I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve you for another term in the 102nd General Assembly that is scheduled to be sworn in on January 11, 2021. There are critical issues still facing our state with regard to the need for fiscal discipline, ethics reform, and reining in Governor Pritzker’s executive authority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I will continue to advocate on your behalf and as always, I’m here to listen and look forward to hearing from you.
Traveling Office Hours for Tuesday, Nov. 17 CANCELED
Due to a positive COVID-19 test by an employee in the building where my traveling office hours were scheduled for Nov. 17, we are cancelling the office hours. Anyone who was planning to stop by during the traveling office hours event is encouraged to call my legislative office at (217) 324-5200 and we will be happy to help you.
Constitutional Amendment Defeated by Voters
Voters sent a loud message that they disapprove of Governor Pritzker’s graduated income tax that was proposed on this year’s ballot. The constitutional amendment was soundly defeated by Illinois voters. The proposed amendment would have erased a Constitutional protection guaranteeing a flat rate for income taxes in Illinois. This change would not just have hit Illinois’ “wealthy.” It would have also affected farmers and small business owners who flow their business income through their personal taxes. Repealing this constitutional language would have allowed legislators to implement a graduated income tax system, increasing taxes however they wished. But tax rates could have been changed year to year as needed to fund the Democrats’ insatiable appetite for spending.
Nothing in this defeat prevents proponents of higher taxes from enacting a standard flat-rate tax increase through the conventional bill-enactment process. For example, in January 2011 a lame-duck Illinois General Assembly enacted a major income tax increase, raising the flat income tax rate on individual incomes from 3% to 5%. I will oppose any efforts to increase income taxes. It is time that the legislature brings down government spending and lives within the state’s means.
Bourne Joins House Republicans in Demanding House Democrats Stand up to Madigan, Corruption
On Tuesday, November 10, I joined House Republicans Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and Mike Marron (R-Danville) for a Zoom press conference where we demanded our Democrat counterparts in the House stand up and speak out against the continued reign of long-time House Speaker Mike Madigan. Click here to watch the press conference.
It’s time for House Democrats to show some political courage and leadership. House Republicans are united against Mike Madigan as Speaker, and as of this week, eight House Democrats have stated publicly that they too will not support him. If six additional Democrats are willing to say enough is enough and it’s time for a change, Mike Madigan’s days as Speaker of the House are over. During the press conference, I called on Illinoisans to contact their representatives and ask that they vote no on Mike Madigan serving as Speaker of the House. Silence in this case, is an endorsement of a continuation of the culture of corruption Mike Madigan has overseen.
If you agree that it’s time for a new Speaker of the House and that Mike Madigan must go, click here to sign a petition.
Fall Veto Session Cancelled
The Illinois House and Senate are constitutionally required to meet every fall for Veto Session. This year, the veto session was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, November 17 and continue until Thursday, December 3. Unfortunately, those who control the Springfield agenda decided to cancel this year’s veto session. Upon hearing the news, I issued this statement:
“I’m very disappointed that the Speaker has chosen to cancel the legislature’s scheduled Veto Session. We have important work to do— including reining in Governor Pritzker’s executive power. Congress is figuring out how to meet, other states are too. Certainly there are public health concerns, but the Illinois legislature has safely met before during this pandemic. There was testing, more than enough space for social distancing, and it was run well. People are doing their jobs every day with fewer precautions than we would be afforded.
“We can do our jobs and people are depending on us to do our job. This cancellation is more about the pending leadership challenge within Madigan’s caucus. It’s a shame Speaker Madigan would rather protect his own power than allow the legislature to do our work.”
Our state currently faces policy catastrophes on several separate levels. State government is currently spending money at a rate that is almost $4 billion dollars more, per year, than is being paid in taxes. The State’s response to the current COVID-19 pandemic has cost tens of thousands of jobs across Illinois and has not halted the spread of the virus. However, the General Assembly’s leadership has taken steps to cancel the veto session and prevent Illinois lawmakers from meeting to deal with this ongoing crisis.
Budget Hole Currently Estimated at $3.9 Billion for FY21
This information was disclosed in a letter from Gov. Pritzker to House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and the other three General Assembly legislative leaders. It constitutes an admission by the Governor that the budget passed by Democrats in the May 2020 special spring session was not actually balanced as required by the Illinois Constitution.
Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) began on July 1, 2020 and will end on June 30, 2021. As of mid-November 2020, 4 ½ months of this 12-month period have already gone by. Much of the FY21 spending in this fiscal year has already been spent, or has been committed to be spent in various ways. The general funds budget walkdown prepared by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget shows that the State is on track to spend almost $43.1 billion in budgeted expenditures during a period in which less than $39.2 billion in income taxes, sales taxes, and other revenues will be coming in. The growth in this structural deficit is driven by a wide variety of factors, of which the two most significant are growth in welfare health care costs and growth in pension payments.
Illinois Posts $9.1 Billion Backlog of Unpaid Bills
Last week, the Comptroller’s office released its count of unpaid vouchers submitted to Illinois for payment, and not yet paid. As of Monday, November 9, 82,656 vouchers had been submitted and placed on backlog. The unpaid debts represented by these vouchers are more than $9.1 billion. This number is not a record high for Illinois, but it represents a red-ink total that has not been seen in two and a half years. In early 2018, the unpaid bill total was over $9 billion.
While these unpaid bills cover a wide variety of goods and services, a large percentage of the unpaid bills have been submitted by health care providers for care and treatments provided to persons on Medicaid or other taxpayer-funded health insurance plans. All of these bills will have to be paid, eventually, by Illinois taxpayers. Furthermore, the existence of this major pile of unpaid bills makes it tougher for Illinois to borrow money to meet its immediate cash-flow needs.
COVID-19 Case Counts Rising Across Illinois
Earlier this month all 11 regions of Illinois were placed on heightened Tier I mitigations due to rising positivity rates for COVID-19. These Tier I mitigations closed restaurants and bars to indoor seating, and limited public gatherings to 25% capacity or 25 people, whichever is smaller. Since that time, Regions 1 (Northwest IL), 5 (Southern IL), 7 (Will and Kankakee Counties), and 8 (DuPage and Kane Counties), have moved to Tier 2 mitigation, which imposes even stronger limitations on restaurant/bar outdoor seating and on public gatherings. Under Tier II mitigations, outdoor seating for restaurants and bars is limited to no more than six people per table, and public gatherings are limited to 10% capacity or 10 people, whichever is smaller. All other regions, including our Region 3, are headed quickly toward the threshold for Tier II mitigations. Additionally, the Governor has hinted that unless the growing number of cases turns around quickly, he may have to consider a second “stay home order.”
A new stay at home order would be the nail in the coffin for small businesses that are already struggling. We simply cannot shut down Main Street USA again. Our businesses won’t recover. Had we been in Springfield for Veto Session this week, the legislature could work with the Governor on a new and better plan. Unfortunately, JB Pritzker continues to keep legislators on the sidelines and continues to govern unilaterally via executive order. It’s wrong, and I will continue fighting for legislative involvement and a fairer plan that does not penalize specific industries and small businesses.
Republicans on Special Investigating Committee Demand the Committee Get Back to Work
After learning that yet another meeting of the Special Investigating Committee (SIC) into the conduct of House Speaker Michael J. Madigan was canceled and work of the committee has been postponed indefinitely, Republicans serving on the bipartisan panel are demanding the committee get back to work. SIC members Tom Demmer (R-Dixon), Deanne Mazzochi (R-Elmhurst) and Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) are shown in this photo.
At the end of August and based on information included in a deferred prosecution agreement between Commonwealth Edison and the US Attorney’s Office of Northern Illinois, a petition was filed to create an investigating committee to determine whether Speaker Madigan had engaged in conduct unbecoming of a legislator, which constituted a breech in the public trust. Since that time, the committee has only met twice and has only heard from one voluntary witness. Efforts to issue subpoenas to Madigan and others with intimate knowledge of the ComEd bribery scheme were blocked at both meetings. Now, with just weeks remaining until the SIC dissolves at the conclusion of the 101st General Assembly, Republicans are demanding immediate action.
It has become clear that all three Democrat members of the SIC are placing their unwavering loyalty to Speaker Madigan ahead of doing what is right. As of today, it has been 78 days since the petition to form this committee was filed, and seven weeks since the SIC’s last meeting. Speaker Madigan was named 72 times in the deferred prosecution agreement, so this isn’t about politics; it’s about restoring faith and trust in state government. SIC Chairman Welch has draft subpoenas in hand and they await SIC action. This week 18 state committees, commissions and panels are meeting to conduct state business. The SIC can easily meet on Zoom to conduct this business. There is no ethical reason for continued delays.