News from Rep. McCombie: 101st General Assembly Inaugurated

Inauguration of 101st General Assembly. The new session of the state legislature will be the first group of lawmakers to meet in Illinois’ third century. The House elected Jim Durkin as House Republican Leader, and the majority chose Michael J. Madigan to be the returning Speaker of the House. In his remarks to the newly-convened House, Leader Durkin pledged to uphold Republican principles and to work together with newly-elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker whenever possible for the good of the State of Illinois.

The newly-convened 101st General Assembly faces challenging problems of governance, including Illinois’ structural budget deficit, underfunded tax-supported pension systems, and a growing pattern of out-migration to other states by young, ambitious adults eager for success in the private sector. House Republicans are determined to make Illinois a good place for hard-working people to live and raise families.

I had the distinct honor of nominating Rep. Jim Durkin of Western Springs for Speaker, and laid out a new path forward for Illinois. Even though Rep. Mike Madigan of Chicago was re-elected Speaker, Durkin was elected minority leader. Watch my nomination speech by clicking here.

December revenues up modestly. During the first part of FY19, the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2018, revenues increased and Illinois was able to begin to chip away at the more than $7 billion in unpaid bills that burden Illinois health care providers and other creditors. This revenue growth curve flattened in December 2018 as existing taxes ceased to yield major net new revenue. Personal income tax payments to the State in December 2018, $1,577 million, exceeded the year-earlier figure by only $7 million, an annual growth rate of 0.4%. The flattened growth curve indicates the consequences of the failure of Illinois’ economy to generate a significant number of net new jobs. While other states such as Florida and Texas are creating large numbers of new jobs, Illinois is not doing so.

These and other revenue numbers can be found in the monthly report generated for December 2018 by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget monitoring office. CGFA was able to track significant growth in several smaller revenue lines. Sales tax revenues rose by $60 million in December 2018 relative to one year earlier, buoyed by Christmas sales and the newly-granted ability of the State to impose sales taxes on many purchases made online. Income from federal sources, which includes matching grants made by Washington to Illinois for payment to Medicaid care providers and other contractors, rose by $89 million. Current news events in Washington raise questions about whether this healthy increase can be sustained in January 2019. The Illinois General Assembly, working though the professionals at CGFA, will have to closely monitor revenue trends in the second half of FY19 in order to begin the work of putting together a new budget for FY20. This will be among the legislature’s top priorities in the 2019 spring session.

Old 100th General Assembly convenes for final days of session activity; passes Tollway bill. The “lame-duck” session met earlier this week prior to the inauguration of the new 101st General Assembly. The House passed a bill to create a changeover in the membership of the Illinois Toll Highway Authority, the often-controversial board with executive responsibility over the toll roads of northern Illinois. SB 1298 will end the terms of the nine members of the Toll Highway Authority, allowing the new Governor J.B. Pritzker to make appointments to fill the vacancies.

The new Tollway Board could take steps to reduce the level of patronage hiring and contracting associated with the operations of the Authority. A newspaper investigation has uncovered cases of contracts being awarded to firms linked with Toll Highway executives. It is expected that some, but not all, of the members of the departing board could be reappointed. No more than five of the nine members may be from either political party.

First General Assembly met 200 years ago. Illinois was admitted to the Union in December 1818. After President James Monroe signed the papers, the U.S. flag had its 21st star and the new state faced serious challenges. The State of Illinois, operating under the social customs of the day, did not try at first to exercise governance over the Native Americans who made up most of the people living in the new state. The state’s effective jurisdiction was confined the a few thousand frontier-dwellers, mostly farmers, who were breaking the sod and planting crops on narrow strips of land along the Ohio and Lower Mississippi Rivers. The new state chose one of the towns along the Lower Mississippi, Kaskaskia, to be Illinois’ first capital.

The first General Assembly had the duty of passing a law code for the fledgling state. The state’s entire law code could fit into one small book (today’s “Illinois Compiled Statutes,” by contrast, are printed in ten large-sized volumes of more than 2,000 pages each). The pioneer legislators could not afford to build a capitol building in Kaskaskia, and rented two meeting rooms from the frontier town doctor.

My office is open to serve you! As always, please contact us with any questions or concerns. We are drafting bills to change Illinois for the better – if you have an idea please contact us. The bill introduction deadline is coming up!

The address is 9317B IL Route 84, Savanna, IL 61074. Our phone number is (815) 632-7384, and our email is We are holding traveling office hours, coffee chats, and fairs through out the district. Be on the look out for announcements – we hope to see you there!