In this issue:
- Session stumbles forward
- Ethics reform should be a priority
- More ideas for how to spend the extra session days
- District office open houses coming up
Thank you for reading my e-newsletter. For the latest news from state government or to share your ideas and opinions, please visit my legislative website at repbunting.com.
House session stumbles into another week
The House was scheduled to complete its work and adjourn for the summer last Friday, but that did not happen. The secretive, behind-closed-doors budget process; which the Democrat majority has chosen to use for deciding how to spend around $50 billion of taxpayer money; could not come up with a budget agreement by the deadline, so the House and Senate returned to Springfield this week.
I made some comments late on Friday as it became clear that we would not have the chance to review a proposed budget before the deadline. To watch, click here.
Use these extra days to pass ethics reform
Since the House and Senate are in session for extra days this week, it gives us the opportunity to look at some legislation which did not get the chance to be debated during the previous months of session.
First and foremost is ethics reform. Four utility company executives were recently convicted for their role in a bribery conspiracy involving the former Speaker of the House. The former Speaker will stand trial next spring. A former state senator who was convicted on his own set of corruption charges was recently released from prison and went straight to work at a lobbying firm. This list goes on and on.
House Republicans have proposed a long list of ethics reforms, but so far they have not been allowed to be brought up for discussion or a vote. It is time to act.
Some more ideas for the extra session days
Throughout the spring, House Republicans have put together some working groups to develop ideas for legislation to tackle many of the state’s problems. So far, most of their ideas have been ignored by the Democrats in charge of the House. But with the extra days that have been added onto the session, there is plenty of time to consider these good ideas now.
One working group reviewed the issue of public safety. They put forward a set of bills to support law enforcement and improve public safety while still protecting the rights of the accused. You see their list of proposals here. Their package of bills included one which I am sponsoring to help Illinois police departments recruit, train and retain the best police officers around.
Another working group examined the recent string of failures at the Department of Children and Family Services and came up with ideas for ways the state can better protect children in its care. They presented their report a couple of weeks ago, and you can review it here.
Yet another group took on the issue of improving our schools by focusing on childhood literacy and parental involvement. They also looked at ways to address the teacher shortage and the problems that it is causing for students in Illinois schools. You can read more about their ideas here.
These are just some of the ideas which House Republicans have put forward during this session, but which have mostly been ignored by the Democrat majority. Now that we have some extra time in Springfield, I hope that these good ideas will get a fair hearing so that we can start addressing these very serious issues.
New district office grand openings June 8 and 9
We will be celebrating the grand opening of my district offices in Watseka and Dwight in a couple of weeks. If you have the chance, I hope you will drop in and say hello.
On Thursday June 8, I am hosting an open house at my Watseka office, located at 342 W. Walnut Street, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.
The next day, Friday June 9, we will be opening the Dwight district office at 132 E. Main Street, Suite 3, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.
My district staff and I will be on hand to meet you and to answer questions you might have about state government and the services we can provide. We will have light refreshments available and information about state programs.
I look forward to seeing you there!
Our current bill backlog
When a vendor provides the state with goods and services, they submit the bill to the Illinois Comptroller for payment. The Comptroller processes the paperwork and pays the bill when funds are available in the state’s checking account. Currently the total amount of unpaid bills is $1,149,366,555. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $1.9 billion in bills awaiting payment. This only includes bills submitted to the Comptroller for payment, not unfunded debts like the state’s pension liability, which is well over $100 billion.