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As we enter this new fiscal year without a budget in place, my office is hearing from state employees who are concerned about how things will change for them.The following Q&As were designed to help answer any questions.
Employee Benefits
Q.  Will an employee's health, dental or life insurance be affected?
A.  No. Group insurance coverage during a budget situation will not be impacted. If paychecks are delayed, and as long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, insurance premiums will be taken accordingly. The missed payroll deductions will be taken once paychecks are issued.
Q.  What will happen to an employee's contributions to any flexible spending accounts (i.e., MCAP, DCAP) during the budget situation?
Ø  Employees enrolled in MCAP will not be impacted. ConnectYourCare debit cards will continue to work. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, deductions should be taken accordingly. If MCAP deductions are missed, they must be made up when the budget situation is resolved.
Ø  Employees enrolled in DCAP may be impacted as reimbursements are limited to the available account balance contained in their DCAP account. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, and once all payroll deductions are deposited into the DCAP account, reimbursements can be made for eligible expenses up to the available account balance.
Q.  What will happen to an employee's Commuter Savings Program benefit?
A.  Employees enrolled in the Commuter Savings Program will continue to receive the benefit under this program. Employees will owe any underpaid amount upon their return to payroll.
Workers' Compensation Program
Q.  Will an employee's Workers' Compensation benefits be affected?
A.  No. In the event of a budget situation, Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Permanent Total Disability (PTD) and survivor death benefit payments under the Workers' Compensation Act will continue through July. Work-related injuries should continue to be reported through the procedures in place today.
Deferred Compensation Program
Q. What will happen to an employee's Deferred Compensation contributions during the budget situation?
A.  As long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, payroll deductions for Deferred Compensation should be taken accordingly. Deferred Compensation contributions can only be made through payroll deduction. The employee cannot deposit money directly to his or her fund to catch-up the contributions.
Q.  If an individual is currently receiving a distribution from their Deferred Compensation account, will that distribution continue during the budget situation?
A.  Yes. Current distributions and changes to distribution amounts will continue to be processed. To make any changes in distribution, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770.
Q.  Will hardship distributions/loans from an employee's Deferred Compensation account be available during the budget situation?
A.  A loan provision is available at any time and allows a participant to have one outstanding loan and borrow a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $50,000 or 50% of their account balance over a five year period. The interest you pay goes back to your account along with the principal amount each month as you repay the loan through Automatic Clearing House (ACH) deductions from your bank. Employees would likely not qualify for a hardship distribution as they will be made whole of any missed payrolls when the budget situation ends.
Q.  How do I borrow from my Deferred Compensation account?
A.  To apply for a loan from your account over the phone, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770 to speak to a Representative. There is a $75 processing fee and you will need to supply bank routing and account information for your checking/savings account numbers to set up the automatic ACH deduction. Participants are allowed one outstanding loan at a time. You may repay the full loan balance amount at any time through the same phone number at T. Rowe Price.
State Employee Compensation
Q. What options exist if certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees?
A. State employees will be paid for their work. If certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees, there may be an opportunity for employees to get bridge loans from local financial institutions. Credit Union 1, for example, has already agreed to offer no-interest loans for qualifying members of the credit union should salary payments for state employees be delayed. To be eligible to receive 0% interest loans from Credit Union 1, participants must have been members on or before May 1, 2015. Employees who have become members of Credit Union 1 since May 1, 2015, can apply for a loan, subject to normal criteria, rates and terms.
Governor Rauner Signs Education Budget Bill
On Wednesday, June 24, Governor Rauner signed the elementary and secondary education component of the Fiscal Year 2016 State budget, taking our children’s education out of the crossfire in Springfield.  While HB 3763 does not increase education spending by as much as the governor’s proposal, it does increase K-12 education funding by $244 million and early childhood education funding by $25 million.

“Education is the most important thing we do as a community.  I would have done more for our schoolchildren, but I am taking action today to ensure our teachers are paid and our schools are open and funded,” Governor Rauner said. 

