SPRINGFIELD– With only a few weeks left until some of the state’s spending authority runs out, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the four leaders continued to meet in Chicago to discuss a full-year budget plan accompanied by reforms; however, meetings have been put on hold while the Governor and Republican leaders await a budget proposal from Democrat legislative leaders.
Also this week, Gov. Rauner signed an energy bill that will keep two nuclear power plants open.
Leaders continue to meet over budget
After meeting last week, over the weekend and again into this week, the Governor and legislative leaders continued in vain to find common ground on a full-year budget framework with reforms. Unfortunately, the sense of urgency to find a solution to the state’s fiscal crisis was not shared by the Speaker of the House, who continued to engage in stall tactics, rather than engage in meaningful discussions.
Rather than continue down the path of political gamesmanship employed by the Speaker, the Governor has decided to not meet again until the Democrats produce a budget, which they’ve continually said they would do. Senate Republican lawmakers remain hopeful that budget discussions taking place between legislative chambers and the Governor continue, even if scheduled, formal meetings between the legislative leaders and the Governor are put on hold.
Republicans have stressed that incorporating structural reforms in the budget process would provide billions in savings, while at the same time helping to alleviate the exodus of jobs and people leaving Illinois. Without these reforms, the state will continue down the same destructive path it’s been on, which would be a disservice to the residents of Illinois.
Senate GOP lawmakers say the time to act is now, stressing the people of Illinois are tired of the status quo and are demanding change. Republicans are working to provide them with a new path forward, a path that leads to increased job opportunities, economic growth and fiscal stability in Illinois.
Governor signs energy bill
On Dec. 7, Gov. Rauner signed Senate Bill 2814, known as the Future Energy Jobs bill. Though proponents applauded the measure, saying it provides relief to thousands of employees in two Illinois communities home to the nuclear facilities that were slated for closure, critics panned the measure as a costly multi-billion dollar “nuclear bailout.”
Without the legislation, Exelon said it would be forced to shut down two of its facilities located in Clinton and Cordova. Proponents say the measure is a win for ratepayers and taxpayers, and most importantly will provide job security to those who live and work in those regions.
"In a perfect world, legislation like this wouldn’t be necessary, but in a strange and historic energy market, we had to act to protect families and jobs,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “This bipartisan bill will stop a massive electric rate hike that would have happened if these power plants had closed.”
Appointments made to the Illinois Bicentennial Commission
As Illinois celebrates its 198th birthday this month, Gov. Rauner announced the appointments to the Illinois Bicentennial Commission, which is tasked with leading the planning and celebration of the state’s 200th anniversary in 2018.
On Sept. 20, Gov. Rauner signed Executive Order 2016-11 to establish a commission of no more than 51 voting members, which will be housed within the new Bicentennial Office under Executive Director Stuart Layne.
The commission is made up of no more than 40 members appointed by the Governor and one member each appointed by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Minority Leader, the House Minority Leader, the Attorney General, the Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, the Secretary of State, and the Mayors of Chicago and Springfield.
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno appointed State Sen. Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) to represent the Caucus.
The mission of the Bicentennial Celebration (Illinois 200) is to support, create and implement events and activities that celebrate all that is great in Illinois. The Bicentennial Celebration will also create statewide initiatives that foster innovation, promote education and provide greater opportunity for all across the state.
Winter weather driving tips
Over the weekend, much of Illinois saw its first glimpse of snow. With the wintry weather just beginning, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Illinois Tollway are teaming up to remind motorists to be safe and to be prepared for wintry driving conditions.
As part of their “Winter Weather—Get it Together” campaign, all travelers are encouraged to follow a few simple rules and tips during the coming months:
· Always wear a seat belt.
· Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking are all required in winter driving conditions.
· Drop it and drive. Put down the handheld devices.
· Don’t crowd the plow. A snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you.
· Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice.
· Watch out for black ice on roads that appear clear but can be treacherous.
· Be careful approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All of them are prone to icing.
· Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary.
· Prepare an emergency car care kit that contains jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, non-perishable food and a first aid kit.
· Carry a cell phone and a car charger in case of an emergency.
· Slow down and move over for stopped emergency, construction and maintenance vehicles.
Before heading out on the road this winter, motorists can check travel conditions by calling 1-800-452-IDOT (4368) or visit gettingaroundillinois.com.