ECONOMIC GROWTH
·        Illinois Innovation Network expands to DeKalb County.  Northern Illinois University (NIU), already home to many centers of graduate education and research, has announced plans for a $23 million business-development incubator and innovation center.  NIU will construct the center to serve as a hub of the Illinois Innovation Network, the growing web of broadband-linked innovation centers being set up in locations throughout the state.  Much of the center’s construction cost will be funded by NIU, by gifts made to NIU, and by private investments made by venture capitalists. 

Looking towards new opportunities for economic growth, the General Assembly took steps to provide $500 million in Innovation Network startup seed money as part of the FY19 budget.  Creation of the Illinois Innovation Network, which is being governed as an affiliated partner of the University of Illinois, followed a series of studies by experts on the importance of face-to-face interactions as an essential element in the fostering of technological innovations and job creation.  California’s Silicon Valley is a classic example.  The Innovation Network plans to utilize modern fiber optics to enable a wide variety of contact opportunities, including high-speed video conferencing and terabyte data-transfer, between Innovation Network hubs.  The Innovation Network will encourage its affiliated professionals to concentrate on issues of food systems, water resources, and environmental change.  The Innovation Network has already announced decisions to place hubs in Chicago and in Springfield.   The NIU/DeKalb hub announcement was made on Tuesday, October 9.

BUDGET
·        CGFA releases State revenue numbers for September 2018.  The Commission on Budget Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) is the nonpartisan budget-forecasting arm of the Illinois General Assembly.  Working with the Department of Revenue and other State revenue collectors, this office monitors the State’s cash flow and determines its balance with the State’s spending patterns and budgeted expenditures.   CGFA’s report on state revenues in September 2018 was published on Tuesday, October 2.     

In September 2018, Illinois continued to enjoy healthy revenue numbers, driven by almost 6.1 million non-farm payroll jobs maintained by Illinois employers in FY18.  Weekly employee paycheck earnings, on which state income taxes are paid, rose by 2.3% over the course of FY18.   September 2018 State personal income tax payments totaled more than $1.8 billion, up $218 million from September 2017.  This jump in September personal income tax receipts made up well more than half of the overall $240 million increase in general funds tax receipts and transfers-in during September 2018 as opposed to September 2017.

Corporate and sales tax receipts also increased significantly.  Other key revenue sources, led by cigarette taxes, liquor taxes, Lottery revenues, and riverboat receipts taxes, were flat-to-down, and there was a sharp drop in overall Federal aid for the month as compared to the year-earlier period.  September 2017 had seen a temporary spike in federal Medicaid reimbursements to Illinois, a cash-flow number that could not be replicated in September 2018.

TAXES
·        The Tax Foundation issues mixed rating for Illinois’ tax structure.  The Washington-based nonpartisan study institute monitors the tax laws of all 50 states, and issues comparative rankings based on what they find.  States are ranked not only on the financial burdens imposed by their tax laws but also by the administrative burden of filling out income-reporting forms and complying with each tax.  

The Tax Foundation’s overall 2019 State Business Tax Climate Index asserts that Illinois’ tax structure has major strengths and weaknesses.  Illinois’ Income Tax Act scored highly, with the Tax Foundation applying a formula that granted credits to the tax law’s flat tax rate and to our relatively simple income-reporting laws and rules.  Illinois’ income tax scored 13th among the 50 states, parallel to other major Midwestern states such as Michigan (12th) and Indiana (15th).

However, the Tax Foundation did not see Illinois’ high property tax rates and complex Property Tax Code as healthy policy traits.  Illinois’ property tax rates and structure were scored only 45th among the 50 states, far lower than the scores posted by states with constitutional caps on their property taxes such as Indiana (2nd) and Colorado (12th).     

JOBS
·        Illinois unemployment rate matches lowest on record.  The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced Thursday that the unemployment rate fell to 4.1 percent in August and nonfarm payrolls decreased by -5,200 jobs over-the-month, based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The July job gain was revised down slightly from its initial report to show no growth. (+0 jobs versus +3,700 jobs). 

Job growth moderated in the June to August period posting average monthly gains of +4,000 jobs over this three-month period, less than the prior 3-month average monthly gain of +8,300 jobs between May and July 2018.
HURRICANE FLORENCE
· Illinois prepared to assist states impacted by Hurricane Florence.  Governor Bruce Rauner announced Thursday that Illinois is prepared to provide personnel and other support to states that may be impacted by Hurricane Florence. 

Ten Illinois Army National Guard soldiers and two helicopters have deployed to support relief efforts in North Carolina. The crews left from Peoria's 238th Aviation Battalion and Kankakee's 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment. They will provide support for up to 10 days. All costs associated with the deployment will be paid for by the Tar Heel state.  

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
·        Mike Marron sworn in as 104th District State Representative.  Vermilion County Board Chairman Mike Marron was sworn-in Friday to serve as the new 104th District State Representative. Marron is succeeding retiring State Representative Chad Hays, who had served in office since 2010. Marron, who succeeds both Hays and legendary State Representative Bill Black, thanked both men for their leadership. 
NORTH AURORA – The Illinois Chamber of Commerce today named State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, a “Champion of Free Enterprise” for his voting record during the 2017-2018 legislative session. The Illinois Chamber’s Legislative Ratings tracks votes important to the state’s business community and grades legislators based on their support of pro-business issues during the two-year legislative session.

Among bills included in the report are the 32% tax increase, proposed red tape for call center operators, an electricity rate increase, expensive regulations to internet website operators, a $15 an hour minimum wage, a gross receipts tax on investment management services, and fake workers’ compensation reform.  However, not all was bad.  The Chamber included votes on legislation that will bring Illinois to the forefront of 5G internet, state preemption of autonomous vehicles, comprehensive procurement reform, and renewing the state’s vital EDGE tax credit.

“I am proud to stand with the men and women of our state and local business community,” Representative Wheeler said. “They are the catalysts of growth and innovation here in the Fox Valley. Together we can create Illinois jobs for Illinois families in the midst of a strengthening economy.”

AGRICULTURE
·        Ag-boosting measures signed into law.  At the Du Quoin State Fair on Saturday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the Industrial Hemp Act, Senate Bill 2298, adding Illinois to a growing number of states that permit growth of cannabis cultivated for non-drug uses such as paper- and fabric-making, biodegradable plastics, construction materials and health food. 

The governor also signed House Bill 5749, easing weight-limit restrictions on state highways during harvest time, improving the competitive outlook for Illinois farmers and agricultural commodities haulers. Both measures will enhance one of the state’s leading industries: farming.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
·        Rep. Helene Miller Walsh appointed to 51st House District seat.  With her business experience, passion for public service, and commitment to fighting for her community, Representative Helene Miller Walsh brings a valued perspective and unique skill set to the governing process. Rep. Miller Walsh graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs with an emphasis on Middle Eastern Affairs, and a minor in Economics.

Representative Miller Walsh was sworn in to office on Saturday August 18th. She is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Leenie Productions, LLC, a multi-media production company. Helene has been involved with several successful philanthropic endeavors, and she has held leadership positions on several campaigns for Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. 
State Rep. Keith Wheeler toured the Aurora Metals foundry in Montgomery on Thursday. Manufacturing is vital to families here in the Fox Valley. Rep. Wheeler is a strong advocate for manufacturers in the 50th District and appreciates the opportunity to tour their facilities in person.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler hosted a utility bill savings clinic with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) at Montgomery Village Hall on Thursday. CUB's consumer experts provided free one-on-one consultations with local residents to show them how to save money on their electric, natural gas, and telephone bills.

State Rep. Keith Wheeler provided a legislative update to veterans at the Montgomery Memorial VFW Post 7452 breakfast on Thursday.
NORTH AURORA – Governor Rauner has signed bipartisan legislation into law introduced by State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, streamlining the process to hire teachers at an Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) facility. The legislation, House Bill 5005, was signed into law on August 19 as Public Act 100-0953. 

Specifically, the new law eliminates a provision in state law that requires the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to verify the license of a teacher employed by IDJJ if the license has already been verified by the Illinois State Board of Education. Removing this duplicative verification requirement improves the ability of IDJJ to attract and retain quality educators at Illinois Youth Centers.    

“Teachers at our juvenile justice facilities encounter unique challenges educating students committed to an Illinois Youth Center. Jumping through hoops of getting their educator license verified by two different state agencies should not be one of them,” Representative Wheeler said. “This new law streamlines the verification process and supports the critical work of our IDJJ educators across Illinois.”
JOBS
·        Illinois’ unemployment rate drops to 4.2%.  The numbers also showed that Illinois’ economy created 3,700 new nonfarm payroll jobs in July 2018.  The new 4.2% unemployment figure approaches the 4.0% benchmark traditionally used to signify “full employment,” and come as a signal that Illinois is continuing its recovery from the 2008-09 economic crash and Great Recession.  The numbers were compiled and posted on Thursday, August 16, by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). 

“The state’s unemployment rate continued its downward trend in July and stands at its lowest point in 18 years,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Illinois payroll employment also saw its largest over-the-year gain in more than two years.”

“The Illinois economy continues its comeback,” said Illinois Department of Commerce Director Sean McCarthy. “We are seeing what reduced red tape, a competitive economy, and investment in workforce and career pathways can do to promote growth and opportunity across the state.”

In a change from recent trends, Illinois job creation growth in July 2018 was led by the manufacturing sector, which created 2,400 new jobs in the month.  Leisure and hospitality created 2,000 new jobs, and professional and business services created 1,900 new jobs.  There was a net loss of 1,700 jobs in the Illinois public sector. 
MONTGOMERY - Local residents interested in learning how to save money on their gas, electric and phone bills are invited to attend a free clinic sponsored by State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 23 at Montgomery Village Hall, located at 200 N. River Street in Montgomery.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their gas, electric and phone bills for a free one-on-one consultation with a consumer expert from CUB, who will give tips on how to reduce costs. At clinics across Illinois, CUB has shown consumers how to trim their bills by an average of more than $200 per year.

At the Utility Bill Clinic, guests will also be able to:

Learn how to spot billing errors and avoid common pitfalls and scams.
Hear about consumer choices in the gas, electric, and phone markets.
Find out about utility rebates, programs, and other incentives.

“Helping local residents save money on their utility bills is one of the many ways my office is pleased to serve our community,” Rep. Wheeler said. “I encourage everyone to attend and learn how to apply simple tips to get more for less on every dollar you spend on gas, electric and phone service.”

STATE GOVERNMENT
·        New law brings hundreds of state jobs back to Sangamon County.  Gov. Bruce Rauner followed through with his promise to bring state jobs back to the capital city with the signing of House Bill 4295 Thursday. The legislation moves hundreds of state jobs to Springfield. 

“It is a matter of state pride,” Rauner said. “This bill preserves the heritage of Springfield as Illinois’ capital city while boosting our local economy. It promotes Lincoln’s hometown and his vision as one of the original lawmakers who advocated for making Springfield the capital of Illinois.”

The bill codifies into law that Sangamon County is the default location for most state jobs, unless there is a specific reason the job needs to be in a different location.

LAW ENFORCEMENT
·        New lottery game to benefit families of fallen police officers.  Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill this week to create a new Illinois Lottery scratch-off game from which proceeds will fund police memorials, support for the families of officers killed or severely injured in the line of duty, and protective vest replacements for officers. 

“Our police officers stand in the face of danger every day to keep us safe. We are proud to stand with them and support their families when they are faced with a devastating loss,” Rauner said. “This new ticket will help fund scholarships for their children and honor their bravery at memorial parks across the state.”


NORTH AURORA - State Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, was appointed to the post of House Republican Conference Chairman today, a nearly unprecedented recognition for a sophomore lawmaker just completing their second term in the Illinois General Assembly. Wheeler, a 27-year small business owner and sixth generation Kendall County resident, was first elected in 2014 and reelected in November 2016 to represent the 50th District, which includes portions of Kane and Kendall Counties.  

Rep. Wheeler's appointment was announced by House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, on Tuesday. "During his time in the General Assembly, Rep. Wheeler has exemplified his commitment to our caucus and to the principles we fight for every day. It is an honor to have him serve on our Leadership team and I look forward to working with him as we continue to fight for what's best for Illinois."
GENERAL ASSEMBLY
·        Deanne Mazzochi Sworn In as State Representative.  Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Deanne Mazzochi of Elmhurst was sworn into office Tuesday as the new State Representative for Illinois’ 47th Legislative House District. She took her oath of office outside of Elmhurst College’s Hammerschmidt Chapel, a mere four miles from where she was raised in Villa Park, and six blocks from her Elmhurst home. 
 
Elmhurst College Trustee and 4th Ward Alderman Kevin York welcomed guests, and the Honorable Liam Brennan, 18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge, administered the oath of office. Mazzochi was introduced by State Senator Chris Nybo.
CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), formed by Executive Order in 2016, is now officially recognized as a state agency.  Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 5611 today, which passed unanimously in the Illinois General Assembly this spring, codifying the agency into law. The bill’s Chief Co-Sponsor was Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego.

Bipartisan support for the legislation reflects the state's commitment to improve cybersecurity, enhance employee work processes, and provide better services to Illinois citizens.

Rep. Wheeler (standing, second from left) watches as the
Governor signs HB 5611 in Chicago.
"When we first came into office, we discovered that our technology systems had been grossly neglected. Employees at multiple agencies relied on manual, paper processes for much of their work. That was extremely inefficient," Rauner said. "We created DoIT, put a team of experts in place and developed a comprehensive approach to modernize our technology. Now, I'm proud to say we are among the nation's leaders when it comes to using smart technology and making sure our citizens' personal information is secure."

"Improving government operations, increasing transparency, and saving taxpayer money are all goals being achieved by DoIT. This is important legislation to ensure we provide a modern and efficient government to our citizens," said Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY

·        Patti Bellock named DHFS director.  Gov. Rauner announced last week that Patricia R. “Patti” Bellock has been named director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (DHFS). Bellock has served in the General Assembly since 1999 and is recognized as one of the body’s leading advocates for Medicaid, health care and social services, areas she will oversee in her new role.

“Illinois is so fortunate to have an advocate for health and human services as dedicated and talented as Patti Bellock,” said Rauner in announcing the appointment. “She has been instrumental in virtually every health advancement our state has made in the last two decades and I am looking forward to her leadership of the state’s ongoing effort to reform our delivery systems and improve our outcomes.”
U.S. SUPREME COURT
Nation’s highest court issues decision in Janus case.  In a blow to public employee labor unions, the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday overturned a 41-year-old precedent and ruled in favor of an Illinois state employee who said he should not be forced to pay fair share fees to the union that represents his job.

In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with Mark Janus, who contended his free speech rights were violated by being forced to pay fair share dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Janus works as a child support specialist for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job is a union position represented by AFSCME.

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.
Read the rest of the story.

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.”

PUBLIC HEALTH
·        Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative announced.  Gov. Bruce Rauner announced this week that Illinois has received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders. 

The Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative is the culmination of a 30-month long Rauner administration effort to involve state health agencies, legislators and behavioral health organizations in a coordinated plan to help people with disorders that require treatment of the whole person.

BUDGET
·        Revenue numbers published for April 2018.  The numbers for State of Illinois revenues were published by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budgeting arm of the Illinois General Assembly.  COGFA works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State agencies to track Illinois general funds revenues on a month-to-month basis.  The data gathered by COGFA is reported to the General Assembly annually and is supposed to be used by the House and Senate to adopt a revenue estimate to control spending in the appropriations process. 

BUDGET
·        Leaders Durkin, Brady Call For Adoption Of Revenue Estimate.  Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady filed joint resolutions Thursday to adopt a revenue estimate in order to begin the budgeting process for fiscal year 2019. 

“It is our constitutional duty to taxpayers across Illinois to spend within our means – something we have not done in decades here at the Capitol,” Durkin said. “The rejection of certifying a revenue estimate in Springfield is not acceptable and is legislative malpractice. We owe it to Illinois taxpayers to take this first step in finally balancing the state’s checkbook and putting Illinois on the right track towards fiscal stability.”

Legislation would put Illinois workers back on the job and is supported by labor and business 


State Rep. Keith Wheeler speaks at press conference
Springfield, IL – State Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) today introduced House Bill 5864, the Blue Collar Jobs Act, to incentivize construction projects in the state of Illinois and create jobs for the middle class.

“’Helping the middle class’ is a pretty common talking point for elected officials across the country,” said Rep. Wheeler. “While there are a lot of proposals that claim to do that, nothing helps the middle class more than creating good paying jobs. That’s precisely what the Blue Collar Jobs Act does. It sends a message that Illinois is open for business by putting our highly-skilled construction workers to work. It’s a win for the state of Illinois, Illinois businesses, Illinois construction workers and for the permanent workers that would be hired after a new facility is completed.”

General Assembly – House committees
·        With full start of 2018 spring session, Illinois House committees convene and begin to hear bills.  Following the State of the State address on Wednesday, January 31, the Illinois House and Senate began committee action for the spring 2018 session.  The House will have five full weeks of committee action prior to the deadline for substantive committee action on April 13.  Most of the work of presenting a bill, hearing witness testimony on the measure and developing amendments to perfect the measure are done in committees rather than on the floor of the full House.  The House schedules for spring 2018 can be found here.  The General Assembly’s website also includes a type-in box to track each individual bill under consideration in Springfield by bill number. 
Rep. Keith Wheeler
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Keith R. Wheeler, R-Oswego, was one of only 15 legislators voting “No” on House Bill 4237 on Wednesday, legislation aimed at skirting the 2017 federal tax reform law that caps deductions of state and local property taxes at $10,000. Specifically, the bill would allow Illinois residents to make “charitable” contributions to a new state-run nonprofit program in exchange for a credit that would offset their state tax burden.  While classifying the payments as charitable contributions rather than local taxes would help individual taxpayers avoid hitting the cap, Representative Wheeler stressed that fact that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could nix the plan with a ruling that such contributions are subject to the state-and-local-tax (SALT) deduction cap. 

“It is reckless and unwise for Illinois to move forward with passing a plan to circumvent the state and local tax deduction cap under the new federal law until we see how the IRS rules on it,” Representative Wheeler said. “If we pass this bill now and it becomes law, taxpayers who take advantage of it may well end up having made contributions to this program for nothing, because the IRS could step in and rule that these payments are indeed subject to the cap. The IRS is well aware what states like Illinois, California, New York and New Jersey are trying to do by considering similar proposals. We should not subject Illinois taxpayers to this risky scheme.”

TAXES
·        House Republicans oppose progressive income tax.   Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, along with members of the House Republican Caucus, filed House Resolution 975 Tuesday to state their opposition to a proposed progressive income tax on Illinois residents. 

“The General Assembly cannot continue spending money frivolously and expect Illinois taxpayers to pick up the tab with more tax increases like this progressive income tax proposal from the Democrat party,” Durkin said. “It is our constitutional duty to protect our constituents, and we will remain firm as a caucus on blocking any progressive tax measures.”

Illinois already has the highest effective state and local tax burden in the nation, according to a report by WalletHub. Studies have shown that states with progressive income taxes create even more of a tax burden on the middle class and dissuade economic prosperity.