Federal Funds & Law Enforcement Reform
This past week was significant in that everyone agreed on a funding allocation for federal dollars.  I mentioned last week that Senate Bill 2042 had been unanimously passed by Senate Democrats and Republicans and based on the fact that this appropriations bill is entirely comprised of federal dollars, Governor Rauner publicly committed to signing the measure.

However, once again, my colleagues and I were put on an unfortunate political roller coaster that culminated in House passage of Senate Bill 2042, which will appropriate approximately $5 billion in federal only dollars currently being held up by the budget impasse.

While the House Democrats initially pushed to derail the measure, they eventually realized it best to provide a bipartisan stopgap relief measure to many state agencies. If the Senate concurs next week, the measure will help critical human services, child services, public health services and student assistance programs.

It is unfortunate that it could not be sent to the Governor the same day the legislation passed, but I am pleased that it now includes previously omitted funding for homeland security that was suggested by House Republicans.  

This is yet another step in the budget process, one that is not ideal given the piecemeal approach; nevertheless, this action makes sense as it allows the appropriation of federal dollars that should not be subject to the ongoing budget battle in Springfield.

Monumental law enforcement reforms were signed into law by the Governor.  The legislation, Senate Bill 1304, is a result of negotiations between all four caucuses and stakeholders from the police and legal community, which is a combination of police officer related bills that were held in Judiciary – Criminal committee and various Judiciary – Criminal sub-committees this past spring session, which I sit on.

Specifically, the legislation defines incidents with law enforcement involved deaths, provides for independent investigations and prosecutions, enhances reporting mechanisms, outlines traffic and pedestrian stop procedures, creates chokehold restrictions and allows for body cameras worn by officers.

The bill contains a large variety of reforms that came from both the community and law enforcement themselves.  As a former law enforcement officer, I don’t agree with everything that was put into this bill, but I do agree with the process, compromise and hard work that went into creating this legislation and that is why I was a co-sponsor.

The bill applies to law enforcement statewide and is effective immediately for provisions concerning funding of the Law Enforcement Camera Grant through fines and the Commission on Police Professionalism.  The remainder of the bill has no effective date and is thus effective January 1, 2016.

In light of some recent and unfortunate news, I’ll leave you with some words from former President Jimmy Carter, “You can do what you have to do, and sometimes you can do it even better than you think you can.”  

End of Summer Nears, Still No Budget
Summer session continued for the 6th straight week without a budget in place. At this point, I would not expect there to be a compromise. Unfortunately, I believe this is going to end with whoever blinks first.

There are two philosophies that people need to understand and decide which one to support. The first viewpoint is to continue to do what we have done for the last decade while the second viewpoint would do things completely different. The question is, do you support the way Illinois continues to operate or do you want to see us try something new?

The answer sounds simple, but choosing a new direction is never simple, especially when one of the leaders has been in power for almost 30 years. However, we are all watching the fight for a new direction right this minute. Each and every one of us knows someone being affected by this budget impasse.

This week, the Senate voted on a measure that could bring some temporary relief to people who depend on programs provided by the State of Illinois. Passed 57-0, $4.8 billion in federal dollars would be used for programs like the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
It provides spending authority (federal funds only) for $100 million in Aging programs, $1.7 billion in Human Service programs, $400,000 million in Healthcare and Family Services programs, $317 million in Public Health programs and more (Complete list at bottom of page).

This legislation was passed unanimously by both Democrats and Republicans. The Governor has already stated he supports the bill and would sign the legislation if it passed both chambers. I was hoping we would take up this issue this week, but instead Speaker Madigan has the bill assigned to committee next week. While it is a temporary solution to a much bigger problem, we should not be holding federal funds hostage.

Also, I would not get too excited just yet. Speaker Madigan has been known for attaching unrelated items to bills in the past as a political power move. If that were to happen, these federal funds might never be appropriated until a budget deal is negotiated.

 Until then, thank you to everyone who emailed or called the office last week to share your concerns. It’s always great to hear from you. I believe a high level of communication will increase civic participation by ensuring people are aware and informed about the issues facing our state. We don’t always have to agree, but ensuring you remain informed about the struggles facing our state is critical to me.

I’d like to thank the 2015 Summer Civic Interns including Colton Havens, Patrick Muggler, and Megan Smith. Their hard work and dedication has helped up reach out to over 7,000 constituents over 5 weeks by walking door-to-door. I am privileged to mentor and teach the next generation of leaders and I appreciate the commitment to our community our three summer interns demonstrated this year. We are now accepting applications for the 2015 Fall Civic Internship, please call Sally for more details.

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often,” Winston Churchill. Continuing down the same path is not an improvement nor is it change. While we may never be perfect, choosing a new direction is change with a chance at improving. I will continue to take that chance in hopes of a new Illinois. 

Senate Bill 2042 Federal Funds to be Released:
(ALL figures are rounded)

Agency 
Aging: $100,900,000 
Agriculture: $13,000,000 
Appellate Defender: $200,000
Appellate Prosecutor: $2,200,000
Arts Council: $1,000,000
Attorney General: $1,000,000 
Board of Higher Education: $5,500,000
Children and Family Services: $10.500,000
CJIA: $65,000,000
Comptroller: $0
Council on Developmental Disabilities: $4,700,000  
Court of Claims: $10,100,000
DCEO: $1,032,000,000 
Emergency Management Agency: $134,200,000  
Employment Security: $319,000,000
Environmental Protection Agency: $65,600,000 
Healthcare and Family Services: $400,000,000 
Human Rights: $4,538,000 
Human Services: $1,700,300,500 
Labor: $5,000,000 
Military Affairs: $37,400,700 
Natural Resources: $27,900,500 
Public Health: $317,500,900 
Revenue: $250,000 
Secretary of State: $7,500,000
State Board of Education: $163,310,500 
State Fire Marshal: $1,500,000  
State Police: $20,000,000
Student Assistance Commission: $344,600,800 
Transportation: $9,800,500 
Veterans Affairs: $1,600,800