A report on what’s gone on in Springfield this past week:
Tryon Co-Sponsors Bill to Halt Legislator Pay Raises
Illions continues to face an unprecedented fiscal crisis. As of late, there is no clear solution in sight, and the budget impasse continues in the General Assembly.
The state is suffering from a debt burden of over $111 billion, and despite this crisis, Speaker Madigan pushed a bill through last year to guarantee pay raises to state legislators for FY16. This pay raise not only includes a salary increase but also increases the per diem and mileage reimbursement rates given to legislators. The state cannot afford to give legislators a raise and I have repeatedly voted against automatic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). It is completely wrong as legislators to give ourselves a pay raise when our state’s finances are in turmoil and no budget is in place.
At the same time, we do not have the ability to refuse this pay raise. Speaker Madigan created this automatic pay increase when the aforementioned bill passed last year. I am a co-sponsor of House Bill 4225, which seeks to rectify this problem. This bill amends the Compensation Review Act, and prohibits any financial adjustments that were previously recommended and determined for compensation. As of today, our caucus has tried three times to have House Bill 4225 released from the Rules Committee so we could vote to reject the raises. On all three occasions Speaker Madigan’s strongest allies in the House blocked our effort to bring our bill to the floor.
I believe that House Bill 4225 is a step in the right direction and will continue to push for its release from Rules and passage. I am ready to work together with my fellow legislators to create a balanced budget for our state, and help fix our finances.
Budget Stalemate Continues in Springfield
As the State of Illinois entered the fourth week of the new fiscal year without a balanced budget in place, the Democrat majority again refused to negotiate in good faith and instead continued their piece-meal approach to the budget crisis.
In the House, Democrats again backed a temporary budget to fund certain services at a level that is not sustainable over the course of the entire fiscal year. House Amendment 1 to HB 4143 was adopted by a narrow majority of Democrats, but did not receive enough votes to be passed on Third Reading.
The Democrat majority continues to insist on spending levels that are unsustainable. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget believes this plan will ultimately require the expenditure of over $36 billion of GRF taxpayer resources for FY16. The Democrats’ bills march the taxpayers of Illinois toward a $4 billion unbalanced budget one month at a time. A group of my Republican colleagues put together a short presentation about the current financial crisis. You can see that presentation here.
Tryon Sets Record Straight on Financial Irresponsibility in Springfield
As Democrats continue to push for temporary budgets that would march Illinois toward a $4 billion unbalanced FY16 budget one month at a time, House Republicans have stood united in our belief that we must follow the Illinois Constitution, which requires that expenditures be less than or equal to projected revenues.
In spite of one-party rule for the last 12 years which has led to unbalanced budgets, a $111 billion unfunded pension liability and the worst credit rating in the nation, leading Democrats last week actually called Republicans “financially irresponsible.”
I set the record straight in comments made on the House floor to Democrat Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago).
You can hear those remarks here.
Issue of Employee Payroll Continues to Pit AG Madigan against State Workers
With conflicting court rulings over whether state employees should be paid in the absence of a state budget, Comptroller Leslie Munger is continuing to process payrolls to all state employees in their full amounts. At the root of the issue is Governor Rauner, who believes State workers should continue to be paid for work they are doing, and Speaker Mike Madigan and his daughter Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who do not.
On Friday, July 17th the Illinois Supreme Court denied Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s request for direct appeal and consolidation of the two matters involving state employee payroll. Also on the 17th, the First District Appellate Court (Cook County) issued an order vacating the temporary restraining order limiting payroll to the federal minimum wage and returned the matter to the Circuit Court for evidentiary hearings in support of the relief requested by the Attorney General.
Illinois Medicaid Expansion Sign-Ups Double Predictions
Illinois is among a dozen states where the number of new enrollees surpassed projections for the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health law. While the surge in sign-ups lifts the number of insured people, it has also stoked worries about the future cost to taxpayers.
Illinois and Cook County eventually will have to bear 10 percent of the cost of expanding the safety-net insurance program for the poor. The federal government agreed to pay all costs for the expansion through 2016, but it will begin lowering its share in 2017.
More than twice as many Illinois residents have enrolled under the expansion than was projected by former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration. It expected 298,000 people to sign up in 2015, but 623,000 newly eligible Illinoisans enrolled by the end of June. Sign-ups have outstripped forecasts in at least a dozen states, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press.
With more people getting free health care, costs to Illinois and Cook County will increase as the federal government scales back what it pays from 100 percent to 90 percent by 2020. In 2020, the Medicaid expansion will cost the state $208.6 million and Cook County $72.6 million, according to new projections from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration. That year, the federal government’s share of the Medicaid expansion costs will be $3.03 billion.
New Law Should Prevent Welfare Benefits From Going to the Deceased
Only in Illinois do we need an actual law to force the end of a current practice of accidentally doling out welfare benefits to dead people.
Under legislation sponsored by State Rep. Dwight Kay and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Illinois Department of Human Services will begin a monthly review of state death records to determine if any of the deceased are still receiving aid. The new program comes on the heels of two audits showing that millions of taxpayer dollars had been paid out to people who were no longer living.
In February, Auditor General William Holland found that the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services last year paid out $3.7 million for medical services to 1,111 people who already had been recorded as dead. That came after Holland found the state had overpaid $12.3 million for medical care to 2,850 dead people in 2013. State officials blamed the problem on an antiquated computer system.
Tryon Expresses Support for Longmeadow Parkway Plan
Three years ago, when the legislative maps were redrawn and I began representing some portions of Northern Kane County, community leaders came to me right away and let me know that the extension of Longmeadow Parkway to provide for a bridge across the Fox River was a top priority.
Since that time, Senator Karen McConnaughay and I have worked very closely with the mayors and village managers from Southern McHenry and Northern Kane Counties in making sure the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) knows that state funding for Longmeadow Parkway needs to also be an IDOT priority. Through a collaborative effort by many, today’s multi-year plan from IDOT includes close to $63 million for design and development of Longmeadow Parkway.
The IDOT 2016-2019 Highway Improvement Program for District 1 includes seven different projects that will move the Longmeadow Parkway bridge project forward. Money to fund the program comes from motor-fuel taxes, vehicle registration taxes and federal sources.
Motorists who must cross the Fox River during their daily commute are aware of the dire need for a third bridge across the Fox River. In addition to the traffic mitigation benefits, the opportunities for economic development that would result from the project’s completion are significant. Especially for the Villages of Algonquin, Carpentersville, and for East and West Dundee, this third accessway across the Fox will open the door to future business growth and prosperity.
Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misinformation being circulated about the project. I recently came across a web site filled with facts about the proposal. You can view the information here.