Week in Review: December 14, 2020


Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission members share concerns with Governor Pritzker’s borrowing scheme.  State Representatives Tom Bennett, Dan Caulkins, and Mike Murphy shared their concerns with Governor Pritzker’s controversial plan to borrow another $2 billion from the federal government.

“The State of Illinois borrowed $1.2 billion earlier this year to compensate for the federal government pushing back the income tax filing from April 15 to July 15,” said Rep. Caulkins. “The filing deadline has long since passed and the Pritzker administration failed to pay back the loan as promised. Now he wants to borrow from the federal government again? This is irresponsible. The governor’s solution to put the taxpayers deeper in debt is more borrowing and higher taxes with no path to pay back what has already been borrowed.”

Republican lawmakers became aware of Governor Pritzker’s plan to borrow an additional $2 billion from the Federal Reserve at Tuesday’s Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission meeting, where members of the Commission received an update on Federal COVID-19 funding.

“Illinois is already drowning in debt and the state’s inability to pay back this first ‘bridge’ of money borrowed from the federal government only stands to highlight the overspending problem the Pritzker administration is unwilling to acknowledge and why more borrowing puts the state at greater financial risk,” said Rep. Murphy. “This is exactly why the Governor needs to stop going it alone and call the legislature back to session to prevent more fiscal damage that will seriously harm already overburdened Illinois taxpayers.”

As of today, the State of Illinois has only paid back $200 million of the $1.2 billion borrowed from the Federal Reserve.

“Six months ago many of us questioned the wisdom of passing an unbalanced state budget that was based on more borrowing and hoping for a bailout from Washington,” said Rep. Bennett. “Now we are seeing the consequences of that short-sighted decision. The General Assembly needs to be called back into session to work together with the Governor to address these debt and budget issues.”


House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s Statement on Speaker Madigan’s Promise of an Income Tax Increase.  Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement following Mike Madigan’s pitch for Speaker including an income tax increase on Illinoisans:

“Fresh off the indictment of his confidant and gatekeeper Mike McClain, Michael Madigan is selling his candidacy for Speaker with the promise of another tax increase. It was just over one month ago when Illinois taxpayers resoundingly rejected the graduated tax and sent a message that everyone heard but the Democratic Party. It is time for Governor Pritzker and Illinois Democrats to take a hint from the November election: don’t go back to the taxpayers and job creators to solve the self-inflicted troubles facing our state.”

Say NO to Madigan’s tax increases!  Last month voters resoundingly rejected Governor JB Pritzker’s referendum for an overarching Democratic tax increase. 

Just a little over 30 days later, Mike Madigan ignored the will of the voters by promising House Democrats an income tax increase in exchange for their votes to retain him as Speaker for his 20th term.

Sign the petition to tell Mike Madigan Illinois cannot afford more taxes.


Illinois coronavirus cases continue at high level; vaccine distribution plans take shape.  The case positivity rate, as a percentage of total tests administered, fell back below 10% this week, signaling continued progress as Illinois fights this deadly illness.  However, many Illinoisans continue to be admitted to Illinois hospitals.  Hospitalization patterns and the Illinois death count partly reflect the infection rates that took place during the period from one to three weeks ago.  More than 800,000 Illinois residents, almost 7% of the overall population of the state, have now tested positive for the viral sickness.  Many of them report having recovered with no ongoing symptoms.  In some cases, some patients report ongoing illness and symptoms.     

Clinical trials indicate that newly developed vaccines will be effective at slowing and stopping the spread of the contagious virus.   As an initial supply of COVID-19 coronavirus vaccines nears distribution, Illinoisans are being warned that startup supplies will have to be reserved for high-priority recipients.  The very first supply of Illinois vaccines could start becoming available shortly before Christmas, but this initial supply will contain only 109,000 doses.  The list of high-priority recipients starts with front-line health care workers, but members of many other groups such as police first responders, long-term care workers, long-term care residents, and prison guards will also have places in line.  Well more than one million older Illinois senior citizens will present an urgent need to be vaccinated.  Other Illinois residents will be approved for vaccination as supplies become available.          


House Republicans Demand Answers from Pritzker Administration on Continued FOID and CCL Delays.  House Republican legislators held a Zoom press conference on Wednesday to address concerning delays in FOID card and Concealed Carry Licenses (CCLs) processing, and discussed their shared 2nd Amendment focused legislative agenda.

State Rep. Avery Bourne named several constituents by name that have felt the strain and anxiety caused by the delays in processing FOID and CCLs.

“When it comes to our most basic rights, like the right to keep and bear arms, there is no room for error or delay,” Bourne said. “I hear every single day from frustrated constituents who have been waiting months upon months to receive renewals or initial FOID cards and concealed carry licenses. The Pritzker administration is failing to lead on this issue. Illinoisans deserve better.”

State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer argued if the state of Illinois cannot operate the FOID program in an efficient manner, the program should be eliminated.

“If the State Police can’t get the FOID program to work within the allotted time, it should be suspended immediately. We are required to follow the law, but they are not!”

State Rep. Mike Marron says his office handles dozens of calls from frustrated residents every month. Most of the time, Marron says, answers are hard to come by.

