Thursday in Springfield the House of Representatives approved a comprehensive energy bill that will allow nuclear energy plants in Clinton and in the Quad Cities to remain online. In response to the 63-38 vote in the House, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has issued the following statement:

“I was not in support of SB 2814 because I do not think rate payers should shoulder the responsibility of subsidizing a company that made over $2 billion in profits last year.”

“This bill picks winners and losers and handcuffs us for years to come. Here in Illinois and also at the federal level, we have a very bad track record when it comes to choosing winners and losers and I believe this is one more example of bad policy that will have bad outcomes.”

"I believe wholeheartedly that in the aggregate Illinois will be less competitive as a result of the passage of this bill. Freedom and choice have been extremely beneficial for electricity consumers in Illinois, and by passing this bill we are undermining those policies.”
One issue that is getting a lot of attention in Springfield this week is a contentious energy bill that would allow nuclear power plants in Clinton and in the Quad Cities to remain online. Some believe it is a necessary step in keeping the power grid stable while saving jobs, while others, including State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine), believe the bill equates to a taxpayer-funded bailout for Exelon, a multi-billion dollar energy company.

Click here to watch a video of Representative Morrion explaining his opposition to the bill.
Since the General Assembly doesn't return to Springfield until veto session in November, I have been taking advantage of a less busy schedule to meet with constituents in my office and speak at local events in the district and out-of-state. 

Within the district, I spoke on legislative panels hosted by the Palatine and Hoffman Estates Chambers of Commerce in the month of September, and in the next two weeks, I will be speaking at legislative panels in Barrington and at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

In addition to speaking on various panels, last week I was invited to local William Fremd High School to engage in a stimulating debate with Rep. Will Guzzardi, which was hosted by the Social Studies Club. Despite our different party allegiances and policy perspectives, it was encouraging to realize that we share a desire to combat corruption and legislate for the sake of principle, not personal advancement.
I also had the exciting opportunity to travel to Colonial Williamsburg mid-September as part of the Illinois delegation at a Simulated Convention of States. Here in Illinois, I am a co-sponsor of House Joint Resolution 115, a measure that calls on Congress to hold a Convention of States so that we can impose fiscal restraints and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government while putting term limits in place for members and officials of Congress.

This effort is a grassroots movement to call a constitutional convention via the state legislatures (as delineated in Article V of the Constitution) so that we can impose constitutional restraints on our runaway federal government. Even though the problems we face as a state are pressing and it is unlikely that Illinois will be one of the 38 necessary states to pass the resolution to call a convention, if this effort does pick up momentum, an Illinois delegation will necessarily be part of this convention. I wanted to learn as much as possible about the effort so that I can draw from this experience if the time comes.

Before we return to Springfield in November and things begin to pick up on the legislative front, I would like to hear from my constituents about issues of state government that are important to them. Please call my office (847-202-6584) if you would like to schedule a meeting in my office or would like to set up a time to speak on the phone.
In recognition of votes taken in 2015-2016 that affected Illinois’ small businesses, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has been named a “Guardian of Small Business.” In an independent review of his voting record on bills that impacted small businesses, Morrison earned a perfect 100%.

The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, SB 162, HB 1287, SB 2933, HB 4036, SB 11, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.

According to Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, Morrison’s commitment to Illinois’ small businesses was evident through his voting record during the 99th General Assembly. “Representative Morrison’s 100% voting record with the NFIB indicates his willingness to fight on behalf of small businesses in Springfield,” she said. “He has been a true champion of the small business community, and understands how government intervention keeps these primary job creators from thriving.”

Morrison said it was an honor to be recognized for his support of the Illinois small business community. “At a time when businesses are fleeing our state in search of better business climates in other states, we have an obligation as lawmakers to ease the pressures that currently make Illinois an unfriendly place to own a business,” said Morrison. “Small businesses are the centerpiece of the Illinois economy, and if we are going to grow jobs and ease the tax burden for Illinois citizens, we must support our business owners.”

NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has been very outspoken in his disappointment with the District 15 School Board's decision this year to give teachers an unprecedented 10-year contract. You can watch the latest Morrison Report video here.
As kids go back to school and families settle into their fall routines, I wanted to provide an update on issues that affect the 54th District and the citizens of Illinois. Lawmakers have spent the last few months in their home districts tending to the needs of their local constituents, and I have spent a great deal of time meeting with residents to discuss their concerns and suggestions for how we can improve this great state. I always enjoy these meetings because they really do help guide my representation of this area in Springfield.

Senator Matt Murphy to Step Down in September
For my entire tenure in the Illinois General Assembly it has been an honor to work alongside Senate Deputy Republican Leader Matt Murphy on issues that affect this region of Illinois. As the Senator of Illinois’ 27th Senate District, Matt Murphy has represented this area with distinction for the last ten years. When I was elected in 2010, he was a great mentor, and since that time we have worked collaboratively on many legislative initiatives. Senator Murphy serves as the ranking Republican on the Senate Executive Committee, the Appropriations I Committee and the Executive Appointments Committee. He is also a respected voice on several other key Senate Committees. 

Whoever is selected to fill Senator Murphy’s seat certainly has big shoes to fill. His resignation will be effective September 15, and local Republican Party officials will choose his successor. That individual will hold the seat for two full years, until the election cycle in 2018.

Look for the Morrison-Murphy Booth at Palatine’s Streetfest
The Village of Palatine is putting the finishing touches on this year’s Streetfest event, which will be held in the heart of the downtown area from August 26-28. The epicenter of this annual event is the intersection of Brockway and Slade Streets, and local families are invited to enjoy the live music, great food and kids activities that have become a staple of this community festival. Streetfest gets underway on Friday the 26th at 5:00 PM with activities running constant until midnight. Saturday hours will be 11:00 AM until midnight, and the festival concludes on Sunday with hours from 11:00 AM until 6:00 PM. The Kids Zone will offer all kinds of fun activities for children between the hours of 11:00 AM and 6:00 PM on Saturday and 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM on Sunday.

As we have done in the past, Senator Matt Murphy and I will be sharing an informational booth at Streetfest, so please stop by and say hello. For more information about this annual community event, click here.

Stopgap Budget Measure Sets Stage for Huge Tax Hike
As I reported earlier this year, when the House and Senate approved the FY17 K-12 spending plan and six-month stopgap package for other essential services, I was one of four “no” votes in the House of Representatives. At the time I expressed my fear that the approved package, if extended over 12 months, would be far from balanced and would necessitate a huge tax increase. As we gain a complete understanding of the magnitude of that vote, I stand by my “no” vote more than ever. I came to Springfield to fight for the overburdened taxpayers of this state, and with the approval of the stopgap measure, those who voted for it set a plan in motion that will require the citizens of Illinois to pay higher taxes next year.