The overall budget sent to the Governor is nearly $4 billion out of balance.  Thus, in its entirety it is blatantly out of balance and by definition unconstitutional as the constitution of Illinois requires a balanced budget.

That being said, I am glad education won’t be caught up in the Springfield stalemate and that our school children will not be held hostage over this budget battle.  Schools will open on time, teachers will be paid and education will get a needed boost in funding.   

The State of Illinois garnered an additional $31 billion after the tax increase of four years ago, yet K-12 education saw no increase in funding.  That is shameful.  Better funding for education is long overdue.

Governor Rauner Vetoes Unbalanced, Unconstitutional Budget; Cites $4 Billion Deficit
Citing the $4 deficit in the budget sent to his desk by House and Senate Democrats, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the bulk of the budget bills Thursday, increasing the likelihood that some state services could be disrupted when the fiscal year begins next week. "For too long, the state of Illinois has made spending promises that exceed available revenues, relied on accounting gimmicks to make budgets appear balanced, used borrowing and cost deferral strategies to push costs into the future, and delayed payments to vendors," Rauner said in his veto message.

With a June 30 deadline for approving a fiscal year 2016 budget, Rauner continues to insist on "structural" changes to the business and political climates in Illinois before dealing with the opposing party on spending. Democrats want a tax increase, along with strategic spending cuts, in order to continue what they call vital state services. Read more on ABCNews.
For the past month, House Republicans have gone to Springfield each week hoping that the Chicago Democratic leaders who have held up the budget process were going to finally make it to the negotiating table.  Instead we were subjected to a series of disingenuous House hearings intended to do little more than derail the process.  It has been political theater at its’ worst.  A categorical waste of time that is beneath my expectations and the public most certainly expects and deserves more.

If I were in charge of the General Assembly I would call the legislature into session, tell every member to notify their family that they will miss the 4th of July; that Labor Day is in jeopardy; and that if they don’t get busy Thanksgiving may be next.  I would then tell the doorman to chain the doors until an agreement is hammered out.

AFSCME and Governor’s Office Announce One-Month Contract Extension
Thursday evening, a joint statement was released from Governor Rauner’s General Counsel and from AFSCME Council 31, which represents more than 40,000 unionized workers in Illinois. The short statement outlined an agreement that precludes the possibility of a strike or lockout for a one-month period after the state’s collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Council 31 expires on June 30. The agreement allows both sides to continue to negotiate during the month of July without the threat of disruption to important public services.

Poker Run Bill Approved  by Both Houses of General Assembly
HB 3538 will help to smooth the licensing approval process for this popular fundraising tool throughout suburban and downstate Illinois.  Current law creates local snags in the ordinances that groups use to win licenses to carry out these popular fundraising activities, and HB 3538 pushes to streamline out these snags by placing poker run licenses in the hands of Illinois county boards other than Cook County.  The bill also clarifies that all bona fide nonprofit groups are eligible to seek to operate a poker run.

Poker runs are activities, usually one day long, in which a group of people make an event of traveling from place to place and playing a game at each location.  At the end of the poker run, the players concentrate at a finish line and play out the game, and prizes are awarded.  Under the provisions of HB 3538, the poker run must be set up so as to raise money for a needy person, a good cause, or the financial survival and stability of the group sponsoring the run.  Many motorcyclists and biker groups carry out poker runs.  After passage by the House in April, HB 3538 was amended in the Senate to authorize Cook County’s county board to retain the existing poker run law at their discretion.  The House vote on Tuesday, June 23 to concur with the Senate amendment completed the legislative work on this bill, and it joined other bills ready to be sent to Governor Rauner’s desk for final action.

U. of I. Bioenergy Grant Announced.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced on Wednesday, June 24 that it had received a $3.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to enable two years of intensified research on energy sorghum.  The grant will help cover the cost of semi-robotic farm machinery that will roll between rows of sorghum plants and sense the genetic information contained within the plants’ stems and leaves.  This information will control researchers’ efforts to achieve success in the breeding of improved strains of the potential new crop.

