Bryant E News - End of Session Edition

Dear Friends,

I want to start this week's edition on a positive personal note. I am happy to announce that this weekend, my family will be celebrating the wedding of my youngest child, Tyler, to his best friend, and my new daughter-in-law, Elaina.
Congratulations Tyler and Elaina!

I am so proud of Tyler, and my heart is just soaring as we welcome a new member of our family (and as Rick and I truly become 'empty-nesters.'  Thankfully, the newlyweds won't be going far. I am happy to report that Tyler and Elaina have decided to start their life together right here in Southern Illinois.  God is so, so good!

I remark on Tyler and Elaina’s decision to live and work here because at this point in Illinois’ history, it is rare that a young couple is deciding to stay, rather than leave for a better-run state.

Folks, Illinois is worth saving, but the road back to prosperity and stability is going to be long and difficult. Our state is in the throws of a budget impasse that’s headed into its 3rd year. This is unacceptable.

Those groups and individuals currently being negatively impacted by this impasse include, but are not limited to: children with special needs, veterans with disabilities, public schools, public universities, victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, hospitals, doctors, dentists, home health care workers, senior citizens who rely on meals on wheels, children and families that rely on daycare, 911 emergency centers, and many, many more.

For the last two years, and since returning home from Springfield this week following our scheduled adjournment, I have heard many people say, “Why don’t you just pass a budget already?!”

 I agree with these people. I want a budget.

I want a full-year, balanced budget.

The people of Illinois deserve the stability that a balanced budget would bring.

But, we have to remember why the State of Illinois is in the shape that it is: gross mismanagement and the 32 years of Mike Madigan being the Speaker of the Illinois House and the head of the Democrat party that enjoys huge majorities in the House and Senate.

There is a process by which a budget could and should come to the House for a vote. Appropriations committees are supposed to meet with affected parties during committee meetings in Springfield or Chicago to establish budgets for those groups and individuals that I mentioned above. Appropriations bills establish the amount of money that should get spent on any one of those items. However, this process has not been followed during my entire time in Springfield.

For the last two years, a back room deal has been cut by just the Democrats and Madigan drops a massive, unbalanced budget on Republican desks at the 11th hour, hardly allowing time for staff or the legislators to review what’s in the bill. We vote NO because the bill is out of balance and we don’t really even know whats in it.

Then Madigan turns around and spends millions of dollars attacking Republicans for voting against the items contained in the Democrats-only budget. But, this take-it-or-leave-it approach is now met with the resistance offered by Governor Rauner’s veto pen. Any deal must include input and approval from the Governor. That is the way a divided, representative Government works. But, Madigan doesn’t play well in the sandbox with others. And it isn’t just this Governor.

Going all the way back to the days of Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn, long, grueling summer over time sessions were the norm. These overtime sessions cost taxpayers millions of extra dollars – all because Mike Madigan can’t get along with ANY Governor – be they Republican or Democrat.

Now fast-forward to the recently passed adjournment day: Wednesday, May 31st.

Instead of working with House Republicans and the Governor to pass a balanced budget, the House Democrats, led by Speaker Madigan skipped town without changing a thing. A budget bill wasn’t even put on the board for a vote in the House. The negligence didn't stop there.

On the workers’ compensation reform bill, the House Democrats fudged the numbers, ignored good advice from the business community and went it alone to accept a watered down bill from the Senate.

On the school funding reform, the House Democrats fudged the numbers, lied to school administrators, promised money that isn’t coming, and passed a change to the school funding formula that offers no funding source or appropriation to actually get the money out the door.

The people of Illinois deserve much better than they are getting from Mike Madigan and the House Democrats.

Understanding SB 1 - School Funding Reform - Why I voted NO!
On the final scheduled day of regular legislative session, I voted no on a measure that would dramatically change Illinois’ public school funding formula.

Bryant says the bill unfairly bails out Chicago Public School pensions, while offering empty promises to the rest of the school districts in the state.

Although it is possible that some schools in southern Illinois would gain financially from a new funding formula, the language contained in SB 1 does not include appropriations or define any methods of paying for the spending. Without money, SB 1 is unworkable and disingenuous.

Following months of testimony and meetings before the Governor’s established School Funding Reform Commission, House Democrats brought the bill to the floor on the last day of Session.

This bill would dedicate $250 million dollars for Chicago school pensions every year, forever. With our budget in shambles and no way identified to pay for this new formula I simply can't support a Chicago bailout and I won’t support this bill being rushed through the process without an appropriation or funding mechanism.

I am also disappointed that Democrats shared inaccurate information with school administrators prior to the vote, leading many to believe that more money was coming their way.

I think it is a shame that our education officials were given false information regarding the amount of money that would go to school districts across the state if the new formula bill passed. In its current form, SB 1 is based on $350 million that is not included in the legislation. No one knows where the money will come from and the sponsor couldn’t answer that question.

Republicans also noted during debate that the money for Chicago pension payments is being inserted into the bill because Chicago skipped payments for 11 years even though they have been given a $250 million block grant that no other school district in the state received and then they didn't use the money to make the pension payments.

The bill passed with the bare minimum number of votes and still requires concurrence from the Senate for passage to the Governor.

Stay Connected! Send me your ideas to fix Illinois' budget mess!
As we head into yet another overtime session, I want to hear from you. I've told Speaker Madigan and Governor Rauner that I want a balanced budget. I want reforms to the economy to help our state grow jobs and compete with our neighbors. Now it is your turn! How would you solve the budget crisis?

You can send your ideas to me here: State Representative Terri Bryant Contact Form

Also, my office in Mt. Vernon is open Monday through Friday and my office in Murphysboro is open Monday through Thursday, each from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. You can find me on Facebook to keep up with my travels throughout the district. You can also contact me directly through the Contact Form on my website at www.repbryant.com - Your opinions on important topics facing the State of Illinois are invaluable to me. Keep them coming!

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