According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, a non-partisan and respected source for financial data, if extended over 12 months, the stopgap measure spends $8 billion more than what the state is expected to bring in. With no reforms written into the measure, it was business as usual with the majority party continuing with their tiresome tax-and-spend philosophy.

Sadly, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were strong-armed into supporting the measure due to threats that schools would not open on time this fall, and that social service providers for our most vulnerable populations would collapse and close their doors. Within hours of the signing of the stopgap measures, Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of most of the state’s public universities because of state government’s failure to enact a balanced budget. The analysts at Moody’s recognized that the stopgap did not restore any measure of financial health to the state, and they alerted bond investors of the continuing downward spiral of Illinois’ finances.

The financial crisis in this state will only be remedied when more lawmakers take bold steps to insist upon balanced spending and an end to unsustainable pensions. I have been a long-time advocate of moving all future employees to more of a 401(k) type of benefit plan, and I will continue to file legislation to make this change a reality. I will also continue to fight for reforms that promote business growth and an improved economy, and that will eliminate the waste, fraud and abuses that plague our government systems.
In this edition of the Morrison Report, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) explains his "no" vote on the stopgap budget that was approved at the end of June. You may watch the video by clicking here.
Secretary of State Jesse White has announced that his office has reinstated the mailing of vehicle registration reminder notices to Illinois drivers. To offset the cost of the mailings, White is drafting legislation allowing his office to offer advertising space on the mailings. In addition, White is urging the public to sign-up for email notices to further reduce mailing costs.

The Secretary of State’s office discontinued mailing reminders in October 2015 due to the lack of funding as a direct result of the state budget impasse. The stop-gap budget recently passed by the legislature and signed into law by the Governor allows White’s office to reinstate the notices.

“The notices are an essential tool for the public to be sure their vehicles are in good standing and avoid paying late fees and fines resulting from tickets issued by law enforcement,” White said. “The driving public paid the price for the budget impasse and it proved to be an unfair burden. With the funds from the stop-gap budget the notices will resume. In addition, we are reducing the number of mailings and seeking alternative funding sources for the postage costs.”

“Although we are now able to reinstate mailing the vehicle registration reminder notices, I continue to strongly urge motorists to sign up for email reminders,” said White. “Saving taxpayer dollars is always a priority of our administration.”

White noted that more than 2.3 million people have registered for the email notification, 800,000 of which signed up since October 2015.

Vehicle owners can sign up for email notifications by visiting the Secretary of State website, www.cyberdriveillinois.com. To register for the program, vehicle owners will need their assigned registration ID and PIN, which can be found on their current vehicle registration card. If that information is not available, they can call the Secretary of State public inquiry division at 800-252-8980 to obtain the Registration ID and PIN.

The one-time registration process will allow vehicle owners to receive a series of three email notices per vehicle each year highlighting the upcoming vehicle expiration date.
On Friday, the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 1564, which amends Illinois’ Health Care Right of Conscience Act to impose new regulations for healthcare providers. One new requirement will require providers to advise clients of the risks and benefits of abortions, as well making referrals for abortion services. In response to the signing of the bill, State Representative Tom Morrison issued the following statement:

”By adopting these new mandates, Governor Rauner and Democrat legislators are forcing medical professionals, including non-profit, privately funded crisis pregnancy centers, to participate in procedures for which they have strong ethical and moral objections. I spoke vociferously against this bill during the House debate and with the Governor and his staff directly. I am greatly disappointed in his decision today. The message delivered to Illinois citizens is that their religious beliefs and free speech rights do not matter. Illinois is less free and more hostile to people of faith as a result of this likely unconstitutional law,” said State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine).

Under this law, medical personnel and facilities will have to follow an objection protocol that includes providing a patient with information about the “risks and benefits” of all legal procedures, regardless of religious or moral objection, as well as information about where the patient can access objected-to procedures.

“Pro-life physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel do not, nor should they ever, have to check their faith at the door when they care for their patients. The benevolent, life-affirming employees and volunteers at Illinois’ crisis pregnancy centers deserve our admiration and respect, not attacks by an over-reaching state government that violates their religious liberty and free speech rights.”

“As plaintiffs line up to fight back in court, I proudly and wholeheartedly support their efforts to overturn this despicable law. Thankfully, their chances of success are high, as Illinois pharmacists successfully challenged the state’s attempt to limit their rights of conscience back in 2005. We should do everything we can to help uphold our citizens’ civil liberties once again,” Representative Morrison concluded.
In response to the failure of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to answer questions amidst the ongoing federal and state investigations into his campaign spending irregularities, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) joined some of his House Republican colleagues on Wednesday to announce the filing of House Joint Resolution 158 aimed at removing Mautino from office. The measure currently has more than 20 House sponsors.

At issue is more than $200,000 Mautino spent over 10 years on gas and vehicle repairs at a Spring Valley service station owned by a city alderman, as well as $259,000 in payments made to a local bank since 1999.

“The Auditor General is the chief agent charged with ensuring that agencies and elected officials operate within the confines of the law,” said Morrison. “He, above all else, should be a pillar of ethical behavior, yet questions involving his own campaign spending have cast a very dark cloud over his integrity. The people of Illinois deserve the highest standard of behavior from this important official, and unfortunately Attorney General Mautino’s tenure has been plagued by scandal.”

In a letter sent last month, over 20 other House and Senate Republican lawmakers urged Mautino to take an unpaid leave of absence until federal and state investigations into irregular campaign spending while he was a state representative conclude, noting that the Auditor General has yet to provide documentation clarifying his campaign expenditures and reporting practices through his now inactive political committee. Mautino has not responded to the letter or to repeated calls to answer official legislative inquiries.

“I had hoped that Frank Mautino would have done the right thing and stepped aside at the urging of more than 20 members of the House and Senate last month, but if he is unwilling to step down while he defends himself against potential criminal charges, the General Assembly should intervene and force his resignation,” said Morrison.

Morrison was one of 10 lawmakers who voted last year against appointing Mautino to the position of Auditor General. He said he felt Mautino was too closely tied to House Speaker Mike Madigan, and that there were better-qualified candidates outside of Illinois government that would be better-suited for the job.