High-biomass sorghum shows potential in carbon capture and green energy production.  Plant breeders in Texas have grown sorghum stalks up to 20 feet tall, which can be harvested for distillation into ethanol and other energy products.  The plants have to be carefully bred so as not to produce flowers and seeds.   

Eastern Illinois was, for many generations, a longtime leader in the production of grains belonging to the sorghum family.  The prolific crop, which up until now has often been grown for its small seeds, is used for stock feed, bird seed, and broom grass.

I will continue to press for an agreement on both the budget and structural reforms that promise to move out State closer to being fiscally responsible and competitive for the jobs that we desperately need.

Typically, this time of year my staff and I put together an End of Session Report that is printed and distributed to my constituents. Since session has extended into the summer, this year I thought I would send out the report electronically, and then distribute a more comprehensive report later in the year.

This year’s legislative session brought together a Republican Governor and a legislative chamber filled with new faces. Illinois voters spoke last fall choosing a governor that promised to turn Illinois around, and while it would seem much hasn’t changed in Springfield by reading the news, I can tell you first hand that things are certainly different.

The people of Illinois want bipartisanship, compromise and shared policy-making. Here locally, that is happening. I have partnered on numerous occasions with my local Democrat Senator Bennett in challenging the status quo. For example, this spring Senator Bennett and I worked together to bring enhanced 911 funding and service to Champaign and Vermilion Counties while protecting land lines for senior citizens.

Unfortunately, our legislative leaders haven’t learned the same lesson, and right now Illinoisans are paying for it. We’re in a budget battle of epic proportions, which may threaten the shutdown of much of state government. But in this instance, it isn’t anything like the last two government shutdowns that saw Democrat leaders fighting a Democrat Governor.

This time the struggle has been challenging on both sides of the aisle. Despite substantial political gamesmanship and theater, I remain committed to moving our state forward. This hasn’t been easy, but I truly believe that if we can survive these next few months, Illinois will be stronger for it. We will no longer have unbalanced budgets. There won’t be higher taxes and revenue without reform. There won’t be rampant waste and abuse of our state’s bureaucracy.

And with checks and balances in place, we may just make some progress.

So I remain hopeful that positive change will come from these struggles as I spend the summer months traveling throughout my home district. And as the situation develops, I will keep you informed. If you would like updates throughout the summer please go to my website at and sign up for my newsletter.

Please know it is my honor and pleasure to serve you, and if I or a member of my staff may assist you, do not hesitate to call my Danville office at (217) 477-0104 or contact me through the web form on my web site at

With no Budget Agreement, Session Continues into Summer
After walking away from bipartisan budget working groups put together by Governor Bruce Rauner for the purpose of negotiating a balanced FY16 budget, the majority party pushed through a budget they admitted was unbalanced by close to $4 billion. In fact, in a press conference where he announced their intentions, House Speaker Mike Madigan said, “We will publicly acknowledge that we don't have the money to pay for this budget." Counting on an increase in revenue to fill the $4 billion budget hole, the passage of the bills and subsequent veto by Governor Rauner has set the stage for a summer showdown between a Governor who does not want to explore new revenue until cost-saving and waste-reducing reforms are enacted, and majority party leadership that has balked at Rauner’s recommended reforms and is insisting that new revenue is the only answer to closing the gap in spending. It is going to be a very interesting summer.

Rep. Hays Advocates for Danville Casino
This year I was named to a bipartisan gaming expansion working group in Springfield. The group, which includes four Senators and four State Representatives, split equally between the Republican and Democrat caucuses, deals specifically with the issue of expanding the gaming industry in Illinois. As an overwhelming number of constituents from this area have expressed support for a casino in the Danville area, I continue to make sure Danville remains an important part of our committee discussions.

