In this issue:
- House back in session next week
- Madigan trial postponed
- Traveling office hours coming to Odell and Minooka
- New director for DCFS
House comes back into session next week
The House will convene for the first day of the 2024 spring session next Tuesday, with a busy agenda ahead.
Every year we must pass a balanced budget for state government. Last year’s budget was propped up by a number of gimmicks and one-time revenue sources which will mostly be unavailable this year. We are going to have to work together to find a way to fund important services and be responsible stewards of taxpayer money.
The legislature failed to act on several important issues last year, including reforms to the estate tax, cleaning up the corruption in Springfield with real ethics reform, and extending the Invest in Kids scholarship program which expired at the end of 2023. We will also continue to be confronted with issues of improving public safety, as well as many other matters that will come before us between now and the scheduled adjournment date of May 24.
I hope you will share your thoughts and questions with me as we move forward.
Madigan trial postponed
The trial of former House Speaker Mike Madigan has been delayed from April until October. The law under which some of the counts in Madigan’s indictment were filed was challenged in a separate corruption case in Indiana. The judge in Madigan’s case decided to delay the Madigan trial until the Supreme Court could rule on the law.
Madigan ruled the Illinois House for more than 30 years as its Speaker before he stepped down in 2021. He now faces 23 counts of corruption, including bribery and official misconduct. He was charged in March of 2022.
The Madigan case is just the highest-profile in a long line of corruption cases, charges and convictions that demonstrate the need for ethics reform in Springfield. Until we clean up our system in state government, the people of Illinois are going to continue to pay the price of corruption.
Traveling Office Hours coming up in Odell and Minooka
On Monday January 22 I will be hosting traveling office hours in Odell and Minooka.
From 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. I will be at Café 110 West, at 110 W. Tremont Street in Odell. Then I will be at Minooka Village Hall, 121 E. McEvilly Road, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. These traveling office hours bring the services of my office to your hometown for anyone who wants to come by and talk about state government, ask a question or get help with state services. If you are in the area, I hope you will stop by.
New director for DCFS
The Governor has appointed a new director to take the helm of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) after embattled director Marc Smith announced he was stepping down last year. The former director was held in contempt of court repeatedly for the agency’s failures to protect children in its custody.
The new DCFS director will be Heidi Mueller, who currently heads the Department of Juvenile Justice. This is a welcome change, but it is only one step toward fixing the widespread problems at DCFS. The agency’s inspector general reported last year 160 children died under the watch of DCFS during a recent 12-month period.
DCFS caseworkers have an extremely difficult, but important job. They and the children they work to protect deserve an agency and a system which supports them and ensures that they can be successful in their mission.
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 $1,210,410,896. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $1.8 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.