In this edition of the Morrison Report, State Representative Tom Morrison discusses the rationale for his "no" vote on the stopgap measure that was approved on the final day of session in Fiscal Year 2016. Click here to watch the video.
This week the four Republican lawmakers who voted against the 12-month budget for K-12 Education and the six month bridge for other essential services sat down with Paris ??? from Chicago Tonight to explain the rationale behind their no votes. You may watch the interview here.
Yesterday the General Assembly sent Governor Bruce Rauner a series of bills that puts a temporary halt to the budget impasse in Springfield. The Governor has already signed into law the bills that provide record-high spending levels for K-12 Education and six-month bridge funding for all other budget areas. I am one of four legislators who voted against the bill and would like to explain my rationale.

While yesterday’s bills ensured schools would open on time and that important services and programs would continue to be operational, the votes also guaranteed a large tax increase next year. The levels of spending that were approved are simply not sustainable over 12 months, and come January the colleges and universities, prisons, social service agencies and other important entities that rely on state funding will be once again unable to provide services due to a lack of funding.

What was approved yesterday, if extended over 12 months, was not even close to being balanced. In December, with the November election in the rearview mirror, lawmakers will be more inclined to make the very unpopular decision to raise taxes to backfill the gaping budget hole that will materialize in January. I simply could not support measures that I know lays the groundwork for tax hikes next year.

I will continue to advocate for responsible and balanced spending, coupled with reforms that eliminate waste in our systems and are essential to grow our Illinois economy. We must stop increasing revenues on the backs of overtaxed Illinoisans. We need to grow jobs and improve our economy so that new job growth leads us to increased revenue. Yesterday’s votes, in my opinion, just led us all further down the path of fiscal irresponsibility. We must continue to press for and achieve real reforms on the drivers of Illinois' out-of-control budgets: state pensions (including pension reform for our local governments) and Medicaid spending.

As always, please do not ever hesitate to call me or write to me about issues that are important to you. You may reach my Palatine District office at (847) 202-6584 or email me by going to www.repmorrison54.com and clicking on the “Contact” button.
As Fiscal Year 2016 was ending at the end of June, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) returned more than $16,000 to the State of Illinois from his District Office Allotment.

Each year, every legislator is provided with approximately $69,500 for use in running a local legislative office. Salaries for employees, rent, utilities, computer equipment, office supplies and travel for official business is purchased with these funds.

“Illinois’ budget crisis extends to all budget areas, and I want to lead by example,” said Morrison. “We run a frugal office in Palatine, and each year I try to return at least 10% of my district office budget allotment back to the State.”

Morrison said he minimizes paper usage and relies heavily on electronic communication with his constituents. “To promote local community outreach events or to discuss legislative issues, we again rely on our computers, on press releases, on community electronic bulletin boards and social media for our messaging,” Morrison said. For committee meetings in Chicago, he uses public transit to save on driving and parking costs. “Every penny adds up, and if all 177 House and Senate offices could reduce their local spending by at least 10%, we would be setting a great example for how state spending could be reduced.”

This recent return of funds marks the 6th consecutive year that Morrison has returned money at the end of the fiscal year.
Speaker Madigan Once Again Cancels Session; General Assembly to Meet This Week
After the House and Senate failed to enact a budget bill for FY17 prior to the their May 31, 2016 adjournment, Speaker Madigan reassured his colleagues that they would be called upon to meet once a week on the Wednesdays of June to discuss the spending situation and debate alternatives. However, no public budget discussions have taken place and each of the three session days scheduled for June 8, June 15, and now June 22 have been cancelled.

The cancellations of these three scheduled session days have taken place as the June 30th deadline for the adoption of a spending plan for FY17 grows closer. Illinois has not appropriated any operating funds for State facilities such as prisons and residential homes since July 1, 2016, and has not spent any funds other than stopgap funds for Illinois institutions of higher education since the same date. Existing appropriations for Illinois school districts and institutions of elementary and secondary education will expire on June 30.

The Illinois House and Senate are both scheduled to return to Springfield for session this Wednesday, June 29, to consider possible education funding and stopgap budget measures.

Morrison to Sponsor Free Self Defense Class
This week I will partner with J.P. Wood Martial Arts America on Thursday, June 30 for self-defense and self-awareness class for females ages 13 and up. The class will take place at the J.P. Wood Martial Arts America studio, 249 E. Northwest Highway in Palatine from 7:00-9:00 PM. Educators from the studio will conduct the class, which will focus on self-defense, distraction and awareness tactics to help keep adult and teen girls safe. Specifically, attendees will learn what to hit, how to release holds, and ways to be aware and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Space is limited and registration is encouraged. While the class is free, a suggested $10 donation will be taken at the door for WINGS, a local organization that supports women and children fleeing domestic violence situations. To learn more about this class or to register, please email repmorrison54@gmail.com or call 847-202-6584.

Fiscal Year 2016 Nears its End without a Budget
FY16 will reach its end on June 30th, when the State of Illinois will possibly go an entire fiscal year without a budget. Subsection 2b of Article VIII of the Constitution of Illinois requires the General Assembly to annually enact a balanced budget.

As we prepare to begin FY17 on July 1, Illinois is poised to become the first U.S. state since the Great Depression years of the 1930s to try to operate for more than one year without any budget at all. As one consequence of this somber milestone, Illinois’ credit rating had dropped by June to the lowest rank of any of the 50 states.

Editorial: Suburban Illinois 10-Year Teacher Contract Puts Taxpayers on Hook in Rigged System
I recently wrote an opinion piece expressing my extreme disappointment in the decision by the District 15 Board of Education to offer teachers a 10-year contract. A teacher contract of this length is unheard of, and the decision to lock taxpayers into such a lengthy and flawed deal is, in my opinion, unwise. You may read the editorial here.

State Education Funding to End June 30th; Republicans Offer Full Funding Bill
Year-round learning programs, known as “summer school” to many older Illinois residents, are put at special risk by the pending shutoff of State school aid funds on July 1, 2016. While many areas of State spending are not protected by court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations and have already been cut off by the inability of the majority party in the Illinois General Assembly to enact a balanced budget, the State did pass a spending bill in FY16 just for schools. Illinois elementary and secondary schools, with the help of General State Aid and other school aid programs, operated on schedule during the 2015-16 school year. However, the school aid payments authorized by this FY16 bill will end on June 30 with the end of the fiscal year.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and his colleagues are fighting for action on HB 6583 to provide full funding for Illinois schools for the 2016-2017 school year. HB 6583 would allow every Illinois school district to be fully funded at 100 percent of the foundation level for the first time in seven years. Additionally, the bill holds harmless those school districts that would lose state funding in 2017 due to rising property values along with a decline in poverty. But most importantly, it removes K-12 schoolchildren from the crossfire of the larger budget impasse.

