Brian's Column 10-3-14

Every fall in October, veto session rolls around. Most years, veto session hits before the election, or at least one week of session comes before Election Day. This year, however, all of veto session is scheduled in the middle of November and the beginning of December. My goal this week is to inform you of what issues we will be facing in the days following the election so you, as voters, can be aware of what issues lame-duck legislators may try to push through after they are no longer accountable to voters in their districts.

Of course, the issue that everyone is talking about is making the tax hike permanent. According to a recent article in the Daily Herald, Governor Quinn plans to push for a vote on the income tax hike in veto session come November. He couldn’t garner the support he needed in the spring, but one has to wonder if out-going legislators who previously did not support the tax extension will vote for it now?

Another issue expected to come up in veto session is education funding reform. SB 16 passed the Senate last spring but got held up in the House. The bill is intended to help poorer urban schools and downstate schools. And while it may help some, really all it does is take from the rich and give to the poor. The new funding formula takes into account how much a school district is able to fund itself and, if it can support itself through local taxes, state funding is taken away from that district and redistributed to other districts. The major problem with this bill is that it “penalizes districts that have good local resources, and it penalizes districts that have been fiscally responsible,” in the words of Martin Felesena, a superintendent from La Salle County. The bill also eliminates reimbursement for special education teachers, and replaces that funding with a grant “limited to 13.8 percent of a local school district’s students,” according to the Jacksonville Journal Courier. School districts with levels of special education students higher than 13.8 percent would not receive any additional funding for those students. Illinois school funding does need reform, but the way to do it is not to take from some students and give to others. Perhaps if we cut pork barrel spending in Chicago, we’d have enough money to go around.

Other issues we’ll likely address this fall?


  • Pension reform. The Speaker of the House will probably attempt to again push the burden of pension off the state and onto local school districts.

  • Raising the minimum wage. It’s a referendum on the ballot, so we’ll probably hear more about it in session after the election. While some might believe that minimum wage helps reduce poverty, a 2010 study done by economists from Cornell and American University “found no evidence that the wage hikes had accomplished [a reduction in poverty],” according to a Crain’s article from September of this year.

  • Millionaire tax. This tax is another ballot referendum that will likely be broached in veto session. Keep in mind that while it sounds nice to tax the rich, this tax will also include individuals who own their own businesses that gross one million a year. These folks certainly don’t take home one million a year, but because they gross that amount, they will be taxed.

  • Illiana Road project. The Governor will probably push for more action on the Illiana Road project this coming veto session. He was not successful during the spring session, but it is likely that he will renew his efforts this coming November. Perhaps we could use the billion or so dollars it will cost Illinois to build this road for education funding instead.

Mark Twain lived over a century ago, but he has some words that sometimes make me wonder if he could see the future: “no man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” Much of what Twain said was said tongue-in-cheek, but keep those words in mind this upcoming election season and then during veto session in November. This coming session the legislature may try to slip some things by that will take more of your property (aka tax dollars) from you.

As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815/232-0774 or email us at repstewart@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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