A press release from State Senator Dan Duffy:
Final Month of Legislative Session in SpringfieldWe are now in the final month of the 2013 legislative session. Like a student who waits for the last night to complete a term paper – legislative leaders also procrastinate until this final month before they try to quickly maneuver key bills through the General Assembly. As you can imagine, this is when political games, arm twisting, and emotions are at their peak. Legislative bills, which have been stalled for months, are now moving with lightening speed through the legislative process. I feel it is imperative that every bill is completely read, reviewed, and analyzed.
As you know, a bill must pass both chambers (House and Senate) and be signed by the Governor to become law. Here are two key bills which have moved through the Senate recently:
Pension Reform Bill (SB01)
President Cullerton barely passed an insignificant pension reform bill out of the Senate a few weeks ago. The bill went over to the House. The powerful House Speaker, Mike Madigan, sat on the bill before he decided to “gut” the bill, take out all of the President’s wording, and replace / amend the bill with his own content. The new Pension Reform bill, with all of Speaker Madigan’s wording, was passed by the House on May 2nd and now will return to the Senate (since it was amended) for a vote. It is now up to President Cullerton to decide whether or not he will allow Speaker Madigan’s revised bill to be called for a vote in the Senate. President Cullerton has openly expressed feelings of resentment due to the fact that Speaker Madigan gutted his original pension reform bill and replaced it with his own.
The Speakers new pension reform bill significantly reforms the state’s pension system which is currently 100 Billion dollars in debt, the worst funded pension system in the United States. His bill reforms 4 of the 5 state pension programs. The bill impacts all state employees, teachers, legislators and all others in state pension programs – except judges. Speaker Madigan excluded judges from his bill. The bill would have state employees pay more for benefits, work longer before they can retire, decrease cost of living adjustments, and end some perks which have been abused in the past. His bill would save an estimated $150 Billion dollars over the course of his 30-year plan.
Property Tax Increase Bill / College of Lake County Borrowing bill (SB2305)
Senator Terry Link sponsored, and barely passed, this bill which would allow the College of Lake County board to borrow as much money as they desire for projects – WITHOUT taxpayer approval. I did not support the bill and voted against it. Once the College of Lake County borrows the money for projects, Lake county property taxes will be increased to pay for the loans. In addition to the College of Lake County, this bill would also impact the Blackhawk College District, Illinois Eastern College District, and the Southwestern College District. This bill passed the senate by only 2 votes; Lake County Senator Melinda Bush and Senator Julie Morrison supported the bill and were the deciding votes for its passage. The bill now has moved over to the House for a vote.
In addition to this money, the President of the College of Lake County is also lobbying for more money.
He would like an additional $36 Million from the state (and $12 Million more from local funds) to build a new 118,024 square foot learning center.
In these difficult economic times, families and small business owners are cutting expenses. They have learned to “live within their means”. Lake County residents are struggling under the burden of extremely high property taxes. Now is NOT the time to raise our property tax once again! I do not support these major upgrades to the College of Lake County at this time, which will drastically increase our property taxes.
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To follow bills through the legislative process, review bills and see how your representative voted, go to www.ilga.gov