Governor Rauner has said he will sign the clean education funding bill and HB 6583 has the full support of House and Senate Republicans, who are urging Speaker Madigan and Senate President Cullerton to pass the bill next week.

Rep. Morrison Joins Governor Rauner for June 23 Press Conference
On Thursday, I joined Governor Rauner at the annual meeting of the Taxpayers Federation of Illinois, where he called on the majority party to return to the State’s Capitol and pass two important pieces of legislation, which will ensure schools open on time this fall, as well as fund critical services. House Bills HB 6583 and HB 6585 are balanced. Neither would add a cent of debt to the State of Illinois. Yet House Speaker Mike Madigan is holding both bills in his Rules Committee and has to release them for a discussion and vote. When we return to Springfield on Wednesday, I will support efforts to allow these two bills to advance.

With No Funding after June 30th, Road Projects Prepare for Shutdown
The announcement from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) came on Tuesday, June 21, as the close of FY16 approached. IDOT’s lawyers have advised the Department and the Rauner administration that, as of the close of the current fiscal year, the State cannot count on having legal authority to spend money for ongoing capital projects in the absence of explicit appropriations authority encompassing the projects being worked on.

Most State operations have continued throughout FY16 in the absence of an enacted budget. This spending has continued and has been based upon court orders, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations. With the end of this fiscal year, with regards to most road projects and transportation capital spending, the ability to legally spend money in these areas is coming to an end. House Republicans have called upon their Democrat counterparts in the General Assembly to immediately enact a stopgap appropriations bill, HB 6585, to enable essential IDOT road project work to continue during the summer construction season. HB 6585 is fully funded from existing revenues sources and funding streams.

As always, please do not ever hesitate to call me or write to me about issues that are important to you. You may reach my Palatine District office at (847) 202-6584 or email me by going to www.repmorrison54.com and clicking on the “Contact” button.
IL to Enter Second Straight Year Without a State Budget
When it became evident that a balanced budget deal was not going to brought to the House floor prior to our regular session adjournment date of May 31, House Republicans filed a budget bill, HB 6585, to cover both Fiscal Year 2016 “stopgap” expenditures and some urgently-needed Fiscal Year 2017 expenditure areas. It would have appropriated badly-needed money to a wide variety of essential and job-creating state agencies and educational institutions, such as state universities and prisons. The appropriations contained in this bill were fully paid for from existing revenues and would not have increased the state’s debt. HB 6585 was filed by House Republican leader Jim Durkin on Tuesday, May 31, and I am a co-sponsor of the bill.

Unfortunately, majority party leaders refused to hear any Republican budget bills. To add to the chaotic scene in Springfield’s State Capitol on the final night of the 2016 spring session, Senate Democrats refused to pass the $7.5 billion out-of-balance “budget” approved by the House Democrats the week before. Entities that have been left waiting for more than 11 months for payment from the State still have no assurances that a budget will be in place for the start of the next fiscal year on July 1. Illinois’ public schools were also left unfunded as Democrats left town, pointing fingers at each other.

A series of special sessions are expected to be held in June for lawmakers to make additional attempts to reach a balanced budget. Illinois Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger has warned lawmakers that some state payments will end, and others will be delayed as long as eight or nine months, unless a budget deal that matches expenditures to revenues is reached prior to the start of the new fiscal year.

House Republicans File Legislation to Protect Public Education from Budget Fight
One year ago, lawmakers agreed in May 2015 to suspend the impact of the budget impasses upon Illinois public schools and their pupils. This was done by passing a bill that appropriated full funding for Illinois public schools in the 2015-16 school year while leaving the rest of Illinois state government to try to operate without a budget. While flawed, this strategy protected schoolchildren, their parents, and educators from the worst consequences of the current budget impasse for one year. However, the 2015-16 school year is over and a new fiscal year will soon begin.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, with the support of many members of the House Republican Caucus, has responded to the current impasse by filing a separate bill to fully fund K-12 education in Illinois for FY2017. I am also a co-sponsor of this bill. This strategy follows the one adopted in 2015. HB 6583 responds to discussions among many House members from both parties who have called for leaving schools out of the current budget crisis. The measure responds to changes in school attendance, school district equalized assessed values (EAVs), and school district maintenance of efforts. HB 6583 includes a $104.8 million “hold harmless” provision to ensure that all Illinois public school districts will receive at least 100% of their gross prorated 2015-16 General State Aid school aid in FY17.

The bill parallels the bill voted for by most House Democrats in May 2015. It remains to be seen if they will hold Illinois school children hostage this year as they push for even more spending for Chicago. Enacting HB 6583 will mean that Illinois schoolchildren and their families can look forward with certainty to a school year starting in September. I sincerely hope Speaker Madigan releases this bill from the House Rules committee and allows it to be debated and voted upon.

Morrison Joins Republican Lawmakers to Ask Mautino to Step Down as Investigation Continues
On Thursday I joined a group of Illinois lawmakers who urged Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to voluntarily take an unpaid leave of absence while numerous investigations persist into irregular campaign expenditures and reporting procedures dating back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives. At a press conference held at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago, we stressed that Mautino cannot effectively do his job while under a lingering cloud of suspicion.

A group of twelve legislators from the House sent an initial request for answers to Auditor General Mautino on February 1st asking for a written reply within 10 days. Mautino replied on February 9th that he needed more time to properly address the request. To accommodate the Auditor General, the lawmakers on February 11th extended their request deadline to February 25th. Mautino replied that he had retained a legal firm to assist him and would be working ‘…during the next few weeks in order to respond to your letter.’ In May lawmakers sent another request to which the Auditor General responded that the issue would be resolved by the State Board of Elections. Since that time, however, it has been revealed that the matter has grown into a federal investigation.

Special Guests Join Morrison as Legislative Pages on Memorial Day
As part of our normal session calendar, legislators are in Springfield working on Memorial Day. This year I was joined on the House Floor by my Springfield assistant’s three adorable and very patriotic daughters. I share this assistant with Representative Batinick, who is also shown in the photo. While I miss spending this holiday with my family, it was a treat to spend some time with these three bright young ladies. As our session day began on Monday, May 30, we took time to honor our fallen heroes and express our thanks for their sacrifice.

