Rep. Batinick welcomed Mr. Roey Gilad, Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, as a special guest in the Illinois House of Representatives today. Consul General Gilad addressed the House on the trade relationship between Illinois businesses and Israel, as well as research and development partnerships with Illinois universities. As a small business owner and member of the Higher Education Appropriations Committee, both topics reflect shared priorities of Rep. Batinick's.

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House of Representatives voted 69-48 on Tuesday to approve an Emergency Budget Bill (HB 318) to close a $1.6 Billion funding shortfall for the current FY 15 budget, which runs through June 30. State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) voted in favor of the bipartisan agreement negotiated between Governor Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders.

Under the provisions of HB 318, over 80% of the funding gap will be filled by utilizing unused money in various special state funds not needed for what they were allocated for during the current fiscal year, amounting to approx. $1.3 Billion. The remaining amount comes from an across-the-board spending reduction of 2.25% across all state programs through June 30; excluding payments for pensions, state employee health care, and funding for services for the mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and autistic children. Child care funding for low-income families will also continue for the duration of the current fiscal year. 
In his March 11 commentary, “Insurance industry profits from workers’ comp reforms”, Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan raises an issue entirely unrelated to my column of March 5 on the direct cost savings to state and local governments that can be achieved if premiums in Illinois were merely average among the 50 states, instead of one of the highest.   His main argument was that the insurance industry was not passing along savings.

The simple truth is, state and many local governments are self-insured. There is no insurance company involved to reap higher profits at the expense of the worker. Mr. Carrigan does, however, raise a separate issue meriting our collaboration; the pivotal role of the insurance industry in achieving comprehensive reform that protects workers in every industry.

Insurance companies in Massachusetts, hardly a bastion of anti-labor policies, have continued to earn profits in recent years even after the state adopted workers’ comp reforms that lowered costs. Massachusetts achieved this simply by having a system that pays workers’ compensation claims faster than any other state. They get workers paid and back to work without the need for costly and lengthy litigation. Their example is a win-win model we can learn from and emulate here in Illinois.
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Six Illinois lawmakers issued still more criticism of the College of DuPage March 6, saying a report that taxpayers were on the hook for college administrators’ fancy meals was an example of “malfeasance.” Several called for public hearings to vet ongoing questions about the college’s spending.
The most recent allegations come from a Chicago Tribune report that taxpayers paid for several meals costing hundreds of dollars per person for college administrators at an on-campus “high-end” restaurant Waterleaf...

In reaction to today’s Chicago Tribune report, Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), who just last month sought to advance a package of legislation aimed squarely at a $750K severance buyout that left local taxpayers reeling, had this to say about the new revelations that College of DuPage administrators spent hundreds of thousands on taxpayer-funded outings at the high-end publicly-owned restaurant on the campus of the College of DuPage:

“I think once people read these new revelations, there will be a renewed call for an electoral remedy for the college board members who allowed this to happen.  There should be resignations, but short of that, voters should have the right to recall these officials.”

Unless you are a business owner or have been injured on the job, you may not be familiar with the workers' compensation system in Illinois or how it affects your pocketbook.
Every business pays insurance premiums for workers' compensation in the event an employee gets hurt on the job. This insurance is an essential protection for both employer and worker.
The problem in Illinois is that workers' compensation premiums are much higher than in other states because we have a broken and inefficient system.
This is a major job-killer, because when employers have to pay higher premiums, that's money they can't use to increase wages or hire new workers.
Businesses aren't the only ones paying higher premiums to insure employees. State and local governments do, too, with taxpayers footing the bill. Hundreds of millions of dollars can be saved from the direct and indirect costs government incurs from workers' compensation insurance.