Budget – FY16
·         House, Senate Democrats introduce fake State budget.  House and Senate Democrats introduced a series of spending bills for FY16 (starting July 1, 2015) that spends more than $4 billion what nonpartisan revenue estimates expect the state to bring in.  Ignoring their constitutional responsibility to enact a balanced budget, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate rammed through spending bills they readily admit they cannot pay for, while at the same time walking away from the reform negotiations Governor Rauner has called for.
SPRINGFIELD – Advancing opportunity for students pursuing higher education, State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) announced his chief co-sponsored bill, House Bill 3428, has passed through both chambers of the General Assembly in Springfield. The legislation requires that public universities and community colleges must accept scores of 3, 4, or 5 on AP exams for credits toward graduation. Each institution must determine for each test whether the credit will be granted for elective, general education or major requirements, as well as the exam score required to grant credit in those areas.

Rep. Batinick stated, “This legislation is a great step toward giving our young people added incentive to attend our universities and colleges. It is the right thing to do, as it acknowledges coursework completed, thereby setting students on a faster, more direct path to success, while saving them money they will most certainly love to hold onto. The bill also brings a report back to the General Assembly and the Governor on each institution’s course granting policies, which benefits the ongoing study of our higher education system.”

SPRINGFIELD – As the end of the legislative session nears, House Democrats have completed their withdrawal from bipartisan working group discussions, and intend to pass an unbalanced budget that looks to spend $4 billion more than the State is taking in. Illinois is estimated to bring in $32 billion next year, with a proposed budget from the majority party that would spend over $36 billion.

State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) stated, “The people of Illinois were promised transparency in this budget, with bipartisan working group involvement. Instead we have an overdrawn budget crafted by one party, yet again, which only portrays the disrespect the majority party has for hard working taxpayers in Illinois. This budget is not balanced, and does nothing to reduce the high cost of college tuitions at our public universities, and completely ignores the called for reforms necessary to grow jobs in this state.”

The proposed spending is 12% higher than projected revenue, and would push Illinois’ backlog of bills to over $10 billion, equaling 30% of its total revenue.

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SPRINGFIELD - Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and members of the House Republican Caucus stand outside the State Armory to observe a moment of silence in honor of Illinois' fallen soldiers this Memorial Day.

Budget – FY16
·         Despite deadline, Democrats again refuse to pass balanced budget for FY16.  The Illinois Constitution requires that the State annually pass a balanced budget in which revenues match mandated expenditures.  One way that Speaker Madigan has been Speaker for 32 of the past 34 years is by passing a series of unbalanced budgets, which have all spent money the State has not had.  He has curried favor with powerful interests and forced Republicans to be the villains whenever steps are taken to prevent the spending of imaginary money.

Strong rumors circulated on Friday, May 22 that Democrats were preparing another unbalanced budget for FY16, the fiscal year starting July 1, 2015.  This budget may get filed in the week starting Memorial Day, May 25.  This phony budget is expected to commit $4 billion that Illinois does not possess to the Democrats’ spending priorities.  Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed a different budget for Illinois and has strengthened his calls for the State’s government to live within its means.
SPRINGFIELD – Having only spent four months on the job, the large class of House Republican freshmen came together in the Capitol today to express their disgust with the partisan political atmosphere that has engulfed Springfield.  The message they came to deliver is there is no better time than now to call for term limits in Springfield. 

“I don’t believe there’s a single one of us who truly understood the high barriers towards reform that have been erected by the entrenched leadership here in Springfield,” stated Steve Andersson (R, Geneva).  “The time is now to discuss this issue, while we are amidst this gridlock.” 

An initiative to put a binding term limits referendum on the 2014 General Election ballot was denied by a three-judge Illinois Appellate Court last August, leaving legislative action as the best alternative. With three separate joint constitutional amendments filed, House Republicans point to the onset of gridlock so early into the new Governor’s first term along with the increasingly draconian House rules as evidence that term limits need immediate consideration. 
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) has filed bipartisan legislation, House Bill 4215, that would save Illinois’ nine public universities an estimated $100 million in annual costs to purchase equipment and supplies by allowing the governing body of each university to make procurement decisions on their own. Currently, public universities are bound b
y the multitude of regulatory processes set forth in the Illinois Procurement Code.