Specifically, I am advocating that a license for a Danville Riverboat Casino be included in any gaming expansion proposal that is brought forward for legislative consideration. The economic impact a Riverboat Casino would have on this region would be tremendous. That impact would not be limited to revenue generated by a casino. There would be a significant number of temporary construction jobs followed by several hundred full-time jobs. As unemployment numbers are still unacceptably high here, this is a real opportunity to put a lot of people back to work. Secondary revenues would also be realized. A Danville casino would attract out-of-town guests who would eat at our restaurants and stay at our hotels.

District 104 Road Improvements Underway
You may have noticed some significant road construction projects in two key areas of the 104th Legislative House District. The repaving projects on Interstate 74 between Route 49 and the Oakwood Exit (Exit 206) at Oakwood, and on State Route 45 between Rantoul and Thomasboro are both the results of a large capital bill I supported last year. These projects, while inconvenient for motorists right now, will eventually be wonderful improvements for these well-traveled roads in the area. Looking ahead, I would expect to see the continued repaving of I-74 from the Oakwood Exit all the way to the Indiana state line to be a part of a future capital bill.

Rep. Hays Appointed to Ethics Commission
It was an honor this year to be appointed to serve on the bipartisan and bicameral Legislative Ethics Commission. This panel includes four State Representatives and four Senators, split equally between Republicans and Democrats. The commission is charged with upholding State ethics laws, and we hold hearings at the request of the Legislative Inspector General when possible ethics violations are discovered. In a state with an unfortunate history of corruption, it is a great honor and responsibility to be charged with upholding ethics in the Illinois State Legislature. I hope my involvement on this important commission helps in changing the culture in Springfield so that one day the public can once again trust their elected officials.

Environmental Bill Protects Mahomet Aquifer
The General Assembly responded this year to public concerns about plans for the Clinton Landfill to store toxic hazardous waste at its Dewitt County Landfill. I am a Chief Co-Sponsor of HB1326, which seeks to amend the Environmental Protection Act by prohibiting the disposal of certain kinds of hazardous waste at the Clinton Landfill. Since runoff from the landfill leads to the Mahomet aquifer, the provisions of the bill would prevent potentially toxic material and carcinogens from entering the nearby aquifer, which provides drinking water and agricultural irrigation for roughly 500,000 residents in 14 Central Illinois counties. Currently, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) regulates the manner in which certain waste items must be disposed of and where those items are accepted, but the regulations have no prohibition on manufactured gas plant waste and polychlorinated biphenyl waste as long as the PCB contaminant is under 50 parts per million. The bill has been approved in both the House and Senate and as of this date is awaiting the signature of the Governor.

Page for a Day Program Offers Youth a Glimpse into IL House Activity
The General Assembly offers a legislative page program that allows local children an opportunity to spend a day on the House of Representatives’ floor. If you live in the 104th Legislative House District and have a child who would like to experience their state government through the eyes of the legislators, please contact my Springfield office at (217) 782-4811 to schedule a visit. Similarly, if your family or school group is traveling to Springfield during a time when the House is in session, please call and let my office know so that arrangements can be made for a personal visit.

Resolutions Honor Locals for Service
In honor of his valiant service during which he made the ultimate sacrifice, the House of Representatives voted unanimously in March to designate the rest areas on Interstate 72 East and West at mile post 152 between Champaign and Decatur as “Sargent Myron G. Deckard Memorial Rest Areas.” Sargent Deckard was shot and killed in the line of duty in June of 2001 while transporting a prisoner along I-72 from Macon County to Vermilion County. He was a valued member of the Vermilion County Sheriff’s Department for 32 years, and I was honored to file House Joint Resolution 16 on behalf of his family. By honoring his memory through naming these rest areas after him, his heroic efforts will endure forever.

