Rep. Bunting’s Springfield News Update for June 23

In this issue:

  • Invest in Kids scholarship
  • Amtrak moving faster
  • Another corruption conviction
  • Illinois headlines

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

Efforts still underway to save Invest in Kids scholarship program

The General Assembly failed to extend the expiration of the Invest in Kids scholarship program during the spring session. It is funded by donations to qualified Scholarship Granting Organizations for which the donors receive a 75% tax credit. Students who meet income requirements may then use the scholarship to attend qualified private schools in Illinois.

Without action, the program will begin phasing out at the end of 2023. This program has provided the opportunity for thousands of Illinois children, including many at-risk children, to attend a private school. The scholarship has helped student with high prospects continue their education in spite of the large tuition bills.

Neighboring states like Indiana and Iowa have enacted permanent scholarship tax credit programs. The General Assembly can and should act during the fall veto session to extend this successful program and continue to help Illinois students.

Amtrak trains moving faster through our area

Amtrak has announced that the Lincoln Service line, which stops in Dwight, Pontiac and Bloomington, will begin increasing speeds on its Chicago-to-St. Louis trains starting on Monday. In all, the faster speeds will cut about 30 minutes off the trip. Amtrak trains will now travel at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour along certain portions of the route.

The higher-speed upgrades were made possible by upgrades to the tracks and additional safety features funded by the state and federal governments over the past 14 years. These investments also included the new stations in Dwight and Pontiac.

Another corruption conviction

Federal prosecutors secured yet another Illinois political corruption conviction a few days ago when a Chicago businessman was found guilty of attempting to bribe two state lawmakers to pass a bill which benefitted his company, and then lying to the FBI about it.

This time the scheme involved payments to a former state representative who was sentenced last year to five years in prison for fraud connected to taking and offering bribes. A former state senator who resigned in 2020 following his conviction for income tax evasion wore a wire for the FBI and served as their star witness in this latest trial.

The General Assembly is going to have to address the issue of ethics reform in the fall session.

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 $1,342,356,269. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $2.8 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.

Illinois headlines

Estate tax continues to put future of family farms at risk

Construction crews ‘exposing the bones’ of state Capitol as renovations continue

IDPH warns public to ‘fight the bite’ as West Nile is reported in four Illinois counties

Midwest farmers worry over early drought affecting crop yields

The Ford County Fair starts on Sunday

The Grundy County Fair starts next Friday