Senator Jim Oberweis says the 2014 legislative session that adjourned May 30 could be most notable for the things that were NOT passed.
“Our success this year came in stopping or shining the light on some of the many big-government-gone-wild proposals by Democrat legislative leaders, including their efforts to increases taxes and stifle capitalism with even more red tape and regulations,” Senator Oberweis said. “With our efforts, we were able to defeat the Governor’s call to make permanent the ‘temporary’ income tax increase, at least for now. We blocked the progressive income tax, uncovered the abuse of taxpayer dollars in the Governor’s troubled Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, and tempered the government’s interference in the entrepreneurial spirit of our young people.”
Lawmakers did approve a bill Senator Oberweis sponsored to clarify his 2013 law that increased the maximum speed limit to 70 miles per hour on interstates. Senate Bill 2015 clarifies how speed limits are set on interstates and the Illinois Tollway, so that the law is consistent with past court cases.
Senator Oberweis said he could not support the $35.4 billion budget passed by the Illinois Senate May 30 because it increases spending and relies on one-time revenues and other fiscal gimmickry.
“In 2011, during a dead-of-night, lame-duck session, Democrat legislative leaders shafted Illinois taxpayers and now lack the courage to face up to the consequences, relying instead on the fiscal gimmickry of one-time revenue sources that only compound the problem down the road. To make matters worse, they also increase spending,” Senator Oberweis said.
The 25th District Senator said Democrat legislative leaders did not have the votes needed to make the 2011 “temporary” income tax hike permanent; however, the issue is likely to resurface after the general election in the fall.
To forestall such a maneuver, the Senate Republican Caucus on May 30 committed to opposing any tax increase offered in the lame-duck session of the General Assembly. Led by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont, members of the Republican caucus also called on their Democrat colleagues to join them.
“What are their plans for putting Illinois on a sound financial footing? They do not seem to have one. State government cannot crank out more money when we need it, like the federal government. Bills come due eventually,” Senator Oberweis said. “This is another clear case of kicking the can down the road. However, inaction only deepens the fiscal crisis.”
The 25th District Senator said to better understand the effects of the Quinn Administration’s budget tactics, citizens only need to look at what he has done to Illinois over his first five years.
• Second highest unemployment rate in the nation – higher than any neighboring state and higher than any comparable state;
• Worst credit rating in the nation – more credit downgrades in his tenure than all other Illinois Governors combined. Ten more credit downgrades than Rod Blagojevich;
• Largest tax increase in Illinois history – 67%. Took a week’s pay out of the pockets of every Illinois family each year since 2011;
• People are fleeing Illinois. Independent studies by moving companies identify Illinois as an outmigration state.
• Illinois is ranked near the bottom of the nation for job growth over the next year.
Senator Oberweis said the state’s economy won’t recover as quickly as it should until Illinois does more to encourage job creation and growth, and he is willing to work with Governor Quinn and legislative leaders to develop those policies.
Also during the week, Senator Oberweis hailed a bipartisan stand by the Senate against committee action to load down a good public health House bill with “red tape” and fees. “The Senate actually came together in a bipartisan fashion to block the anti-entrepreneurship amendment,” Senator Oberweis said. “It’s a surprising but gratifying victory. Common sense has prevailed.”
The Senate voted May 27 to defeat an amended form of House Bill 5354 (yes – 17; no – 32; present – 6), which would require young entrepreneurs like Chloe Stirling, a 12-year-old cupcake baker from Troy, to obtain a local health department permit (at a cost of $25), an eight-hour Food Service Sanitation Management training course (at a cost of $145) and the certificate (at a cost of $35). A few hours after the full Senate voted overwhelmingly against the Senate amendments, the Senate sponsor of the bill removed those amendments and the Senate voted unanimously (57-0) to approve the bill as it originally came from the House.
“The entrepreneurial spirit of young Chloe Stirling was shut down by an overly strict implementation of public health rules, which then brought her case to the General Assembly. The House of Representatives did its job and passed House Bill 5354, a good compromise that exempted those selling less than $1,000 per month,” Senator Oberweis said. “That bill then headed to the Senate, where it was ‘Illinois-ized’ – loaded down with ‘red tape’, fees and regulations that undermine any initiative or entrepreneurial spirit.”
The 25th District Senator says the anti-entrepreneurship amendment was defeated and the Senate eventually passed the more reasonable House Bill.
Senator Oberweis said he was pleased that a controversial rewrite of the state’s system of funding schools that would dramatically cut state aid to local schools in the 25th Senate District was never considered by the House. Senate Bill 16 would result in a cut of more than $5.2 million for local school districts.
“The massive reallocation of state education dollars under Senate Bill 16 targets some areas of the state, significantly reducing the scarce dollars suburban schools receive, while significantly increasing funding for other regions,” Senator Oberweis said. “Many suburban school districts would lose more than 70% of their state funding. These are districts that already receive very little in state support.”
Although the measure never received serious consideration in the House, Senator Oberweis said teachers, administrators and parents in suburban areas need to keep a close eye on the proposal, so that it doesn’t resurface during a lame-duck session. The measure started as a bipartisan effort to address inequities in the state’s school-aid formula, but the legislation quickly morphed into a partisan plan that could exacerbate existing inequities in funding and force taxpayers statewide to subsidize pension payments for Chicago teachers.
Figures provided by the Illinois State Board of Education show the impact the legislation would have on individual school districts: Batavia Unit School District 101 would receive $3,976,604 less; Community High School District 94 would receive $1,976,969 less; West Chicago School District 33 would receive $2,154,580 more; Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 would receive $1,408,833 less.