Update from the Capitol 1-27-17

Attorney General Madigan Should Rescind Her Motion to Block Employees’ Pay

I was very disappointed that on Thursday Attorney General Lisa Madigan again launched an attempt to block pay for state employees here and across the state while budget negotiations continue.

This late-night move by the Attorney General is unconscionable. She has put tens of thousands of hard-working state employees and their families at risk by advocating in court that they not be paid for the work they perform. In the midst of ongoing, bipartisan negotiations in the State Senate to resolve this budget impasse, the Attorney General has decided to create chaos, instead of trying to support a compromise that is potentially in the works.  I have immediately called on Attorney General Madigan to rescind her motion.

State of the State Take-Away:  We Have a New Opportunity we Cannot Waste

In his annual State of the State Address on Wednesday the Governor spoke about both frustration and optimism – sentiments that I share, and that I know many of you share as well.  The pace of the state budget negotiations in particular has been very frustrating, and we need to focus our efforts in the coming weeks on building on recent bi-partisan progress made in the Senate to reach a responsible compromise.

But the governor this week also highlighted some areas on which we have been able to come together over the past two years and make progress, including providing more funding for our schools so we all know it can be done.

The start of this historic 100th General Assembly provides us a new opportunity to put our differences aside and to focus instead on where we can find common ground. We cannot waste it.

Bicentennial Commission Gets Down to Work

Next year, the State of Illinois and our state constitution will officially turn 200 years old, and plans are in the works for 200th birthday celebrations and commemorations statewide!  I am honored to have been selected to serve on the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, the group that will help plan the bicentennial celebrations.

I take great pride in the fact that my family’s Illinois roots go back before statehood, so for me this is truly a labor of love. Illinois is a tremendous state and the bicentennial gives us an unprecedented opportunity to tell our story to the world and lay the groundwork for a bright future.

The Commission held its first meeting this month and we unveiled the official Bicentennial Logo at the Old State Capitol. The navy and gold design with 21 gold stars represents Illinois’ entry as the 21st state in the union. The colors are a nod to the State of Illinois’ official seal.
For more information visit the Illinois Bicentennial Celebration website.

Legislators and Guests Line Up for Custom Cup Coffee

The Stratton Building office I share with Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez was a very popular place on Wednesday morning, thanks to Springfield’s own Custom Cup Coffee. This spring Representative Jimenez and I are teaming up with a number of local businesses that will join us in our office to share their wares with our colleagues and visitors from throughout the state.

Our great small businesses deserve exposure, and if the crowd in our office Wednesday morning to enjoy Custom Cup Coffee is any indication we may be able to help with that. Thank you, Custom Cup!

Illinois Offers Free Tax Preparation for Low-Income Residents

The service for the 2016 tax filing season is offered by tax assistance centers across Illinois in cooperation with the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). It is targeted towards families with incomes up to $55,000 and individuals with incomes up to $30,000.  The service offices will help eligible residents fill out and sign forms in advance of the tax filing deadline of April 18, 2017.

If you believe you’re eligible for this benefit, you can visit this website and enter your zip code to find a tax assistance center near you.

Watch and Listen to House Action on the Go

I love welcoming visitors to the Capitol, but if you can’t make it in person, you can still watch and listen to what’s happening in the House.

On days when we’re in session the Illinois General Assembly Website (http://www.ilga.gov/) streams live video and audio of the action on the House floor and in committees.  You can also go to the website any day to track the progress of legislation you’re interested in, review bills that I am sponsoring and contact information for me and my staff, and to access a variety of other information including the Illinois Constitution.  The website is another great resource to help you stay well informed on what’s happening in the General Assembly.