Senate passes balanced budget, without tax hike
On May 30, the Senate voted 56-2 to pass a $38 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2019.
“We have a divided government. This is how divided government is supposed to work. I’m pleased that we’ve put together a full-year, balanced budget which is the product of hard work, tough choices and bipartisan cooperation. However, there should be no victory laps,” said State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “The public expects us to pass balanced budgets every year, just as they expect us to cooperate in a bipartisan manner together to solve the problems facing our state. We cannot move soon enough on those issues which must be addressed if we’re going to create a competitive environment that encourages job growth.”
The budget passed by the Senate cuts more than $1 billion in spending; delivers $350 million more in K-12 school funding through the evidence-based model; boosts early childhood education by $50 million; cuts $445 million in pension liability; and rejects a proposed pay increase for lawmakers.
"We were able to obtain record levels of school funding and Medicaid dollars headed to our area," said Syverson. "This budget, while not perfect, will provide stability to vital services while slowing the growth of government expenses."
The budget continues the state’s progress on providing an equitable and adequate funding system for schools by sending an additional $350 million through the evidence-based funding model for the coming year.
“This budget includes important funding increases for our schools, which will help them to better prepare our students to be successful in the increasingly competitive global economy,” said Sen. Barickman.
This budget also includes needed capital:
-Fully-funds the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2019 capital program.
-Includes $2.5 billion for IDOT’s road program, which will create jobs and improve roads.
-Provides $500 million for the University of Illinois Discovery Partners’ Institute (DPI).
-Includes $53 million for first-year costs to construct a new Quincy Veterans Home.
-Allocates $600 million for statewide deferred maintenance, with $100 million of this amount going toward needs at institutions of Higher Education.
-Provides $1 million to start a port redevelopment effort in Cairo.
A supplemental spending bill for Fiscal Year 2018 will also fund agency operations, including $405 million for the Department of Corrections. It also includes $63 million for AFSCME back pay.
Fiscal Year 2019 runs from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
Senate passes legislation to honor officers involved in gunfight
Legislation to honor two officers and a civilian killed in a gunfight in 1979, along with another officer wounded in the battle, has now been adopted by the General Assembly, after the Illinois Senate passed the measure on May 28. The legislation was sponsored in the Senate by State Senators Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) and Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).
“These brave men stood up against dangerous criminals to protect the community,” said Sen. Barickman. “After nearly 40 years, we will soon have a permanent memorial to their sacrifice.”
On April 7, 1979, the three officers and one civilian were involved a gunfight with members of a Michigan family after a traffic stop on I-57, South of Paxton. Illinois State Trooper Michael McCarter was attempting to stop four speeding vehicles travelling south. Paxton Patrolman William Caisse was dispatched to assist McCarter. One of the suspects fled to an overpass and began firing at the two officers, killing McCarter and Donald Vice, McCarter’s brother-in-law who was riding along with him on his shift. A second Paxton officer, Larry Hale, arrived to the scene as gunfire continued. A second suspect grabbed a rifle from the back of his pickup truck and killed Caisse before shooting Hale in the leg and chest. Despite his wounds, Hale was able to kill the second suspect.
House Joint Resolution 21, originally filed by State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), will designate the overpass where 200 North Road crosses I-57 as the “McCarter-Caisse-Vice-Hale Memorial Overpass.”
Barickman passes legislation to remember fallen soldiers
The Illinois Senate has passed legislation filed by State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) to create the SPC Phillip J. Pannier Memorial and the Sergeant Anthony R. Maddox Memorial Highways.
Senate Joint Resolution 9 designates Illinois Route 116 from Roanoke to Metamora as the SPC Phillip J. Pannier Memorial Highway.
Army Specialist Phillip Pannier was killed in action on January 8, 2008, while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pannier was a 2006 graduate of Roanoke-Benson High School, where he was active band, football, FFA, soccer and 4-H.
“It’s always important that we remember the dedication and sacrifice of those who have given their lives to protect our way of life,” said Sen. Barickman. “This is a way to help keep the the memory of his life and his service in our hearts and our minds.”
Senate Joint Resolution 56 designates Interstate 55 between Exits 167 and 171 as the Sergeant Anthony R. Maddox Memorial Highway, and directs IDOT to install signage to show the name.
“Sergeant Maddox made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life,” said Sen. Barickman. “My hope is that this memorial will allow his dedication and sacrifice to his fellow man to continue to inspire future generations.”
Sergeant Maddox died on July 22, 2013 from injuries received Andar, Afghanistan. Maddox was a graduate of Nederland High School and was assigned to the 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in Fort Drum New York and was serving as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Both bills are now headed to the Illinois House for consideration in that chamber.
Senator Barickman welcomed Normal West High School senior Luke Colwell to serve as his honorary page for the day on May 23rd. Luke also visited Springfield recently to take part in Barickman’s Youth Advisory Council.
Bipartisan working group announces higher education reforms
After months of study about the future of Illinois’ higher education system, the Higher Education Working Group announced a package of comprehensive reforms on May 29.
Higher education in Illinois is facing many challenges, including: college costs; enrollment shifts resulting from increasing out-migration and changing needs of college students who are older, parenting, and working; establishing effective and forward-looking governance of Illinois’ higher education system.
The Working Group has developed a series of legislative initiatives to strengthen Illinois’ colleges and universities, making them more attractive and affordable for students across the state for many years to come.
Governor announces $11 billion infrastructure plan
On May 29, Gov. Rauner announced a plan today to invest more than $11 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.
Based on current funding levels, the FY2019-2024 Proposed Highway Improvement Program aims to improve a total of 1,945 miles of miles of road and 525 bridges maintained by the state. The multi-year program also includes funding for upgrades to more than 750 miles of local roads and 922,933 square feet of local bridges.
Senate Republicans honor veterans with Wall of Remembrance at the Capitol
In observance of Memorial Day, Senate Republicans opened their fourth annual Wall of Remembrance display in the State Capitol Rotunda on May 24.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) unveiled the display in a ceremony with Gov. Rauner and Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Chief of Staff Renysha Brown, where they made remarks to thank and honor the brave men and women in uniform.
“The tribute display is a somber memorial to America’s true heroes,” said Brady. “Those we honor answered the call to protect us, and in doing so gave their lives to ensure our freedom was preserved. We owe them our deepest gratitude and support.”
The tribute features a video display of photographs in memory of fallen soldiers, and the wall is decorated with written letters from loved ones. Illinois residents submitted photographs and letters to be used in the display. Those in the Capitol are encouraged to stop by reflect, or write a message or post a memento on the wall.
Located in the Capitol Rotunda, the Wall of Remembrance display is open to the public from May 24 to July 4, during normal business hours.