Springfield – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) commended the launch of a new not-for-profit Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation which will build capital improvements at the Springfield and DuQuoin fairgrounds. Governor Bruce Rauner helped unveil the foundation on Agricultural Day at the Illinois State Fair.
 
The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, established by leaders within the agricultural community, will be overseen by a volunteer board representing a diverse cross section of the agriculture industry. In conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, board members will build relationships with private sector businesses and individuals to develop strategies that raise private funding for the State fairgrounds, which combined carry $180 million in deferred maintenance costs.
Rep. Frese stated, “This foundation will be a great benefit to Illinois’ taxpayers and agricultural industry, as it will make the fairgrounds less reliant on state money while giving the care of its agricultural legacy to people that take great pride in that legacy. I applaud this move to keep the fairgrounds in good shape so that generations of Illinoisans will have a venue to enjoy Illinois’ best products.”
The Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield includes more than 170 buildings spanning 360 acres of land, with buildings as old as 124 years. The Du Quoin State Fairgrounds includes more than 20 buildings spread across over 1200 acres of land, with buildings as old as 93 years. Many of the buildings on both fairgrounds are in dire need of restoration, including paint, plumbing, roofing, and structural repairs.
Rep. Frese with local Members of the FFA on the House Floor in Springfield.
Springfield – Honoring a commitment to Illinois’ veterans, including those at Quincy Veterans Home, State Rep. Randy Frese (R-Paloma) announced that Governor Rauner signed his legislation that creates a new revenue stream to supplement funding for Veterans Homes, and also better staff them.
 
The legislation will allow Illinois Veterans Homes to issue decals for special license plates. Currently there are many special decals that support Veterans, but none that specifically support Veterans Homes. All costs and fees for the new decals shall go toward additional funding for Illinois Veterans Homes.
Additionally, the Governor signed legislation that provides educational grants for eligible registered professional nurses working in Veterans Homes. Each year an individual receives a grant under the program, called the Nurse Loan Repayment Program, he or she must complete a 12-month period as a registered nurse in a State Veterans Home.
Rep. Frese stated, “I introduced and passed this legislation to increase funding for Veterans Homes and to increase the pool of applicant nurses looking to work at these Homes. Together these new laws should better equip our Veterans with the resources they need and help the staff that serves them.”
House Bills 6149 and 5938 were signed into law on Sunday, during a ceremony to honor Illinois’ Veterans at the State Fair, and are now Public Acts 99-0814 and 99-0813.
 
Springfield – State Rep. Randy Frese (R-Paloma) is pleased to announce that bipartisanship has finally won a day in Springfield, and schools in Illinois can expect to see the funding they require in order to educate Illinois’ students come this fall. A historic investment to education will fund schools at 100% for the first time in seven years, which means a majority of school districts will receive more than they did the past year.
 
The plan also includes $75 million for early childhood education, a new statewide $250 million grant for the poorest school districts, $151 million for students that rely on MAP grants for their college costs, $742 million in vital funding to human service providers that care for Illinois’ most vulnerable, and a large investment in road programs to ensure that over 800 active projects continue uninterrupted, thereby keeping 25,000 workers on the job.
 
Rep. Frese stated, “This bipartisan funding plan will provide important state services in order to bridge us toward a full balanced budget. From day one I have been working for responsible compromise, and today that persistence paid off, and Illinois’ taxpayers have seen victory. While this is only a stopgap measure, and not a full compromised budget, it heads off Chicago politicians’ attempts to pass a budget that would again make broken promises to Illinoisans, and send spending plans to the Governor that would overspend the State’s revenues and expect Illinois’ families to foot the bill.
 
Instead, this measure responsibly sees that vital state services remain operating, including educational institutions, infrastructure, Quincy Veterans Home, mental health centers, state police, and state parks. We have seen real compromise today, and I hope it continues as we push towards the most necessary goal, a full balanced budget.”
 
 

 
During the House Floor debate on Friday with only 4 days left in the regular session, Rep. Randy Frese stood up to join House Republicans in calling for a commitment towards a budget solution and compromise. 
 
 
The General Assembly has a few days left to get a budget passed, and needs to continue to work towards a bipartisan compromise to our State's budget impasse. Rank and file members have been in working groups aimed at bridging the gap and coming up with both reforms and budgetary compromises. Speaker Madigan dismissed these inclusive groups, saying they haven't made progress. He's wrong. They're making progress, they're working in good faith, and regardless of Speaker Madigan's efforts to keep the legislature divided, rank and file members need to continue their work.
For over a year, Illinois has needed bipartisan negotiations to produce a balanced budget that meets the needs of all of the Illinoisans that it serves, while enacting reforms to set the state on a brighter economic path forward. While this effort has seemed uneasy in Springfield, at this time rank and file legislative members from both sides of the aisle are meeting, and my hope is that we will all see effective budgeting with political games taken out of the formula. 

Illinois’ typical political games are no longer acceptable at this time, as agencies and individuals have been calling my office daily for the funds they deserve and desire. We haven’t had a budget in over a year, and it’s time for any compromises to get real results. Illinoisans called for reforms in Springfield, and they should be given those reforms with an effective budget, right now.

