Bryant E-News Week in Review November 17, 2015

Dear Friend, 

Its been a busy couple of weeks in the 115th District. I have traveled across the district, meeting with constituents and attending events. I also traveled to Springfield for a marathon day of legislative action on several vital programs and services. An explanation of all the legislative actions is contained in the lengthy paragraphs below. 

Outside of the constant political war in Springfield, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a few pictures and some stories of the places I’ve been and the folks I’ve been meeting with during the last couple of weeks, as well as offer you a glimpse at what’s coming up in the New Year (it’s just around the corner)!

Rep. Bryant, Jim Maurer of AT&T, and Debbie Holsapple
of Comprehensive Connections

Early this month, I was honored to join Jim Maurer, Vice President of External affairs for AT&T Illinois in presenting $2,000 in Investing in Illinois grant funds to Debbie Holsapple, Fiscal Manager and Deputy Director of Comprehensive Connections. The money will be used by Comprehensive Connections to support meals for senior citizens. Thank you to AT&T for your support of this vital service and thank you to all of those that help make comprehensive connections successful.

Rep. Bryant is shown here with Mt. Vernon High School’s
Youth and Government delegation. 

I also had the privilege of joining with several area high schools’ Youth and Government programs for their pre-legislative event. Every year, students from across the state converge on Springfield to engage in mock legislature and Supreme Court exercises. I was proud to stand with the students of the Mt. Vernon high school chapter of the YMCA sponsored Youth and Government program at this year’s event hosted by Sesser-Valier high school.

I took the opportunity to extend my appreciation to the students for their interest in the political process and I encouraged them to submit their ideas for legislation to my office. Congratulations to all of the students and best of luck in Springfield in March!

I was very honored to present the Jefferson County Senior Saints with official Certificates of Congratulations from the Illinois House of Representatives. Each year, seniors that volunteer, donate money and their time, and participate in activities that benefit the community are honored by The Senior Saints Hall of Fame, a cooperative program between the hall of fame committee, the City of Mt. Vernon, Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations to all of this year’s Senior Saints winners! You can read more about the Senior Saints program by clicking here

And finally, last Friday I presented my good friend, Jefferson County Treasurer Dan Knox with a congratulatory resolution that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Earlier this year, Treasurer Knox was named the Illinois County Treasurer’s Association Zone 1 Treasurer of the Year. This is the second year in a row that Dan has earned this distinction. Thank you to Treasurer Knox and his outstanding staff for the great work you do for the citizens of Jefferson County!

And now, for more information on Illinois’ budget situation, and movement on important pieces of legislation, please click the “Read More” link below: 

The State of Illinois is in the middle of its 5th consecutive month without a budget for the FY 16 year. Although there is no official budget, much of Illinois government continues to function due to court orders, consent decree, and continuing appropriation. 

Despite the fact that over 90% of Illinois’ spending continues without interruption, there were some important programs that were experiencing cuts and a lack of funding. For months, money has been held up for child care assistance, assistance for the elderly, and physically and developmentally disabled, Illinois lottery payouts, motor fuel tax payouts to municipalities, and funds to reopen the Illinois State Museum and other historical preservation agencies. 

Information on legislation that moved last week in the House of Representatives is below. Please read through all of the text to gain an understanding of the shameful political games being played by Speaker Madigan on these very important issues: 

Governor agrees to compromise on child care eligibility, while Democrat action fails. 
A spokesperson for Governor Rauner issued a statement on Monday, November 9 describing the move:  “As a result of bipartisan discussions with legislators concerning the future of the Child Care Assistance Program, the Rauner administration today plans to amend the emergency rule it filed at the beginning of the fiscal year. Under the amended rule, income eligibility will rise to 162% of the federal poverty level while current co-pays will remain intact. Other eligibility and restrictions will also be lifted pending further review and legislative consultation. Additionally, the governor’s office will establish a bipartisan, bicameral task force aimed at ensuring the long-term stability of the program.”

After legislators in both parties urged Governor Rauner to compromise, the Governor acted in good faith to restore eligibility for the overwhelming majority of families receiving child care assistance. Compromise language supported by the Governor brings CCAP eligibility up to 162% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is higher than most of Illinois’ neighboring states. This is a reasonable compromise that protects child care for the working poor, while at the same time holding the line on spending.

House Democrats responded by thumbing their noses at the compromise and forging ahead with a vote on SB 570, legislation to keep CCAP eligibility at 185% of FPL. Despite bipartisan efforts to achieve a reasonable compromise, Democrats refused to back down and their legislation ultimately failed on a vote of 70-35-4 (71-vote supermajority required for passage).
Despite agreement on DON score, Democrats pursue override.
Earlier this year, Governor Rauner responded to budget shortfalls by issuing rules to raise the Determination of Need (DON) score used to establish eligibility for long-term care.

Democrats subsequently passed legislation that would return the DON score threshold to the original number of 29. Last week, Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto of that bill and explained that while well-intentioned, HB 2482 would lock into statute a provision that would allow qualifying individuals to be eligible for both institutional and home and community-based care services, thus driving up costs and eliminating the possibility of cost efficiencies.

This week, the Rauner administration announced that it will not be increasing the DON score used to determine eligibility for long-term care. Instead, the State will use the existing DON score of 29 to ensure Illinois’ elderly and most vulnerable citizens receive appropriate care. In spite of this compromise, Democrats brought the bill to the House floor on November 10 for an override vote. Once again, the Democrats’ move against a negotiated solution failed on a vote of 70-38-1.

Motor fuel tax legislation passes, but Madigan puts a hold on it.  With Illinois now in the fifth month of Fiscal Year 2016 without an approved budget in place, many important appropriations have been left in limbo.

HB 4305 authorizes the distribution of motor fuel tax (MFT) receipts to local governments. These funds are vitally important to municipalities and townships for local road projects and public safety. House Republicans successfully persuaded the Governor to join us in our support for providing this essential funding for MFT, 9-1-1 services and additional public safety funds. After reaching an agreement to pass HB 4305, the legislation was overwhelming approved by the House on November 10. However, Speaker Madigan used his draconian House Rules to put a hold on forwarding the bill to the Senate, with Majority Leader Currie filing a motion to reconsider the vote. This parliamentary hold means MFT receipts and 9-1-1 funds will not be distributed until the Speaker removes his blockage and the bill can be passed by the Senate.