November 6, 2015
I hope you had a great week and enjoyed what may be the final stretch of warm weather for the year! The fall colors are amazing this year, especially in the rural parts of our district. When I go on my bike rides in the countryside in Grundy County, the trees are beautiful, so I hope you take a tour this weekend!
Next week, I have the honor of speaking at the Veterans Day program in Coal City. When I think of Veterans Day, I think of why we must honor every soldier and every person who has played a role in bringing peace and freedom to our world. Their service and sacrifice should always be remembered. So many men and women – who are the truest definition of hero - willingly and proudly answered the call of duty to their country. They gave up so much to not only protect our nation, but others across the globe.
For example, the Witczak brothers – from the LaSalle, Peru area. They are seven brothers who served in either World War II or the Korean War, seven brothers who took up arms in the name of Democracy and our country’s ideals. To have seven 7 brothers fight for our country is not only a great story but a testament to what it means to serve, put others first, and help the helpless.
While Veteran’s Day is about honoring and remembering all of those who served, it’s also a day to honor and remember the families who have or had loved ones serve. It’s true, when a soldier goes off to war, the family goes as well. It’s not easy for a husband, wife, mother, father, brother or sister see their loved one leave. The emotional toll it takes on a family is very difficult, but like their soldier, they are brave. It’s why I believe Veteran’s Day is also a day to honor these families, especially families who have lost a loved one in the line of duty.
I had the chance to meet several Gold Star Mothers a few weeks ago. These are parents who lost a son or daughter while fighting for our country. These Gold Star families are unbelievable, so strong in the face of a personal tragedy - heroes, just like their son or daughter. We must continue to remember these families, continue to be by their side, and continue to honor the sacrifice they and honor the sacrifice their son or daughter made.
Veteran’s Day is also a day to be proud. Proud to live in the greatest country in the world, have the best people in the world, and proud our country strives to always help others around the globe experience freedom by ending suppressive governments.
I had the unbelievable privilege earlier this month of joining an Illinois delegation of elected officials in attending the christening of the USS Illinois submarine in Connecticut. It was incredible to not only see the submarine and all the technology behind it, but to see the thousands of people show their support for our brave men and women who fight for our country and freedom around the world.It was an experience that reinforces how proud I am to be an American, and how proud I am of our country.
The USS Illinois is quite the impressive submarine, but it’s the people on board who will truly make it a positive force around the world.
I can’t say more than thank you to all our veterans and servicemen and women.Thank you for being a hero, for facing obstacles and tragedy so bravely, for making our world a better place, and for your self-less attitude and actions of always helping others first.
I hope you have a great weekend.
Sen. Sue Rezin
In the District
Great to see my friends from the Starved Rock ABATE group!
Also great to see my friends from the USS Illinois Commissioning Commission!
I attended an education hearing this week.
If you are interested in tracking legislation daily, what legislation passes committees and the Senate floor, or how I voted on legislation each day in Springfield, please go to this website: http://www.senategop.state.il.us/AbouttheSenate/SenateAction.aspx
That site tracks what legislation passed each in Springfield on the Senate side, whether it's in a committee or on the Senate floor. If you are then interested in how I voted or how other lawmakers voted, go to ilga.gov and type in the bill number you are interested in on the left hand side of the website. When that page opens up, scroll down and find where the Senate or House took action on the bill on the Senate or House floor. If you click on that link, that will then direct you to how the chamber voted.
Senate Week in Review November 2 - 6
SPRINGFIELD, IL -Lawmakers will return to the State Capitol next week, although a deal on passing a balanced budget is not expected, according to State Sen. Sue Rezin. The one-day session will be another in a series of meetings that haven’t yielded much progress in reaching a deal on the now five-month budget impasse.
Additionally, as Gov. Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders are scheduled to meet on Nov. 18, Senate Republican lawmakers are tamping down expectations for a quick fix to the budgetary stalemate.
Also during the week, a Reuters News Service report found that Illinois’ low bond ratings are having a negative impact on local governments’ ability to build or expand facilities; two state fiscal reports show very bleak economic results; the state mourns the passing of retired Chief Justice Thomas Fitzgerald; and Illinois’ harvest continues to come in at a healthy clip as farmers hope for more moisture to relieve slightly depleted water reserves.
Legislative session and leaders’ meeting scheduled
November 10 and 18 are two key dates that legislative observers will be watching closely as Illinoisans await a final resolution to the state’s ongoing budget impasse. Legislators return to the Capitol Nov. 10 for what would normally be a fall Veto Session, but the “continuous” session has produced a very abnormal working climate in Springfield. Senate Republicans continue their call for the state to enact a balanced budget and pass critical reforms needed to boost Illinois’ economy and create more jobs.