“Over the last year, my office has received hundreds of constituent complaints on the FOID card renewal process,” Marron said. “There has been a steady increase of approval delays leading to many frustrated citizens unable to speak with a live person when checking on their FOID renewal and approval status. This has been a problem for a long time pre-dating the Covid-19 pandemic. The Democrat majority swept $28,000,000 million dollars out of the dedicated fund that is supposed to administer the FOID program. We are sponsoring bills to eliminate the program and end the delays.”

State Rep. Patrick Windhorst is a former prosecutor, and member of the House Judiciary Criminal Law Committee. Windhorst says FOID delays can be fixed via legislation or full elimination of the requirement.

“Illinois is one of only four states in the Union that require citizens to obtain a FOID card,” Windhorst said. “We should eliminate the FOID card requirement.  While that might not be possible given the current makeup of the General Assembly, the legislature should immediately pass reforms to ensure Illinoisans can exercise their 2nd Amendment rights without unnecessary delays in the FOID and concealed carry card process.  Let’s get to work in Springfield to address these delays and provide appropriate service to our citizens.”


Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) reports on public university enrollment.  Instruction patterns changed sharply in fall 2020 compared with the year-earlier period, with many Illinois four-year college and university programs taking steps to provide alternatives to in-person classroom attendance.  Under pandemic guidelines, many fall 2020 classes are being taught online, and students are meeting their instructors by video and taking exams online.

When these steps were implemented during the 2020 spring and summer terms, many concerns were expressed that these moves would cause enrollment and tuition revenues to collapse.  Illinois’ public colleges and universities have indeed faced very serious budget consequences from eh current pandemic; but the IBHE reports that public-university total enrollment has remained steady.  In the fall 2020 term, 182,586 students were enrolled for classes, statically flat (up 417 students) from the 182,169 enrollees in the year-earlier term.  Within this overall student universe, four-year undergraduate enrollment was down slightly and graduate enrollment was up.

The IBHE’s numbers, which were reported on Tuesday, December 8, do not apply to community colleges.  Illinois’ community college programs are governed by the Illinois Community College Board, which is seeing a 13.7% decline in fall 2020 two-year college classroom enrollments compared to last year.


LaSalle Veterans Home COVID-19 death count spurs action by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  The long-term care facility, operated by the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA), is meant to provide safe residential care for U.S. military veterans and their spouses.  Persons eligible for State veterans’ home care include veterans and their spouses who possess challenging health conditions requiring continuous care from a variety of specialized care providers. 

A major State veterans’ home is located in LaSalle, Illinois, southwest of Chicago.  As an especially tragic facet of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the contagious virus got inside the facility and most of the residents were infected.  As of this week, 32 residents – approximately one-quarter of the total residential headcount – had passed away.

Worldwide protocols have guided the behavior of residential-care facilities and their staffs over the past nine months.  These guidances have repeatedly called upon long-term care leaders and workers to take every step possible to keep the virus out of care-based residential spaces.  In line with this bleak guidance, even close family members of these patientswere told they could not come into a facility to see or visit their loved ones.  However, the virus still got into LaSalle.  Positive cases began to be reported on November 1.  This week, the Department of Veterans Affairs stated that they had dismissed the head of the LaSalle Veterans Home.  The director of nursing at the same home was placed on administrative leave.  

Despite calls for action on a variety of urgent issues, the Illinois House has largely failed to carry on normal legislative work since the adjournment of the special spring session in May 2020.   However, in view of the extreme circumstances created at LaSalle, House Republicans demanded that the House hold a hearing to seek answers from the IDVA on the tragic deaths of so many residents.  The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will meet on Wednesday, December 16, under coronavirus precaution conditions in Chicago.


Be sure to drive through Light Up the Park in Prophetstown State Park on Saturday and Sunday from 6-9p.m. Thanks to the all the volunteers and businesses/groups that helped make this happen!

Savanna Community Blood Drive

I am again co-hosting the annual Savanna Community Blood Drive with the City of Savanna on Monday, December 28th from 10:00am-2:00pm at the Savanna Fire Department Truck Bay, 101 Main Street, Savanna.

“This drive would never be as successful as it has been without the incredible support of the Savanna community. Year after year, the community steps up to the call for blood donations which go toward helping to save lives.  We are grateful for those who respond to the constant need for blood donations and especially during this time of critical need due to the pandemic.

For an appointment to donate, please call the Red Cross at 815-632-7384 or go to redcross.org. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome.  Donors to the drive will also receive a free gift- an exclusive Red Cross long-sleeved t-shirt (while supplies last).

The winter months can be among the most challenging times of year for the Red Cross to collect enough blood donations.  Many donors are busy with holiday activities, and inclement weather can force the cancellation of blood drives.  Additionally, some donors become temporarily ineligible because of seasonal illnesses.

Blood donors of all types, especially types O negative, A negative and B negative, and platelet donors are urgently needed to give now to avoid delays in lifesaving medical care for patients.

The American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of that effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.

How to Donate: Simply download the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Are you fully recovered from a verified COVID-19 diagnosis? If so, the plasma in your blood may contain COVID-19 antibodies that can attack the virus. This convalescent plasma is being evaluated as a possible treatment for currently ill COVID-19 patients, so your donation could help save the lives of patients battling this disease.  Learn more at: