Budget – FY17
·         $7 billion out-of-balance budget passed by House Democrats.  Illinois House Democrats introduced their own “budget” for FY17, contained in House Floor Amendment #2 to SB 2048, undermining the work of the bipartisan budget working groups that had been making progress toward achieving a compromise to end the budget impasse.

The House Democrats’ budget weighs in at approximately $40 billion in spending with only $33 billion in estimated revenue.  The Democrats unbalanced, unconstitutional proposed budget is $7 billion out-of-balance and would require a 47% tax hike to pay for all the additional spending.

House Republicans were denied a vote verification for a 500-page bill that was introduced a mere 90-minutes before it was called for debate on the House Floor. Democrats then limited the debate to less than an hour with a parliamentarian move. The first vote on Wednesday, May 25, was 63-53-1.  There was a second vote on Thursday and the measure was passed again by a vote of 60-53-1. 

By spending at least $7 billion more than Illinois expects to take in during the spending period, the measure is seen as likely to raise the count of unpaid Illinois bills up to or above $15 billion.  Illinois is already the lowest-ranked of the 50 states in terms of credit rating.  The controversial measure was sent to the state Senate for further discussion and debate.  Governor Rauner has pledged to take veto action on the SB 2048 “budget” bill, should it get to his desk.  
During the House floor debate on Friday, with only 4 days left in the regular session, Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) joined a call for all legislators in the House to stand up if they are willing stay at work over the holiday weekend and work on a compromise to achieve a comprehensive and balanced budget. 

·         Leaders meet to discuss budget negotiations, but many obstacles remain.  The four legislative leaders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year on Tuesday, May 17.  The leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House Republican Caucus, to discuss specific issues relevant to an agreement.  The Illinois budget process has been stalled by an impasse that has now gone on for nearly 11 months.  Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year. 

Many issues stand in the way of a durable agreement to craft a constitutional balanced budget for Illinois in FY17.  After the meeting, Leader Durkin urged the negotiators to achieve agreements on questions that involve the status of collective bargaining labor-management relations within local governments, public-sector pension reforms, and workmen’s compensation reforms.  Many House Republicans believe that lack of progress on these issues has become a very serious threat to future job creation and future tax revenues in Illinois.  Current statistics show that Illinois’ economy is generating few if any new private-sector jobs.  Our state’s unemployment rate, as of April 2016, has grown 0.7% over the level six months earlier in October 2015, and our state’s most recent 6.6% jobless rate is now 160 basis points higher than the 5.0% unemployment rate for the U.S. economy as a whole.
Budget – Possible Compromise
·         House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner hint at possible budget compromise.  Illinois is the only one of the 50 states that has not enacted a balanced budget to control its spending in FY16.  Not surprisingly, Illinois also has the lowest credit rating among the 50 states.  On Monday, May 9, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin expressed optimism that current talks going on between partisan budget experts could generate movement towards a solution. 

At an educational event in west suburban LaGrange that he attended with Governor Rauner, Durkin discussed the need to reach budget action in order to improve prospects for sufficient school funding for Illinois public schools.  While Illinois’ General Assembly enacted full funding for Illinois school districts in FY16, this money was not part of a constitutional balanced budget and does not extend into FY17.  The next fiscal year will begin on July 1, 2016, adding to pressure on state negotiators to talk seriously on urgent issues of fiscal reform, budget reform, and Illinois job creation.  
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) welcomed students from Traughber Junior High School in Oswego to the State Capitol today in Springfield.
By Kevin Hoffman | Reboot Illinois

Republican lawmakers again are calling on Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to answer questions surrounding campaign spending during his time in the House.

In a letter sent to Mautino Thursday, state Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, and 19 other Republican representatives demanded the Spring Valley Democrat clarify spending and accounting irregularities in his now-inactive campaign fund, the Committee for Frank J Mautino.

Illinois Times and several state government watchdog groups reported in January that Mautino spent more than $200,000 in gas and vehicle repairs at one Spring Valley business between 2005 and 2015. But what piqued the interest of the Illinois State Board of Elections, which subsequently asked Mautino for clarification, was the nearly $259,000 in campaign funds he used to pay the Spring Valley City Bank since 1999, including $94,000 in loan repayments...

May 1-7 is National Small Business Week! As a 25-year small business owner, former Board Chairman for the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce and former Illinois Leadership Council Chairman of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Rep. Keith Wheeler is a leading advocate for small business owners in Springfield. To learn more about Small Business Week, please click HERE.