A Look Back – Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Fix

On Thursday last week, the legislature adjourned for a two week Spring break. Before adjourning session, both the House and Senate passed legislation that would patch a $1.6 billion hole in the current fiscal year’s budget.

Much has been made in the news about the fix for FY 15. The truth is there were no good options. However, I believe the bill that was passed was responsible for a couple of important reasons. First, we accomplished a fix for the budget without raising taxes. Second, we did not borrow money and go further into debt to plug the budget hole. 

The State of Illinois, already facing a $1.6 billion operating deficit, also has anywhere between $5 billion and $7 billion in unpaid bills for services already provided. Add that to the fact that the state also has over $100 billion in pension liability and the prospect of borrowing more money seems laughable.

All Republican members of the House and Senate voted for the budget fix legislation. Last year’s budget, signed into law by former Governor Pat Quinn contained only about half as much revenue as was needed to fund the spending planned in the budget. After the tax increase rolled back in January, a crisis that was predicted long ago began to emerge.

Instead of allowing child care providers, court reporters, and front line prison staff to go unpaid, Governor Rauner and House and Senate Republicans stepped up to the plate and got a deal done. Working families, child care providers and the children that receive care in these facilities are largely dependent on state funding. I was pleased that the subsidy for these important services could be saved with this action. While the law isn’t perfect, it does plug the hole and balances the budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

When we return to session on April 13, work will begin on finding a way to bridge an exponentially larger budget gap. Experts estimate the shortfall for next fiscal year to be anywhere between $5 billion and $7 billion dollars.

I look forward to hearing from you as negotiations on the FY 16 budget begin in earnest. With such a large gap in expected revenues and planned spending, more cuts will surely be on the table. I want to know your opinion about what government programs you want to see saved, and which ones you think the state should reduce or eliminate. 

We must get our fiscal house in order to restore our state’s financial integrity and give businesses the stable environment they need to invest here and grow jobs.

A Look Ahead
This week I will host traveling office hours in Anna. My staff and I will be at the Shawnee College Extension Center at 1150 E. Vienna Street on Wednesday April 1st from 1:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. For an appointment, please call my office at 618-242-8115. You can also reach me using the contact form on my website at www.repbryant.com

Legislative Updates
Next week I will host two legislative update events. These will be informal opportunities to meet with me and my staff and hear about more that’s going on in Springfield. All are invited to attend, and I’ll even buy the coffee! Please stop by either of these locations next week and say hello. I would love to hear from you.

Monday April 6th 
Red Hawk Golf Course 
6205 IL 154, Tamaroa IL 62888
1:00 p.m – 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday April 8th
Burton’s CafĂ©
13427 Ewing Road
Whittington, IL 62897
1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Springfield….With time running out to save funding for critical state services, State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) joined fellow House Republicans today in voting yes to balance the Fiscal Year 2015 budget. The measure passed with only 22 Democrat votes. Bryant noted that the original measure that caused the crisis passed with only Democrat votes last May, and contained only enough money to fund half of the year’s services.
“Today the House took action to clean up a big mess that Pat Quinn left behind,” Bryant said. “While the measure does make some cuts, we voted to save funding for child care services, front line prison staff and court reporters’ pay checks, and worked out a way for southern Illinois schools to avoid really major cuts. We were also able to accomplish this without putting the state further in debt by borrowing money or by raising taxes.”
The FY 15 budget fix bill combined an across the board 2.25% cut to most state government agencies, and gives Governor Rauner the authority to transfer money from special funds in order to keep essential services operational. Bryant says that while the bill is not perfect, it does help protect working families and public safety.
“It was imperative for the legislature to provide a solution to these issues as soon as possible,” Bryant said. “The news out of Springfield will not be good for some that rely on the State of Illinois for funding, but essential services had to be maintained. I think this approach was the most equitable way to accomplish a compassionate end to some of the most immediate financial crises we’re facing.”
House Bills 317 and 318 will now move to the Senate for consideration.

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Dear Friend,
I want to express my sincere thanks for all of you that have taken the time to write, call, email, and fax your opinion to my offices. I pledge to remember your opinions when weighing difficult decisions before the House.

For pictures, videos, and articles documenting my activities in and out of Springfield, please visit my web page www.repbryant.com. During the legislative break, I will be conducting traveling office hours and legislative updates in several locations. Read below for more details and stay tuned to my web page and to your local newspaper and radio stations for more information. 

A Look Back

Last week was indeed a busy one in Springfield. In addition to House floor action, I was excited to pass my first and second pieces of legislation through House committees. 

HB 3430 bill would require the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide a letter of explanation to businesses that are denied a permit to begin drilling for oil or natural gas. Currently, after a 20 day time period passes, applications are automatically denied and no notification as to why is provided. This law would change that. It now moves to the full House for consideration. 


Also last week, I was pleased to receive unanimous Committee support for HB 3797. The bill proposes to lower the vehicle title transfer fee to help widows and widowers more easily afford the transfer of a car title upon the passing their spouse. The idea for this bill came as a result of a request from a constituent who experienced the hardship after losing her husband.