The next time you drive along Route 150 between Danville and Champaign, look for the placard near the Stony Creek Bridge that honors my predecessor, former State Representative Bill Black. Through my House Joint Resolution 17, the Stoney Creek Bridge is now named after Representative Black, who was instrumental in ensuring the bridge is safe for travels. As those of us who travel Route 150 regularly know, that bridge has always been widely traveled and for a long time it was a dangerous and narrow passageway for larger vehicles. There was also significant traffic including school buses, students, faculty and parents in connection with Oakwood High School, so the Representative’s work toward improving that stretch of road is very much appreciated.
Ignoring the bipartisan working groups charged with creating a balanced FY16 budget, this week House and Senate Democrats filed a series of budget bills that collectively overspend by close to $4 billion. State Representative Chad Hays was interviewed by WCIA news about the budget proposal and you can watch that interview here.

Casino Discussions Continue in Springfield Working Group

Discussions continue about a possible expansion of gaming in Illinois. The gaming expansion working group met twice last week and we have plans to meet again twice this week. A possible license for the city of Danville is an important part of these discussions, and while there is currently no bill pending in the General Assembly at this time, I remain hopeful that a casino license is in Danville’s future.

Senate Bill Committee Deadline Passes in the House
Most Senate bills had to be out of House committee by the end of last week to remain alive. As the General Assembly continues to move towards May 31 adjournment, members of the Illinois House and Senate scrambled to get committee approval for their bills. This week, May 18 through May 22, is the deadline for Senate bills to be heard on the House floor. By May 22, most Senate bills will either have been passed by the House and sent to the Governor for final signature, passed by the House as amended and sent back to the Senate for concurrence, or will have been sent to the House Rules Committee for failure to meet the deadline. Meanwhile, the Senate has a parallel deadline for House bills.

Political Games Continue in Springfield
At a time when legislators should be working in a bipartisan manner to create the FY16 budget, some members of the majority party have been making a mockery of the legislative process by bringing bills to the floor they have no intention of passing. Rather than allowing the working groups on the budget and other important issues to complete their work and send appropriation and reform bills through the committee process for proper vetting, Speaker Madigan has instead decided to turn the House Chamber into a political circus. House Republicans are refusing to participate in the Speaker’s political stunts and are voting “Present” on these insincere pieces of legislation.

Hays Serves as Honorary Starter for Fundraising 5K Run/Walk
Over the weekend it was my privilege to serve as the honorary starter for the Danville Police and Firefighter 5K Run and Walk. Proceed from the event will assist with travel costs associated with bringing wounded warriors from VETSports to play against Danville’s Finest and Bravest in an upcoming August 22 charity softball event at Danville Stadium. Danville was recently named the most Veteran-friendly community in both Illinois and in the United states by the 40 & 8 Veterans Organization. Proceeds from this year’s August 22 charity softball game will benefit CASA of Vermilion County. Thanks to all who participated in the 5K run and walk. Due to your participation and generosity, the event was a huge success!

50-State Survey Shows Recent Illinois Job growth has Underperformed Neighboring States
The study, conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts, counted the rates of new job creation in each of the 50 states between January 2008 (marking the start of the 2008-15 downturn) and March 2015. The study was released on Wednesday, May 13.

Study findings indicated that, when measured by percentage, the rate of job growth in Illinois underperformed similar numbers in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Although Illinois’ job growth was significantly slower than that of the nation as a whole, slow rates were also posted by many states in the U.S. Northeast other than New York. Some Midwestern states did well in the Pew study, with Michigan bouncing back significantly from the motor vehicle industry-led crash of the late 2000s. Paced by changes in labor-management law, Michigan added 417,900 jobs since its low point of March 2010, outpacing many of its Rust Belt neighbors.

