Senate Week in Review: January 7-11, 2019

Illinois lawmakers gathered in Springfield during the week to convene the 101st General Assembly, Senator Bill Brady was elected Senator Minority Leader, and Governor Bruce Rauner issued a progress report in the last week of his Administration.

Also during the week, it was announced that the state received a $3.7 million federal grant for early childhood education programs.

In other news, the latest news from Springfield is now available in radio podcast format.  Our members’ podcasts can be found at https://soundcloud.com/theilsenategop or by searching TheILSenateGOP on iTunes and Google Play. My podcasts can be found at http://senatorstewart.com/ed76bc3f-4113-4c11-b56f-4854555e4c4c/podcasts/.

101st General Assembly convenes

The convening of the 101st General Assembly January 9 signals a renewed commitment to face the challenges and welcome the opportunities awaiting Illinois.

The 59 members the Senate participated in inaugural ceremonies in the Senate Chambers.  The 118 members of the House of Representatives participated in inaugural ceremonies in the Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois-Springfield campus.

Bill Brady voted Senate Minority Leader

Among the first orders of business for the 101st General Assembly, Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington was elected by unanimous vote as Senate Minority Leader. 

Brady has represented the 44th Legislative District since his appointment to the Senate in May 2002.  He previously served in the House of Representatives, representing the 88th District from 1993 to 2001.  Brady first became Senate Minority Leader in June 2017.

In remarks during the week, Leader Brady said he was honored and humbled to be elected Minority Leader by his Senate colleagues.  He said he looks forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to stabilize Illinois’ economy, create more jobs, balance the state budget and limit tax burdens on Illinois residents.

“The people of Illinois deserve nothing less than our best efforts,” said Brady, following his election as Minority Leader.  “Thank you for this opportunity.”

Governor Rauner issues progress report

In a constitutionally prescribed report to the 101st General Assembly, Governor Rauner said that critical fiscal challenges remain for the state despite important progress his Administration made in education, government operations, healthcare services, technology, job growth, and criminal justice.

“We have helped save billions of dollars for taxpayers and we’ve dramatically improved service,” the Governor said, “but if state government spending continues to grow faster than our economy, we will not be able to avoid persistent deficits, tax increases, and the out-migration of jobs and families.

“Unless we implement major structural reforms to cause our economy to grow faster than government, our children could face a bleak future of ever higher taxes and lost opportunity,” he said.

The full report will be delivered to the new General Assembly later this week.  It highlights some of the Rauner-Sanguinetti Administration’s achievements since 2015 in education, economy, government, and political and ethics reform:

Education: Record funding for K-12 and early childhood education and equal funding for charter schools, expanded student apprenticeships, a historic tuition scholarship tax credit, and one of the best plans in America for measuring student growth.

Economy: Record-high employment, the formation of Intersect Illinois to recruit and expand businesses at no expense to taxpayers, reduced LLC fees and red tape and fewer regulatory burdens, clean energy job leadership, and dramatically expanded minority contracting with the state.

Government: Moved state services into the digital age saving billions for taxpayers, eliminated forced unionization of government employees, negotiated 22 incentive-based contracts with state unions, won a $2 billion 1115 Medicaid waiver to vault the state into pre-eminence in mental health, prevented millions in Medicaid fraud and abuse, and cut prison recidivism rates from 50 percent to 39 percent.

Politics & Ethics: Signed Executive Orders to curb lobbyist revolving doors and sexual harassment and prevent legislators arguing cases in front of the state property tax appeals board; championed term limits and fair maps; and urged legislators to remove blocks to such majority-supported voter initiatives.

Illinois receives Early Childhood Development grant

The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development this week received a $3.7 million Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five (PDG B-5) Initial Grant Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to enhance early childhood programming like Head Start and Early Head Start, state prekindergarten programs, child care, and home visiting services.

The Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development will serve as the lead agency for the grant, which will allow the Office to develop a needs assessment and strategic plan and to strengthen the state’s system of early childhood programs.

In 2016, an executive order established the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Youth, which convenes leaders from across state agencies to improve outcomes for Illinois children and families.  One of the projects that the Children’s Cabinet has adopted is promoting early childhood workforce development.

The PDG B-5 grant will run through December 31, and the Office will have the opportunity to apply for renewal grants before the end of the year.

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