May Springfield Update


My Legislative Agenda


I am very proud to have supported several measures that have passed the House and now await the Governor’s signature or final Senate action. These include:

  • Modernizing the standards by which transgender and intersex people can correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. HB1785 awaits Governor’s action.
  • Establishing network adequacy standards for insurance companies operating in Illinois, requiring continuity of care at in-network rates for people who are undergoing treatment for serious illness should their doctor, hospital or pharmacy be dropped from an insurance company network in the middle of the policy year, and requiring greater and accuracy of provider information on insurance company websites. HB311 awaits Governor’s action.
  • Legislation that would prohibit the Governor from cutting 39,000 seniors out of home care services. HB1424 awaits action in the Senate.
  • Legislation that would require the Governor to restart the current bidding on the $9 billion Medicaid managed care procurement, and require that the largest single procurement in Illinois history be held to the highest standards of transparency, accountability and ethics rules. SB1446 was defeated in the Senate.
  • The TRUST Act to provide legal protections for Illinois’ immigrant/refugee community in the face of Trump’s attacks. SB31 awaits Governor’s action.
  • SB40 protects a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions in Illinois and assures that coverage is available to all women regardless of income level. Awaits Governor’s action.
  • Graduated increase in the minimum wage in Illinois over several years to reach $15 per hour. SB81 awaits Governor’s action.
  • Elected School Board for Chicago. Governor says he will veto HB1774
  • Comprehensive Statewide School Funding Reform. Governor says he will veto SB1.


In addition, I was a strong supporter of several government reform bills and major business/job creation incentives to enhance Illinois’ economic development efforts. The reform bills are particularly important, because not only are they important in their own right to streamline government, reduce costs and eliminate redundant units of government, they also directly address requests of Governor Rauner to pass these kinds of reforms before he will sign a budget. In the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship, I worked on these measures so that Gov. Rauner would work with us to pass a state budget

  • HB156 which offers property tax reductions (not freezes), including special relief for seniors and veterans
  • HB 160 which is a comprehensive economic development package to encourage businesses to locate in Illinois through tax credits for businesses bringing new jobs to Illinois, but with clawback provisions to be sure that credit recipients maintain those jobs in our state. Other tax credits would assist smaller start-ups (Angel tax credit), programs to incentivize apprenticeships and intern-to-employee programs, expansion of the EITC, extension of the New Markets Tax Credit and River Edge Historic Properties Rehabilitation Credit, among many other provisions.
  • HB2525 is a reform of the Workers Compensation system
  • SB8 is a reform of the Procurement Code
  • SB3 will reform and expedite the process by which local units of government can consolidate


If you wish to read any bill mentioned above, simply click here and enter the bill number in the “search by number” search box.


State Budget Issues


After months of arduous and detailed work, the Senate Democrats and Republicans and the Governor’s Office produced a series of bills known as “The Grand Bargain”.  It contained a package of both budgetary and reform bills based on the Senate negotiations.  Several times, the package of bills was preparing to move, and each time the Governor inserted himself to block progress by either changing his demands or pulling off votes from the Republican caucus.  Finally, the Senate Democrats removed the legal language that tied all the pieces of legislation together as a package and the various pieces related to the budget were sent to the House:

  • SB6, the Senate appropriations bill;
  • SB4 which would authorize bonding out a portion of the $15 billion backlog of old bills to infuse billions of dollars into struggling colleges, human service providers and other vendors to the state, while saving taxpayers $800 million per year in interest costs;
  • SB9 the proposed Senate revenue bill
  • SB42 the Senate Budget Implementation Bill (BIMP)


These bills were sent to the House on May 25 with only Senate Democratic votes, even though the bills reflected compromises with the Republicans.  The House immediately began to review the legislation and House and Senate Democrat budget leaders met to discuss differences between the House and Senate positions and negotiate solutions.


As the lead House budget negotiator it was very clear that for the majority of spending priorities, there was agreement with the Senate proposal. There were several important areas of agreement including:


  • Reducing state bureaucracy;
  • Paying down the backlog of old bills, and using tax credits and deductions to give added protection to middle- and low-income taxpayers;
  • Fully funding violence prevention programs;
  • Protecting senior service programs such as CCP from the Governor’s proposed cuts


There were some major differences which House Democrats did not wish to support, including:


  • Making income increases retroactive to January 1, 2017
  • Expanding sales taxes to services
  • Assumptions of pension savings not yet agreed to, including several of the Governor’s proposed reforms.
  • Assuming $435 million in group health savings not yet negotiated
  • 10% cuts to higher education
  • $100 million less for K-12 education


In addition, the House had several priorities for addition to a proposal including:

  • Closure of more corporate tax loopholes
  • Additional funding for community colleges and scholarship assistance for students
  • Prioritizing education and human service programs over expenditures on new software and government equipment purchases;
  • Providing rate increases to providers serving senior citizens, people with disabilities, mental health and substance abuse and Supportive Living Facilities to allow them to stabilize their workforce and attract and retain quality workers;
  • Increased capacity for HIV/AIDS, IL Breast and Cervical Cancer programs, and Meals on Wheels for seniors in light of potential federal program cuts


In a very complicated budget containing several thousand spending lines there were certainly other areas where the House and Senate disagreed. I am happy to report that over several days of discussions many of the issues above were negotiated and compromised on, although a few remain outstanding.


Also, on May 30, I received a list of budget items for discussion from the House Republicans. I look forward to discussions with the House Republicans on these items as well to find places on which there can be agreement.


We need to find a path to a balanced budget that has both new revenues and cuts that all sides can support and that will stabilize our financial situation not just for the coming fiscal year, but will also remain in balance for future years, as well as providing a resolution for items left unappropriated from prior years.