The spring legislative session yielded few vetoed pieces of legislation and as a result, most of the legislation has been acted on, with many of Gov. Rauner’s vetoes standing.
The Nov. 10 session will feature a handful of House of Representatives Committees and another full House Committee of the Whole, which will hear testimony from Illinois’ higher education stakeholders. The Senate is expected to take action on some legislation.
Meanwhile, the Governor is inviting the leaders of the four legislative caucuses to discuss the best way forward for Illinois, at a meeting Nov. 18.
Senate Republican members are hoping the Democrat legislative majorities will begin to negotiate in good faith, so progress can be made on reforms needed to right the state’s fiscal ship and move Illinois forward.
Reuters: Illinois fiscal woes cost local governments
Illinois’ bond rating, which hovers slightly above “junk” status, is now being credited for stalling out local government work. Multiple school districts across the state are feeling the effects of Illinois’ failure to follow throughon promises of state construction monies. The Reuters report highlights Algonquin District 300’s inability to finish its construction on the unit’s new facilities.
Additionally, the region’s Metra system is also having problems keeping up with their expansion and maintenance schedules because of bonding issues. The report notes that Illinois has not placed bonds for sale since May 2014, which places even more strenuous restrictions on the state’s now 11-year old school construction list.
The state’s fiscal woes also extend to the 2009 “Illinois Jobs Now!” construction plan, which is on schedule to leave more than $4 billion in bonding authority on the “table.”
Illinois Comptroller releases First Quarter Report
Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger’s office issued its Fiscal Year 2016 First Quarterreport.
In the report, the “general fund payables” increased by more than $825 million versus the same quarter for the previous fiscal year. More importantly, Illinois started the new fiscal year with a checking account deficit of $3.013 billion, which does not bode well for the remainder of the fiscal year which ends in June.
Overall income tax revenues are down 22 percent for individuals and 24.5 percent for corporate revenues compared to the first quarter of FY 2015. Sales tax revenues showed a positive trend by ticking up 0.9 percent. Additionally, revenue shares from the federal government were up 9.9 percent.
Illinois has also increased spending on its Medicaid program by 74 percent during the first quarter of FY 2016.
COGFA reports show mixed economic signals
The legislative Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability produced its October report,and the results are mixed.Illinois’ economic expansion was slowed during the month and as a result, the percentage of growth in the Gross Domestic Product fell to 2 percent for the year. During the summer months, Illinois’ economic output was hovering just shy of a healthy four percent.
September’s economic results showed an 11.5 percent decline in home sales, but economists stressed that Illinois home sales are still strong. That’s due to an uptick of 2.1 percent for the first nine months of 2015. Gas and fuel receipts are down by 19.7 percent due to the downturn in fuel prices. Conversely, it appears that Illinoisans are investing more money into higher expenditures for automobiles, furniture, and home furnishings.
Former Chief Justice passes
The Illinois Supreme Court and the legal community are mourning the passing of retired Chief Justice Robert Fitzgerald, who passed away Nov. 1at the age of 74.
Chief Justice Fitzgerald was most recently known for presiding over the Illinois Senate’s trial of impeached former Governor Rod Blagojevich. His supervision of the Senate trial led to the removal of Blagojevich on Jan. 29, 2009, and thus banning the former Governor from ever seeking office in Illinois again.
Fitzgerald served on the state’s highest bench for 10 years, following his 2000 election. Prior to his Supreme Court service, he served as a Cook County judge dealing with a wide variety of cases.
Former Justice Fitzgerald was known as a model jurist for his fairness, impartiality, and his ability to be above reproach. He was especially famous for his ethical standards after he was placed in charge of the Cook County Traffic Division following the now-infamous Greylord scandal, which sent 15 judges to federal prison in the 1980s.
Farmers welcome rainfall
Multiple days of precipitation slowed the harvesting of the last few remaining acres of corn and soybeans, though most producers were grateful for the additional moisture.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, statewide precipitation averaged more than one inch last week. The rain had an immediate impact on soil moisture, with 62 percent of soil now rated as adequate or surplus moisture, compared to just 41 percent the week before.
Central Illinois agricultural producers will likely keep their “eyes on the sky” as 23 counties are trying to emerge from a moderate drought and they hope area water tables are replenished.
Farmers continue to wrap up their 2015 harvest, with 93 percent of corn and bean acres now complete. During the same time in 2014, 57 percent of corn and 59 percent of soybeans had been harvested.
Many farmers are now tilling fields and waiting for soil temperatures to drop before applying fall nitrogen fertilizer. Across the state, soil temperatures ranged from 45.6 in the north to 56.6 in the south.