Rep. Bunting’s Springfield news update for June 7

In this issue:

  • Session over, offices still here to serve you
  • Another property tax study?
  • Increasing unemployment in Illinois’ metro areas
  • Secretary of State warns of data breach

Session over, office still here to serve you

Although I am frustrated about the budget and the decisions that were made in Springfield last week, I have a job to do, and that is to ensure that I am representing the 108,000+ constituents in my district to the best of my ability. I will continue to do just that.

Please reach out to either of my offices with any issues that you may have with any state agencies. My staff and I will do our best to be sure that you are taken care of. Thank you to all who have reached out throughout the spring legislative session with your thoughts and concerns about bills and the budget.

If you have any suggestions on legislation, please let us know. We want to know what our constituents need. Thank you again!

Another property tax study?

Property taxes in Illinois are too high and the system is in need of reform. This has been the consensus among Illinoisans for years. High property taxes drain people’s wallets and drive away potential job creators who choose to locate in other states with lower taxes.

But rather than take action to lower property taxes and reform the system, the General Assembly has opted to study the matter further. During the closing days of session, the House and Senate passed House Bill 3455 to create a task force for the purpose of studying Illinois’ property tax system.

This might be a worthwhile idea if it were to lead to actual reform, but Illinois has been down this road before – without success. Just five years ago, the state went through this whole process. A Property Tax Relief Task Force was created to study the problem. It missed its deadline and came back with a report that did not make any substantive changes to the property tax system.

The bill passed, so we will see if this time is any different. I voted No because I don’t believe we need a task force to study and report something that we already know. We need solutions. That last task force did not produce any. Will this one do better?

Increasing unemployment in Illinois’ metro areas

The Illinois Department of Employment Security’s (IDES) monthly report on unemployment in the state’s 14 metropolitan areas showed an upward trend in all but one area.

Statewide unemployment is up from one year ago, when it stood at 3.8%. Today it is 4.4% according to IDES. Among the metro areas in our part of the state, unemployment went up from 3.3% a year ago in the Bloomington area to 3.8% now. Numbers for the area around Champaign went up from 3.6% to 3.9%, Kankakee from 5.4% to 5.7% and Peoria from 4.5% to 4.9%. Only the Rockford area saw a decline, from 6.3% to 5.9%, but that area still has the highest overall rate in Illinois.

Bloomington’s 3.8% rate gave it the lowest rate in Illinois.

Secretary of State warns of data breach

The Secretary of State’s office has sent letters to 50,000 Illinoisans who might have been affected by a “data security incident” early in April.

Names, drivers licenses and social security numbers may have been exposed as part of a phishing scam targeted the Secretary of State’s office. The Secretary’s office says the official email account of a county employee in Lake County, north of Chicago, was infiltrated and used in the attempt.

The statement goes on to say that the Secretary’s “cyber security teams acted within hours to contain and mitigate the phishing incident and none of the agency’s databases, including those containing driver and vehicle records, were compromised.”

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 $1,136,833,324. This figure changes daily. Last year at this time the state had $902 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

Illinois State Fair announces move to online livestock exhibitor registration

Gibson City woman in the running for ‘favorite chef’

IDPH declares end to Illinois measles outbreak

Illinois State Police will conduct roadside safety checks