House Democrats Pass SJRCA1 from Committee
Earlier this week, the House Democrats passed the constitutional amendment to place the progressive income tax on the ballot in 2020 out of the House Revenue and Finance Committee. It passed with only Democrat votes as all Republicans on the committee opposed it. There was not a bill to impose the actual progressive tax rates like the Senate passed earlier this month. I am strongly opposed to changing our tax structure from a flat tax to a progressive tax. Wednesday, I stood with my freshman colleagues in the House Republican caucus to discuss the impact that the progressive income tax would have on Illinois. More people have left Illinois over the last 5 years than any other state in America. Instead of pursuing policies to address the out migration of taxpayers, we are doubling down on higher income taxes with no guarantees that the middle class will be protected.
As a former small business owner, I understand the struggles and challenges that small businesses people face each and every day. Instituting a progressive tax will not only harm small businesses across Illinois, but it will make it easier for future General Assemblies to raise taxes on the middle class by re-defining what it is to be the “rich” in Illinois. Illinois does not need higher income taxes, we need more jobs. I am committed to working in a bipartisan manner to enact policies that will create good paying jobs and long-term economic growth which will mean higher revenue to the State of Illinois. You can watch my comments at the press conference here.
Gun Legislation in the House
The majority Party in the House is pushing for legislation that will dramatically increase the cost of FOID cards and put more red tape in front of law abiding gun owners in Illinois. SB 1966 increases the cost of a FOID card from $10 to $50 and reduces the length of validity from 10 years to 5 years. It will also require all FOID applicants and renewals to be fingerprinted and submitted to a State database. These two requirements will only put more burdens in front of law abiding gun owners in Illinois and will do nothing to address the root cause of gun violence in Illinois. As a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, I will be a no vote on this bill when it comes to the House floor for a vote.
Legislation in the Senate
There are several pieces of legislation that I introduced in the House that are currently in the Senate that will be voted on before the end of session on May 31st. First, HB 2165 is a bipartisan effort to change the math requirement for high schools. Under current law, school districts are required to have students complete 3 years of math courses and specifies them as Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II, which can be replaced with an AP computer science course. Under my legislation, which passed the House 115-0-0, school districts would have more flexibility to allow for students who intend to enter the workforce after graduation to replace the geometry requirement with courses such as financial mathematics, game theory, or other topics in addition to computer science to meet the third year requirement. This change will allow for students to receive more real-world math experiences that they will be able to utilize in their careers. I am thankful for the bipartisan support in both the House and Senate for this important piece of legislation.
House Joint Resolution 16, which is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Andy Manar, creates a task force to study the idea of establishing a State sponsored health clinic for state employees, dependents, and retirees. Private sector companies and governments such as District 186, Sangamon County, and the City of Springfield have begun to offer their employees the option of going to a specified clinic for many routine and preventative services as opposed to going to their primary care physician or walk-in clinics. Cost savings are achieved by paying a flat hourly rate to the clinic as opposed to paying much higher rates through employee insurance. This model is a win for the employer because costs will be lower and it is a win for the employee because they do not have co-pay for going to this clinic. HJR16 establishes a task force to study the feasibility of this model for State employees and I am thankful to Senator Manar for sponsoring this in the Senate.
Visiting the Capitol
Earlier this week, students from Springfield Christian School visited the Capitol and I was pleased to be able to bring them onto the House floor and show them where we work while the House is in session (Photo is at the top of this update!). I always enjoy the opportunity to show students around their Capitol and answer questions about State government. Thank you to Springfield Christian School for visiting!
Summer Reading Program
I am excited to invite students in grades K-5 from the 99th district to participate in my summer reading program. Students who successfully read 10 books and have their parent or guardian sign off on it will be invited to a recognition party to celebrate their summer reading accomplishment. This is an excellent way to stay active with reading while school is out. For more information on this, please visit my website or contact my office at (217)782-0044. I hope your student will participate!