REP. MCCOMBIE END OF SUMMER LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
I wanted to send you a quick update on all that has happened in Springfield and the district this summer. It has been a very busy time, but there are several important pieces of legislation that will impact everyone. I hope that you find this helpful.
I value the feedback and communication from all my constituents. If you have concerns relating to state government, please contact my office by email at email@example.com or by phone at (815) 632-7384.
Happy First Day of Fall!
Thank you for allowing me to represent you,
Rep. Tony McCombie
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BUDGET – EDUCATION FUNDING
Education funding reform passes.
The new school funding formula moves towards an “evidence-based” model based on practices followed in many other states. Illinois’ 852 school districts will be given positive incentives to work hard to improve their students’ performances. The new formula is contained in SB 1947, as amended in the House. The House vote on SB 1947 on Monday, August 28, was 73-34-3. The House’s three-fifths majority carried the bill over to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate 38-13-4 concurrence vote sent the education funding reform package to Gov. Rauner for his signature and it was signed into law.
Schools receive their first payments.
On September 7, Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office began transmitting $805 million in General State Aid to schools around the state. These are the funds that were supposed to go out on August 10th and 20th but were delayed because the majority in the legislature did not send a compromise bill school funding bill to the governor in a timely manner. We have confirmed that every district has received their General State Aid Payments, but are still waiting for their 4th quarter categorical payments.
HOUSING – HOME VALUES
Realtors see July “solid gains” in Illinois housing values and prices.
The median price of a home sold in Illinois rose 5.8% from July 2016. The data was published in the monthly report submitted by Illinois Realtors to their members and to the general public. The statewide median price of an Illinois home sold in July 2017 was $210,000, up from $198,500 in July 2016. The numbers published as this median do not, of course, fully reflect Illinois housing values and prices in geographic regions of the State that are seen as relatively desirable or less so.
RECENT HURRICANES – ILLINOIS OFFERS SUPPORT
Illinoisans rally to support Gulf Coast.
Governor Rauner has mobilizedthe Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to coordinate Illinois’ disaster-response infrastructure with the responses being organized by the states of Louisiana and Texas. The Illinois Red Cross has marshaled its resources to rush support to the Gulf Coast, which has suffered widespread deaths and devastation from Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic tropical-storm rainfall. The nature of the damage makes infrastructure maintenance and repair especially urgent. ComEd has deployed electrical repair teams to the Houston area. Many other businesses and nonprofit organizations are also stepping in to help.
In the Quad Cities Valley Construction has organized a supply drive, and sent two semis down to the areas impacted by Harvey. Our office, partnered with Rep Swanson (R-Woodhull) and Rep. Halpin (D-Rock Island) by collecting supplies for the drive. For more information please click here.
For more information on how you can help hurricane disaster survivors, please click here.
Jobless rate drops in all Illinois metro areas.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), which has already reported the July 2017 unemployment rate for all of Illinois (4.9%), has supplemented this report with a tableshowing year-over-year unemployment rates in twelve key Illinois metropolitan areas including the Quad Cities. All 12 of these metropolitan areas had a lower jobless rate in July 2017 than had been posted twelve months earlier, with an especially significant drop in Chicago (6.0% to 4.8%, down 1.2%). As in previous metro reports, the jobless picture was slightly better in Illinois’ largest cities and suburban areas than statewide, indicating a continuing challenge in some Downstate rural counties.
NEW TAX CREDITS FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Education funding bill allow voters to initiate a school district property tax reduction referendum.
As part of the overall school funding formula rewrite (SB 1947), the General Assembly this week enacted language that will allow many local Illinois residents to place a school tax levy reduction of up to 10% on their local ballots. The measure gives many property taxpayers a recourse they have not had before 2017. The burden placed on these residents to get the question on the ballot will be significant: ten percent of the registered voters of a school district will have to sign a petition to get the measure on the ballot in that district.
New scholarship tax credit.
SB 1947 contains a new $100 million State of Illinois program intended to benefit Illinois elementary and secondary private-school scholarship funds. In order to be eligible for money from the private-sector gifts that will fund the program, these funds will have to operate scholarships that will provide tuition assistance to low and middle-income families. An income eligibility ceiling is placed on the household incomes of families eligible for the scholarships. Language is included in the bill to encourage that a wide variety of school students benefit from the program, and to require that it be implemented in a way that will enable its benefits to be geographically distributed across the state.
