Springfield….An early Thursday morning session of the Illinois House of Representatives left State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) shaking her head at what she calls shameful political posturing and gotcha politics in regard to MAP grant funding. 

“The students that rely on the MAP grant program were used as pawns in a shameful political game today,” Bryant said.


 “I voted no on SB 2043 today because the spending plan lacks a funding mechanism. The bill was wholly inadequate in its scope as well.”

In response to the higher education funding crisis, Rep. Bryant signed on this week to sponsor a bill that provides adequate funding for Universities, community colleges, and MAP grants. Bryant expressed disappointment in the Democrats in the House for ignoring the Republican bill, which has a funding mechanism, over their own bill that spends money without providing a revenue stream.

“The bill I am sponsoring would provide funding for colleges and Universities as well as MAP grants without raising taxes. It is profoundly disingenuous for the Democrats in the House to promise students MAP grant money when they know the Governor will veto this plan. Their plan spends more money than we have and offers no way to pay for it.”
Rep. Bryant explains her position on the MAP grant
 bill on Thursday. 

The Governor’s office of Management and Budget said that the plan passed by House Democrats today would add $721 million to the deficit, increase the state’s bill backlog, and delay state payments to providers, vendors and contractors.

With a veto looming, Bryant says she believes the vote was taken on MAP grant and community college funding today to play political games.

“As a result of today’s action, students that rely on MAP grants are no closer to receiving their funding than they were before the vote was taken,” Bryant said. “Today’s partisan action on MAP grant and community college funding was purely political and that’s a shame.”

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Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) issued the following statement at the conclusion of Governor Bruce Rauner’s second State of the State Address before a joint committee of the General Assembly today.

“Today, Governor Rauner took the opportunity to remind Illinoisans that despite the fact that significant challenges remain, major progress on important areas of reform have been made since he took office just a year ago. He noted that more children are moving from state sponsored facilities to foster homes and that our system of tax credits for businesses has been changed to reward job creation. 


I was pleased to hear the Governor mention that he will renew his efforts to push reforms to the workers’ compensation program, term limits to stop career politicians, and a fair process for drawing legislative maps.


I was proud to be a part of a bipartisan effort last session to close a $1.5 billion budget gap created by the unbalanced budget passed by the Democrats that control the General Assembly. We were able to balance the FY 15 budget without borrowing or raising taxes.


We’ve also made important changes to our unemployment insurance program, and we have taken steps to start reducing our prison population and save taxpayer dollars by reducing recidivism and reforming penalties for non-violent offenders. These measures will save our taxpayers money and drive value for their tax dollars.


The State of Illinois has been digging its financial hole for more than a decade. There are many indicators of this. Illinois has a $6 billion budget deficit and $6 billion in unpaid bills. There are realities that have to be faced here, and raising taxes alone will not fix our problem. Illinois is worse off financially now than it was before the “temporary” income tax was implemented. Reforms to the way state government spends money are necessary if we want to improve our financial condition. 


Finally, I believe the Governor struck a bipartisan tone today when calling for compromise. Hopefully, the financial picture laid out by the Governor today would lead even his staunchest opponents to recognize that the old way of doing business has broken our state. We simply cannot continue to do business in Illinois the same way we have over the 30-plus years Speaker Madigan has controlled the General Assembly.”



Rep. Bryant with DuQuoin officials and
Special Olympics coordinators and volunteers.
Special Olympics of Southern Illinois
I had the distinct honor and privilege this week to join the Special Olympics in DuQuoin for a Girls Indoor Softball Tournament to benefit Special Olympics of Southern Illinois. 

I was proud to stand alongside Mayor Alongi and the wonderful volunteers and participants in the festivities that day.
I was especially touched while listening to Special Olympian Mariah Schott sing "Believe in Miracles" during Saturday's opening ceremonies.

You can read more about the special event in the DuQuoin Evening Call by Clicking Here

The 2016 Illinois Quarter features the Shawnee
National Forest.

Shawnee National Forest to be featured on New Illinois Quarter


The US Mint has announced that the Shawnee National Forest will be featured on the newest edition of the Illinois quarter. The newly designed 25 cent piece can be seen to the left. It displays one of Illinois' most treasured and rich resources. I am blessed to live so close to the Shawnee National Forest. The beauty of the forest can be seen in many parts of my district!

There will be a ceremony to introduce the new quarter at Southeastern Illinois College on February 4th at 10:00 AM in the Deaton Gymnasium. The event is free to the public and visitors will be able to buy $10 rolls of the new quarters at the event.

Committee Hearings in Chicago
Listening to testimony from researchers testifying
 on juvenile justice reforms before a
Joint Committee of legislators in Chicago.

I traveled to Chicago this week to participate in a Joint Committee meeting of the the House Committees on Judicial and Criminal Law, Human Services, and Juvenile Justice. The Joint Committee was presented with research on trends related to changes happening in the Juvenile justice system across the country. As more information becomes available, or if any legislation is introduced concerning this topic, I will keep you up to date.

FY16 Budget - Consequences to the Impasse
The nonpartisan University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) released findings from a study this week that reported the State of Illinois' poor financial condition is costing taxpayers millions.  "Illinois is ranked 50th of 50 in terms of its financial probity and ability to repay its debts, according to the collective judgment of the three New York-based credit rating firms (Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings)."
When you compare the interest rates enjoyed by other states with better credit ratings, Illinois finds itself garnering worse interest rates on borrowing than states like Indiana. It is estimated that Illinois taxpayers will pay an additional $53 million on the January 14 bond sale over and above what would have had been pledged to be paid had the State kept its fiscal house in order. 

A resolution to the current budget impasse is imperative for many reasons:

Aside from those hurt by the lack of funding and a lack of certainty surrounding our state's financial condition, when Illinois borrows money to make necessary infrastructure investments, taxpayers are on the hook for major costs because Illinois is such a risky financial bet at this point in our history. Our state, our taxpayers, and those dependent on the state to function properly deserve so much better.

Stay Connected!
My office in Mt. Vernon is staffed Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is staffed Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 to 4:00 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can email me directly at bryant@ilhousegop.org or send me a message through the contact form on my website. 

Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!

Dear Friend,

Happy New Year! This is the first edition of my email newsletter for 2016. My New Year's Resolution is to keep my constituents informed of what's happening in Springfield and to continue to provide top notch constituent service at my offices in Murphysboro and Mt. Vernon.


I want to start off this very busy New Year by thanking the dozens of churches, businesses, and charitable organizations that gave their time, money, effort, food, and needed supplies to those facing flooding and evacuations last week. A big thank you as well to our first responders, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois National Guard and state, county, and local county emergency management personnel for their tireless efforts to keep us informed and safe during the rains and subsequent flooding. 


As the clean up continues, I want you to know that my office is available to assist with efforts to contact the Illinois Department of Insurance, and we also have access to a list of names and phone numbers for every insurance company that operates in Illinois. If you are in need of assistance, or items, or if my office can be of assistance in any of the clean up and restoration efforts, please contact my office at 618-242-8115 or 618-684-1100. 

Driver's License Stickers - Online Sign up Required

After news reports this week indicated that more Illinoisans are failing to renew their driver's license stickers on time, my office is reminding motorists that they can sign up for online notifications from the Illinois Secretary of State's office as a replacement for the previously mailed reminders. You can read more about how to sign up by clicking here 

You can also visit https://www.ilsos.gov/greenmail/ to sign up. It is important to know that the Illinois Secretary of State's office will no longer be mailing renewal notices.

Bryant backs bill to block politician pay if budget is not balanced

This week I signed on to be a chief co-sponsor of legislation that would require the Illinois Auditor General to certify that any budget passed by the General Assembly is truly balanced. If the legislature fails to pass a balanced budget on time the bill would stop politicians’ paychecks in Springfield until the budget is balanced.

The Illinois Constitution requires a balanced budget be passed. The problem is, there are no consequences now if this does not happen. The idea behind this bill is simple: I say, if the politicians don’t pass a balanced budget they should not get paid!

HB 4399 was filed on Friday. and I will be pushing for its passage upon my return to Springfield later this month. READ MORE HERE

Stay Connected!
Please stay tuned to my website by visiting www.repbryant.com often for updates on state news and legislative action. You can reach me by email at Bryant@ILHouseGOP.org and you can call my office at 618-242-8115 and 618-684-1100. 


Murphysboro....State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) has signed on as a chief co-sponsor of legislation filed in Springfield this week that would require the Illinois Auditor General to certify that any budget passed by the General Assembly is truly balanced. If the legislature fails to pass a balanced budget on time the bill would stop politicians’ paychecks in Springfield until the budget is balanced.

“In May, the Democrats that control the General Assembly passed a budget that they admitted was more than $3 billion out of balance,” Bryant said. “Aside from the fact that the budget they passed was not balanced, passing the budget the way they did was unconstitutional.”

The legislation Bryant is sponsoring says that if the General Assembly fails to gain certification from the Auditor General within 30 days that a balanced budget has been passed, then the Comptroller will stop payments for the salary of General Assembly members and Constitutional Officers. Also, within 10 days of the decision by the Auditor General that says a budget is not balanced, the General Assembly would be required to convene to enact a new state budget.

“The people of Illinois deserve better than unbalanced budgets and out of control spending,” Bryant said. “We’ve seen budgets that were not balanced by hundreds of millions of dollars in the past and by billions of dollars this year. Our debt is massive and growing every day. It’s unconscionable.”

Bryant says the fiscal irresponsibility shown by the majority party in Illinois for the past decade-plus has Illinois at the brink of insolvency. 

“We’re facing a multi-billion dollar operating deficit for this fiscal year and for next, we don’t even have a budget yet, and we’re 7 months into the fiscal year,” Bryant said. “Passing a balanced budget is not only a basic responsibility of the General Assembly, it is the only way we can start to work our way through billions in unpaid bills and a massive structural deficit.” Bryant said. 


Bryant is urging her colleagues in the legislature to sign on to the “balance the budget or don’t get paid” bill. 


“The Illinois Constitution requires a balanced budget be passed. The problem is, there are no consequences now if this does not happen,” Bryant said. “The idea behind this bill is simple: I say, if the politicians don’t pass a balanced budget they should not get paid,” Bryant said.


HB 4399 was filed on Friday. Rep. Bryant will be pushing for its passage upon her return to Springfield later this month.

                                                                    
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Murphysboro....State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) has offered her opinion of President Barack Obama’s Executive Orders on background checks and gun ownership this week.

“These Executive Actions are an end run around the Congress,” Bryant said. “Obama’s Executive Orders on guns are an attempt to punish law abiding gun owners. Targeting the law abiding middle class has been something that has unfortunately been a hallmark of the Obama Administration.”

Bryant says the Executive Orders issued this week run contrary to the rights afforded to US Citizens in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.


“You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution you want to adhere to as President,” Bryant said. “We’ve seen President Obama time and again take actions to sidestep Congress and the Constitution. His actions on guns this week show his disregard for the Constitution and for traditions important to us as Southern Illinoisans.”


Bryant says that Obama would be better off working to enforce existing laws, and concentrating on cooperating with Republicans in Congress to stop criminals from using guns to commit crimes. 


“Make no mistake about it, the President is trying to use his Executive power to take guns away from law abiding citizens,” Bryant said. “This is Obama’s attempt to impose his own radical anti-gun agenda on the country because he thinks he knows best.”


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Murphysboro....After news reports this week indicated that more Illinoisans are failing to renew their driver's license stickers on time, State Rep. Terri Bryant (R - Murphysboro) is reminding motorists that they can sign up for online notifications from the Illinois Secretary of State's office as a replacement for the previously mailed reminders.  

