The McDermed Dispatch for February 20th

Governor’s Budget Address
You can watch my immediate reaction here.

One of the biggest takeaways from the Governor’s budget address was a proposal to gradually shift pension costs to schools. In his address, Governor Rauner said, “if you separate the payment from the accountability, there is no accountability.” The reasoning is that costs unnecessarily balloon when the responsibility for picking up the tab is disconnected from those spending the money. While I agree we should work to help schools lower costs, work to bring more accountability to our finances, and to question the necessity of certain expenses, this proposal is unlikely to gain much traction in Springfield.

That being said, leadership and legislators need to get realistic about the state budget and the status of Illinois’ finances. Despite forcing a 32% tax hike on citizens last year, tax receipts are significantly less than expected and Illinois spending continues to climb along with pension obligations and debt service. It’s clear that tax hikes are not the answer to our budget woes. Common sense budgeting practices with an established revenue estimate and clear spending priorities are a good place to start. Illinois cannot afford any more last-minute backroom budget deals that force rank and file legislators to choose between a bad deal or no budget at all. I’m worried that will be the case yet again this year as Speaker Madigan has cancelled 3 session days already. The House won’t be back in session until February 27th.

‘Illinois Tax Reform Plan’
I am the co-sponsor of a recent taxpayer relief plan put forth by State Representative Breen to capitalize on the new federal tax legislation. This package of bills includes:

         HB 4563– expands Illinois’ current Invest in Kids Act tax credit model to allow Illinoisans to make fully deductible charitable contributions to 501(c)(3) foundations supporting public school districts while receiving tax credits to reduce their partially deductible state and local income tax (SALT) payments. The new federal tax law provided a $10,000 limit on deductions for SALT payments while placing no limit on charitable deductions.
        HB 4376– allows parents who choose to send their children to K-12 private or parochial schools in Illinois to use their Illinois Bright Start program funds (529 Plan) to help offset those costs rather than only using those funds for college. The bill also provides for a rollover of 529 plan funds into Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account to help individuals living with significant disabilities. Whereas 529 plans may only be used for education, ABLE accounts may also be used for housing, transportation, employment training and support, assistive technology, personal support services, and health care expenses.
        HB 4562- lifts the requirement that individuals who operate a small business where they are the sole employee be in the unemployment insurance system. 

Driving Seminars
Thank you to all the seniors who came out this morning to the New Lenox Library to learn from the Secretary of State’s office. Don’t miss out on the next informative opportunity to relearn the rules of the road on Tuesday, May 22nd at Parker Road Bible Church.  Gougar Road Blockage Last week a CN railroad train blocked Gougar Road for 5 hours. That is unacceptable. The crew operating the train had reached their maximum hours on the job, an important safety rule, but the train was stopped for hours blocking cars and trucks on a road near Lincoln-Way West HS as the company waited for a new crew. I reached out to CN and was assured this was an anomaly caused by poor weather in Western Canada,the insufficient air pressure in the train’s break lines, and federal safety standards. They are working to prevent anything like this from happening again. 

Child Seatbelt Requirement for Older Cars Illinois law requires all drivers and passengers to wear safety belts even if the vehicle is equipped with air bags. According to current law, automobiles manufactured before 1965 are not required to be installed with seatbelts under federal regulations and are therefore exempt. My new bill, HB4238, will require that children under the age of 18 in a motor vehicle made prior to 1965 wear a seat safety belt when the motor vehicle is in motion, unless the vehicle is being used for a parade or other similar activity. Child safety is more important than grandfathered in laws. The bill has been assigned to committee for further review.

Area Business Alert
Last week the Frankfort Police Department responded to a retail establishment regarding the passing of a fraudulent $100-dollar bill. The suspect was taken into custody and much was learned about how this crime is occurring. The suspect is an African American female who is under the age of 18. She is working with a 19 to 21-year-old male who drives her from business to business. She is instructed to spend less than $10-$15 with the fake $100-dollar bill. Local businesses should use extra caution when accepting $100 dollar bills.

Transportation Survey

Don’t forget to fill out my brief survey! It is available on my website.