It is my hope that the Chicago Democrats that have controlled the House and Senate for a long time, and that have to this day brushed aside reforms as unnecessary to their typical process, take the negotiations that have been taking place into honest consideration.

Uncompromised control of the budget will obviously not be signed into law. Illinois needs reforms to grow jobs so that more people are paying the taxes Chicago Democrats crave. And the more people paying taxes, in effect less taxation will be needed.

We just have to see the reforms we all know Illinois needs in one effective, compromised budget.
 
-State Representative Randy Frese

UPDATE FROM SPRINGFIELD 5/25:

Chicago Democrats Bring Spending Plan that Ignores Bipartisan Budget Compromises

House Republicans took to the press corps to explain the rules that were broken by House Democrats who cut short debate on a 500 page, $40 billion spending plan that was dropped an hour before it was called.  The process in Springfield is broken.  We need to #reformIL



 
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) approved of a stopgap measure that will get many vital social services, from autism research to community services, appropriated to their due recipients. Senate Bill 2038 sends almost $700 million worth of social services.

Rep. Frese stated, “I was pleased to vote for this measure because it removes important social services from the rough processes occurring in Springfield, and I hope this can begin bipartisan negotiations that will make Illinois’ state government more serviceable to its people. While I was disappointed that critical funding for human services facilities and prisons were omitted from the bill, I remain hopeful that the legislature will enact bipartisan negotiated reforms going forward.”

Senate Bill 2038 awaits further consideration from the Senate.
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) sat in on some intense legislative action in Springfield on Thursday and Friday, as negotiations were made to get Higher Education institutions some of their due funding.

Rep. Frese stated, “I’m glad we were finally able to see proper negotiations made to get our schools some of their dues. Bipartisan negotiations brought an amendment to Senate Bill 2059, which will send funding to universities, community colleges, and MAP grants. This appropriation is funded through the Educational Assistance Fund. This bill is not a complete end to Illinois’ budgetary problems, but it did bring the proper negotiations Illinoisans have been rightfully asking for.”

Four-year state institutions will see 31% of their budget, while MAP grants shall be funded at 43% of their dues.
CHICAGO - As her office begins issuing state income tax refunds, Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger urged taxpayers to register online to check the status of their refunds and sign up for text message and email payment notifications.

The easy-to-use Tax Refund Alert System allows taxpayers to visit myrefund.illinoiscomptroller.gov and enter their name and Social Security Number to see if the Comptroller's Office has processed their refund. Taxpayers also can enter an email address and phone number to receive a notification when the payment has been made.


In addition, Munger announced her office will include inserts with all tax refunds detailing where the State of Illinois spent $35.6 billion in 2015, information on the state's bill backlog, and other tools to help taxpayers learn about state and local finances. Those who receive their tax refunds through Direct Deposit may view the tax insert digitally if they register for the Tax Refund Alert System.
 
"Taxpayers deserve to know when they will receive their tax refunds. By visiting myrefund.illinoiscomptroller.gov and registering for our tax refund alert system, they can track the status of their refund while monitoring where the state government spends their tax dollars," Munger said. "The Comptroller's Office will continue to focus on making government more efficient, transparent, and accessible while offering taxpayer-friendly tools to help our citizens follow the money."

Before adjourning for a month, Republican State Rep. Tom Demmer motioned to bring back session tomorrow so that legislators can continue to work and solve the budget impasse. House rules require this to be voted on. The speaker ruled the motion "out of order" even though it wasn't. The Republicans wanted to stay and work. The Democrats broke the rules and chose to leave.


SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) watched the majority party undergo another faulty process in which spending bills were filed that wildly exceed revenues.  The Comptroller’s Office has already reported a state backlog totaling $7.2 billion, and legislation that adds to the State’s debt only adds to the risk forced upon those that rely on the State.

Rep. Frese stated, “The broken appropriations bill presented today only shows Speaker Madigan’s unwillingness to negotiate reforms, and places vital budgetary items in harm’s way of his charade. The measure today is unfunded by over $2.4 billion and is another lie to taxpayers, universities, and the people of Illinois. I have repeatedly requested that our Democratic majority colleagues come to the table for negotiating a properly balanced budget that keeps Illinois’ present and future in mind. Without the funds to pay for the items they propose, the majority party blindly marches forward with their unwillingness to reform, and places the state in further jeopardy.”

Rep. Frese went on to note that at the conclusion of session Republicans made a motion to bring the legislature back the following day, as Democrats who create the session's schedule made a four-week gap in the month of March for what many assume to be political reasons. “Speaker Madigan forced a $3 billion over-spending bill to the Governor without a funding source, and this tacked on to our other budget issues makes this long break during the heart of session completely immoral.”

Considering their work done with their appropriations unfunded, the majority party has set the House to not return until April 4th.

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rauner today vetoed legislation that falsely promised MAP grant recipients their educational funding. The Governor has long warned that legislation from the General Assembly without a proper way to pay for it could not be approved.