Moody’s Reduces Chicago’s Credit Rating to Junk Bond Status
The downgrade to what Moody’s calls “Ba1,” a junk-bond level, was announced on Tuesday, May 12, and affects $8.1 billion in city general-obligation debt. The moved marked semi-official acknowledgement, by a major player in global debt markets, that there is material risk that Chicago may on a future date fail to repay its bondholders in full and the city may default on its debts. The New York credit-rating agency attributed this move to the Friday, May 8 decision by the Illinois Supreme Court to discard recent moves toward pension reform. As recently as March 2014, Moody’s rated Chicago debt at A3. With this May 2015 move, Chicago’s GO bonds will no longer be suitable for most purposes of fiduciary investment, including investments by pension funds, annuity funds, and funds operated by Wall Street that provide savings options to workers enrolled in 401(k) plans. Junk-bond debt often continues to trade back and forth between speculators and aggressive income-oriented investment funds.

White House Confirms Future Obama library will be Built on Chicago’s South Side
The widely leaked decision was officially disclosed on Tuesday, May 12. Insiders expect that the Obama Presidential Library and Museum will be constructed with private donations and will not require a capital investment by the State or its taxpayers. Chicago’s Martin Nesbitt, who will head the foundation that will fund the planning and construction, has not yet disclosed where on the South Side the presidential complex will be built. The University of Chicago, in cooperation with Chicago’s City Hall, is recommending sites in Chicago’s Jackson Park or Washington Park. Both locations would be physically close to the Obamas’ longtime family home in Chicago’s Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhood, as well as the University of Chicago Law School where Obama served as an instructor.
Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Pension Reform Law
In December of 2013, the General Assembly took a vote on a controversial pension reform bill (SB 1) that made sweeping changes to benefits for current and past state employees. The new law was promptly challenged by the unions and has spent the last year and a half in the court system. Leading up to the December 2013 vote I was vocal in my opinion that the bill was inherently unfair to retirees and also unconstitutional. When the bill came up for a vote I voted against it.

On Friday, May 8, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed a lower Circuit Court ruling on the State pension system reforms contained in SB 1 (P.A. 98-599).  The Illinois Supreme Court ruling found P.A. 98-599 unconstitutional and permanently enjoined its enforcement.  Regardless of the severability provision that linked only certain reforms, written to allow some reforms to fall and others to stand if so ruled by the Court, the opinion held that the pension annuity reduction provisions were so central to the Act that the entire Act must fall.  The Court found that if all unconstitutional provisions were stricken, then the bill would no longer reflect the intent of the General Assembly and must be void in its entirety. 

Hays Named to Gaming Working Group in Springfield
While budget working groups continue to meet regularly in Springfield to iron out a FY16 spending plan, a new working group dealing specifically with the issue of expanding the gaming industry in Illinois has also been formed. I am pleased to announce that I have been chosen to serve on this bipartisan panel. An overwhelming number of constituents from this area have expressed support for a casino in the Danville area, so I am looking forward to representing my constituents’ views on this new committee.

House Republicans Reject Piecemeal Budget Components   
An all-too-often told story played out again Wednesday in the Illinois House of Representatives: the story of a broken, backwards budgeting process intended to divide, not unite. 

The process began with Governor Rauner’s introduced Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which is meant to be a starting point for negotiations through which changes are made, with a final budget arriving back on the Governor’s desk for either approval or rejection.  The budget process is designed to ensure all priorities are considered and more important that all decisions are made in an open and transparent manner.

Wednesday, in a divisive spirit and with a complete disregard for legislative procedure, House Speaker Mike Madigan and majority party leaders short-circuited the budget process by bringing the Human Services budget directly to the House floor with little notice and no committee deliberations. This action was not genuine; it was intended to send a message. Recognizing that, I joined my colleagues in the House Republican Caucus and voted “Present.”

Immediately after that vote, 15 additional amendments were filed by majority party leaders, cherry-picking various programs vulnerable in the budget and began running them one at a time, again in the hopes of deliberately sabotaging the budget working groups that have been meeting for months, and continue to meet.  Again, House Republicans voted “Present.”