Cash-Flow Report by General Assembly Oversight Committee shows Continued Shortfall in Revenues
The shortfall, which has grown significantly since January 2015, is a reflection of what is called the “structural deficit” of the State’s operating budget. This structural deficit is a component of the overall cash flow of the state of Illinois and its treasury, which is independently tracked by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA). COGFA, a nonpartisan arm of the Illinois General Assembly, works with Governor Rauner’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) and the Illinois Department of Revenue to track Illinois cash inflows and outflows.

Even in times of comparative nationwide economic prosperity, Illinois does not collect sufficient taxes from its private-sector economic activity to meet the demands and commitments of its public sector. This shortfall shows up on the State’s books both in relation to actual cash outflow and in relation to the same flows of money in previous years. For example, COGFA’s cash-flow report for May 2016 shows that overall base revenues dropped $266 million in the most-recently-concluded thirty-day calendar period in relation to May 2015. Repeated shortfalls of this type have built up the current backlog of unpaid State debts and bills, which Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger estimated to be $6.9 billion as of Tuesday, June 1. In addition to this $6.9 billion official figure, additional debts represent bills not yet presented to the Comptroller’s office for payment, as well as commitments made by Springfield according to the provisions of statutory law but not yet formally billed to the State.

Chicago Demands Various Forms of Pension Relief
SB 777 rewrites and slows down the schedule that the City of Chicago must use to solve the problem of unfunded pension liabilities borne by Chicago police and firefighter pension funds. HB 813 demanded that state taxpayers contribute $205.4 million to Chicago teacher pensions. Both measures were sponsored entirely by Democrats. SB 777 was seen by opponents of the measure as a facet of Illinois’ longstanding policy of putting off pension payments, commonly referred to as a “pension holiday. This policy has helped lead to a point where Illinois has the lowest credit rating of any of the 50 states. Governor Bruce Rauner issued a total veto SB 777, but the veto was overridden by the House on Monday, May 30. I voted against the veto override of SB 777. The motion to override the Governor’s veto was 72-43-2 (71 votes were required). HB 813 and other Chicago teacher-pension bailout bills did not become law.

House Passes Unfunded Child Care Bill
SB 730 requires the State of Illinois, starting in FY18, to pay child-care subsidies for the care expenses of children with family incomes between 185% and 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL). Previously, families with incomes above 185% of FPL were not eligible for state-funded child care assistance under the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). The proposal was pushed by a SEIU, a union that has mounted a major effort to organize public-sector-paid child care workers. House Republicans pointed out that the measure would have a massive negative fiscal impact upon Illinois taxpayers at a time when the State’s budget is already billions of dollars out of balance. In FY17, the bill would impose an additional $200 million/year burden upon the State’s budget. In FY18 and following years, this fiscal impact would rise by an additional $500 million/year, to $700 million/year. I voted against the bill.

Bill to Automatically Register Voters Sent to Governor
SB 250 designates certain enumerated State agencies, headed by the Secretary of State’s office, and directs them to use their contacts with Illinois residents to automatically register adult residents upon contact. Under this law an applicant for a drivers’ license or license renewal, who as part of the application process presents evidence that he or she is older than 18, would be automatically registered to vote. The new voter’s name would be automatically sent to the State Board of Elections unless the applicant specifically asked not to be registered. The House vote to pass SB 250, as amended, was 86-30-0. The Senate concurrence vote of 50-7-0 sent the measure to the Governor’s desk. Both votes were taken on Tuesday, May 31. Because I believe the bill opens our voting system up to new levels of fraud, I voted against the measure.

Lawmakers will be in “continuous session” throughout the summer as we continue to work toward a budget solution, but when we are not in Springfield I will be back home working from my Palatine office. If my staff or I may assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may reach my Palatine District office at (847) 202-6584 or you can email me by going to www.repmorrison54.com and clicking on the “Contact” button.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) will partner with J.P. Wood Martial Arts America on Thursday, June 30 for self-defense and self-awareness class for females ages 13 and up.

The class will take place at the J.P. Wood Martial Arts America studio, 249 E. Northwest Highway in Palatine from 7:00-9:00 PM. Educators from the studio will conduct the class, which will focus on self-defense, distraction and awareness tactics to help keep adult and teen girls safe. Specifically, attendees will learn what to hit, how to release holds, and ways to be aware and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

“I am pleased to partner with J.P. Wood Martial Arts America for this important community outreach event for females who live the 54th House District,” said Morrison. “Those who attend should leave with a basic understanding of how they can avoid becoming a victim of violence and some key skills that can be used to avert an attack.”

Space is limited and registration is encouraged. While the class is free, a suggested $10 donation will be taken at the door for WINGS, a local organization that supports women and children fleeing domestic violence situations. To learn more about this class or to register, please email repmorrison54@gmail.com or call 847-202-6584.
State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) joined a group of Illinois lawmakers today who urged Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to voluntarily take an unpaid leave of absence while numerous investigations persist into irregular campaign expenditures and reporting procedures dating back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives. The lawmakers stressed that Mautino cannot effectively do his job while under a lingering cloud of suspicion.

“Over the last four months we have formally asked Auditor General Mautino four times to provide answers to the questions raised in the investigations, and still no answers are forthcoming. Recently it has come to light that federal authorities are looking into his campaign spending and reporting practices as well. There is no way that he can effectively do his job as Auditor General while defending himself against potential criminal charges and a State Election Board investigation,” said State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville).

A group of twelve legislators from the House sent an initial request for answers to Auditor General Mautino on February 1st asking for a written reply within 10 days. Mautino replied on February 9th that he needed more time to properly address the request. To accommodate the Auditor General, the lawmakers on February 11th extended their request deadline to February 25th. Mautino replied that he had retained a legal firm to assist him and would be working ‘…during the next few weeks in order to respond to your letter.’ In May lawmakers sent another request to which the Auditor General responded that the issue would be resolved by the State Board of Elections. Since that time, however, it has been revealed that the matter has grown into a federal investigation.

On May 26, State Representative Tom Morrison spoke on camera about the defensive actions by the House Republicans that halted some potentially bad legislation. To hear more about this and other Springfield activity, click on the image above.


