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.