Hello friends and neighbors:
While there is still much to accomplish, I want to update you on the progress that has been made during session recently in Springfield.
Funding for Governor’s State University & Prairie State College
Last week Democrats and Republicans worked together cooperatively to provide funding to our state universities. The measure offers much needed funding to Governor’s State University, Prairie State College, Chicago State University and others that have not received funding since the beginning of the current fiscal year. The legislation also provides important funding for students who receive MAP grants, the Monetary Award Program, which are offered to students in most financial need. Without this funding, many of these students would not be able to continue their education.
Property Tax Relief for Homeowners
Homeowners continue to face sky-rocketing property taxes that increase on an annual basis. I voted yes on House Bill 696, which will freeze property taxes for homeowners. While this measure protects homeowners from escalating property taxes, I will continue to work with legislators and our local governments to explore ways we can provide financial relief to our municipalities and school districts from the State imposed unfunded mandates placed upon them, so they have the ability to control their own costs more effectively.
The House of Representatives approved House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 58, which reforms the way redistricting is done in Illinois. Under the proposal, the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and the most senior justice from the other party appoint an 8-member independent commission. The commissioners must reflect the ethnic, gender and racial makeup of Illinois. Additionally, appointees must represent every judicial district in the state. The amendment also establishes requirements to make sure the process is transparent through public meetings. This amendment will take partisan politics out of redistricting, but at the same time ensure the interests of minority communities are protected.
Cutting Wasteful Spending in the State Pension Systems
Currently, family members must notify the state pension systems when a loved one has passed away. Most pension systems have adopted additional plans to identify and remove deceased annuitants. Since a required protocol for identifying deceased annuitants does not currently exist, the systems could pay months or even years of benefits to someone who is no longer living. I voted yes for House Bill 6030, which requires state administered pension systems to work with a third party company, the Social Security Administration or the Illinois Department of Public Health, to develop a plan to remove deceased annuitants from the system every month. This will help the systems avoid wasteful payments, as well as decrease the time and money spent trying to recoup erroneous payments to the deceased.
In the past, the politicians in Springfield have used money earmarked to address transportation needs to fund other services. I have strongly opposed this practice because of the incredible amount of financial pressure it places on our municipalities to complete transportation related projects. I voted yes for House Joint Constitutional Amendment 36 which prevents the governor and legislators from using transportation funds for anything other than transportation projects.
When someone purchases a car it loses value immediately upon driving it off the car lot. If the buyer were to get into a crash shortly after purchase, their insurance coverage will probably not cover the vehicle’s purchase price. This is why I sponsored House Bill 5907, a consumer friendly optional program. Consumers can purchase Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP), waivers, which will help cover the difference between the cost of the vehicle and what the insurance will pay. House Bill 5907 establishes regulations on how GAP waivers can be sold, puts protections in place for consumers, and clarifies how the program is regulated. HB5907 passed the house last week and now moves to the senate for further consideration.
Autism Identification Cards
People on the Autism Spectrum Disorder program are often not easily identified, but they do need special care and consideration. To help make it easier for law enforcement officials and health care providers to identify and properly treat them, I co-sponsored legislation to create Autism Spectrum Disorder wallet cards to be obtained through the Secretary of State’s office.
Attention Veteran’s—Save the Date
I will be hosting my Annual Veteran’s Appreciation Picnic on Friday, July 8, from 11AM to 1PM, at Veteran’s Memorial Park, 19101 Halsted Street, in Glenwood. Local veterans along with one guest are invited to join me for conversation, bingo, hot dogs and soft drinks. Please contact my office with any questions.