State Representative Tom Morrison recently sat down with Ellee Pai Hong of Comcast Newsmakers and discussed his support of a measure that would require a light of transparency to be shined on all collective bargaining agreements prior to board action. Morrison, disappointed over the recent approval of a 10-year contract for teachers in Palatine's District 15, said the taxpayers deserve to have full knowledge of these contracts prior to their ratification since they are the ones who ultimately pay the taxes that fund the contracts. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the image above.
This week, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office announced a change to Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards designed to protect against identity theft and to bring Illinois closer to compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. The enhanced security features will include a new photo structure, a design that includes patterns, lines and images to make it more difficult to counterfeit, a laser perforation and an ultraviolet feature.

There’s no need to replace your driver’s license or ID card immediately, but there are a few changes to the process you should be aware of when it comes time to renew your license or ID.

When you visit the DMV, take any tests you may normally be required to, but when you leave you will no longer be issued a new driver’s license or ID card at the end of the process. Instead, you will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver's license, which will be valid for 45 days and will serve as your license or ID for driving purposes and proof of identification. You will also receive your old license back with a hole punched in it. Your information will then be sent to a centralized, secure facility to conduct fraud checks and ensure your identity. The new, more secure license or ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to your address. For air travel, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said that it will accept the temporary document in conjunction with the old license or ID to board an aircraft until the permanent card arrives in the mail.

Click here for a step-by-step brochure from the Secretary of State’s Office on how the new process will work.

The transition will take place in phases. Beginning today, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver's license with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, through a gradual rollout, DMV’s throughout the state will implement the new process. By the end of July 2016, all DMV’s will have transitioned to the new process.

For questions, call the Secretary of State’s Office at (217) 782-7044.



As lawmakers wrapped up their week of work in Springfield on May 12, State Representative Tom Morrison took a few moments to film a video update message for his constituents. You may view the video by clicking the image above.
A Message to District 15 from State Sen. Matt Murphy and Rep. Tom Morrison

Together, we implore this Board to reconsider its plan to approve this controversial contract that has outraged our constituents – the local taxpayers in District 15.

We appreciate the board’s stated goal of planning out future expenses to save money. However, locking the district, area taxpayers and future school boards into a 10-year labor contract is not the way to proceed.

This unprecedented contract was completed behind closed doors giving taxpayers no real opportunity to weigh in. It provides a 2.5 percent annual pay increase for the first four years and 4 percent raises for each of the next six years, utilizing provisions in current state law to boost teachers’ pensions. The new contract also increases sick days from 15 to 24 per year – giving teachers quicker access to early retirement, putting an even greater strain on the State’s pension system.

But controlling pension costs is exactly what state government must do to get its fiscal house in order. Sincere efforts are underway to limit end-of-career salary spikes and other benefits sweeteners for public employees that are strangling the state budget and its taxpayers. There is no way this Board can anticipate the success of those efforts – especially over ten years. If the bipartisan negotiations in Springfield lead to reforms – the taxpayers of Palatine District 15 will be on the hook for greater costs.

Currently, District 15 gets about $20 million annually from the State of Illinois. If there is anything certain in Springfield these days is that nothing is certain. School funding reform, potential formula changes and budget constraints may impact the District’s share of funding – leaving District 15 on the hook again.

Locally, median income for private-sector workers in the Palatine area has grown only 0.68 percent from 2009 to 2014 which is less than the rate of inflation. In other words, area taxpayers are not exactly in a position to bail out the school district should the school struggle to pay for these contract benefits.

We strongly believe that teachers deserve to receive a fair contract, to be well-compensated and to be provided good benefits for the essential work that they do; but this school board is making promises that it will not be able to keep in the years to come.

We urge you to step back from this contract and negotiate a more realistic, fiscally sound proposal for the students, parents and taxpayers of District 15.
Governor Signs Bipartisan Higher Education Bill
In a rare showing of bipartisanship in Springfield on April 22, the House and Senate approved SB 2059, which provided $600 million in emergency stopgap funding for Illinois’ colleges and universities, and for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for students from lower income brackets. On Monday, April 25, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law, making it possible for the Comptroller’s office to begin transferring lifeline funding to Illinois’ nine universities, 12 campuses, 39 community college districts and approximately 120,000 MAP Grant recipients.

The money provided by SB 2059 will help keep operations going and enable students to remain active in classroom learning. Full funding awaits continued work by the General Assembly to enact constitutional balanced budgets for FY16 and FY17. Illinois higher education has not received operational funding from the State since July 1, 2016, when FY16 began.

Constitutional Amendment would allow Illinois Voters to Abolish Position of Lieutenant Governor
Illinois has had a constitutional Office of the Lieutenant Governors since being admitted to statehood in 1818. For almost 200 years, most Illinois lieutenant governors have served quiet terms without succeeding to the office of Governor or performing other significant tasks. Seven U.S. states do not have a Lieutenant Governor.

I serve as a Chief Co-Sponsor for HJRCA 5, which authorizes the people of Illinois to vote in November 2016 on abolishing the office of Illinois Lieutenant Governor. If the amendment is approved, the elected Illinois Attorney General (who is the person next in line under existing law) would become the successor to the Governor who is first in line. The measure was approved by the House on Friday, April 22. The 95-10-0 bipartisan vote to approve HJRCA 5 sent the measure to the Illinois Senate for further consideration and debate.

Rep. Morrison Discusses Civics at Partners for our Communities Organization Event
Last week it was my pleasure to meet some local students when I discussed and answered questions about civics at a citizenship class hosted by the local Partners for our Communities (POC) in Palatine. POC is a network of civic, educational, government, religious, private business, charitable community organizations and institutions that work alongside a dedicated staff and a strong volunteer force to provide services to the residents of Palatine and the surrounding area.

End of Month sees Payless Payday for 118 Members of Illinois House
House members from both parties are paid, by law, at the end of every calendar month. Due to the State’s continued lack of a constitutional balanced budget, however, the Comptroller has determined that these payments to elected state leaders should be treated on a basis of equality with other budget-impacted State payments on an immediate basis. I support her decision 100%. The decision became effective during the end-of-April pay period. The end-of-April business day was Friday, April 29.

Elected official pay commitments, including pay for Comptroller Munger, for other statewide elected officials and for members of the Illinois House and Senate have been shifted to a wait-queue that will generate payments when monies are available. As with other providers of goods and services to the State, delay times are expected in the settlements of these commitments and claims. While the move nominally affects Governor Bruce Rauner, the State’s chief executive has announced that he is serving without pay.

Observers see the move as increasing internal pressure within the General Assembly to discuss budget issues seriously with the goal of generating new spending numbers before the legislature’s scheduled May adjournment. Comptroller Munger’s office is currently posting a backlog of official unpaid bills that exceeds $6.8 billion.