Right now, this title transfer costs the surviving spouse $95. When we add an amendment to this legislation a littler later in the process, that fee will drop down to $15, making it much more affordable. 


To follow the progress of these, and the other legislation that I’m co-sponsoring, please visit www.ilga.gov.


Pizza and Politics at SIU Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute

Speaking to the crowd at Pizza and Politics at SIU 

Last Monday, I took questions and spoke at length about my legislative agenda during the latest edition of Pizza and Politics at SIU Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy 0Institute. 


Pizza and Politics is a part of the Leadership and Civic Service Series. The event features local elected officials talking with students, voters, and University officials about the issues of the day. This month's topic was "Women's History Month."


I am always very happy to meet face to face with my constituents, hear their concerns, and take their questions. I am also proud to have been a part of Pizza and Politics, especially in celebration of Women's History Month.


I was glad to see Dr. Lacey and her grandson at the event!
There are many young and politically active students at SIU. I think that's wonderful. I encouraged the students at the event to pursue their dreams, find their niche, take that extra class, and to never let anyone or anything discourage them from achieving success. To view media coverage of the event, please follow these links. 

WSIL-TV Coverage & Southern Illinoisan Coverage

A Look Ahead


This coming Friday is the deadline for substantive bills to receive approval from Committees in the House. Several major pieces of legislation will begin to take shape and move this week. One of the major bills that will be considered is a proposal to fix a $1.6 billion gap in the FY 15 budget. 


Several constituents have reached out to me regarding the massive budget deficit. I share the concern expressed by so many about Illinois’ fiscal condition and its real impact on working families. Folks, it is a mess. 


When former Governor Quinn and Senate and House leaders passed the FY 15 budget last May, they did so without taking the expiration of the “temporary” income tax hike into consideration. This led agencies that rely on state government funding to spend money as if they had enough revenue for 12 months, when in reality they only had 6 months’ worth of money.

Now we are facing many major crises. To name just a few, childcare subsidies are short $300 million with four months left to go in this fiscal year. Working families, and children and their care providers are facing the prospect of layoffs and service cuts. I cannot abide these cuts and will work tirelessly to find funding for childcare services. 


Other areas of the budget that are in need of an immediate fix include funding for court reporters’ paychecks and funding to pay front line prison staff. There are already news stories detailing layoffs of court reporters. Without a fix for these issues, our courts will not run, county jails will be overcrowded, and our prisons will be understaffed and under served, causing dangerous situations for staff and inmates alike. 


It is imperative that we find a fix for these issues as soon as possible. The news out of Springfield will not be good for many that rely on the state of Illinois for funding. However, there are essential services that must be maintained in the interests of working families and public safety. As the situation develops in Springfield, I will continue to keep you updated. 


Traveling Office Hours in Anna: 

On Wednesday, April 1, my staff and I will be available for satellite office hours at the Shawnee College Extension Center in Anna from 1:00 – 3:30 PM. To set up a time for an appointment, please call my office at (618) 242-8115. I hope to see you there!

Scholarship Opportunities: 


COUNCIL OF WOMEN LEGISLATORS
: The Conference of Women Legislators is currently taking applications for COWL Scholarship pursuing an undergraduate degree. The COWL Scholarship seeks to maximize educational opportunities for all income levels by offering tuition assistance to female students 25 and older. 


Applications are due by April 15, 2015 and must include an application form, two reference letters, your personal background, transcripts and other notarized documents. Full details and application forms are available at www.cowill.com. For more information, interested applicants can also email COWL at cowl.ilga@yahoo.com.


SARA ELIZABETH STUBBLEFIELD FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIP: The family and friends of Sara Elizabeth Stubblefield have established a foundation for the purpose of creating a scholarship to honor her life and her advocacy that “not another moment will be lost to seizures”. The scholarship is a one-year, $2000 award. To qualify, applicants must be under a physician’s care for epilepsy (also called seizure disorder), be a college-bound or vocational/technical school bound high school senior, and be a resident of the state of Illinois. 


For more information or to find application information for the Sara Elizabeth Stubblefield Foundation Scholarship please visit:


Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Southern Illinois – www.efgreatersil.org or the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago – www.epilepsychicago.org.

Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) received unanimous support from the House Transportation Vehicles & Safety Committee Wednesday for  legislation she is sponsoring to help widows and widowers deal with expensive transfers of car titles. Bryant says this legislation was drafted at the request of a constituent who experienced the hardship upon the death of her husband.

“I am proud to have received unanimous support for this bill. I introduced HB 3797 to help cut down on the expensive transfer of a vehicle title when someone’s spouse dies. Right now, this costs the surviving spouse $95. When we add an amendment to this legislation a littler later in the process, that fee will drop down to $15, making it much more affordable,” Bryant said.


Bryant says she will now focus on pushing the measure through the House and Senate and ultimately to the Governor’s desk. 


“This legislation offers a much needed cut to costs experienced by individuals dealing with the death of a spouse,” Bryant said. “It also responds to a specific concern expressed by a constituent. As legislators, I think we have a responsibility to be proactive when constituents come to us with a hardship.”


HB 3797 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.


To contact Rep. Bryant, please visit www.repbryant.com and follow the Contact link. You may also call her district office at (618) 242-8115 or email her at Bryant@ILHouseGop.org.  



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Rep. Bryant presents HB 3430 to members
of the House Agriculture & Conservation
Committee Monday. The bill passed 19-0.
Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) received unanimous support for her first piece of legislation to pass through an Illinois House committee. Bryant is the chief sponsor of HB 3430, a bill designed to assist prospective oil and natural gas drilling companies with the complicated application process.

The bill would require the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to provide a letter of explanation to businesses that are denied a permit to begin drilling for oil or natural gas. Currently, after a 20 day time period passes, applications are automatically denied and no notification as to why is provided. Rep. Bryant explained the hardship this causes for small business owners and prospectors.
“We have entrepreneurs willing to risk private capital in the effort to create jobs and increase our oil and natural gas production. When the State denies exploration permits now, they provide no notification as to why, and small business owners and employers are forced to pay more in application fees and wait long periods of time for direction from the Department,” Bryant said.
“HB 3430 is a measure designed to provide clarity to potential oil and gas drilling businesses by requiring that a letter stating where their application has fallen short be sent to them in a timely manner.”

Having passed the House Agriculture & Conservation Committee 19-0, the measure will now move to the House floor for further consideration.

To contact Rep. Bryant, please visit www.repbryant.com and follow the Contact link. You may also call her district office at (618) 242-8115 or email her at Bryant@ILHouseGop.org. 

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Carbondale....Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) took questions and spoke at length about her legislative agenda during the latest edition of Pizza and Politics at SIU Carbondale's Paul Simon Public Policy Institute on Monday evening.

Pizza and Politics is a part of the Leadership and Civic Service Series. The event features local elected officials talking with students, voters, and University officials about the issues of the day. This month's topic was "Women's History Month."

Rep. Bryant thanked the hosts of the event and all those that participated. Bryant faced questions ranging from specific legislation that she is sponsoring, to the state's fiscal condition, and general questions about what it's like to be a female in the legislature.

"Any time you can meet face to face with constituents, hear their concerns, and take their questions, it is a very valuable exercise," Bryant said. "I am proud to have been a part of Pizza and Politics, especially in celebration of Women's History Month."

Bryant says she was encouraged at the diversity of the participants, making note of participation by students involved with the SIU Women's Resource Center, College of Business, School of Law, and University Honors Program.

"There are many young and politically active students at SIU. I think that's wonderful. I encouraged the students here to pursue their dreams, find their niche, take that extra class, and to never let any one or any thing discourage them from achieving success,." Bryant said.

To view media coverage of the event, please follow these links.

WSIL-TV Coverage

Southern Illinoisan Coverage


Rep. Bryant is pictured here with Dr. Ella Lacey, a retired Health Education professor at SIUC and her grandson during Pizza and Politics Monday night.
Mt. Vernon....Illinois State Police administrators announced this week that FOID Card applications will now only be accepted online. The picture below shows where the link will be located. The change is expected to go into effect on March 16. You may visit the Illinois State Police website at http://www.isp.state.il.us/

Also this week, the ISP announced that they will be merging the process of applying for FOID and Concealed carry permits. A link to the press release detailing this change can be found here.
www.isp.state.il.us



Springfield….State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) introduced House Resolution 233 on Wednesday, urging the State of Illinois to reopen the shuttered Tamms Correctional Center in Alexander County as an adult administrative segregation (solitary confinement) unit.
Representative Bryant, who is a retired 20 year veteran of the Illinois Department of Corrections, strongly believes that reopening Tamms is the right thing to do.

“Since Tamms’ closure in 2013, the Department of Corrections has been housing extremely dangerous prisoners serving long or even life sentences in facilities that are not designed to guard these kinds of inmates,” Bryant said. “Tamms’ closure has led to prison overcrowding, an increase in gang related activity and has created a security crisis for the men and women on the front lines of the Corrections department. It makes the situation at the medium and high security facilities in Illinois much more dangerous.”
Bryant acknowledged the fight to reopen Tamms is just beginning, pointing to likely opposition from the same outside interest groups that has previously urged its closure.

“We’re going up against some very powerful forces that oppose this measure,” Bryant said. “Soft on crime doesn’t work for me. I’m not going to back down to the same forces that Pat Quinn did. I believe that serial killers, child murderers and rapists, and the worst of the worst offenders belong in administrative segregation. It’s what they deserve and it’s the only way we can ensure the safety of our Corrections employees.”
HR 233 points specifically to the old practice of “riding the correctional circuit”, by which inmates are known to continue violent behavior against guards and other inmates in order to be transferred to facilities where their influence within prison gangs can be strengthened.

“With Tamms’ closure, we have, in effect, restored gang culture and a prison gang mentality amongst the inmate population,” Bryant said. “Administrative segregation and even the threat of being sent to Tamms were previously used as a very effective tool that drove down gang related activity and violence against officers and inmates.”

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