SPRINGFIELD – As Illinois passed its 100th day without a state budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan restated bargaining positions that have proven to be major stumbling blocks in the unprecedented budget impasse, according to State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford).
Rauner and Senate Republican lawmakers say reforms are necessary to bolster Illinois’ economy, and drafting a budget without them won’t help the state’s long-term job creation prospects. On Oct. 7, the Governor was joined by Republican legislative leaders in encouraging legislative Democrats to compromise on government and business reforms so budget bargaining can resume in good faith.
However, the House Speaker once again stated he will not consider Republican-suggested reforms.
Rauner noted if Democrat legislative leaders will not compromise, they have the majority and the ability to pass a budget and the revenue to support their ongoing legacy of deficit spending. Republicans have stressed that they will not consider revenue increases without first adopting much-needed government reforms.
Tribune chides lawmakers
In an Oct. 5 editorial, the Chicago Tribune called on Democrat leaders to take responsibility for their role in the current budget impasse.
“Yes, there are those who believe the freshman governor who inherited the state's decades-long financial fiasco is to blame for today's wreckage. As if it's easy to cure addicted-to-risk-taking-and-high-spending gamblers.
They've given taxpayers no confidence that they'll make a serious effort at passing a balanced budget even when they return. The supermajority Democrats in the House and Senate sent Rauner a budget in May, knowing it was wildly out of balance. Like their budget the year before. It was a game of chicken, cavalierly playing with the lives of those who rely on Springfield for help.”
New central Illinois Senator takes oath of office
In a courtroom surrounded by family and supporters, Chuck Weaver of Peoria took the Oath of Office as 37th District State Senator on Oct. 8, becoming the newest member of the General Assembly.
“I am honored and humbled to be entrusted with the responsibility of representing 220,000-plus central Illinoisans at the State Capitol,” Weaver said. “I am ready to get to work, and while I have a lot of learning to do, I’m up for the challenge.”
He was joined by his wife, Laurie; daughter, Annie Bell and her husband, Mark; son, Travis; and grandson, Will Bell.
Peoria County Chief Judge Stephen Kouri administered the Oath of Office to the new Senator. Weaver was chosen by the 37th District legislative selection committee to replace former State Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap), who was recently elected to serve as United States Representative for Illinois’ 18th congressional district.
Sen. Weaver has been an active businessman and philanthropist in the greater-Peoria area for decades. Elected as an “at-large” city councilman in 2011, Weaver grew up on his family's central Illinois farm. He is a graduate of Dunlap High School, Bradley University and DePaul School of Law.
Mautino for Illinois Auditor General
The bipartisan Legislative Audit Commission has voted 11-1 to recommend State Rep. Frank Mautino of Spring Valley be named the state’s next Auditor General.
If approved by the General Assembly, Mautino would replace William Holland, who has held the position since 1992 and plans to retire in December.
The Auditor General is a constitutional officer charged with reviewing the obligation, expenditure, receipt and use of public funds. The full General Assembly must still approve the appointment by three-fifths votes of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Legislature is next scheduled to be in Springfield Oct. 20.
New contract lowers fees for ‘Bright Directions’ college savings program
Families saving for college will benefit from changes to the contract governing the state’s Bright Directions 529 college savings plan.
The newly negotiated contract eliminates a $10 set-up fee and $3 quarterly maintenance fee for families saving for college through Bright Directions, which means more investment dollars will go to college savings. Management fees also will be slashed by 43 percent. More than 104,000 accounts will benefit from the new terms, which take effect Nov. 15.
Independent rating agencies recognize Bright Directions as a solid investment with a competitive price that offers 55 investment options.
Harvest reaches mid-point
While wet spring weather left Illinois farmers and their crops running behind for much of the year, a dry autumn has harvest ahead of schedule throughout much of the state.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 50 percent of the Illinois corn crop has now been harvested, just ahead of the five-year average of 47 percent. Many famers have been focusing on soybeans in recent days, and they have now harvested 49 percent of those acres, well ahead of the average of 31 percent, and a significant jump from 24 percent the week before.
Corn harvest progress still varies widely by region. Farmers in the southwest region have harvested 74 percent of their corn acres, compared to just 24 percent in the northwest.
As for other crops, 50 percent of sorghum acres have been harvested statewide, and 22 percent of winter wheat has been planted, with 5 percent of the wheat plants have now emerged from the soil.
October is Illinois college application month
October is Illinois College Application Month (ICAM), with events and activities to help students and returning adults increase career opportunities and improve earning power by applying to and going to college. From college application and financial aid workshops to college treasure hunts and college gear day, ICAM activities will provide direct assistance to students with the college search and application process.
Supported by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, ICAM is part of the nationwide American College Application Campaign initiative, which seeks to increase the number of students who are applying to college early in their senior year, especially those who might not otherwise consider it.