Rep. Bunting’s Springfield news update for May 31

In this issue:

  • Another big-spending budget passed in the dark of the night
  • Carbon capture bill passes, most rural House members vote No
  • Go for the Gold summer reading program
  • Illinois headlines

Another big-spending budget passed in the dark of the night

This is my second year as your state representative; my second spring session at the Capitol. But this second session ended almost exactly as the first one did: with another big-spending state budget being rammed through in the middle of the night.

The state budget which passed with zero Republican votes raises taxes by more than $750 million and increases spending by over $2 billion compared to last year. It includes another pay raise for politicians and $182 million for non-citizens. It is the most expensive state budget in Illinois history.

Democrats were so determined to ram through a tax increase at 4:30 a.m. that when the first vote failed, they called for a second vote. When it failed as well, they waived the House rules and voted for a third time. On the third try they succeeded in getting the bare minimum number of votes required for passage and sent the tax increase bill, HB 4951, to the Governor.

House Republicans argued for lower taxes and no additional spending, while providing adequate funding for education and addressing the mismanagement of state agencies. But we were blocked from participating in the budget process.

This follows a disturbing trend. Since 2020, as budgets have been put together behind closed doors and passed in the dark of night, state government spending has grown by more than $13 billion, from a budget of $40 billion that year to over $53 billion this year. Hard-working Illinois taxpayers are forced to carry the burden of paying for this spending spree.

The budget bill, SB 251, was 3389 pages long and was introduced in the House late on the Sunday night of Memorial Day weekend. It was voted on in the very early hours of the morning on Wednesday. Once again, the people of Illinois were denied transparency in the budget process.

The budget package makes many changes to our tax law, including improving tax incentives for producers who shoot films in Illinois. But while it gives tax breaks to Hollywood, it does not give any estate tax reform to the Illinois farmers who produce our food. The priorities in this budget are all out of whack.

Carbon capture bill passes, most rural House members vote No

A bill to create a permitting process for carbon capture projects in Illinois passed the House on Saturday afternoon and the Senate on Sunday, sending it to the Governor’s desk. I joined with most of the House members from rural areas of the state in voting No.

This was an extremely difficult vote, maybe the hardest one I have made since I got here. I believe this technology can work and will bring benefits to our area, but I am also very concerned about the way that this bill was hurried to a conclusion while people with valid concerns were excluded from the discussion. We need to fix the flaws in this bill before going forward.

The bill was the result of months of talks, but then was hurriedly amended onto a bill that originally had to do with dental insurance regulation (SB 1289) and then quickly passed. I had a long conversation on the House floor with the sponsor to try to find out if all the involved parties – even those who might have had objections – had been invited to participate in the talks. She was not able to assure me that every voice had been heard.

I am for economic development, but I am also for public safety. There are valid public safety concerns about these pipelines. Residents of our area have also raised questions about the effect of pushing a carbon pipeline through the aquifer that provides our drinking water. I believe each of these issues can be addressed, but I am concerned that this bill is going to fall short because of the hurried nature of this bill at the end of session, and the way that important voices were excluded from the discussions.

We have to get this right. I hope that more work will be done to further strengthen the safety requirements and that we can address everyone’s concerns before going forward with bringing carbon capture pipelines into our area.

Go for the Gold summer reading program

This summer I am conducting a “Go For The Gold” summer reading program.

I am challenging students in Kindergarten through 5th grade to read eight books over the summer break. Any student or parent interested in participating can download the form here or pick one up at your local library or my district office. Fill out the form with the names of the books read and send it to my office at 342 W. Walnut Street, #2, Watseka, IL 60970, or via email at by July 30, 2024. You can also call my office in Dwight at (779) 218-3069 or Watseka at (779) 218-3070.

Students who complete the challenge will receive an official Illinois House of Representatives Certificate of Recognition and an invitation to an ice cream party at the end of the summer. Please contact my office for more information.

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 $750,402,366. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $917 million 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

How Illinois’ more than 400 bee species are supported by native plants – and how you can help them too

Springfield-area judge halts new state elections law. Here’s what you need to know

Youth police camp offers a challenging, life-changing week for Illinois teens

Paxton to be home to rare model of centerpiece sculpture of National World War I Memorial