My staff and I would like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving holiday!

The face-to-face meeting is scheduled to bring together Governor Bruce Rauner and the leaders of the four General Assembly legislative caucuses, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. Originally scheduled to be held on Wednesday, November 18, the meeting has been reset for Tuesday, December 1. The new time will allow preparations to continue over the Thanksgiving holiday.

In addition to budget issues, questions dividing Illinois leaders include workers’ compensation, property tax relief, public-sector labor pay and benefits, tort reform, election process reform, and term limits. Many key items of House Republican advocacy have been barred from discussion and debate within the Illinois General Assembly in recent years. The role of House Speaker Madigan has come under discussion as an element in the overall operation of Illinois state government, often characterized in recent years as one of the “worst in the nation.” Illinois currently has the lowest bond and credit ratings of any of the 50 states.

The District Offices are CLOSED this week until Monday November 30, 2015 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Springfield office will be closed Thursday 11/26 until Monday 11/30
Here at the Lake County Division of Transportation (LCDOT) we have been busy preparing our equipment, training our drivers, and planning our snow removal response effort for the upcoming winter season. The LCDOT snow plows went out on a dry run last week to make sure everything was operating as it should, and to make sure there were no hazards or unforeseen obstacles along the routes.

When you are driving in snow and icy conditions, you will be sharing the road with LCDOT snow plows. We hit the road before the snow starts to fall, and we run the routes in 12 hour shifts until roads have returned to normal conditions. The two most important things to remember:
A spokesperson for Governor Rauner issued a statement on Monday, November 9 describing the move: “As a result of bipartisan discussions with legislators concerning the future of the Child Care Assistance Program, the Rauner administration today plans to amend the emergency rule it filed at the beginning of the fiscal year. Under the amended rule, income eligibility will rise to 162% of the federal poverty level while current co-pays will remain intact. Other eligibility and restrictions will also be lifted pending further review and legislative consultation. Additionally, the governor's office will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program.”

After legislators in both parties urged Governor Rauner to compromise, the Governor acted in good faith to restore eligibility for the overwhelming majority of families receiving child care assistance. Compromise language supported by the Governor brings CCAP eligibility up to 162% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is higher than most of Illinois’ neighboring states. This is a reasonable compromise that protects child care for the working poor, while at the same time holding the line on spending.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has named State Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) a “2015 Legislator of the Year” for her efforts to curb repeat drunk driving. Wheeler was the chief sponsor of House Bill 3533, which prevents repeat drunk drivers from prematurely reobtaining a driver’s license and increases the length of time breathalyzer ignition devices (BAIID devices) must remain in their vehicles.

“MADD graciously thanks Representative Wheeler for her unwavering support of stronger drunk driving laws in Illinois,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “MADD is proud to partner with Representative Wheeler and other state leaders who are dedicated to our mission of eliminating drunk driving once and for all.”

Under HB 3533, the Illinois Vehicle Code was amended so that anyone caught driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, intoxicating compounds, or any combination of these on multiple occasions will be subject to the installation of BAIID devices on all their vehicles for no less than five years. BAIID devices are breathalyzer devices that are connected to a vehicles ignition, if there is any presence of alcohol on the breath of the driver, the vehicle will not be able to start.
The Lake County Underage Drinking and Drug Prevention Task Force has recently made drug collection boxes available county-wide in an effort to keep unneeded drugs out of the hands of children and young adults who may misuse them. The task force's mission is to provide leadership and resources to reduce and prevent underage drinking and other youth substance abuse in Lake County. I am very proud of the work this Task Force has done and the impact it has had and will continue to have on keeping our youth safe! More information on the locations and details of the drug collection boxes can be found here.
The headquarters of the well-known brand family of processed meats, currently located in Madison, Wisconsin, will move to downtown Chicago. The decision by brand owner Kraft Heinz was announced on Wednesday, November 4. Illinois could gain as many as 250 jobs as a result of the move. Oscar Mayer’s headquarters move is associated with Kraft Heinz’s decision to close its Madison packing plant no later than 2017.

Kraft Heinz remains a net subtractor of jobs from the greater Chicago area in 2015. The international consumer-goods firm’s announcement this week followed its decision in August to reduce by 700 its Chicago-area headcount. Kraft Heinz is shifting its Chicago-area headquarters operations to the city and out of the buildings used by formerly autonomous Kraft in suburban Northfield.
General Assembly watchdogs chart continued budget picture.
The nonpartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the in-house budget agency of the Illinois General Assembly, released their October 2015 fiscal report this week. The CGFA “Monthly Briefing” covers ongoing State revenues, particularly key State General Funds revenue numbers, and ongoing trends likely to affect future State revenues. For example, the October briefing includes a discussion, based on nationwide trends and economic models, of the likely health of the 2015 Christmas retail selling season and its expected impact on State sales tax revenues.

CGFA, working in conjunction with the Illinois Department of Revenue, uncovered continued dismal trends in State revenues this October. Illinois general funds revenues were $319 million lower in October 2015 (fiscal year 2016) than they had been in October 2014. General Funds revenues come from income taxes, sales taxes, and other sources. As in previous months, the decline was paced by a year-over-year shortfall in State personal income tax revenues and corporate income tax revenues. The accumulated deficit for the four months of FY16 so far experienced is $1,456 million. The current fiscal year began on July 1, 2015.
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) reported this month that the statewide jobless percentage for September was 5.4%, down 0.2% from the August 2015 total of 5.6%. However, this drop in the jobless rate was not caused by net new hiring. Illinois seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll employment actually dropped by 6,900 jobs on a month-to-month basis in September, with sector weaknesses continuing in manufacturing, trade, transportation, and utilities. Strong sectors included education services, health services, and government.
The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” requires most U.S. adults who do not have employer-provided health care coverage to purchase health care coverage on the private market, and imposes tax penalties for the failure to make this purchase. Private-sector providers of health care coverage are required to conform to a significant set of complex mandates, and many of them say these mandates drive up the prices they are required to charge. Sharp increases are being seen in the costs of average Illinois health care policies offered across various tiers of coverage, with the average lowest cost Illinois silver plan going up 5.3% and the average lowest cost bronze plan increasing 11.3%.
The meeting is expected to examine the delayed FY16 budget process. Although the FY16 fiscal year began on July 1, 2015, a constitutional balanced budget has not been enacted by the Democrat supermajorities in the Illinois House and Senate. The State has continued to operate under consent decrees, court orders, continuing appropriations, and school appropriations, but this has created many operational problems. Recipients of State services, and providers of goods and services to the State, have been affected by the lack of a legal budget document.

Spokespersons for all four legislative leaders, including House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, expressed positive interest in the meeting. The gathering was requested by a consortium of nonpartisan advocacy groups. Sponsors of the request included the Better Government Association, the League of Women Voters, and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.