Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!  This week, for the first and only time this year, I will not be talking politics.  I think in 2016 we’ve had our fill.  And as I said in the Christmas column, don’t spend the Holidays arguing politics with family!

Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time of the year.  I’m not quite sure how to explain it exactly, but during the two weeks leading up to Christmas, everyone just appears to be happier, and it couldn’t come at a better time considering we are suffering through a cold spell in the dead of winter.

Being an elected State Legislator is an honor and a privilege.  That being said, the job is part-time, and many of us in the legislature have full time careers outside of our government capacity. However, some legislators consider this part-time job to be their full-time job.  So when Comptroller Munger started putting politicians’ pay at the back of the line, these full-time legislators bristled.

I’m going to start this column off on a positive note before we talk about some of the issues going on in Springfield.  How about those Forreston Cardinals?  State Champions again for the second time in three years.  I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that we have one of the best athletic conferences in the state here in Northwest Illinois.  We are proud of our student athletes, and we are especially proud that a local team has once again become state champions.  Congratulations to Forreston High School!

***Guest Column***

I would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Friends, rule number one this holiday is to not talk politics. The last thing you want is to have Uncle Pete and Cousin Chuck at each other’s throats with the turkey carving knife. Enjoy the holiday and enjoy the company of your family!

Before I continue my theme of addressing the results of the 2016 election, I would like to respond to a bill that many of you have contacted my office about – the serialization of handgun ammunition. I oppose the bill for three reasons: 1) Only law abiding citizens would be hurt by the law. Criminals would simply buy ammunition from other states or steal ammunition from upstanding citizens. 2) The bill would cause ammunition prices to skyrocket. 3) I believe the bill to be “crony-capitalist” in nature. One company stands to make millions from the bill, and that doesn’t sit well with me. I am not voting for the bill.

During the final stretch of the Presidential campaign the Clinton team advocated unity after the election. Many believe this is because she was convinced she was going to win in a landslide. But even after her surprise defeat, the very next day she called for unity during her concession speech. She did not mention her lead in the popular vote, but she spoke of the need to come together and wish the next President of the United States the best. With her concession speech the 2016 elections came to a close. 
***Guest Column***

If you will allow me, I would like to share some of my thoughts on President-elect Trump’s victory. But first, on this Veteran’s Day I would like to thank all veterans who are fighting or who have fought for our country to give us the right to vote and allow us to make this the greatest country on earth. Secondly, I would like to thank the nearly 38,000 of you who voted for me. Though I ran unopposed, the fact that 85% of the district chose to fill in the circle for me was extremely humbling. I am forever grateful and it is an honor and privilege to represent you in Springfield.

All of you who read my column know that I did not weigh in on the top of ticket or really any of the ticket for that matter. It is my belief that as your State Representative, I’m here to represent you and not to tell you how to vote.

Speaking of telling you how to vote – never underestimate the power of a people who refuse to be told what to do or how to think. That’s a big part of what happened last Tuesday. Donald Trump is an imperfect vessel, and we all knew it, but what he stood for was so much bigger than himself. Please allow me to explain.
***Guest Column***

So it finally happened. The Chicago Cubs overcame the longest drought of any American professional sports franchise. After 108 years, the Cubs are winners once again. 1908, the year the Cubs last won the World Series was the year that Henry Ford completed production on the first Model T.

No matter what happens this year, we can all point to one day where we just lived in the moment. Our local team did something that made us all enjoy life just a little bit more for at least one day. Everything else was put on the back burner, and we all sang “Go Cubs Go.”

As I write this column, we are just days from the election. Some of you may be reading this before the votes are tabulated, and some of you may see this afterward. It doesn’t matter when you are reading this, because the challenge for all of us is as simple as it is straightforward – let’s just be respectful.
***Guest Column***

In the New Testament of the Bible, there’s a passage in Acts in which Paul describes the new believers in Thessalonica. These converts were good people, and the Bible says they were of “noble character.” But perhaps the highest praise that was said of the Bereans was that they diligently searched the scriptures daily. When the Apostle Paul preached, they verified everything he said by doing their own research.

We live in an age where information is literally at our fingertips. Give me thirty seconds, and I could tell you the capitol of any country in the world; give me a minute and I can translate any phrase from any language into English. That’s how far technology has advanced. In a world where there is more information available to us than at any time in the earth’s history, are we making good use of this gift?

