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State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) has joined House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and more than 20 House colleagues to offer comprehensive pension reform legislation. House Bill 4027 would provide significant savings for taxpayers to address Illinois’ unsustainable $130 billion unfunded pension liabilities. The legislation is modeled after legislation introduced in a bipartisan manner in the Senate.

House Bill 4027 includes:
  • Senate President John Cullerton’s “consideration model” that would require members of TRS, SURS, SERS, GARS, and CTPF to exchange their Tier 1 COLA for the right to have future raises to be counted as pensionable, or keep their COLA and sacrifice future raises as pensionable. This concept previously received union support by the We Are One Coalition;
  • Closes new member participation in the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS); 
  • Offers Tier 1 TRS, SURS, SERS and GARS employees the option to participate in a defined contribution (DC) plan; 
  • Creates a voluntary Tier 3 Hybrid defined benefit/defined contribution plan for new Tier 2 employees under TRS, SURS, and certain SERS members who do not participate in Social Security.
“Pension reform is essential to solving Illinois’ long-term financial problems,” said Jesiel. “Through this legislation, we can achieve short-term savings of $2.25 billion to help close the current budget deficit and put us on a path to address the unsustainable $130 billion unfunded pension liabilities that are driving residents out of Illinois every day. The bill is consistent with bipartisan legislation in the Senate and the Governor is prepared to sign it. I hope Speaker Madigan will work with us to take this important step toward a balanced budget.”
The Chief County Assessment Office and Lake County Township Assessors Association offer help to senior citizens ages 65 and older who want to complete the 2017 Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Application for taxes payable in 2018 as well as assistance to taxpayers who may qualify to apply for other homestead exemptions. Attend an upcoming outreach session where residents can work one-on-one with a staff member to complete the necessary forms. The Senior Freeze Application is due by July 7. View Upcoming Outreach Sessions.
A statewide survey on drug threats was commenced in April 2016 by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (CJIA). CJIA asked a sample of police chiefs and county sheriffs to identify the drugs in their jurisdictions that they saw most frequently trafficked. Eighty-three chief law enforcement officers responded to the questionnaire. In results published this week, the police chiefs identified heroin and prescription drugs (many of them opiate painkillers) as the most-frequently-trafficked substances within their jurisdictions. The illegal sale of these drugs is a criminal offense under the Controlled Substances Act.
Members of the House Republican Caucus called on House Democrats to respect the wishes of Illinoisans by allowing redistricting reform, HJRCA17, to be called for a vote immediately.

HJRCA 17 would allow voters to decide, by statewide referendum, to amend the Illinois Constitution to create the Independent Redistricting Commission for the purpose of drawing legislative districts. A poll conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute last fall found that 72% of voters, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, supported the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district maps.

Members noted that redistricting reform is directly tied to the state budget and the failure of having unbalanced budgets for more than 10 years.
The Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation directing the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The resolution (HR 34) sponsored by State Rep. Charlie Meier was introduced in light of the abuse and neglect which took place throughout the state in group homes for the developmentally disabled dating back to 2011.

The tragic reports of abuse and neglect came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association’s work with the Chicago Tribune, sparking an investigation by the newspaper, then followed by the Tribune publishing its story earlier this year titled “SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities,” in which the newspaper “identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.”
Last week, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) passed two pieces of legislation through the Illinois House to streamline Illinois’ regulatory process. House Bills 3272 and 3273 give greater adjustability to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to administer the Lake Michigan commercial fishing program.

“It is no secret that Illinois’ regulatory system is in critical need of reform,” said Jesiel. “These pieces of legislation help mitigate the restrictiveness of the regulatory system by giving the Department of Natural Resources more flexibility. Through these changes, IDNR will be able to more effectively address changing biological and economic conditions that impact the Lake Michigan commercial fishing program and avoid the bureaucratic red tape that so often holds things back in Illinois.”

Under House Bill 3272, IDNR will have the ability to update the commercial methods permitted to take fish in Lake Michigan based on changing economic and biological factors without requiring new legislation from the General Assembly. This change will allow the department to be much more responsive to changes posed by shifting lake conditions.
The Office of the Comptroller reported this week that Illinois’ backlog of unpaid bills has reached $12.8 billion, representing $1,000 for each of the 12.8 million men, women and children who call Illinois home.

Money owed by the State and awaiting payment includes monies to Illinois health service providers, institutions of higher education, providers of social services, and many other program service providers. The last full Illinois General Assembly budget expired on June 30, 2015, and the last partial Illinois budget ceased to operate on December 31, 2016. The Illinois General Assembly is currently debating budget action for FY18, starting July 1, 2017. Challenges facing Illinois budgeteers include a pattern of flat Illinois tax revenues, reflecting few new jobs created, and rising Illinois spending commitments, particularly commitments relating to medical services provided under Medicaid and other programs.