A missive from State Rep. Mike Tryon:
Rep. Tryon Offers Legislative Survey
As the State Representative for the 66th District of Illinois, input from my constituents if very important. If you have not already taken my survey, please take a moment to share your opinions on issues that affect our state. I will gather input throughout April and will publish the results in May. I hope to have a lot of participation, because your opinions help me to better represent our region in Springfield. You may access my survey here.
Tornadoes Lash North-Central Illinois near Rochelle and Rockford
Governor Bruce Rauner activated the State Incident Response Center Thursday night. The emergency response center coordinates the efforts of local and community first responders to a disaster, and will, if necessary, supervise the deployment of non-community specialized response teams for further aid and assistance.
The Governor, along with Director James Joseph of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local officials, met today for a press briefing and to survey damage from the tornadoes that hit north central Illinois Thursday night.
This morning, Governor Rauner declared DeKalb and Ogle counties state disaster areas. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to those impacted by yesterday’s storms,” he said during a press conference. “The State will do everything it can to help these families and communities recover and heal, while providing response resources.”
The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The State of Illinois has mobilized personnel and assets to help local government officials with disaster recovery, including conservation police officers, communication equipment and light towers.
More information about the State’s tornado response and tornado safety is available atwww.Ready.Illinois.gov, and for more information on ways to help the victims of this tornado outbreak, please visit The Caucus Blog.
Consolidation Task Force meets in Wheaton
In Illinois there are almost 7,000 school districts, municipalities, townships, and other units of local government. All of these educational bodies and units of government have the right to charge fees by law, and most of them can levy property and other taxes from their residents. In many cases, Illinois residents are not fully aware of all of the different units of local government they help to support. Illinois law allows public-sector advocates to set up specialty units of local government, such as mosquito-abatement districts and drainage districts, whose taxes and assessment fees appear on residents’ tax bills.
Governor Bruce Rauner and Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti have made Illinois local government consolidation and the reduction of redundant public-sector work one of the focuses of their administration. Sanguinetti is the chairperson of the Local Government Consolidation Task Force, a panel asked to look at this issue. The DuPage-based Lieutenant Governor is familiar with the work of DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin at fighting back against proliferating local governments in his county, and at their initial meeting the members of the newly-appointed Task Force expressed eagerness to look at local areas within Illinois, and at efficiency practices in other states, for guidance on how to craft recommendations to accomplish this task. Cronin offered testimony and guidance to the Task Force’s hearing in Wheaton, held on Wednesday, April 8.
Task force members agreed that Illinois, with 6,963 units of local government (#1 nationwide) has much to learn from other states. One of the commission’s top-priority tasks will be to examine numerous mandates imposed by Springfield upon Illinois educational units and units of local government.
CGFA Reports on March Revenue Numbers
The report for March 2015 by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the General Assembly’s non-partisan budget arm, calculates Illinois’ net general funds receipts in March 2015 as having fallen by $330 million from the same receipts in March 2014. The decline was paced by a cut in Illinois personal income receipts of $195 million (net of refunds) and by a comparative fall in State corporate income tax revenues of $76 million (net of refunds). These reductions were related to the rollback in State income tax rates that took effect on January 1, 2015; for example, the State personal income tax rate fell from 5.00% to 3.75% on that day.
In addition to lower tax revenues related to the rollback of part of the “temporary” tax increase, CGFA staff pointed to other structural changes affecting the Illinois economy. For example, jobs in the Illinois manufacturing sector, a traditional cornerstone of Illinois economic activity, continue to be held back by the soaring value of the U.S. dollar in the international marketplace. Illinois expects to export between $5 and $6 billion dollars in goods in calendar year 2015, but this figure has been flat since 2011 as U.S. manufactured goods continue to lose ground. Competitive manufacturers based in other countries can often offer cheaper labor and more competitive currency values.
The U.S. Department of Commerce counts 345,050 Illinois jobs as supported by exports in 2014. $68.2 billion of goods that originated in Illinois were exported to other countries, and these goods were assembled and shipped by part of the 345,000-person workforce. With their pay, the direct export-oriented workforce then purchased goods and services from other Illinoisans, making up the balance of the 345,000 figure. These workers also pay income and sales taxes to the Illinois public sector.
Prosecutors, Grand Jury Begin Formal Inquiry into College of DuPage Spending
Controversial executive-level budget and expenditure issues at the College of DuPage have already drawn the attention of local taxpayers and Illinois House members. On Tuesday, March 31, it was publicly disclosed that a DuPage County grand jury has issued subpoenas to the College, seeking records related to executive actions taken by lame-duck college President Robert Breuder. The subpoenas seek further information about the departing chief executive’s compensation contract and allowable expenses.
Data gathered from these subpoenas could uncover information about the relationship between President Breuder, the college’s board of trustees, and persons with alleged insider status in college affairs. For example, a lucrative contract for college signage was recently awarded on a non-bid basis to an individual identified as a key college fundraiser.
I am one of several House Republicans who are calling for an intensified investigation into President Breuder and the fiscal affairs of the College of DuPage. HR 55, sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Ives and more than 55 colleagues, directs the Illinois Auditor General to conduct a four-year performance audit of the College’s spending patterns in fiscal years 2011 through 2014.
On Tuesday, three new trustees were elected to the COD board. All three were members of a “Clean Slate” team that had worked with others to question ties between the existing trustees and lame-duck college President Robert Brueder. The three new trustees – Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein – were elected to serve six-year terms.
Governor Rauner Makes Three Appointments to Enterprise Zone Board
The board, operating as an independent arm of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, will scrutinize the applications and reapplications of Illinois communities for status as hosts of Enterprise Zones. An Illinois Enterprise Zone is a geographic zone, located within an economically challenged area, where firms that invest capital and create jobs have the right to enjoy relief from some of the taxes, fees and regulations imposed in the rest of the state.
There are almost 100 enterprise zones throughout Illinois, all of which will expire soon. If they choose to re-apply for their status, the newly-appointed Board will look at their applications and compare them with new applicants. The General Assembly has created a statutory schedule for the Board to complete its work this year.
Governor Rauner’s three appointments, announced on Tuesday, March 31, were Jovita Carranza, Lawrence Falbe, and Larry Ivory.