Chuck Sweeney recently had a great column entitled: “Kids Aren’t Looking up Dictionary Words on Smartphones.” Mr. Sweeney laments the news that a Rockford charity will no longer be giving away free dictionaries to third graders in the Rockford school system. This ends a twenty year period of giving thousands and thousands of young kids a free resource which they may not have otherwise had. He goes on to say that this was brought about because most school-aged kids now have access to the internet, and therefore hard copy dictionaries are no longer deemed a necessity.
***Guest Column***

A February article of Crain’s Chicago Business stated that Illinois ranked 46th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. in non-farm payroll growth. Our ranking is falling among other states in median household income growth, and the state actually had a net loss of jobs in 2015.

Anyone who has lived in Northwest Illinois for more than a few years isn’t surprised by any of these numbers. We have observed the ebb and flow of our local economy, and many of us have experienced firsthand the pain of watching industry leave the area. To blame this on any single factor would be unfair and incorrect, but there is no question that the State of Illinois has done little to positively impact our region’s plight.

Most of you know that this isn’t simply just anecdotal evidence; this is our region’s history. But you didn’t elect me to reminisce on what was and what could have been. You want to know what I am doing to help turn around our region. As I often say, one of the reasons I ran for office was to bring a small business perspective to the state legislature. To that end, I have been working to eliminate burdensome regulations that negatively impact our region by hurting our small businesses. So I am encouraged to bring you some good news from Springfield out of the Governor’s office.
***Guest Column***

Can we just forget about politics for one second and revel in the fact that the Cubs are in the National League Championship Series. If the Cubs make it to the World Series it will be the first time since Mike Madigan became Speaker of the House. Ok, that’s the last time I’ll use that joke for a while. But the point is that it has been a long time coming! Here’s to singing “Go Cubs Go” and flying the “W.”

Shifting gears now to what to write about this week – politics. Many of you have seen me out and about in the community. I keep my schedule jam-packed with as many public events, activities and dinners as my calendar can manage. I was at one such event Thursday night with the wonderful ladies at the Freeport Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association.

We had a great time – and some great pot roast. We talked about local issues and also many of the issues currently being discussed in Illinois. Some of the highlights were “Automatic Voter Registration,” term limits, and redistricting reform. As we were talking about redistricting reform, I had a thought occur to me that I felt I should share with all of you this week.
***Guest Column***

If you’ve read my column or watched the news over the course of the past several months, you know that Illinois is in dire financial straits. There are too many contributing factors to count, but I try to tackle them one at a time. Last week I made brief reference to one such area that I hope to shed more light on this week. I welcome your comments and feedback, and if you would like any source or reference material, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

There is little doubt that Illinois is heading towards a fiscal cliff. When you couple unsustainable state spending with an unstable tax base, the results are never good. On top of these mounting issues, we have even more bad news: Chicago is fiscally insolvent. Why does this matter to us in Northwest Illinois? Well, if the stopgap budget is any indication, our tax dollars will be paying for a municipality’s empty promises. No, state tax dollars will not be going to bail out Freeport or Rockford, they are going to Chicago.
***Guest Column***

Each week many of you send me responses to my column. They range anywhere from “Great column, Brian!” to “What the heck were you thinking, Brian!” and everything in between. I read all your responses. And even if we are diametrically opposed on a given issue, I absolutely appreciate your comments!

That being said, I am honored to be your State Representative and your voice in Springfield. That’s part of the reason why I write this column – so I can hear your responses. So I say this: “Keep them coming.” Keep sending me your comments, and I’ll keep writing this column.

Last week we talked about how Illinois needs a complete overhaul. In baseball terms, we called it a complete rebuild. Allow me to glean one more thing from the Cubs in this week’s column. When the Cubs rebuilt their team they also rebuilt their stadium. The stadium had become a relic (in both good and bad ways). The facilities were completely outdated, and fans complained that they were afraid the stadium would collapse.
***Guest Column***
How about them Cubbies ?

The Chicago Cubs are - almost indisputably - the best team in baseball. Hard to believe that the team that was once the punchline of so many sports jokes is now at the top of the Majors. Not more than a few years ago the Cubs were still known as the “Lovable Losers” of baseball. In fact, I was once told by a Cardinals and a Sox fan that C-U-B-S stood for “Completely Useless By September.” Not this September.

Allow me to use the Chicago Cubs as a metaphor for the state of Illinois because I just see far too many similarities. I know what you’re thinking, “Leave it to a politician to make baseball political,” but I promise you there is a valid point to be made.

