relief for our constituents.”

The impact of property taxes is not limited to homeowners. Businesses are moving across state lines or closing entirely partially due to the high cost of property taxes in Illinois. The recent Tax Foundation analysis shows that Illinois’ property tax burden ranks as one of the least favorable for businesses, coming in at 46th in the nation.  
Rep. Keith Wheeler speaks in support of
redistricting reform at the Illinois Capitol.
Springfield, IL – Members of the House Republican Caucus today called on House Democrats to respect the wishes of Illinoisans by allowing redistricting reform, HJRCA17, to be called for a vote immediately.  

“This is one of the strongest statements we can make about reforming Illinois,” said State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield). “This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue, so it’s time for the Democrats to decide if they stand for the status quo or for a stronger, better Illinois for generations to come.”

HJRCA 17 would allow voters to decide, by statewide referendum, to amend the Illinois Constitution to create the Independent Redistricting Commission for the purpose of drawing legislative districts. A poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last fall found that 72% of voters, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, supported the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps. 

Members noted that redistricting reform is directly tied to the state budget and the failure of having unbalanced budgets for more than 10 years.
In an effort to make state government and the legislative process more accessible to Illinois residents regardless of their national origin or spoken language, State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) is providing a link to translate the Illinois General Assembly website, www.ilga.gov, into any one of dozens of different languages.

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Please click any of the links below to translate the Illinois General Assembly website into your preferred language:

Spanish         Español
Arabic          عربي               
Hindi           हिन्दी      
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体               
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體                
Japanese        日本語 
Korean          한국어             
Russian         Русский 
French          Français    
German        Deutsch             
Italian            Italiano           
Polish             Polski        
Greek             Ελληνικά            

You can translate the Illinois General Assembly website into as many as 57 different languages using any of the above links.

Budget – COGFA Report
·         COGFA reduces State revenue forecast by $657 million.  Many State tax revenues streams are earmarked for general funds used to fund key budget areas such as education, public safety, and social services.   The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget forecasting arm, reported to the legislature this week on trends in State revenues that will affect the reminder of FY17, ending June 30, 2017, as well as the approaching FY18 (starting July 1, 2017).  COGFA uncovered patterns of modest year-over-year gains, or even declines, in many categories of revenue that are closely tied to overall State economic activity.  Areas of weak or absent revenue growth included individual income taxes, corporate income taxes, sales taxes, public utility taxes, cigarette taxes, and corporate franchise taxes. 

All of these tax revenue streams showed modest growth, or absent growth, in the current FY17 from the patterns of money flow posted in the most recently concluded full fiscal year, FY16.  This cash flow picture has forced COGFA to reduce its FY17 Illinois tax revenue forecast by $657 million, worsening the State’s fiscal situation.  This pattern of revenue stagnation, while State spending continues to increase, underlies the current inability of the State to pay its bills on time.  The State’s ledger currently counts more than $12 billion in unpaid bills.  The COGFA revenue report was presented to the General Assembly on Tuesday, March 7. 
Governor Rauner – Medicaid Proposal
·         Gov. Bruce Rauner makes major Medicaid proposal.  The proposal to increase the percentage of Medicaid medical cases that move through “managed care” was unveiled on Monday, February 27.   The state’s chief executive called for expanding existing Medicaid managed care programs to cover 80% of Illinois’ three million Medicaid patients.  This would mark a major increase in managed care from the current percentage of nearly 67%.  In Medicaid managed care, private insurance firms serve as “gatekeepers” for treatments, performing a role similar to insurance firms that manage groups of families that receive employment-based health care.    

In his proposal, the Governor noted two large groups of Medicaid patients that have not yet been moved to managed care.  Many children under the supervision of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) have not yet been moved to managed care; their medical care is protected by legal case law, and the move has to be performed in a manner that complies with their legal standing.  Some rural Illinois counties do not yet have a Medicaid managed care provider network in place. 

Governor Rauner also announced a major push to turn what have, up to now, been notional savings to taxpayers from Medicaid managed care into real savings.  The effort will include rationalizing the managed-care network, better coordination of patient care, and moving reimbursement from a treatment-based model to a results-based model.   
Rep. Keith Wheeler with Mollie Blum and Lois Sheaffer at the
Elderday Center in Batavia
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) toured the Elderday Center in Batavia on Monday, a facility which offers a comprehensive adult day program of socialization, recreation and health maintenance for seniors that reinforces each participant's self-worth and dignity while enhancing current skills and abilities.

The staff at Elderday pride themselves on providing an environment that is a "home away from home" for seniors. Rep. Wheeler was impressed with Elderday Center's commitment to providing quality day services and promoting independence for older adults and providing support and education for their caregivers. 

The center is open Monday-Friday from 7:30AM-5:30PM. Please feel welcome to contact Elderday Center at (630) 761-9750 or www.elderdaycenter.org
AFSCME – Possible labor action
·         AFSCME announces results of strike authorization vote.  AFSCME, the labor union that represents 38,000 Illinois employees, states that 81% of the workers who participated in a recent advisory ballot voted to authorize a possible strike

A key advisor to Governor Bruce Rauner, General Counsel Dennis Murashko, called the vote to authorize a strike “an attack on our state’s hardworking taxpayers and all those who rely on crucial services provided every day.”

The union’s leadership pointed to a possible partial freeze in State pay rates, and cuts in employer-financed health care benefits, as reasons for the strike vote.  The Governor’s office responded that AFSCME workers currently enjoy many benefits that private-sector workers do not enjoy, such as a 37.5-hour work week, platinum health insurance benefits, and a ban on merit pay.  The AFSCME vote does not make a strike inevitable, but authorizes the union’s powerful bargaining committee to call a labor action in the near future.  The strike, if it occurs, would be the first ever statewide public-sector labor action against the State of Illinois.