As the legislature prepares to reconvene in Springfield this week, State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) shared several critical items that should be debated and voted on by the House and Senate.
“The legislature hasn’t convened since March 5, so while our work will obviously be abbreviated this year, there are still very important issues we must take up,” said Bourne. “In addition to the approval of a balanced budget, we must take action to prohibit Governor Pritzker from continuing to unilaterally run the state via executive order while shutting out the other co-equal branches of government. There is confusion about the limits of the Governor’s authority, so the General Assembly needs to codify the role of the Governor during a long-term disaster such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Constitution never intended for one person to rule the state for an unlimited amount of time without the approval or permission of the General Assembly.”
Regarding the Fiscal Year 2021 budget, Bourne said it now includes an estimated $7 billion revenue hole due to COVID-19, and that serious fiscal discipline will be required to balance the budget. “Rather than relying on phony math or revenue from future tax hikes that democrats have pushed, lawmakers should finally be forced to prioritize spending and find places where the budget can be cut,” Bourne said. “We face a daunting challenge and I am hopeful that legislators will finally start exercising some fiscal restraint. Now is not the time to heap even more taxes on residents and business owners who have faced financial hardship due to the Coronavirus fallout. We need to retool the FY 2021 budget to fit within our new revenue realities.”
Bourne said lawmakers should also take steps to reject the Governor’s Restore Illinois plan, which was created without any input from the General Assembly. “A document of that magnitude, which affects every single Illinoisan, should have included input from the General Assembly,” Bourne said. “My hope is that his plan will be voted down and we can immediately move forward with a more localized plan for reopening our state; one that relies on individual county public health experts and other local business and elected leaders.”
In addition, Bourne has called on members of the Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to take action on Wednesday to reject an emergency rule Governor Pritzker pushed through quietly on Friday evening, which would provide for criminal penalties, including jail time, for small business owners who violate his executive orders. “I have been assured that the Republicans who serve on JCAR will try to block this new rule, but we need Democrats to break with their Governor and protect the best interests of the constituents they serve,” added Bourne. She encouraged people to contact the Democrat members of JCAR and demand that they vote down the emergency rule. JCAR members’ information can be found at this link.
Bourne said she would also like to see action taken to authorize an audit into the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES). “IDES has mishandled every element of the COVID-19 unemployment benefits response. From people who have tried unsuccessfully for weeks to apply for and certify their unemployment benefits, to the new revelation of an IDES data breach that caused the private information of thousands of 1099 workers to be made public, at this point I feel our only option is an audit. We have to find out once and for all why every element of their response has been a failure.”
Lastly, Bourne said lawmakers should approve a House Republican resolution that would remove the graduated income tax ballot question from the November ballot. “Our businesses are really struggling and many have already closed their doors permanently,” said Bourne. “Heaping a new tax increase on them would devastate the ones that have been barely hanging on throughout the COVID-19 crisis. House Republicans were opposed to the graduated income tax when Democrats took action to place the question on the ballot, and our opposition is even stronger now. This is not the time to place an even heavier burden on small business owners.”