Let’s back up a bit. The Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. That’s by far the longest drought in American baseball. After years of trying the same “strategies” for building a team, the Cubs became the laughingstock of Major League Baseball. Finally, the Cubs were purchased by a new family - the Ricketts - that wanted nothing more than to win. The new owners understood that a ground floor rebuild was necessary, and they fully committed to the rebuild.
This Sunday is the fifteenth anniversary of the horrendous attacks on our country on September 11, 2001. This day is now known as Patriot Day and is a National Day of Service and Remembrance for the victims. Even though much has changed in the world since that day let us not forget all those lost and their families.

Now, over the past couple of weeks I have been mulling over a topic that has been making headlines – an NFL quarterback has chosen to kneel for the National Anthem instead of standing up and putting his hand on his heart like the rest of his teammates. Why? The man points to what he perceives to be racial injustices within the judicial system.
***Guest Column***

All of us who live in Northwest Illinois know that speeding on U.S. 20 is risky business. Why? Because Illinois State Police District 16 Headquarters is located in Pecatonica, and State Troopers patrol on that stretch of road.

Now, imagine if U.S. 20 had little to no state police patrolling the roadway. Do you suppose there would be more speeding or less speeding on U.S. 20 if this were the case? Obviously, in this hypothetical instance, if there were very few state troopers on 20, then many of us would notice and may take advantage of the situation. But how ridiculous would it be if people were to say “Because there haven’t been many tickets written along that stretch of road, then that must mean people are not speeding.”
***Guest Column***

Is Illinois growing or shrinking? Are more people coming into the state, or are more people leaving the state? At present, the numbers don’t look good for Illinois. The 2015 census estimate for Illinois calculates that the state saw a 0.2% population growth over the past five years. That growth is more than seven times slower than Wisconsin’s, ten times slower than Indiana’s, and twelve times slower than Iowa’s population growth over the same period. 

***Guest Column***

It is with heavy heart that I write this column today. In Dallas on Thursday, there was another senseless tragedy. For me, and other law enforcement officers (both active and retired), this one struck close to home. Divisiveness and anti-police propaganda has finally run its natural course. Putting on the police uniform every day has never been an easy job, but now – with so many united against them – our nation’s public servants are in more danger than ever. I humbly urge all of us to calm the rhetoric, disassociate ourselves from those whose only intention is to divide us, and to work together for the common good of our country.
***Guest Column***

For the third consecutive week the House Speaker has cancelled session. Time is running out. The end of the fiscal year is fast approaching. After session adjourned in May, the Speaker agreed to hold session once a week in the month of June. Every session has been canceled so far. If we do not pass anything this month, there will be complete chaos and it is becoming clear that the Speaker is fine with that.

***Guest Column***

There are less than two weeks left of the current fiscal year and again the legislature’s day in Springfield was cancelled by Speaker Madigan. We are told that the Working Groups are making progress, but in reality, the State of Illinois cannot wait any longer. If we do not agree to a financial plan in the next week, our state will enter its second year without a budget.



***Guest Column***

Today I would like to tell you what we had achieved in the Capitol over the past week, but unfortunately Speaker Madigan cancelled our day to meet. It is disheartening, disappointing, and flat out sad that he cancelled the General Assembly’s opportunity to continue discussing the issues that face this state. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin introduced two bills that we should have voted on this week.
***Guest Column***

Spring session ended on Tuesday, and with it ends any chance of a balanced budget in the foreseeable future. This week, the Governor and Republicans offered concessions, but Speaker Madigan refused to allow any discussion of a compromise.

We made several attempts, and one of my colleagues went as far as to stand on the House floor and ask everyone who was willing to work on a budget to stand up. Everyone on the Republican side rose, but Democrats (For fear of reprisal) mostly remained seated. To me, that sums up the entirety of the Spring Session. We tried to get things done, but it became abundantly clear that House leadership had no interest in passing a budget.

***Guest Column***

Are you satisfied with Illinois Government? Well you could pay 47% more for it. Wednesday night, the House Democrats launched a surprise attack on taxpayers, throwing a 500 page budget for a vote, giving us one hour to prepare for it. The Speaker of the House waived parliamentary procedure and pushed SB 2048 to a vote.

***Guest Column***

This week the General Assembly discussed many items, some of those were decriminalization of marijuana, new licensing for gun dealers, reducing sales taxes on feminine hygiene products and pay raises the state can’t afford. The problem is that we don’t have a budget, but instead of having the tough conversation about solutions, we talked about pay raises for some segments of the State’s workers. Now I certainly appreciate the hard work our state workers provide and I support them. However, the pay raise legislation that passed this week will cost an additional 3 billion dollars we simply don’t have. It leaves me asking myself, where will this $3 billion come from? We are not the Federal Government. We cannot print our own currency. It’s not growing on trees… It’s going to come out of your pocket.

***Guest Column***

Happy Small Business Week! Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week which recognizes the ambition and contribution of America’s small business owners. According to a survey of 500 small business owners, 63% think that the country is going in the wrong direction. I have a pretty good idea why.

This week in the Illinois General Assembly, we struck down another proposed Constitutional Amendment to levy an 11.25% tax on small businesses and farmers. After the State took in an extra $34 billion from the temporary tax hike and made no effort to reform Illinois’ finances, the other side of the aisle tried to pass another massive tax hike. The same party responsible for years of overspending, over taxing and a mountain of debt wants to move to a graduated tax for one reason and one reason only – to raise taxes and spend more money. Even though the proposal was not called for a vote, it still looms as a distraction to our employers in Illinois. The last Census data showed there are nearly 250,000 small businesses in this state and they employ 2.5 million Illinoisans. A tax on them is a tax on almost everyone.

The other side of the aisle argues that only the wealthy are impacted by a progressive income tax. In reality, 70% of small businesses pay taxes at the individual, not the corporate tax rate. With these threats from lawmakers, it’s clear why Illinois lags behind the national average in job creation. The uncertainty of managing a small business is amplified when lawmakers threaten to take away 11.25% of its earnings. How can these entrepreneurs plan for next year when they have no idea what to expect? They can’t, which stifles growth and drags down our state’s economy.

Thursday was Illinois History Day. This year's Governor's Award went to a group of students from River Ridge High School who uncovered the unfortunate death of an Illinois hero, Jo Daviess County Sheriff John Bardell. Unfortunately his sacrifice was lost in history until the research by the students and history teacher Mike Dittmar revealed Sheriff Bardell’s story. Because of these students, Sheriff Bardell now has his rightful place in Illinois’ Police Memorial.

Our police officers rarely get the recognition that they deserve. They risk their lives every day to protect and serve their communities. This week, we honored the fallen Illinois officers at the Illinois State Capitol. Here is the prayer from The Illinois Police Officers Memorial Committee.

“Almighty God, Father of all Mercies, we ask Thy Blessing and guidance upon all Law Enforcement Officers engaged in the protection of our citizens. Be with them in their lonely tours of duty while patrolling the busy streets of our cities and the remote area of the country. Give them the Blessings of Your Wisdom, to know and do what is right. Temper their actions with mercy and justice. When their tours are completed and the day is over, guide them safely home to their loved ones.

We also ask Thy Blessing and eternal rest to all our Brothers and Sisters who have sacrificed their very lives in the performance of their duties. Give to their loved ones the peace and strength to bear the anguish of their loss. Remove all resentment from their hearts, knowing that eternal peace and rest will abide over their departed loved one forever. This we beg in Thy name forever and ever. Amen”

We have sixteen more days left of session. There are two separate groups trying to negotiate a budget right now. I really hope that they can reach an agreement this month. The state needs a balanced budget and time is running out. We need to get down to business and hammer out an agreement already. Our side of the aisle has been standing with our arms outstretched, willing to compromise for months. We can fix the problems of Illinois, but only if we have a dialogue. This deadlock has to give way soon. The People of Illinois are counting on us.

As we move forward towards the end of session this month I am reminded of a quote by Daniel Hannan who stated, “You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt.”
As always, you can reach me or Sally at 815/232-0774 or e-mail us at repstewart@gmail.com. You can also visit my website at www.repbrianstewart.com or on Facebook.


***Guest Column***


Last week was a busy one in Springfield. Things are moving again. Rank-and-file members of both parties negotiated a deal at the lunch table to send emergency funds to colleges, universities and students across Illinois. It was a temporary fix, but I’m optimistic that both sides are beginning to agree on things. The Governor signed the appropriation measure Senate Bill 2059 into law this week which released $600 million from the State’s Education Assistance Fund. The Comptroller has stated that although there is only $345 million in the Education Assistance Fund, it is enough to immediately pay student MAP grants and she will work closely with colleges and universities to avoid further cuts and closings. The Education Assistance Fund should have the $600 million on hand by June 30th.

***Guest Column***


Well, it was an interesting week in Springfield. We worked on several important issues. The Democrats pushed through a $3.9 Billion spending plan (Senate Bill 2046) which was essentially the same one they proposed before, except with a slightly larger price tag. Just like before, this one has no funding mechanism, no way to pay for it. What it amounts to is a false promise to Illinois families and only adds to the stack of unpaid bills on the Comptroller’s desk. I’ll tell you about our Comptroller, Leslie Munger.

Comptroller Munger, the state’s chief financial officer and the one responsible for cutting the checks to pay state bills, likens this situation to a family budget. According to Comptroller Munger, it’s like a family sitting down at the kitchen table with $100 and trying to pay down a $7,000 stack of bills. A family can’t afford to spend or budget this way. The State shouldn’t either. The Democrats $3.9 Billion spending bill that was passed this week just adds to the mountain of unpaid bills. It is an IOU with no way to ever pay it back; an empty promise to the people of Illinois.
***Guest Column***

I just arrived back in northwest Illinois after spending the past week in Springfield, though we should have been back to work the entire month of March it appears the next seven weeks will be very busy.  No budget resolutions were discussed yet, but many pieces of legislation were debated in committees and sometimes in a manner not conducive to good government but nonetheless argued on their merits.  There were 2,181 House Bills and 1,194 Senate Bills introduced this year and it never ceases to amaze me as to the content of some of these bills.  Here are a two of those bills.

***Guest Column***

The 2016 primary election is one for the record books.  Across the 89th District, individual precincts, city wards, and entire counties reported record early voter turnout and record voter turnout for a primary election.  I’m excited and reinvigorated by the enthusiasm expressed for our local and national elections.  I hope the trend of increased voter participation and involvement in our local elections continues.

I’d also like to express my humble gratitude for receiving 17,396 votes across the 89th District.  By comparison, in the 2014 primary, I garnered 11,834 votes of your trust.  The political guys tell me by increasing your vote totals by 47% percent in 2 years means we’re doing something right. This is a “we,” because you and I talk weekly, and then I take your ideas to Springfield; and frankly, our common sense approach has been resonating down there.  Your ideas are a reflection of the weekly column, and I appreciate the communication; however, this week I want to set the ground for a debate – one to further occur on social media this week - about convictions and compromise.

***Guest Column***

“Spring ahead, Fall back.”  I’ve recalled which direction we change our clocks with that little mnemonic for years now.  Historically, the Germans were the first to implement Daylight Savings time with the hope of saving energy.  We, the US, followed suit in 1918, but often cited along with energy savings is that it was a part of wartime rationing.

It’s interesting to ponder the points of history that we highlight annually and how our memory of events changes over time.  For the younger audience, take some time this week to talk to a grandparent, friend, or neighbor that is over the age of 75.  With age, supposedly, comes wisdom.  With age, the experience of change and watching generations grow and change has to be fascinating.

I am mindful of how we retell stories each year trying to offer some insight or different perspective than previous versions of the story.  I find this especially fitting for the State of Illinois government.  We’re now over a week into our month long break from Session.  I know my colleagues and I would prefer to have an open debate, real discussion, and real votes; instead, I find myself writing the same story trying to offer a different insight into the quagmire of Illinois government.
Unwillingness to Compromise

This past week was the last scheduled day of session for an entire month.  Yes, I said an entire month. The next session day scheduled is for Monday, April 4th.  You are probably thinking with that long of a break we must have solved all the states problems; not exactly.  Did we solve the budget crisis No.  Did we vote on meaningful reforms to help alleviate some of the mounting financial pressures No.  Did we do anything that is going to make things better today than yesterday? No, we did none of the above.

As the Speaker of the House was ready to call for adjournment on Thursday evening, neighboring State Representative Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) stood to make a motion to not adjourn so that we could continue to work on the budget.
After deliberating behind the podium for around five minutes, the Speaker replied that Rep. Demmer’s motion was “out of order” and thus proceeded to rapidly adjourn, denying the opportunity to debate the motion.  The Speaker and staff behind the podium literally ran out the door.

 Obama and Budget Address

View from the 89th District's House Seat (Rep. Stewart)
President Obama addressed the Illinois General Assembly last week for the first time.  While a number of sitting American presidents have visited Springfield and the Illinois State Capitol Building, only four have given addresses to joint sessions of the legislature.  The last President to speak in front of the General Assembly was Jimmy Carter in May of 1978.  Herbert Hoover spoke in June of 1931, and William Howard Taft addressed Illinois legislators in February of 1911.

