5 Days and Counting
We have five scheduled session days left in our spring session and still no budget draft from the majority party. House Republicans have not been included in the closed-door budget negotiations.
If this year’s budget process goes as it has in previous years a several-thousand page budget will be dropped on our desks at 8 or 9 o-clock at night and will be called for a vote just a couple of hours later. Last year’s budget was more than 3,300 pages.
In February, Governor Pritzker proposed a nearly $50 billion plan that basically would use temporary and one time revenues to justify putting new, permanent spending programs in place. We can’t continue year after year to spend money we don’t have.
While we haven’t seen what we will actually be put to us for a vote this week, here’s what I’m looking out for:
- Additional legislative pay raises.
- Expansion of healthcare for illegal immigrants. The estimated cost for Illinois to continue providing health care coverage to noncitizens who are otherwise ineligible for Medicaid benefits is $1.1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. Meanwhile, a Democrat proposal would further expand Medicaid coverage to noncitizens age 19 and older. That would cost another $380 million. House Republicans have called for a moratorium on expansion.
- Funding for expansion of abortion services.
The House is scheduled to go into session at 4:00 pm today.
Time is Running Out this Spring to Enact Ethics Reforms
Despite resounding guilty verdicts returned against all defendants in the “Com-Ed Four” corruption and bribery trial, and the former Speaker’s corruption trial looming, there has also been no real, meaningful action to strengthen our ethics laws for elected officials. House Republicans have introduced dozens of ethics and corruption reform bills that address issues ranging from lobbying reforms to new requirements for elected officials.
If the General Assembly doesn’t act to prevent it, corruption will continue.
Official End to COVID-19 Emergency in Illinois
After 1,155 days of continuous rollovers, Governor JB Pritzker allowed the coronavirus emergency proclamations in effect throughout Illinois to expire late last week. The expiration marks the end of more than three years of mandatory stay-at-home orders, partial economic shutdowns, and mandatory facial coverings and vaccinations in a variety of workplaces and settings. These government-ordered precautionary measures changed the daily lives of millions throughout Illinois.
Illinois was one of the last states to declare an official end to the coronavirus pandemic. 44 of the 50 states had already ended their pandemic states of emergency before May of this year.
Around the House
Last week we stood with first responders at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony in Springfield to remember the Illinois firefighters who have given their lives in the line of duty and to recognize those who have gone above and beyond in service to their communities. God bless and protect those that put their lives on the line to protect us.
I was pleased to greet and talk with Kevin Byrne, the Consul General from the Irish Consulate’s Chicago Office. Consul General Byrne addressed the General Assembly on the deep roots and historic partnership/friendship Illinois and Ireland share.