IDOT Listening Tour Draws Large Crowds Statewide
This month the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), in cooperation with the Illinois Capital Development Board, is sponsoring 40 meetings in 30 days across the state to discuss and seek input on the state’s infrastructure needs. At the conclusion of the meetings, Governor Rauner will be presented with a comprehensive package of recommendations. Citizens from this area were offered two opportunities to attend a meeting and have their concerns and priorities heard. I attended both of these meetings; the first in Champaign on April 27, and then the second in Danville on May 7. We had large crowds at both events and a lot of good information was shared. Thank you to all who took the time to attend a meeting.

House Republicans Call for Benefit Certainty, Process Reform for Workers Compensation
A lengthy Committee of the Whole hearing on workers’ compensation issues was held before the full House on Tuesday, May 5.  Injured workers, members of their families, and other stakeholders testified to lawmakers on the strengths and problems of Illinois’ current system of workers’ compensation.     

House Republicans pointed out that many agree that benefit levels to workers should not be changed and there are substantial savings in prospect from reforms to the workers’ compensation process.  Existing pieces of the Illinois workers’ compensation process, including the standard of causation used to reach a definitive determination of what caused a workers’ injury, can be looked at to bring these standards into line with the standard practices of most other U.S. states.  As one benefit of these changes, reforms to the process could reduce fraud and speed up the determination of cause of a workers’ injury.  This could lead to faster compensations getting paid to injured workers.

Despite limited workers’ compensation reforms passed in 2011, Illinois still has the seventh highest workers’ compensation costs in the country.  These high structural costs drive jobs to other states, including Indiana, where workers’ compensation costs are more than 50 percent less.  For every $100 in payroll an Illinois employer pays another $2.35 in workers’ compensation premiums, whereas Indiana employers pay $1.06.  For 2014, Illinois’ rates are 27 percent higher than the national median.

Area Students Visit State Capitol
It was a very busy week in Springfield, with several groups visiting their capitol. Last week I had the pleasure of talking with 8th grade students from Westville Jr. High School, We are shown here outside of the House Chamber at the Capitol.

I also got to see a display in the Capitol rotunda put together by 3 rd grade students from Judith Giacoma Elementary School in Westville. These kids were part of a statewide celebration of technical education in our schools as part of Tech Day 2015: Students for the Information Age. I enjoyed talking with both groups of students, and a great time was had by all.

Governor Rauner Speaks to Chicago City Council, Warns No Bailout
As the fiscal picture darkens for Illinois’ largest city, some advocates have held out hope that Illinois taxpayer could be persuaded to ride to the rescue with moves intended to bail out Chicago.  However, in remarks delivered to the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, May 6, Governor Rauner told Chicago’s mayor and alderman their city has many strengths.  The Governor asserted that leveraging these strengths, combined with sacrifices by stakeholders, will lead to city-state cooperation that offers the best hope of achieving financial recovery. 

“Compromise,” the Governor urged.  “Accept things we might normally oppose.  That’s going to be required of all of us.”  Chicago issues in which State actions are possible include pension reform, a possible Chicago-based casino, school reform, and changes to labor-management law.  Bond rating agencies agree that the quality of Chicago’s debt is plunging, and just yesterday Moody’s downgraded the Chicago bond rating to” junk bond” status.
In response to the decision today by Governor Bruce Rauner to restore the $26 million in cuts that had previously been announced for Illinois human service agencies, State Representative Chad Hays (R-Catlin) has issued the following statement: 

“Based on revised revenue estimates provided by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, it appears that Illinois will have an additional $300-$500 million in revenue. I fully support Governor Rauner’s decision today to restore funding to the list of grant recipients which fall under the auspices of the Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Health.”

“Funding for important services such as autism, epilepsy and early childhood intervention programs is very important to me, and I am pleased to know that they will receive full funding for the balance of this fiscal year. This unanticipated, one-time influx of $300-$500 million takes some pressure off of how the current budget will be brought back into balance and I applaud Governor Rauner’s prompt decision to reverse those cuts.”