SPRINGFIELD - On Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Illinois House of Representatives convened and debated several matters before the General Assembly.
Unfortunately, House Democrats sent a signal they have no intention of compromising and would rather put partisan politics above common sense regarding important issues facing local governments, including public safety, child care and long-term care for seniors. The good news is the governor and legislative leaders are preparing for a budget meeting Dec. 1.
Funds for local governments
In the House, 114 representatives and I voted for HB 4305, to authorize the distribution of motor fuel tax (MFT) receipts to local governments. These funds are vitally important to municipalities and townships and are used for local road projects. My House Republican colleagues successfully persuaded the governor to join us in our support for providing this essential funding for MFT, as well as funding for 911 and other public safety services.
The legislation was overwhelming approved. However, Speaker Madigan used his draconian House rules to put a hold on forwarding the bill to the Senate, with Majority Leader Currie filing a motion to reconsider the vote. This parliamentary hold means the MFT and 911 funds owed will not be distributed until the Speaker removes his blockage, and the bill can be passed by the Senate.
Child care eligibility
After legislators in both parties urged the governor to compromise, he acted to restore eligibility for the overwhelming majority of families receiving child care assistance. Compromise language supported by the governor brought the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) eligibility up to 162 percent 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.
House Democrats attempted to pass legislation (SB 570) that would put the Child Care Assistance Program at risk. The Democrat proposal would expand access to more than what Illinois can afford to pay, which could result in bankrupting the child care program for future generations. In order to protect the program for our next generation, I voted “no” on SB 570, while honoring the bipartisan compromise reached by the governor and the legislature.
Earlier this year, Governor Rauner responded to budget shortfalls by issuing rules to raise the determination of need (DON) score used to establish eligibility for long-term care.
As a result, the Democrat-controlled legislature passed legislation (HB 2482) that would return the DON score threshold to the original number of 29. On Nov. 6, Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto of HB 2482 and explained that while well-intentioned, the legislation would lock into statute a provision that would allow qualifying individuals to be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based care services, thus driving up costs and eliminating the possibility of cost efficiencies.
On Nov. 9, the Rauner administration announced that it will not be increasing the DON score used to determine eligibility for long-term care. Instead, the state will use the existing DON score of 29 to ensure Illinois’ elderly and most vulnerable citizens receive appropriate care. Both Republicans and Democrats agree the eligibility score for long-term care for seniors should remain at 29.
The USDA reported this week that American farmers are expected to bring in a record soybean crop for 2015. The bean harvest, much of which is used for animal feed and soybean oil, is expected to total 3.98 billion bushels. More than 550 million of these bushels will have been cut and harvested in Illinois, making Illinois the nation’s No. 1 soybean producing state.