Corruption Sentence, Budget Address, Basketball Champions and more

We need ethics reform!

This week, former Speaker Mike Madigan’s Chief of Staff was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for making false declarations before a grand jury and obstruction of justice. Mapes was held accountable for his wrongful attempt to guard the corrupt ways of Mike Madigan.

The news is the latest development in an ongoing parade of Madigan allies and associates to the federal courthouse, which illustrates the clear need for tighter ethics laws, something that House Republicans have pushed for years. This session, Republicans have filed a host of ethics bills. One of the most recently filed, HB 4119, will prevent defendants from utilizing campaign contributions to fund their legal defense. To date, Madigan himself has paid millions from his campaign fund to the legal firm defending him.

In addition to Mapes, in 2023 alone federal prosecutors in Chicago have secured the following convictions:

  • Four former Commonwealth Edison employees were convicted on charges of conspiring to bribe former House Speaker Mike Madigan to guide and pass ComEd’s legislative agenda.
  • Chicago businessman James T. Weiss was convicted and sentenced to five-plus years in prison for bribing two Democratic state lawmakers, wire and mail fraud, and lying to the FBI.
  • And just days before Christmas, former Chicago Democratic Alderman Edward Burke, a member of the City Council for 54 years, was convicted of racketeering, bribery, and attempted extortion after an historic corruption trial that was over five years in the making.

When will Democrats join us in saying “Enough!”

Governor to deliver Budget/State of the State Address next week

The Illinois State Budget for Fiscal Year 2025 (that will begin on July 1, 2024) will be a major challenge for the State. With spending already bumping up against the limits of current state revenue, the budget for the current FY24 fiscal year (ending June 30, 2024) is barely balanced at best. More accurate figures point to Illinois running a “hidden” current deficit of as much as $890 million, a gap met by slow-paying bills and by dipping into one-time cash sources.

These facts are in front of Gov. Pritzker and his aides as they prepare the Governor’s budget address to be delivered to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday, February 21. With Springfield spending already up to and matching current and potential future State revenues, Illinois cannot afford to add new spending programs for FY25.

Gun rights advocates appeal to U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Illinois gun ban

Many Illinois gun owners, relying on the overall protection granted to them by the federal Second Amendment, have maintained their confidence that the new law would be struck down.  The Illinois State Police has created a webpage so that gun owners can register their priorly-possessed firearms and items that will be banned going forward, but many Illinois gun owners appear to have boycotted the registration process. At the same time, several gun rights advocacy groups have begun to take legal action against the controversial new law.  

Petitions filed this week with the United States Supreme Court formally ask that previous court decisions that have upheld the gun ban law be reversed and that the law be struck down.

State, Cook County plan to spend additional $250 million on Chicago’s migrant crisis  

This week, Governor JB Pritzker and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced their plan to spend a combined $250 million in state and local funds on additional aid to deal with Chicago’s migrant crisis.

In November, Gov. Pritzker committed an additional $160 million in state funds to the migrant crisis response. That commitment was in addition to the $478 million the State has already spent since the start of the migrant crisis. As part of the new joint funding plan, Pritzker intends to spend an additional $182 million, which will be part of the Governor’s upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 budget proposal to the General Assembly.

State, county and city officials project $321 million is needed to keep the migrant operation — including the city’s costly shelter system — afloat through the end of 2024, according to the governor’s office.

Tax filing time approaches

Many Illinois residents are already taking steps to file their 2023 State income tax returns. Prompt filing, especially electronically, speeds up payouts of income tax refunds. State income tax law has many similarities with the federal income tax and almost all filers start by calculating their federal adjusted gross income. They then make adjustments to match their top line with the different numbers allowed under State of Illinois tax law. 

The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is working in affiliation with several other entities, including the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the AARP Foundation Tax-Aide Program, to point Illinois taxpayers toward help in filling out and filing their tax returns. Many Illinoisans, especially senior citizens, qualify for assistance programs oriented toward electronic filing of basic income tax returns. Tax Day is Monday, April 15, 2024.

Around the district

Congratulations to the Brown County 8th Grade Boys Basketball team for their Illinois Elementary School Association Class 2A Championship victory! I look forward to seeing them and honoring their achievement at the Capitol soon!

Brown County eighth graders continue lockdown defense, win IESA Class 2A state championship – Muddy River Sports

Happy Presidents Day!

On Monday we will honor the Presidents who have led our great nation and to remember the values on which our country was founded. Happy Presidents Day!