Governor Rauner Organizes Task Force against Health Care Fraud
The task force, created earlier in April 2016 by executive order, has been asked to look into possible fraud, waste, and abuse in state-administered health care programs. Illinois taxpayers pay $19 billion a year to administer and pass through payments on state-run health care programs. Most of this money is paid directly by state taxpayers to Illinois, and a large subset is paid through federal taxes paid by Illinoisans to Washington, D.C.-based programs in which both Illinois and the federal government collaborate and provide funds.

Rauner has asked the task force to review the best practices currently used by the private sector to examine and control soaring health care costs. Other states’ efforts to reduce Medicaid fraud and other forms of public sector health care abuse are also to be looked at. The task force will work with data managers skilled at “big data” analytics to uncover statistical patterns indicative of non-optimal health care billing and spending.

The task force has been asked to write a report that will:
  • Make recommendations for policy changes the State needs to consider 
  • Refer specific cases of wrongful reimbursements to authorities to seek recovery on behalf of Illinois taxpayers.
New Study Determines that Illinoisans Pay Highest Property Taxes in Nation
The study, published by CoreLogic, compares aggregated property tax extensions (the total amounts billed) with the value of the real property being taxed. According to CoreLogic, which the median property tax extension aggregate extension is 1.31% of the property being taxed, the median Illinois extension is 2.67% of value. This measurement scale makes Illinois the highest-property-tax state in the U.S., with New York second at 2.53% of value.

The CoreLogic data indicates that if an Illinois homeowner is occupying a house valued at $200,000, the homeowner will be paying a median annual property tax bill of $5,340. As always, individual homeowners’ experiences may vary. Different localities within Illinois will have different property tax rates; and within localities, different property owners may enjoy the effect of specific property tax relief measures. For example, senior citizen homeowners should be able to enjoy some relief from the Senior Citizens Homestead Property Tax Exemption, which automatically subtracts some of the value from the assessment number generated for an eligible senior citizen’s house before the tax bill is generated.

According to CoreLogic, neighboring states have lower property tax rates than Illinois. The California-based data aggregator generated median property tax burdens, calculated as a percentage of property value, of 1.95% in Wisconsin, 1.69% in Iowa, 1.26% in Missouri, and 0.88% in Indiana. CoreLogic’s data, published this week, agrees with previously public state-by-state surveys by firms such as WalletHub, which have also found Illinois to be one of the worst states in the nation in which to be taxed.

As always, please do not ever hesitate to call me or write to me about issues that are important to you. You may reach my Palatine District office at (847) 202-6584 or email me by going to www.repmorrison54.com and clicking on the “Contact” button.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) spoke on camera today about the busy week in Springfield and about legislation- good and bad- that was considered in the House of Representatives over the last several days. You may watch his video by clicking the image above.

Click on the image to watch and listen to State Representative Tom Morrison's latest update from Springfield.
By State Rep. Tom Morrison and State Rep. Mary Flowers
It may surprise many parents and students to learn that schools are now granting students access to restrooms and locker rooms based upon a subjective view of personal gender identity rather than an objective standard such as biological sex and anatomy.

Regarding school-sponsored trips, a genderspectrum.org model policy states that, “in most (emphasis ours) cases students will be assigned to share overnight accommodations with other students that share the student’s gender identity.” The school district shall not disclose this information to the parents of the other students. In other words, parents have no idea what the sleeping arrangement is going to be for their children.

Is it appropriate to allow the co-mingling of students of the opposite anatomical sex within school restrooms, locker rooms or hotel rooms on overnight field trips? Furthermore, when this occurs, why aren’t parents being informed?

At Palatine-Schaumburg Township High School District 211, a student—a biological male who identifies as female—was granted access to the girls' locker room after the federal Department of Education threatened legal action and financial penalties if the district did not comply. These unelected Washington bureaucrats have used their own novel interpretation of settled federal Title IX law to pressure other school districts, as well. They, along with a vocal minority of agenda-driven activist groups, are driving these policy changes.

We can all agree that all bullying is harmful and unacceptable, so a solution must be reached that does not trade the rights of one group for another. Many students justifiably feel their privacy would be compromised by having to change clothes beside students with opposite anatomy. Likewise, parents do not want their daughters to undress beside students with male anatomy or their sons to share a locker room with students with female anatomy.

We and our co-sponsors have introduced HB4474 in order to protect the interests of ALL children. HB4474 allows school boards the option of designating a private, single-occupancy facility for students who request a special accommodation while also ensuring schools maintain exclusively single-sex facilities. Our bill is in line with both federal law and the Illinois Human Rights Act, which allows for distinctly private spaces to be separated by biological sex. This bipartisan legislation is a win-win solution which will meet the needs of everyone involved.

Opponents claim that providing privacy stalls in de facto co-ed bathrooms and locker rooms is sufficient to protect student privacy. If this were true, aren’t those same privacy stalls sufficient to separate a biologically male student who identifies as female from other male students in the male facilities?

Also, it is important to realize that locker room privacy stalls still fail to protect student privacy because the majority of students change in the locker rooms’ open, common areas while a student or students of the opposite anatomical sex will walk past them to access a privacy stall.

Additionally, what about the safety of a female student who identifies as a male? Wouldn’t that student be safer in a single-occupancy room rather than a multi-use male facility?

Some other opponents of HB4474 point to civil rights abuses in American history, but comparisons to racial segregation are inappropriate.

Racial segregation was based on the absurd notion that races are substantively different. Providing separate facilities based on sex stems from the true belief that males and females are biologically, physiologically and anatomically different. Those differences are the basis for the desire for privacy in these types of public places. The purpose behind separating males and females has never been to exclude nor to maintain the superiority of one sex over another but merely to recognize the many differences between the sexes.

We cannot selectively pick winners and losers when it comes to privacy—especially when the ones affected by those decisions are vulnerable minors who need protection, including those who have been victims of sexual abuse.

This is an issue that requires sensitivity and fairness. We share the desire to do what is best for children. We believe our legislation is a common-sense solution and is the best option to protect the safety, modesty, and privacy of all children.
Record Number of Illinois Voters Participate in Primary Election
Illinoisans came out in large numbers last Tuesday to have their voices heard in the March 15 Primary Election. Early voting records were shattered across the state, as voters cast their ballots, and the Election Day numbers were equally as impressive. Thank you to all candidates who chose to put themselves out there and run for public office. It is not an easy task. Whether they won or lost on Tuesday, all candidates are to be commended for giving Illinois voters a choice at the ballot box.

