Update from the Capitol

Plan to Fund Higher Education and MAP Grants
With Illinois’ higher education system approaching eight months without state funding as a result of the current budget impasse, last Tuesday I joined my Republican colleagues in co-sponsoring legislation (HB 4539) that will fund public universities, community colleges and MAP grants.

House Bill 4539 will fund public universities at 80% of their Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) appropriations, community colleges will receive 90% of their FY15 appropriations and MAP grants will be funded. This Republican effort would appropriate $1.68 billion for higher education. 
This is a realistic plan to keep the doors open at our public universities and community colleges. Legislation pushed by House Democrats has no funding mechanism to pay for these needed funds to higher education. Illinois’ public universities and community colleges are facing serious consequences because of our inaction with the 2016 budget and we must do something to sustain our higher education system. I ask my Democrat colleagues in the House to join me in this compromise proposal.

Governor’s State of the State Offers Clear Plan for Illinois’ Prosperity
The Governor revealed several new proposals during his second ‘State of the State’ before the General Assembly last Wednesday. I look forward to reviewing and discussing the Governor’s proposals with my colleagues this session. It is clear Governor Rauner is focused on making the necessary improvements to make Illinois a better place to live and work. He is ready to compromise with the Democrats if they are willing to meet him half way. Since we are approaching eight months without a state budget, it was good to hear the Governor is keeping his door open to negotiate with the legislature.
FEMA to Work with State on Flood/Storm Damage Assessments
Governor Bruce Rauner recently announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will assist with damage assessments in nearly two dozen counties devastated by record and near-record flooding and severe storms in late December and early January.

Personnel from FEMA, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and local emergency management agencies are expected to begin assessing damage to homes and businesses in Alexander, Christian, Clinton, Douglas, Iroquois, Jersey, Madison, Randolph, Sangamon and St. Clair counties on Feb. 4.

FEMA will also work with the state and local officials on assessments of storm-related costs incurred by local governments in Alexander, Bureau, Calhoun, Cass, Cumberland, Iroquois, Jackson, Jersey, Madison, Marion, Mason, Menard, Monroe, Morgan, Moultrie, Pike, Randolph, St. Clair and Vermilion counties. Those assessments are expected to begin on Feb. 1.

House Returns February 10
The Illinois House is back in session on Wednesday, February 10 at Noon. Listen LIVE here.

In the News
Rauner Threatens Veto after Democrats Pass Higher Education Spending Bill – SJR; January 28, 2016
Lawmakers Spar Over Plans To Fund Higher Ed. – FOX 55/27; January 28, 2016
State Considers Bill To Help Illinois Distilleries – WTVO; January 25, 2016
Legislation Aims to Regulate Cellphone Surveillance – INN/The Telegraph; January 30, 2016

Explore the 87th District

I enjoyed speaking about state government to the 5th and 6th grade students at Ridgeley Elementary in Springfield today.
Thank you to Mary Kay and Tom Rader (Mayor for the Village of Riverton) for being my guest at Wednesday’s State of the State address.
AT&T donated $15,000 to American Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois to assist with efforts undertaken during the recent flooding in Central Illinois.

Happy to join my friend Congressman Darin LaHood for his open house at his office located in downtown Springfield.