This morning, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) stood up for students and taxpayers against an empty promise offered by House Democrats. Jesiel noted the deceitful nature of Senate Bill 2043 as an empty promise to students dependent on MAP grants to attend college.

“My colleague, Rep. Dan Brady, used the best word possible when discussing this legislation yesterday during the Higher Education Committee, unconscionable,” said Jesiel. “That is exactly what SB 2043 is, a dishonest and empty promise to the thousands of students at Illinois colleges and universities who rely on MAP funding. These students have studied hard, done what was asked of them and sadly they’re being tricked into believing this legislation will give them the money to go back to school in the fall. It won’t and it’s unconscionable to lie to them like this.”

Jesiel concluded, “There is an alternate proposal, HB 4539, that would fund MAP grants, as well as our community colleges and universities, but it’s been shrugged aside without a second thought to reaching a compromise. As I said yesterday, it’s time for both sides of the aisle to drop the ideology, work together and pass an honest, balanced and constitutional state budget.”
In the Governor’s address today, he reaffirmed that he is committed to making life better for the families across the state of Illinois through reforms and solid initiatives aimed at improving Illinois government, no matter how hard it is to get. “The Governor said, ‘we must cast partisanship and ideology aside’ and I couldn’t agree more. It’s time for Illinois to work together to fix our broken bureaucracy,” said Jesiel.

“His address today showed that he will remain resilient and focused to improve the lives of all Illinoisans and reassured us that he is willing to work with both parties to solve the state’s fiscal crisis, giving us optimism that compromise on core reforms and the budget are not far from reach. He’s clearly interested in fostering bipartisanship, with a willingness to meet the other side half way,” Jesiel concluded.
Today, Governor Rauner signed an Executive Order to consolidate the State’s IT systems, digitize records and create the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT).

Surrounded by millions of documents in the Department of Corrections Transfer Coordinator’s office, Governor Rauner hunkered down at a fold-out table and signed an Executive Order to digitize the state’s records.

State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor) praised the Governor for his actions to move unilaterally to streamline what has been a wasteful, inefficient bureaucratic process. Last year, Rep. Jesiel sponsored and passed HB 4115, to share information between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Human Services. “While this legislation was just a very small step, this has been a priority for me because I’ve learned that there are so many technological redundancies in our State agencies,” said Jesiel. “My background as an accountant has provided me with a very unique lens to view our financial recordkeeping systems. This is an important step in the right direction.”

Gladys Taylor, Assistant Director of the Department of Corrections, revealed the department “…generates 276,000 pieces of information every day and then multiply it times two because every inmate has a master file.”
It's no secret that Illinois has the second highest property tax rate in the country. As a result, people move to other states in search of a lower cost of living and more opportunities for employment. A 2014 Gallup poll revealed that a whopping 50% of Illinois residents want to leave the state. Some already have left. According to the Chicago Tribune, Illinois lost 94,956 residents last year. That's about one resident every five minutes! High out migration comes at a cost. When this happened in 2009, the Illinois Policy Institute estimates that people took their money with them and in that year alone, the state lost 1.5 billion dollars in taxable income. Along with losing additional revenue, Illinois could potentially lose a congressional seat after the 2020 Census. 

Read more on the Chicago Tribune website.

SCAM ALERT: There has been an increase in reports of individuals calling ComEd customers and falsely claiming their electric service will be disconnected unless a payment is made. These impersonators instruct customers to buy a prepaid credit card and call back to a different phone number with the personal identification number (PIN) or other personal information. They are capable of manipulating Caller ID information to disguise themselves as ComEd.

A ComEd representative will NEVER call you to ask for cash or request that you purchase a prepaid credit card to make a payment on your bill. If you have questions about your account, call ComEd's Customer Service Line at (800) 334-3013.

If you believe that you are a victim of this scam, please call the Illinois Attorney General's office at (800) 386-5438 or visit their website, illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/.

Since taking office in January 2015, the Rauner Administration has succeeded in writing new labor contracts with a wide variety of labor unions that represent many difference facets of the State workforce. 17 labor bargaining units, organized within 13 separate trade unions, have agreed to fair, reasonable contracts with the State of Illinois. However, no contract has been reached with AFSCME, which represents 30,000 state employees. On Friday, January 15, the Governor announced that his office will ask the State’s labor-management oversight panel, the Labor Relations Board, to examine the state of the negotiations between the State and AFSCME to determine if these talks have reached a point of impasse.

The determination of an impasse, if it is reached, will be legally significant because it will move relations between the State and AFSCME to a different level from where these relations are right now. Currently, based on mutual pledges by both sides, both the State and its largest union have agreed to continue their relations in the absence of a contract, and AFSCME state employees continue to show up for work and be paid.
After push-back from around the country, the Department of Homeland Security acted on Friday to extend the Real ID compliance deadline until January 22, 2018. This means that your state driver’s license will still be a valid form of identification for boarding aircraft.

It’s been over ten years since the Real ID Act was signed into law. Many states resisted and are still resisting the unfunded federal mandate. According to the Secretary of State’s office, Real ID implementation in Illinois will cost 57.3 million dollars over its first four years.

Read below for a full report from the Secretary of State's office:
Many Illinois individual income taxpayers pay their taxes on a schedule that includes a refund check at the end of the year. The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) announced this week that the current scheduled goal date for mailing out refund checks will be March 1, 2016. Refund check mailings are subject to ongoing Departmental due-diligence efforts aimed at combating tax fraud and identity theft.

The Department advises taxpayers to file their returns electronically rather than on paper. Taxpayers filing electronically may get their refunds in a more timely manner than paper filers. The Department has announced a goal of turning around refund payments on e-filings within a 2-to-3-week window for returns submitted after 3/1/16.
After almost 12 months of hearings and consultations with citizens from throughout Illinois, the Local Government Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates Task Force this week released a 27-recommendation report to reduce burdens on local units of government and taxpayers. The widely-awaited report and recommendations were publicly released on Monday, January 4. The Task Force was chaired by Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.

With 6,963 separate units of local government, Illinois has more autonomous offices than any other U.S. state. Each office and unit has a separate budget and list of operating expenses. Illinois taxpayers, who are legally liable for the entire expense list of the Illinois public sector, have asked their elected officials – including Illinois House Republicans who participated on the Task Force – to study ways to reduce these expenses. One pathway toward this goal, examined by the Task Force, is to remove, repeal, or carve out targeted exceptions to some of the unfunded mandates piled on local governments by Springfield. These include mandates on local governments that require the use of organized labor and collective bargaining to carry out tasks that are successfully carried out in the private sector through other facets of labor-management relations. In a key recommendation, the Task Force asked the General Assembly to lift this mandate.
The report, which covers Illinois general funds receipts and expenditures for the month of December 2015, was generated by the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA).

With the State’s large single budget source – personal income tax revenues – continuing to feel the effects of the current individual income tax rate of 3.75%, December 2015 general revenues net of refunds were down by $430 million from comparable levels of funds paid to the State in December 2014. Of this decline, $376 million was accounted for by changes in personal, individual, and corporate income tax flow, net of refunds.
Contact the Job Center of Lake County to learn about various January workshops