Legislative News from Rep. Avery Bourne

Traveling Office Hours Set in Taylorville, Carlinville

I always enjoy meeting with constituents when my office hosts traveling office hours. The three traveling office hours events I’ve held since the beginning of August have been well-attended. I hold these remote office hours twice each month. On the first Tuesday of every month we’re in Carlinville and on the last Tuesday of each month we’re in Taylorville. I attend these office hours as my schedule permits, but a member of my staff is always available to help constituents with any issues they are having with state agencies. This includes FOID and unemployment insurance issues. Please note, my next traveling office hours events are scheduled for:

Tuesday, September 29
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Congressman Rodney Davis’ Office
108 West Market Street
In the US Bank Building on Floor 2R
Taylorville

Tuesday, October 6
10:30 AM – 1:00 PM
Carlinville City Hall
550 North Broad Street
Carlinville

For more information about these events, please contact my office at Bourne@ilhousegop.org, or at (217) 324-5200.

Rep. Bourne Named “Champion of Manufacturing” for Support of Illinois Manufacturing Community

Good manufacturing jobs are so important to our local communities and are an essential part of our state’s economy, and I am proud to fight in Springfield for policies that will keep our manufacturing jobs here and attract new manufacturers to our area. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been named a “Champion of Manufacturing” by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) for votes I took in 2019-2020 that affect the manufacturing sector. Members of the General Assembly were scored on their votes on 34 different bills that were brought forward during the 101st General Assembly, and those receiving a score of 80% or higher received the award. I received a 98% rating.

Upon announcing the award recipients, IMA President & CEO Mark Denzler said, “In Central Illinois, State Representative Avery Bourne has become a strong champion for our state’s manufacturing sector and the thousands of women and men who work on factory floors in the 95th District. She understands the need to balance a budget and helped pass important measures like the Manufacturers Purchase Credit and Research & Development credit to help attract good-paying manufacturing jobs across the state.”

The IMA is a not-for-profit trade association for Illinois manufacturers. Founded in 1893, it is the oldest and largest statewide manufacturing trade association in the United States. The IMA’s mission is to strengthen the economic, social, environmental and governmental conditions for manufacturing and allied enterprises in the state of Illinois, resulting in an enlarged business base and increased employment.  Click here to view the full scorecard and a list of bills that were judged.

Application Window for 2nd Round of Business Interruption Grants Now Open

Applications for the second round of Business Interruption Grants opened this week on Thursday, September 17. The Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program is a $636 million program to provide economic relief for small businesses hit hardest by COVID-19. Unlike the first round, for this second round priority ranking is available for downstate businesses and money is specifically earmarked for agriculture disruptions.

This grant program leverages federal funding provided by the CARES Act to help offset COVID-19 related losses for Illinois small businesses. Funding may be used to help businesses with working capital expenses (including payroll costs), rent, utilities, and other operational costs.

In August, an initial round of funding for BIG grants was directed to restaurants, personal care services, gyms and fitness clubs, and other businesses. The first round provided a $49 million boost for businesses at every corner of Illinois – with grant funds deployed to roughly 2,800 businesses spanning 400 towns and cities, and in 78 counties all throughout the state. Grants averaged $17,000, and the majority of funds were deployed to businesses in economically distressed communities.

For this second round of applications, a total of $220 million will be made available for small businesses, but with a particular focus on businesses downstate, in disproportionately impacted areas (DIAs), and for heavily impacted industry and regions. The second wave of funds includes the following provisions to ensure a wide distribution of funds geographically and across business type:

  • Heavily Impacted Industries – $60 million for heavily distressed industries, such as movie theatres, performing arts venues, concert venues, indoor recreation, amusement parks, and more.
  • Disproportionately Impacted Areas – $70 million set aside for DIAs, defined by zip codes identified by the General Assembly for communities that are most economically distressed and vulnerable to COVID-19.  A map of DIAs is shown below.
  • Downstate Communities – DCEO has committed to ensuring that at least half of all remaining funds, totaling more than $100 million, are reserved for businesses in downstate and rural communities of Illinois.
  • Priority Businesses– Apart from the $60 million for heavily impacted industries, applications from the following types of businesses will be prioritized for review for remaining funds:  businesses directly affected by regional mitigations implemented by the state or local governments, independently owned retail, tourism- and hospitality-related industries including accommodations, and more.
  • Agriculture – $5 million of the remainder of funds will be set aside for livestock production disruptions. Applications will be available in the coming weeks from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
  • Grants and Loan Forgiveness for Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan recipients – As authorized by the General Assembly, DCEO will offer grants for businesses that have incurred eligible costs to offset loans received under the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan program.  This round of loan forgiveness and grants will go to businesses that have received loans or remain on the wait list and the program will sunset going forward as DCEO and its partners focus on making BIG awards.

Businesses outside the categories listed above are also eligible to apply and receive funding under the program but may be reviewed later than priority businesses. All businesses will receive a decision on their grant application within four to six weeks of application submission. Click here for more information and to access the application.

Rep. Bourne Responds to Massive Budget Cuts Governor Claims will be Necessary without a Federal Bailout

I recently penned this opinion piece:

Earlier this week Governor Pritzker warned that unless a federal bailout came along Illinois would have to make major budget cuts. To those of us who have been advocating for fiscal responsibility for years at the statehouse, this comes as no surprise. This is what happens when you pass budgets that are out of balance by billions of dollars. 

Just as a refresher – in May – in the middle of a global pandemic – Illinois Democrats passed the largest budget in state history. Yes – while revenue projections were way down, businesses closed, and unemployment sky rocketing, Illinois passed the largest budget in state history. It spent 7.5% more than the budget last year, relied on $5 billion in federal borrowing and is out of balance by almost $6 billion. 

While millions of Illinoisans tightened their belts, dipped into savings accounts, or relied on much lower paychecks or scarce unemployment checks (if they could get them), Illinois Democrats increased the deficit by billions and promised spending they knew taxpayers couldn’t afford. 

The fiscal reality of Illinois is not pretty. And the situation is never going to be resolved unless politicians are truly honest about our finances. The Governor, in his press conference, asked for agencies to find 5% cuts to implement. This shouldn’t be a difficult task for these agencies considering that last year the Governor asked his agencies to identify 5% cuts which were never acted on. However, 5% cuts from state agencies does little to slow the appetite for spending in state government and does not get us on the road to fiscal discipline.

A quick press conference calling for cuts unless we get a federal bailout is the wrong approach – especially coming from the party that pushed for this irresponsible budget in the first place. No quick fix will suffice. It requires a complete attitude shift. I’ve been pushing for this shift toward fiscal discipline for years. I’m ready for it – it’s time for the majority party to get on board.

House Special Investigating Committee Meets for First Time

By now you probably know that a Special Investigating Committee has been formed to look into allegations surrounding Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan. Shortly after learning of the creation of this six-member bipartisan panel, I did a radio interview and expressed my support of the investigation. Click here to listen to that interview.

The Republican members of the committee held a press conference ahead of the first meeting. The panel met for the first time on Thursday, September 10 to discuss their responsibilities and determine a path forward. Committee members entered six exhibits into the record during the first meeting; the petition which created the Special Investigating Committee, the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), the federal subpoena issued to Madigan’s office, formal charges, and the Committee’s request to seek witnesses to voluntarily testify and provide factual information from individuals and entities to help the Investigating Committee.

The committee will gather testimony and determine whether the Speaker has acted in a manner unbecoming of a Representative or has committed a breach of public trust. This Committee does not require the proof of a crime or proving each element of every crime in order to prove conduct unbecoming. If reasonable grounds are found to exist, a 12-member Select Committee on Discipline will be formed for a formal House “trial”. If the Select Committee on Discipline makes a determination that discipline should occur, it would take 71 votes to reprimand or censure Speaker Madigan, and 79 votes to expel Speaker Madigan from the House of Representatives.

 2020 Census Deadline One Week Away

If you haven’t completed your census form yet, there’s still a small window of time. The census deadline has been extended to September 30, 2020. You can submit your census information by mail, by phone, or by computer.

An accurate census count is very important in determining federal funds, grants and other financial support that comes to states, counties and communities. When you fill out the census, you are making sure your community gets its fair share of more than $675 billion per year in federal funds. These census-driven funds go to schools, hospitals, roads, and other important programs that help our communities thrive.