Update From The Capitol 11/16/15

On Tuesday, November 10, the Illinois House of Representatives convened and debated several matters before the General Assembly. Unfortunately, House Democrats sent a signal they have no intention of compromising and would rather put partisan politics above common sense regarding important issues facing local governments, public safety, child care and long term care for seniors. However, the good news is the Governor and legislative leaders are preparing for a face-to-face budget meeting scheduled to take place on December 1.

Several of the important issues debated at the capitol last week are outlined below, including a report on Illinois’ record soybean harvest. Until then, I wish you, your family, and friends a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.

I will keep you posted,

Tom

Legislation to Send Funds Owed to Local Governments and 911 Blocked by Madigan
115 Representatives including myself voted for HB 4305 to authorize the distribution of motor fuel tax (MFT) receipts to local governments. These funds are vitally important to municipalities and townships for local road projects and public safety. My House Republican colleagues successfully persuaded the Governor to join us in our support for providing this essential funding for MFT, 9-1-1 services and additional public safety funds. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved however, Speaker Madigan used his draconian House Rules to put a hold on forwarding the bill to the Senate, with Majority Leader Currie filing a motion to reconsider the vote. This parliamentary hold means the motor fuel tax funds owed to local governments and 9-1-1 funds will not be distributed until the Speaker removes his blockage and the bill can be passed by the Senate.




Governor Rauner Compromises on Child Care Eligibility
After legislators in both parties urged Governor Rauner to compromise, the Governor acted in good faith to restore eligibility for the overwhelming majority of families receiving child care assistance. Compromise language supported by the Governor brought the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility up to 162% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is higher than most of Illinois’ neighboring states. This is a reasonable compromise that protects child care for the working poor, while at the same time holding the line on spending.

With a compromise reached, House Democrats tried to break the compromise by trying to pass legislation (SB 570) to put the Child Care Assistance Program at risk. The Democrat proposal would expand access to more than what Illinois can afford to pay, which could result in bankrupting the child care program for future generations. In order to protect the program for our next generation, I voted ‘No’ on SB 570 while honoring the bipartisan compromise reached by Governor Rauner and the legislature.

A spokesperson for Governor Rauner issued a statement on Monday, November 9 describing the move:  “As a result of bipartisan discussions with legislators concerning the future of the Child Care Assistance Program, the Rauner administration today plans to amend the emergency rule it filed at the beginning of the fiscal year. Under the amended rule, income eligibility will rise to 162% of the federal poverty level while current co-pays will remain intact. Other eligibility and restrictions will also be lifted pending further review and legislative consultation. Additionally, the governor's office will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program.”

Bipartisan Agreement on DON Score, House Democrats Pursue Override
Earlier this year, Governor Rauner responded to budget shortfalls by issuing rules to raise the Determination of Need (DON) score used to establish eligibility for long-term care. As a result, the democrat controlled legislature passed legislation (HB 2482) that would return the DON score threshold to the original number of 29. On November 6, Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto of HB 2482 and explained that while well-intentioned, the legislation would lock into statute a provision that would allow qualifying individuals to be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based care services, thus driving up costs and eliminating the possibility of cost efficiencies.

Then, on November 9, the Rauner administration announced that it will not be increasing the DON score used to determine eligibility for long-term care. Instead, the State will use the existing DON score of 29 to ensure Illinois’ elderly and most vulnerable citizens receive appropriate care. To get to the point, both Republicans and Democrats agree the eligibility score for long term care for seniors should remain at 29.

In spite of this compromise, on November 10 House Democrats called HB 2482 for an override vote and ultimately failed to override the Governor’s veto. I voted ‘No’ on this override due to the fact that Governor Rauner agreed not to change the eligibility for long-term care, the vote was just a way to undermine the Governor’s compromise and make it “look” like those who voted ‘No’ do not support our seniors, when in fact, I will always stand up to protect senior citizens in our State.

Illinois #1 in Soybean Harvest
The USDA reported this week that American farmers are expected to bring in a record soybean crop for 2015. The bean harvest, much of which is used for animal feed and soybean oil, is expected to total 3.98 billion bushels. More than 550 million of these bushels will have been cut and harvested in Illinois, making Illinois the nation’s #1 soybean producing state.