End of Session 99th General Assembly


In the last days of the 99th General Assembly the House passed several key pieces of legislation, including funding to our colleges, universities and MAP Grants, as well as to senior programs, children and youth programs, funding for mental health, substance abuse, violence prevention, housing and services for homeless youth, domestic violence shelters, the Autism Program and all other human service lines not funded out of consent decrees or federal funds. The source of funds for this lifeline was Special Funds for education and human services (the Educational Assistance Fund and the Commitment to Human Services Fund), where unless appropriated the cash will just sit there unspent.


Since all General Revenue appropriation authority for Higher Ed and Human Services ceased on Jan. 1, 2017, we thought it was critical to continue to provide funding streams for to mitigate the effects there having been no state budget for 2 years. The Senate did not call this legislation for a vote, therefore this bill did not pass.  You can see the legislation here: http://ilga.gov/legislation/99/SB/PDF/09900SB2051ham002.pdf


The House passed legislation that would provide a property tax freeze. This has been one of Governor Rauner’s key demands for a budget solution. You can see the bill here: http://ilga.gov/legislation/99/HB/PDF/09900HB6630lv.pdf


The House also passed reforms to Workers Compensation system, which is another one of the Governor’s priorities.  You can see the language here:  http://ilga.gov/legislation/99/SB/PDF/09900SB2901ham004.pdf.


The Senate introduced a major package of bills related to the budget and items related to the Governor’s agenda including changes to the pension systems, workers compensation, local government consolidation, income tax increases, and new taxes on sugary drinks, sales tax increases, increases in the minimum wage and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and new casinos.  The Senate did not call their legislation nor the House versions for a vote due to the end of Session for the 99th General Assembly. These pieces of legislation will be introduced again for the 100th General Assembly


At the Inauguration of the 100th General Assembly, Speaker Madigan outlined a different approach including a tax-surcharge on those earning over $1 million per year, while increasing the EITC to benefit working families. He also proposed changing our approach to incentivizing businesses to locate and expand in Illinois by reinstituting the EDGE Tax Credit, but banning offering tax credits to companies who ship US jobs overseas.


The proposal also includes reducing business income taxes by 50% to help small and medium sized businesses expand and increase jobs in Illinois. (Most of the largest companies in Illinois are able to avoid ALL state income taxes because of loopholes and breaks at the Federal level, which unfairly shifts the tax burden to smaller/medium sized local businesses.) This proposal is to reduce that burden, and to incentivize small and medium sized businesses which tend not only to be locally owned and operated, but also generate 66% of all new jobs, and since 1990 have added twice as many new jobs in America as “Big Business”.


Hopefully these proposals will spur movement to resolve the state budget crisis and to address other critical issues such as improving education, help working families who are facing increasing struggles, protecting our most vulnerable neighbors, and boosting our economic and business climate by creating fiscal stability and creating incentives for business growth and investment in Illinois.


The pros and cons of these ideas should be thoroughly examined and publicly debated. Finding solutions will require cooperation between all 4 caucuses and the Governor. Finding solutions will require open-mindedness, negotiation and compromise. Negotiation and compromise require trust in your negotiating partners, and faith that all sides will uphold their ends of the agreement. I hope we can rebuild trust, find common ground, work across political lines and just get our jobs done.


I will strongly support the values my constituents sent me to represent and to better our state as a whole.  In my role leading the House Democratic Budget Team, I will advocate for protecting working families, assisting those who are vulnerable and struggling, making our public education system top notch from Early Childhood Education to Kindergarten through high school, to our universities, community colleges and vocational education systems, to strengthening our business climate and incentivizing job creation, reducing violence and improving public safety…..and most importantly, returning our State to sustainable fiscal stability.


LGBT Elected Officials’ Letter to President-Elect Trump


Today I joined with 155 other LGBT elected officials across America sending a letter to the President-Elect of the United States urging his support for the equal rights of all Americans of every race, ethnicity and religion as well as respecting the many advances in equality under the law won by the LGBT community in the last several years.  We also expressed concern for his Cabinet nominees, many of whom hold long-standing views in opposition to equality and inclusion.  You can read the full letter here.