It’s been an exciting few weeks! Here’s a quick update on what’s been going on in Springfield.
Video of the President’s Address
February 11th was the deadline to file bills in the House. 1,959 bills have been filed since the start of the new year. You can view the bills I have filed or signed on to as a co-sponsor here. Highlights include a bill banning unfunded mandates during election years, a bill concerning school closings, and a bill to help ensure compliance with the Open Meetings Act.
Higher Education Funding
As expected, Governor Rauner vetoed the MAP and community college funding appropriations bill on Friday. I wrote an op-ed on why I voted against this bill last month which you can read on my website.
In an unprecedented situation, Governor Rauner gave his budget address last week as the state enters its 8th month without a budget in place. Like last year Illinois is expected to take in around $32 billion dollars. State Government has been operating at a much higher level, leading to a growing bill backlog which now sits at $7.7 billion. The governor laid out two plans for balancing the budget; “Either you give the executive branch the authority to cut spending to live within our revenues, or we agree — together — on economic and governmental reforms to accompany a negotiated balance of spending reductions and revenue that ensures that Illinois can be both compassionate and competitive.”
Governor Creates New Cabinet
Governor Rauner issued an executive order last week establishing a cabinet on Children and Youth whose function is to bring together the 19 State agencies that impact education and human services to promote coordination and efficiency of programs and services. The goal of the cabinet is to address the State’s fragmented approach to education and human services provided to children and families and track the progress on statewide educational initiatives to ensure Illinois students have the best opportunities possible. The new Children’s Cabinet will enable State policymakers to work across State agency boundaries to shape and increase focus on long-term goals.
Many of you take the Metra to and from work. Employers and Employees can save money through a recently created federal pre tax benefit plan. For more information, click here.
Continuing Education for Women
The Conference of Women Legislators (COWL) has established a scholarship fund to assist mature women (age 25 and older) who wish to continue their undergraduate education. The goal of the scholarship is to focus on deserving, qualified women whose educations were interrupted due to family concerns and economic problems. Particular consideration will emphasize women who have shown leadership promise through community service. The one year undergraduate scholarship will cover tuition, books and fees up to $2500 per year. Applicants for the scholarship must meet certain requirements to be eligible. For more information on this scholarship and the application, click here.