“The process for Illinois’ public universities to purchase equipment and supplies is so costly and cumbersome that federal grants at the University of Illinois are actually being housed at Purdue University in Indiana,” Rep. Batinick said. “We can’t expect to properly recruit the best and brightest students to our state universities if they are being forced to pay higher tuition at a university that cannot maintain its own procurement process under state law.”
Property Taxes
·         Trick bag; no property tax relief in sight.  Once again the Democrat-controlled House brought sham legislation to a vote for the sole purpose of putting Republican lawmakers in a trick bag and embarrassing the new Governor.

House Republicans have long worked to provide Illinoisans with much needed and deserved property tax relief. Each year members of the House Republican Caucus introduce legislation that would deliver property tax relief and each year the Democrats block those measures. The real roadblock to property tax relief has been the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.
Once again the Democrat-controlled House brought sham legislation to a vote for the sole purpose of putting Republican lawmakers in a trick bag and embarrassing the new Governor.

House Republicans have long worked to provide Illinoisans with much needed and deserved property tax relief. Each year members of the House Republican Caucus introduce legislation that would deliver property tax relief and each year the Democrats block those measures. The real roadblock to property tax relief has been the Democrat-controlled legislature. 
SPRINGFIELD – Last week, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan called for a Committee of the Whole regarding the issue of Worker’s Compensation Reform.  While the Democrats were given weeks to prepare (one of the witnesses said he knew about the hearing for 3-4 weeks), the House Republicans were given the witness list just 30 minutes before the hearing started.  All witnesses and panelists were brought in by the Speaker and his team.

Despite being at an obvious disadvantage, the House Republicans arguments for reform were verified.  “Not a single injured worker that was brought before the House would have seen diminished benefits under the proposed reforms.  More importantly, almost everyone asked confirmed how long it takes to reach a settlement in Illinois.” said Batinick, “I’ve spoken about this ad nauseam.  When their witnesses are proving my point, I feel vindicated.  We need to look for best practices.  One of the best ways to reform the system is to get workers healthy more quickly.  It’s good for the workers and it is good for businesses.” 
Pensions – Illinois Supreme Court SB 1 Ruling
  • Illinois Supreme Court strikes down pension reform law.  On Friday, May 8, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed a lower circuit court ruling on State pension system reforms contained in SB 1 (P.A. 98-599).  In response to enactment of P.A. 98-599, five separate actions were filed in Cook County and Sangamon County courts to enjoin implementation of the pension reforms, claiming the reforms were unconstitutional due to a violation of the provision in the Illinois Constitution (Article XIII, Section 5) that asserts pensions are a contractual right and cannot be diminished or impaired. The five suits were subsequently consolidated into one action in Sangamon County Circuit Court.
SPRINGFIELD – Today Illinois House Democrats forced a series of partisan votes on a multi-billion dollar spending bill aimed at undermining the budget process. Bypassing the established bipartisan appropriations committees, Democrats brought sixteen amendments directly to the House floor less than a few hours before the vote, denying Republicans, groups impacted by the funding and the general public any opportunity to read or offer input on the amendments before the votes were rammed through on a partisan vote. Republicans, including State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), voted Present.

 “Speaker Madigan forced us to vote on $2.6 Billion worth of spending with about an hour’s notice. This is not the way a functioning state operates. The reason the state’s finances are so bad is because this is the way things have been run for more than a decade now. We would be able to create more jobs, invest more efficiently in our social safety net, and see fewer families and businesses leaving Illinois to find better opportunity elsewhere if the General Assembly approached its responsibilities in a spirit of cooperation and respect. Sadly, that wasn’t the case today. Illinois families deserve better.”

Budget – FY15 – Social Services Restored
·         Revenue estimate up; $26 million in State grants to be restored.  The State of Illinois has faced continuous challenges in “keeping the lights on” during the final months of FY15.  When the Governor’s office changed hands in January, Governor Bruce Rauner found that the FY15 budget passed by Democrat majorities and signed by former Governor Pat Quinn was drastically unbalanced.  The General Assembly and the Rauner administration have worked together since that time to shift funds around to cover shortfalls.  In some cases, additional cuts were imposed on some agencies and their spending programs. 

Citing an improving economy, Governor Rauner announced Thursday that he would restore $26 million to social service and public health grants that were frozen earlier this year because of budget constraints.  Grants for autism, addiction prevention, assistance for homeless, teen REACH and other programs were impacted by the freeze. The Governor was able to restore funding to these programs because of better than expected revenues projections.  The bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability expects an additional $300 million to $500 million in tax revenue because of an improving economy in Illinois.