Illinois’ Unpaid Bill Total Nears $9 Billion
The Ledger, a spreadsheet summary posted online by Comptroller Leslie Munger, now shows Illinois with almost $7.5 billion in unpaid bills. This includes not only the $3.68 billion in unpaid bills actually forwarded to the Comptroller for payment, but also an estimated $3.80 billion in past-due bills and invoices held at state agencies and not yet forwarded to the Comptroller. However, in testimony presented by the Comptroller to the Senate Appropriations I committee on Thursday, March 17, Munger described an additional $1.3 billion owed to vendors for statutory programs not covered by judicial process. Much of this additional debt is due to participants in state higher education and providers of social services.

The $7.5 billion in conventional bills represent state programs, such as Medicaid, that are seen as legally essential and which continue to operate automatically under conditions of current continuing appropriations, consent decrees, and court orders. Additional bills of more than $1 billion represent programs that are dependent upon appropriated funding. Unpaid promises by the State, such as the college-oriented Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grant program, fall into this category. In many cases, providers of services under these programs, such as providers of social services and institutions of higher education, have continued to operate through the first three-quarters of FY16 in the hopes that appropriations measures will be passed at some point and signed into law.

When asked to add both categories of debt together, Comptroller Munger projected that the cumulative total budget deficit would top $10 billion by June 30, 2016.

Harper College Students Visit Springfield
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of visiting with some students from Palatine’s Harper College. The group was in Springfield learning about state government and talking with lawmakers about issues of importance, including the lack of a budget and the impact it is having on higher education. I had a very nice discussion with these bright students and I hope they enjoyed their time in Springfield.

Personnel & Pension Committee Hears Testimony about New Pension Reform Bill
With Illinois facing increasing challenges to fund existing pension commitments, the House’ Personnel & Pensions Committee is holding subject matter hearings into a new pension proposal that could reduce current costs and future unfunded pension liabilities borne by Illinois’ five state-managed pension systems. I am the Republican Spokesperson of this committee.

Because HB 4427 offers pension system participants a choice rather than a mandate, it appears to be constitutional. The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Mark Batnick (R-Plainfield), would offer existing public-sector employees with vested pension status the option of a buyout of some or all of their future benefits. Employees who take a buyout would be given a one-time payout of funds, and would enjoy the opportunity to invest them for a payout that would match their future life plans.

Previous subject matter hearings for HB 4427 have been held in Springfield and Chicago, and this week on Wednesday another hearing will be held in Chicago. Because the hearing is subject matter only, no decisions will be made.

Rep. Morrison Attends Town Hall Meeting in Palatine
Recently I joined Palatine Trustee Scott Lammerand for a Town Hall Meeting he held in District 2. I spoke to an engaged audience, and was able to give an account of what is happening in Springfield with the budget impasse.

General Electric Announces Creation of New Jobs in Greater Chicagoland
One hundred tech workers will staff GE’s new Digital Solutions office in central Chicago, and 60 additional positions will be created at the existing GE digital healthcare office in northwest suburban Barrington. Up to 160 new Chicago-area jobs are expected to be created as a result of the pair of moves by the global business firm, which is undergoing a series of administrative changes as it moves its overall world headquarters from Connecticut to Boston.

General Electric has previously announced that it will move its overall healthcare headquarters from London to Chicago. The global business firm has many ties to Chicago, including its Chicago-based Transportation division; GE Transportation specializes in railroad locomotives and other transport solutions.

As Spring Driving Season Approaches, Gas Prices Soar in Illinois
The average price per gallon charged for motor fuel increased 18 cents during the week ended Monday, March 14. Statistics compiled by the motor fuel website GasBuddy.com indicated that during this period the price of gas rose from $1.88 per gallon to $2.06 per gallon. This marked the second highest increase for the week among the 50 states, with prices rising 19 cents per gallon in neighboring Missouri.

Illinois gas prices were 12 cents per gallon higher than the nationwide average of $1.94 per gallon. Gas prices tend to be higher than the national average in Illinois because of relatively high tax rates, particularly in the Chicago area. People who buy gas within Chicago city limits must pay separate slices of tax to the federal government, the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA), Cook County, and the city of Chicago. The State of Illinois charges separate taxes upon motor fuel by the gallon (Road Fund excise tax) and by the dollar (General Funds sales tax). As recently as August 2012, gas cost an average of $4.31 per gallon in Chicago.

As State Fiscal Crisis Worsens, Procurement Reform could Save more than $670 Million
The savings from modifications to the Illinois Procurement Code, the law that governs how Illinois and its state universities are required to purchase goods and non-specialty services, would come from speeding up the process and creating a new class of pre-cleared bidders who could compete in future Requests for Proposals (RFPs) without time-consuming verifications.

After studying the operation of the existing Procurement Code, the Rauner Administration released the results of a preliminary study in February, which indicated that the enactment of a package of reforms could generate as much as $514 million in procurement savings to be enjoyed directly by the State of Illinois, with additional savings of $159 by state universities. Reforms advocated by the Governor include a preclearance process and the creation of a new position of state chief purchasing officer (CPO) in a personnel move that would mirror the organizational table of many large private-sector enterprises and firms. A key bill in this package is House Bill 4644.
Earlier this month Representative Tom Morrison spoke on camera about legislation that was debated on the House Floor in Springfield. MAP grant funding for low income Illinoisans was a topic a much discussion during the House members' final days prior to the spring break. You can listen to his comments by clicking the image above.
Today an attempt in the Illinois House to override Governor Rauner’s veto of SB 2043 failed in a 69-48-1 vote. Seventy-one votes were needed for a successful override. The bill was vetoed last month because it promised state funding for community colleges and MAP grants but did not include a revenue source to pay for them. If approved, $721 million in additional debt would have been added to the state’s stack of unpaid bills. After the vote, State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) issued the following statement:

“Several Representatives said today that MAP grants are very important, but as one of my colleagues stated, “math is also important.” The math, as it relates to this bill, simply doesn’t add up. If this veto override had been successful, students who rely on MAP grants would have been given false hope, because the plain fact is that this bill promised grants but did not allocate money to fund them.”

“What we need is a real balanced budget with spending on one side and appropriations on the other. We also need to address the reasons why the costs of higher education are climbing so rapidly. In addition to the unfunded mandates we place on them, until very recently our universities and colleges have had little financial incentive to control their spending, so tuition and fee costs have been spiraling upward and out of control.”