Update from the Capitol 6-22-15

House meets, but does not discuss budget crisis…Senate sends Governor unconstitutional spending bills

With the clock ticking down to the June 30th deadline to have a new budget in place for our new fiscal year which begins on July 1st, Speaker Madigan is continuing to call the House into session each week…but not to discuss the budget.

The Illinois House held a one-day session in Springfield last Tuesday, but the impending budget crisis wasn’t even brought up.  Instead, the Speaker devoted the day to hearing testimony on the proposed reorganization of the powers and responsibilities of the State’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).  Yes, DCEO is an important agency. It’s responsible for job creation and retention in a variety of industries throughout Illinois. But without a new budget in place, state aid for schools, funding for services and paychecks for state workers will come to a halt next month.

Meanwhile, in the Senate, President Cullerton last week removed the temporary hold he had placed on the unconstitutional, unbalanced spending plan he and the Speaker had pushed through the General Assembly last month and began sending the bills to the Governor. The plan spends $4 billion more than we will take in in revenue next year. Spending money we don’t have is how we got into this mess in the first place.

Inaction is unacceptable. Sending the Governor a sham budget is also unacceptable. Right now, we need to be devoting our full attention to getting a reasonable balanced budget in place, and adopting fiscal reforms to help us stay on a fiscally-responsible path.
    
Wet spring, early summer rains create floodwater dangers

While precipitation has been well above average across Illinois this year, rain has been especially heavy in parts of central Illinois, including the Peoria area and in the Illinois River watershed.  Early last week it was reported that the Illinois River was running at 19.77 feet, more than 1.5 feet above the flood stage.  The high water has been topping levees and soaking bottomlands up and down the river and its principal tributaries.

Key State agencies, headed by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, have put planning resources into place to prepare for further high waters and advise local communities on responding to floodwater conditions. 

Please stay safe! Please do not try to drive through flowing or standing water.  If you’re in a boat, please be on the lookout for floating debris and unusual currents when water is washing over a levee.

Illinois High School Association announces new rule affecting 2015 football season

To help prevent concussion-related injuries in student athletes, the Illinois High School Association has put new rules in place for the upcoming high school football season. The rule instructs coaches of football programs affiliated with the IHSA to limit full-contact practice, a type of football practice repeatedly associated with concussions and other head trauma.  Under the new rule, full-contact practices are limited to three days per week for a total of no more than 90 minutes.

The new rule comes as reports on concussions continue to be published.  Reports and news stories describe what many physicians and medical care providers believe to be long-term neurological risks to young athletes who play contact sports, especially but not limited to football.  The new IHSA rules are scheduled to go into effect on the Monday of the first week of the regular high school football season in late August.