Legislative Update: July 3, 2017

House Approves $5 Billion Tax Hike and Budget
After two years and two days without a budget, yesterday in Springfield, members of the House of Representatives approved revenue and spending packages with a goal of ending the budget impasse. SB06 (spending) was approved by a 81-34 vote and SB 09 (revenue) by a 72-45 vote. SB09 would permanently increase the individual income tax rate to 4.95% and the corporate rate to 7%, among other provisions.

I voted against both measures and was disappointed that rushed vote on the two bills were taken. The amended budget package shown in this picture was filed at 2:15 PM yesterday and is 638 pages long, yet a vote occurred just hours later. While our State desperately needs a balanced budget with reforms, these bills were not the result of completed negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. Governor Rauner has already indicated he will veto the bills should they reach his desk, and I am concerned that this action will only continue the budget uncertainty our State has faced for over two years.

Also, SB06 and SB09 were not accompanied by the reforms Illinois desperately needs. The bills simply represented the failed approach of raising taxes without addressing the underlying issues hurting our State. I believe strongly that the provisions of SB06 and SB 09 did not represent the best possible compromise and thus, could not support them. Despite yesterday’s action, I hope that Republicans and Democrats can continue to negotiate and agree upon budgetary reforms crucial to turning around our State.

The Senate is expected to take action on the bills today.

Senator Christine Radogno Resigns Senate Seat and Post as Senate Republican Leader
On Thursday, Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) announced her intention to step down from her seat as the Senator for the 41st District and as the Senate Republican Leader. Upon learning of the announcement, I issued the following statement: “As a resident of the 41st Senate District, I am extremely grateful for Leader Radogno’s selfless service to our district. And as the State Representative for half of Leader Radogno’s district, it has been a privilege to work with her on issues that affect our shared constituency. She has been a tremendous leader and a valuable mentor, and I wish her the very best as she returns to life as a private citizen. Leader Radogno has led the Senate Republican Caucus during a very difficult time in our State’s history. The entire State of Illinois owes Leader Radogno their sincere thanks for her leadership, professionalism and dedication to the work she has done on behalf of the citizens of Illinois.”

On Friday, Illinois Senate Republicans unanimously elected Sen. Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) to serve as the new Senate Republican Leader. Brady has been a State Senator since 2002 and previously served as a State Representative from 1993 to 2001. In the photo above, I’m shown with Leader Radogno at our recent joint Children’s Health & Safety Expo.

Olsen Supports Key Transparency Legislation for Taxpayers
Last week I had an opportunity to speak on the House floor in favor of a bill that would increase the amount of information that must be made available to taxpayers when school districts wish to increase their debt limit. With these debt extensions, I have a concern about the transparency to the voters; whether they truly understand what they're voting on. HB 760 improves transparency for voters, not only with regard to the principle, but also for the interest and borrowing costs. You can watch my full floor comments on here.

Inaugural Senior Fair a Huge Success
Thank you to all who came out to my first annual Senior Fair last week on June 29. We had a great turnout. The event featured dozens of booths staffed by state and local agencies that offer resources for seniors and caregivers. Seniors were also able to receive free blood pressure screenings and immunizations. While I was personally unable to attend due to summer session in Springfield, I’m told by my staff that the event was very successful with hundreds of seniors in attendance. It is my intention to host this type of senior fair every year.

Please mark your calendars for these additional community outreach events:
  • Document Shredding Event: Saturday, July 15, 9:00 AM until 12:00 noon, Sharing Connections, 5111 Chase Ave, Downers Grove
  • Jobs Fair: Wednesday, August 9, 9:00 AM until 12:30 PM, CORE Fitness Center, 6028 W 127th St, Lemont
  • Understanding & Appealing your Property Tax Bill: Saturday, September 9, 10:00 AM until 12:00 noon, Downers Grove Library, 1050 Curtiss St, Downers Grove
  • Veterans Resource Fair: Saturday, November 4, 9:00 AM until 12:00 noon, American Legion Post 80, 4000 Saratoga Ave, Downers Grove 
Governor Signs Bill that Strengthens Penalties for Repeat Gun Offenders
At the end of June, Governor Bruce Rauner signed a landmark criminal justice bill. The bill is a result of successful negotiations between the administration, City of Chicago and the General Assembly that will crack down on criminals who are repeat gun offenders, safely reduce the prison population, and create a more rehabilitative criminal justice system.

SB 1722 makes a number of changes to the criminal justice system to improve how we punish and rehabilitate gun offenders, as well as combat gang violence in Illinois. The bill will strengthen sentencing guidelines if they have committed a gun crime before. It also creates a First-Time Weapon Offender Diversion Program to address the underlying reasons why a young adult may have committed the offense. Additionally, the bill will create a Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force within the Illinois State Police. This task force will be dedicated to combatting gun violence and other violent crime in Chicago and around the state. The provisions of SB 1722 take effect in January of 2018.

Have a Safe and Happy Independence Day!
Lastly, I hope everyone has a very safe and happy Independence Day tomorrow. Whether your plans brought you together with family and friends over the weekend or if you will be celebrating tomorrow, please take a moment to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy, and offer a word of thanks to the men and women of our military, past and present, who have defended or are currently defending those freedoms.

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