Bryant says the New Year is a good time to sign up online for the notices.

“The Secretary of State is no longer mailing out notices for license plate sticker renewals,” Bryant said. “Instead, they are urging motorists to visit their website to sign up for e-mail notifications.”


Bryant is encouraging motorists to visit www.ilsos.gov/greenmail to request their sticker renewal notice be emailed to them. 

"Please know that in order to sign up drivers will need their current registration card, which has their registration ID number and PIN number. A valid email address is also required. For motorists that do not renew their vehicle sticker on time, a $20 additional fee will apply," Bryant said.

Bryant is encouraging everyone that can to sign up to receive an email notification to help avoid late charges or a potential issue if a driver is stopped by law enforcement and has an expired registration.

A link to the Secretary of State’s email notification sign up page is available at www.repbryant.com

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Murphysboro....As 2016 begins, Illinois tax payers will begin filing their state income tax returns. The Illinois Department of Revenue has announced that Individual Income Tax Refunds for the 2016 filing season will not be released until March 1, 2016, due to efforts to combat fraudulent returns from being filed and processed. All taxpayers should read the information contained in the press release below to understand the time line for when the Department of Revenue anticipates it will issue state income tax refunds.

More information below is copy and pasted from: http://www.thecaucusblog.com/2016/01/fraud-prevention-measures-to-delay-tax.html
Fraud Prevention Measures to Delay Tax Refunds in 2016


The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) announced Individual Income Tax refunds for the 2016 tax filing season will not be released until March 1, 2016.  The decision comes as fraud prevention efforts from last year’s tax season illustrate the positive impact that additional delays and scrutiny have had in combating tax return fraud and identity theft. IDOR is reminding taxpayers that filing tax returns electronically and requesting direct deposit into a checking or savings account is still the fastest way to receive a refund.

“Fraud prevention measures implemented by the Department of Revenue during last year’s tax season resulted in an overall savings of nearly $5 million that would have, otherwise, been paid,” said Connie Beard, IDOR Director. “Our new security protocols proved very beneficial in detecting and stopping fraudulently filed returns last year, and we are continuing to enhance our fraud detection efforts this year.  By delaying tax refunds by just a few weeks, we’ll be able to better detect attempts at identity theft and ensure taxpayer refunds do not fall needlessly into the hands of criminals.”

For electronic returns filed prior to March 1, 2016, IDOR anticipates refunds will be issued within two to three weeks from the March 1, 2016 date. For electronic returns submitted error-free on or after March 1, 2016, IDOR anticipates refunds will be issued within two to three weeks from the date the return was submitted.

Tax refunds are not subject to budgetary appropriation by the Illinois General Assembly and are, therefore, not impacted by the current budget impasse.

For the most up-to-date information, forms, schedules, and instructions for the 2016 Illinois Income Tax Filing season, please visit IDOR’s website at: tax.illinois.gov.


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Murphysboro....Pasted from the most recent update to the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency's website:

Jackson County officials are monitoring the river levels to make a determination on when residents can return to their homes. It could be as early as Wednesday when conditions will permit safe return of residents to threatened areas. For those choosing to return home that requested a House Watch, please notify the Sheriff's Office at 618-684-2773. 
- The Big Muddy River remains closed to recreational traffic.
- The levees appear to be holding and the river levels are dropping.
- Volunteers may be needed to assist with returning residents once the threat of flooding has passed. Please register your availability with the Volunteer Coordinator at 534-9212.
Road Closure Update 10:00AM
- Indian Ridge Road is completely open

Residents needing assistance with evacuation or sheltering should call 684-3137. Anyone evacuating is encouraged to notify the Sheriff’s Department at 684-2773 to be included on house watch patrols in the area. A request form is available at the Sheriff’s Department and online at www.JacksonCountyEMA.com.