Rep. Frese stated, “The majority party insincerely sent the Governor legislation that promised MAP grant funding, without the funding. They seem to believe that the Governor will stray from his promise to taxpayers to ensure that state spending is done with a proper spending plan. Not only this, but Democrats refused a hearing for House Bill 4539, which offered a funding mechanism for not only MAP grants, but also community colleges and public universities. If they want to continue to play political games, they should take our state’s young minds and the institutions and scholarships that educate them out of their deceitful process.”

Rep. Frese hopes to see MAP grants given their proper funding mechanism, as just yesterday Governor Rauner suggested the General Assembly pass a clean education bill to show good faith to Illinois’ School Districts.
SPRINGFIELD – State Representative Randy Frese (R-Paloma) watched Governor Rauner discuss his plans to still bring the balanced budget he promised taxpayers, while prioritizing education in a call for a clean bill, without the attachment of disagreed upon issues, in order to get education funding to school districts right away.

Rep. Frese stated, “The Governor has maintained that he will keep his original promise to balance the budget, and he is hopeful we can still do this by working together across party lines. I stand with his priority to get a clean bill passed by the General Assembly that funds schools in the coming school year, and leaves our children and their schools out of the budgetary impasse.

“Today the Governor laid out two plans for balancing the budget. One involves working together on a comprehensive approach, and the other involves him being given the executive power to draw the balances himself. Either way, we need to act, and once the Democrats get serious about planning a properly balanced budget, we can begin an inter-related process of structurally reforming the budget to boost economic growth and drive down costs.

“What I want right now is an education bill that I can bring home to my District, so our schools are taken out of the process. Then we can begin discussing reforms that will benefit our hardworking taxpayers and our budget processes for years to come.”
 

 

Budget – Comptroller’s Report

·         Comptroller Munger warns of $6.2 billion price for budget gridlock.  In a report to Illinois residents on Tuesday, February 2, the Illinois Comptroller projected that Illinois will fall $6.2 billion further behind on its “unpaid bills” in FY16 unless a solution to the budget crisis can be found.  Leslie Munger’s office oversees the cash flows of Illinois state government, particularly the “general funds” cash flows that are at the heart of the current crisis.  Many of these cash flows are related to State-financed health care, education, and other government services classified as essential.

In her statement, Comptroller Munger pointed out that Illinois has entered the eighth month of fiscal year 2016 (FY16) without a balanced budget to control State spending.  During the course of this fiscal year, based upon current cash flows, general funds tax receipts are falling approximately $5.0 billion short of the monies that came in last year.  At the same time, mandated State spending – even without a budget – means that cash is going out at a rate approximately $1.2 billion ahead of last year.  The combination of these two categories, cash in and cash out, adds up to Munger’s $6.2 billion figure.

State of Illinois spending has actually sped up in FY16 over FY15 because of the existence of a network of interlocked court decisions, consent decrees, and continuing appropriations that bind Illinois and privilege a series of categories of social spending above the statutory appropriations powers of the State. Health care spending, particularly Medicaid spending, makes up a large percentage of this cash push.    

Winter in Illinois

·         Illinois flood damage being assessed.  Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are getting ready to conduct damage assessments in sections of southern Illinois hit hard by the flooding that began in late December.  Illinois must post at least $18 million in storm-related damage to homes and businesses to be eligible for certain federal funds.  The assessors will look at locations within Alexander County, centering on far-southern Cairo, and historic Randolph County, centering on Chester.  Both counties border the lower Mississippi River, which was swelled by a record fall of rain and sleet on southern Illinois and much of Missouri in the days immediately following Christmas.  The Show-Me State, across the Mississippi from Cairo and Chester, has already been approved for federal disaster relief funds.  
Watch the Governor’s State of the State address on January 27, at noon, right from your computer.  
 

FY16 Budget

·         University of Illinois: declining State credit levying a cost on taxpayers.  Illinois is ranked 50th of 50 in terms of its financial probity and ability to repay its debts, according to the collective judgment of the three New York-based credit rating firms (Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch Ratings).  Despite this poor rating, Illinois infrastructure needs continue to demand an urgent response and, on January 14, Illinois sold $480 million in new bonded debt backed by tax revenue.  The interest rates demanded by bond buyers reflected the State’s sub-optimal credit rating.  As some of the bonds are denominated with maturity dates as far out as 25 years from now, these interest rates will be paid by Illinois taxpayers for many years. 

It is possible, by comparing Illinois’ credit rating and interest rates with the credit ratings and interest rates enjoyed by higher-rated states, such as Indiana, to estimate the costs of Illinois’ current fiscal situation upon future taxpayers.  The nonpartisan University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) estimated that Illinois taxpayers will pay an additional $53 million on the January 14 bond sale over and above what would have had been pledged to be paid had the State kept its fiscal house in order.
This coming Monday, January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Serve Illinois, the state's Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, is encouraging Illinoisans to get involved and make a difference by volunteering for an MLK Day project in your local area.

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each year, thousands of Illinoisans make the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday "a day on, not a day off." This year Serve Illinois asks you to join your neighbors in giving back. Below, please find details on service projects that are planned by Serve Illinois partners. You can also search for more projects by visiting www.serve.illinois.gov.

For more information on the day of service, please visit MLKDay.gov.