TRANSPORTATION – AMTRAK
Quad Cities to Chicago passenger rail delayed.
Work is winding down on a new multi-modal station and hotel in downtown Moline which is supposed to coincide with the long-awaited return of passenger rail service between the Quad Cities and Chicago via Amtrak. But while the building is almost done, no one seems to know when the trains might start rolling. Moline Mayor Stephanie Acri asked for a projected date for when passengers will be riding on the rail, but couldn’t get a date. For more information please click here.
New St. Louis-Chicago Amtrak engines will cut travel time by an hour.
The improved diesel-powered locomotives will be capable of running at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour in open areas. The enhanced performances generated by these 4,400-horsepower units could reduce “Lincoln Service” travel time between the two Midwestern cities by more than 1 hour, from 5 hours and 40 minutes to 4 hours and 30 minutes.
AGRICULTURE Gov. Rauner signs series of agriculture bills during State Fair’s Ag Day.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a series of agriculture bills, including House Bill 470, which designates corn as the official state grain of Illinois and is supported by the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force created by Senate Bill 1991, which passed unanimously out of the General Assembly will examine the status of agriculture education in the state. The task force also will make recommendations for how to expand recruitment and retention of agriculture educators. The task force will disband once the final report is completed.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO LOOK VERY DIFFERENT AFTER MIDTERMS
The General Assembly is going to look very different after next year’s election. To date 22 of the 118 of current officeholders from both sides of the isle have announced their intentions to retire or run for different offices in 2018.
BUDGET – BORROWING PLANGovernor Rauner announces borrowing plan to pay down bill backlog.
After conducting a thorough review of the out-of-balance fiscal year 2018 budget passed by the General Assembly in July, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced that he intends to exercise borrowing authority to issue $6 billion in bonds to pay down a portion of the state’s bill backlog. In order borrow the money Governor Rauner warned that he’ll try to trim state spending in order to pay for the new debt costs, because the budget passed in July used several gimmicks to balance and kicked the can down the road when it came to making tough decisions. Illinois’ debt will be refinanced at a much lower interest rate and will provide payment for services rendered to thousands of people and organizations across the state. For more information please click here.
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) reports on July 2017 revenues.
Working with the Illinois Department of Revenue, the bipartisan fiscal arm of the Illinois General Assembly saw an additional $137 million in gross personal income tax receipts flow into State coffers as a consequence of the major tax increase enacted in early July. Increases in corporate income tax receipts and in sales tax receipts led to an overall increase of $233 million in total general funds revenues from state and federal sources in July 2017 as opposed to July 2016.
HEALTH CARE UPDATEParticipants in Affordable Care Act may see another year of steep price increases.
Health insurers are filing their annual rate increase requests with the Illinois Department of Insurance. Insurance firms that offer plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) may be asking for rate increases of as much as 43%. Firms that include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, active in the Chicago area, and HealthAlliance, active in Downstate Illinois, state that increased medical and prescription drug costs make the rate increases essential if they are to offer ACA-compliant health care plans in Illinois in calendar year 2018.
MCCOMBIE BILL INCREASING EFFICIENCY WITHIN THE IL DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES SIGNED INTO LAW
HB 2028 sponsored by Representative Tony McCombie (IL-71) was signed into law to increase efficiency at the Department of Natural Resources. “This law increases efficiency at the DNR by streamlining the licensing processes and reducing the confusion of our commercial licenses and permit dates for the public. The legislature must continue to find common sense solutions to increase efficiency for taxpayers,” said Rep. McCombie. “Thank you to the Department of Natural Resources for bringing the issue forward, and thank you to Senator Dale Fowler for sponsoring the legislation in the Senate.” Specifically, the legislation amended Fish and Aquatic Wildlife Code by changing the expiration date for thirteen different licenses from January 31st to March 31st to correspond with the expiration dates of hunting and fishing licenses. The bill is an initiative originally brought forward by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR).