50th District Update: Important Days Ahead
As you are likely aware, in the coming days and weeks the Illinois Senate will potentially be taking several votes on a multitude of issues. The recently introduced "grand bargain" budget proposal covers multiple subjects in an attempt to bridge the massive divide that has embroiled our Capitol for too long.
I wish I could give you exact details about these important bills, but they are still being negotiated. This is to be expected with a package of legislation this big that covers so many important and controversial topics. The bills were introduced as a framework for compromise, and a starting point to move the process forward.
While I'm glad that we are able to jump-start the budget process in the Senate, I can't tell you at this time how I will vote on each individual bill, because the details are not finished. I can also tell you that there are tax increase proposals floating around in negotiations. I have never, ever voted to raise taxes or to create any new taxes. I understand that digging out of our current hole may require at least a temporary increase in revenue. I've repeatedly heard from my constituents that they don't want us to even consider new revenue unless serious changes are made with state government to insure that all taxpayer funds are spent efficiently and transparently. I've been asked quite a bit where I stand on taxes, and I've been very consistent. I have never voted to increase taxes or create new taxes, and I do not support balancing our budget on the backs of our hard working families.
I hope negotiations continue and that we are able to see a budget package that also effects some real change in how our state government is run. But right now, I haven't seen nearly enough out of the negotiations to even consider talking about revenue. We are closer to a budget than we've been in two years, but we just aren't there yet. I hope to be able to bring you better news soon.
Please remember, if there's anything I can help you with, don't hesitate to contact my office at 217-782-8206 or via email at email@example.com.
State Senator Sam McCann
Senator McCann and Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer with Pittsfield FFA students who visited the Capitol to provide testimony in support of making corn the official state grain.
Senator McCann speaks to the Honest Abe District of Boy Scouts of America at their 78th Annual Citizenship Day in Jacksonville.
Senate Week in Review
Court orders state employee pay to continue
On Feb. 16, a St. Clair Circuit Judge Robert LeChien ruled against a motion filed by the Attorney General to reverse his July 2015 order that said state workers had to be paid even with no budget in place. Attorney General Madigan has filed a motion Jan. 26 state court seeking to stop state worker pay until legislators and the Governor approve a spending plan.
Budget data show need to resolve impasse
Recent budget data underscores the need to quickly resolve the impasse.
- Illinois goes $11 million further into debt each day state government continues to spend without a budget in place.
- It is estimated that under the status quo, with no spending or revenue changes, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget is $5.3 billion out of balance and the state will end FY 2017 with a bill backlog of $13.5 billion.
- The state is projected to run annual budget deficits of $6 to $7 billion over the next five years without changes to the status quo – increasing the backlog of bills to $47 billion by the end of FY 2022.
- The State’s Group Health Insurance program has not received a General Funds appropriation in two years. Providers are owed nearly $4 billion – delaying payments by two years. If the impasse continues through FY 2018, the accrued interest in the program will surpass program liability.
- The Comptroller estimates the state will pay $700 million in interest payments on over-due bills in FY 2017 alone.
- Mandated Categoricals and Early Childhood Education programs have not received payments in FY 2017 due to the backlog of bills.
Growing bio-based economy
Legislation has been introduced to grow Illinois’ bio-based economy, building upon the state’s strong agricultural base and seeking to provide new products and markets derived from grain commodities and their by-products.
Senate Bill 1656 provides incentives to Illinois businesses to produce and sell new renewable products made from biomass and other renewable sources.
The emergence of this technology represents a historic opportunity to reverse job losses in the chemicals and plastics sectors, increase energy security, replace fossil fuel-derived chemicals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, maintain U.S leadership in clean energy and chemistry, and build domestic renewable chemicals and bio-based production facilities.
Iowa and Minnesota have already established these state incentives and legislation is pending in Congress to establish a similar credit at the federal level.
Fighting heart disease
Illinois legislators, representatives from the state Department of Public Health, and health advocates gathered in Capitol Feb. 15 to spread awareness of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, and to encourage Illinois women to unite in the fight against heart disease and stroke.
Go Red For Women began in 2004 with the mission of educating women on their risk factors of heart disease and empowering them to take control of their heart health. More than one in three women are living with some form of cardiovascular disease; it remains the number one killer of women.
More information about the Go Red For Women campaign is available at https://www.goredforwomen.org/.