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Nothing is more important to restoring Illinois’ financial stability for the long-term than growing new and better jobs. To do that, we must improve our jobs climate to make us competitive again with our neighboring states.
 
House Bill 4068 is a key component of the House and Senate Republicans' Capitol Compromise balanced budget package. It brings us closer to workers compensation standards in place in our neighboring states, reducing costs and making us more competitive while maintaining crucial protections to workers' benefits.

Upon returning to Springfield for special session on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin
(R-Western Springs),  Senate Deputy Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington),  Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), Senate Republican Caucus Whip Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles),  Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Deputy House Republican Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), Deputy House Republican Leader Dan Brady (R-Normal) and House Republican Conference Chairperson Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) offered a reminder that a compromise balanced budget with reforms is on the table and ready to be enacted.
  
Rep. Brady was proud to lead the Illinois House this spring  in honoring Fairbury native Leroy McPherson, who will retire from the position of City Superintendent at the end of June following decades of service to the community.

Leroy McPherson began his work with the City of Fairbury in May, 1972. Among his many contributions are assisting in the designing and building of the city's waste water treatment plant in 1977 and, as Public works Administrator, installing the city water tower in 1995. He also has been a  longtime leader on the Fairbury Fire Department, serving as a Chief and Assistant Chief. 

Representative Brady recently presented Leroy a copy of House Resolution 476 which passed the Illinois House unanimously, honoring and congratulating him for his dedicated service to the Fairbury community and wishing him the very best in his upcoming retirement.
Representative Brady on Thursday presented a resolution honoring  the sacrifice of U.S. Army Sergeant Joshua Rodgers of Bloomington who was recently killed in a raid on an ISIS compound in Afghanistan. All members of the House signed-on as co-sponsors of HR407.

Budget
This week House Appropriations Committees continued to take testimony on the Governor’s proposed budget. More than 30 of the Governor’s funding proposals for agencies have been heard in committees with testimony from the agency directors.  The hearing process will take two or three more weeks before legislation emerges on these proposals.

Meanwhile, discussions are also continuing on the so-called “Grand Bargain” budget bills in the Senate, but there was no floor action in recent weeks on bills that comprise the plan. So far, about half of the bills involved have been passed. All of the bills in this package would need to be passed and signed into law for any of them to become effective.

In addition, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) this week added a new challenge into the mix, reporting that revenues are currently falling short of projections by approximately $800 million.

New Proposal for Cost-Saving Pension Reforms
With our growing budget challenges in mind, House Republicans today introduced a comprehensive pension reform proposal consistent with the “Grand Bargain” measures in the Illinois Senate. The new proposal is estimated to provide taxpayer savings of approximately $2.25 billion that would help us achieve a balanced budget while also saving our struggling pension systems.  I hope Speaker Madigan will help us move this important discussion forward.

There’s no question that with $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and billions in annual costs, the current pension systems are unsustainable. Components of our reform proposal include:
• Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require a choice between receiving an annual 3% COLA or having future raises counted as pensionable. This concept previously received union support by the We Are One Coalition
• Closes new member participation in GARS
• Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan
• Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security

We have gone far too long without a balanced budget. Now is the time to take action to reform our pension systems, break the budget impasse and pass a truly balanced budget for the people of Illinois.
State Representative Dan Brady has won unanimous House approval of legislation aimed at easing our state’s nursing shortage. House Bill 3490, now awaiting consideration in the Senate, would expand school options for scholarship recipients pursuing graduate degrees in nursing in Illinois.

“Our Nursing Education Scholarship Program was established to remove financial barriers to help increase the number of students training to be nurses in Illinois. The problem is that current law only provides scholarship students with 6 eligible nursing schools to choose from. That’s a problem we’re fixing with this legislation,” said Representative Brady (R-Normal).
Budget
The Governor has now laid out his budget priorities and parameters before a joint session of the General Assembly. Here are a few of the most notable points from his budget address:

• Any compromise agreement approved must be a good deal for taxpayers and job creators.
• New revenue is on the table, as long as it is coupled with economic reforms to help us grow jobs.
• No permanent income tax increase will be considered unless it is offset by a permanent property tax freeze for families.
• There are no “must have” reforms needed for a budget compromise, but the Governor maintained  that term limits are important to restoring confidence in state government, and workers compensation reform is crucial to attracting new jobs to our state.

You can view the governor’s full budget proposal here.

We must get a responsible, full year budget in place as soon as possible. I’m encouraged by the progress made in the Senate in recent weeks; especially the bi-partisan consensus that we must begin doing some things differently to repair our economy and our state finances. I’ll keep you updated as the negotiations progress.

Judge Rules Against Attorney General Madigan’s Attempt to Halt State Employee Pay
A St. Clair County judge has denied Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s motion that would have stopped state workers’ paychecks during the budget impasse.

As you know, state employees have continued to be paid in the absence of a state budget due to a district court injunction handed down in July 2015 by District Court Judge Robert LeChien of St. Clair County. Last week, Judge LeChien refused to lift that injunction, thereby maintaining the current status of Illinois state workers’ paychecks.

But the judge’s refusal does not close the case. The Attorney General has pledged to appeal this district court decision, which is why we are continuing to push for a hearing on legislation (HB 1787 and HB 2803) that would provide a continuing appropriation for workers’ pay.