Session Update for the week:
On Memorial Day, we pause to honor our brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.
I hope you took some time this weekend to recognize their incredible sacrifice. We must dedicate ourselves to the preservation of our freedom as Abraham Lincoln called on us to do in the Gettysburg Address:
“…It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
As of around 2:30 on Saturday, the Illinois House completed its business for the Spring Session. Though we were scheduled to adjourn last Friday, we returned this week on Wednesday after House and Senate Democrats failed to meet their self-imposed deadline to pass a budget.
For years, and this Spring legislative session specifically, I have fought for better care for our Illinois citizens with developmental disabilities. Investing in that care was one of my top priorities for our state budget. Unfortunately, the Democratic leaders in the House never invited or allowed House Republicans to have input in the budget process.
This state budget crafted and supported by Democrat lawmakers behind closed doors now sets the stage for a progressive income tax hike. This budget is not balanced, it is full of gimmicks, and it shortchanges taxpayers.
Some programs are funded for only six months to make it appear we have a balanced budget. This was not the time to increase programs but instead look for savings. The budget approved spends an additional one billion on health care for undocumented immigrants while underfunding services for our most vulnerable and their caregivers. Taxpayers are paying more for everything these days, yet the Democrat majority gave themselves a pay raise. My Republican colleagues and I offered to work with the Democrats on a state budget that is balanced, that would have included our shared priorities, however, the Democratic leadership chose to pass a budget that spends more money without a plan to pay for these new programs in the future.
I spoke on my disappointment in the budget process and the budget outcome on the House floor. Here are my remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMYADzFooqk
In the next couple of weeks, I will give you more information on other legislation that was passed this week.
- It spends $50.6 Billion which is one of the largest budgets in state history.
- Democrats claim the state will bring in around $100 million more than their budget spends.
- It invests $350 million additional dollars in our K-12 public schools.
- It includes a slight increase in LGDF which is taxpayer money transferred back to local governments.
- It increases the medicaid reimbursement rate for hospitals – a rate that has not been increased in over 20 years. This will really help our hospitals that have been struggling the past few years.
- It invests more in our child welfare system – something I have been advocating for throughout this legislative session.
So why did I vote no?
- It raises lawmaker pay by 5.5%. That is on top of the 16% raise the majority passed in January.
- It spends $550 million in healthcare benefits for undocumented immigrants, only half of what the program is expected to cost taxpayers. This funding level alone means their budget is not balanced and blows a $400 million hole in the budget from day one.
- This budget includes new capital projects (read special project and pork spending) for legislative districts, but only those represented by Democrats.
- It shortchanges workers who care for the developmentally disabled. After the state commissioned a study which said that wages should be increased by $4, this budget only raises it by $2.50, and only for half of the year.
- This budget raids $700 million in funds meant for local governments.This will create increased pressure for local governments to raise property taxes.
- This budget does not include funding for state employees in the AFSCME contract for 2024. This will increase the amount this budget is out of balance.
- It includes $50 million to begin the process of constructing new legislative offices.
- It raises grocery and gas taxes by $430 million this year alone.
- And, overall it spends hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on new programs while not fully funding the state’s previous commitments.
This Week on the Farm:
This past week has been full of great ice cream stops! I made stops at Slots and Scoops in Germantown, St. Jacob Strawberry Fest, and Wessel’s Corner Market & Ice Cream in St. Rose. I recommend some rocky road or cookies and cream next time you’re craving a cold treat!
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