It was a very interesting day in the Illinois Legislature when President Barack Obama came to Springfield and addressed a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate.  It is historical in the sense that a sitting President addressed the General Assembly in Illinois or any other state for that matter.  Regardless of your politics, party, ideology or whether or not you support his agenda his remarks were insightful as to what is going on in Illinois and in this country for that matter.
Hello February (and one more day closer to Spring)!  It seems like January was here and went all too fast.  February is an important month in Illinois State politics because it usually marks the end of the new bill introduction period in the House of Representatives.

The deadline for new legislation this year is February 11, 2016.  I want to reiterate my gratitude for everyone across the 89th District who has called, written, attended town hall meetings or any of the legislative luncheons from last year.  I firmly believe that people with practical experience and firsthand knowledge are the best resource for removing cumbersome regulations in Illinois. Your input has helped to shape the legislative agenda for the 89th District, and I appreciate your willingness to provide such critical feedback.
 State of the State & Higher Education Funding

This week in Springfield Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State address. This annual speech gives Illinois Governors the opportunity to share their policy initiatives, past accomplishments and future plans.

He made it clear that despite the budget impasse, he plans to take action by moving forward with an innovative transformation agenda that builds on turning Illinois around; making government more efficient and effective.

State Representative Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) attended the Community Development Fund of Galena's 22nd Annual Legislators Day last week. Legislators spent the morning listening to local presenters and then had the opportunity to respond, answering questions and talking about what’s happening at the state level.

"My sincere appreciation to Joel Holland, P. Carter Newton, the Directors of the Community Development Fund of Galena, and to all who attended this annual event. Galena and Jo Daviess County thanks you for your Leadership," said Rep. Stewart.

Presenters included Terry Renner, Mayor of Galena; Mark Moran, City Administrator; Dan Riemer, JoDaviess County Administrator; Dave Decker, Galena ARC; Tracy Travis Bauer, CEO Midwest Medical Center; John Cox, Chuck Korte, Galena School Board President (and legendary Pirate Coach), Mr Kyle Knight, Alex Townsend, Jake Dregne, Padgham Larson, Katherine Walker, JoDaviess CVB; Beth Baranski, TCEDA; Nancy Breed, History Museum; Steve Barg, Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation.
“Let Political Winds Pass”

Good legislation is the product of much debate, multiple perspectives, and is always in the interest of the people.  That’s why in both the 98th and 99th General Assembly’s I have introduced legislation that would allow the recall of all Executive Branch officials and General Assembly members.  A recall differs from an impeachment because it is initiated by the voters and constituents.  Instead, the impeachment process stems from within the Legislative Branch and is always initiated in the House of Representatives.

On February 6, 2015, I introduced House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 0023 (HJRCA 23), and three days later it was referred to the Rules Committee where it remains with the other 3,479 bills there now.  The aim of this legislation is to give more power and control to the people to hold their elected officials accountable.  If HJRCA 23 passed both legislative chambers, it would then go on the November 2016 ballot where it would need to pass with a minimum of 60% in favor to become a part of the Illinois Constitution.  With the furor surrounding the demands for a recall in Chicago and new legislation being introduced for political gain, I believe we should return to the concepts and ideas before they were rife with animosity and tension.
According to the United Van Lines 2015 Migration Study,  Illinois has one of the highest percentages of outbound migration in the United States. Illinois (63 percent) held steady at the No. 3 spot, ranking in the top five in outbound migration for the last seven years.
Today, the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force formally presented its final report to Governor Bruce Rauner.

According to the US Census of Government, Illinois has more local units of government than any other state in the nation at 6,963. Illinois also has the second-highest effective property tax rate in the nation.

Governor Bruce Rauner created the Task Force on Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates last February. It was charged to find efficiencies and ways to streamline local government functions to save taxpayer dollars.

The Task Force convened 16 meetings across the state and conducted a comprehensive review of state laws pertaining to local governments and school districts. The final report includes a study on unfunded mandates and opportunities to streamline or eliminate governmental bodies and schools districts, and 27 Task Force endorsed recommendations.

The Task Force endorsed 27 recommendations which resulted from the testimony of 33 experts representing government associations, nonprofit think tanks, researchers, and state agencies.

Click HERE to read the full report.