Governor signs budget into law
Governor Bruce Rauner signed the $38.5 billion spending plan for Fiscal Year 2019 into law on Monday, June 4, and while Senator Paul Schimpf said he recognizes the new state budget is not perfect, he emphasized the compromise will ensure vital state services remain funded, including health coverage for children and senior citizens, as well as other priorities that save lives and protect the public.
Republican legislators stressed that more than $1 billion in spending was cut from the “auto-pilot” expenditures that would have resulted without the changes made to current law. With their input, what would have amounted to more than $500 million in annual spending, was eliminated or reduced.
It’s also important to note that the budget includes capital appropriations for road, bridge, and infrastructure projects. Illinois is at the crossroads of America and Sen. Schimpf believes improving and maintaining Illinois’ transportation infrastructure is particularly important for creating jobs, helping employers, and guaranteeing safer roads and bridges.
Budget includes $53 million investment for the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy
Importantly, the newly-signed budget authorizes $53 million in startup funding to make repairs to the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy, including making improvements to the water filtration system, and also beginning construction on a new facility.
Additionally, some of the revenue will go to purchase and renovate the Sycamore Healthcare building, which will temporarily house veterans until the reconstruction of the home is complete. The state wrapped-up the purchase of the former Sycamore Healthcare building on June 8, with renovations beginning immediately, according to the Governor.
Supporters underscored the temporary housing is an important first step to ensure the residents at the Illinois Veterans’ Home at Quincy receive the best care possible, saying the funding brings the state one step closer to creating the state-of-the-art facility that the state’s veterans deserve.
During his appearance in Quincy on June 5, the Governor also introduced Brigadier General Stephen Curda as the new director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Lawmakers leave unfinished business in Springfield
House fails to pass Southwest Illinois Connector Task Force resolution
A resolution that would have created the Southwest Illinois Connector Task Force is stuck on the House Resolutions Calendar—while lawmakers are back in their districts for summer.
Senate Joint Resolution 54 (SJR54) passed out of the Senate on May 10 and the House Transportation Committee amended and passed the resolution on May 23.
“I’m disappointed that both houses were unable to complete action on this resolution prior to adjournment,” said Schimpf. “The lack of urgency in Springfield regarding our region’s infrastructure remains one of my greatest frustrations.”
The Resolution called for the study of the cost, feasibility, and environmental impact of a proposed four lane divided highway from Waterloo to Murphysboro. The study would have also assessed the short and long-term economic impact to the region, and all options for funding—both public and private.
As currently drafted, the resolution requires that task force members conduct four meetings and produce a report by Dec. 31, 2018. Sen. Schimpf expects to meet with grassroots supporters of the highway to assess the project’s next steps.
“Although I expect this resolution to ultimately pass and be signed into law, I’m concerned about whether the task force can meet the aggressive timelines needed to reach and accomplish this goal,” said Schimpf.
Higher Ed. Working Group Proposal Becomes Law in State Budget
College students who receive a Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant this fall will have a greater sense of financial security as they hit the books. Moving forward, the state is guaranteeing MAP grants for four years rather than annually. The grants are awarded based on financial need and do not have to be repaid.
The change results from the work done by the Illinois Higher Education Working Group, a bipartisan, bicameral group of legislators that includes Senator Paul Schimpf. The program improvements are appropriated in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget which was signed into law on Monday, June 4, by Governor Bruce Rauner and takes effect July 1.
“This is not only a win for these students, but for the state,” said Schimpf. “We need to keep our talented students in Illinois and award them for their academic abilities. The four-year guarantee should make things easier on them while allowing our higher education institutions to compete with out-of-state schools that already offer financial aid packages in this form.”
The grants are awarded on a first come, first served basis. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) will annually publish a priority deadline for renewing applicants. Beginning with the 2020-2021 academic year, a MAP grant to a student at a public institution of higher learning shall be prioritized for renewal until the recipient completes a baccalaureate degree or equivalent of 135 credit hours if the recipient meets the published priority deadline and eligibility requirements. A renewing applicant's failure to apply by the priority deadline date shall not disqualify that student from receiving a grant if sufficient funding is available to provide awards after that date.
“These changes help level the playing field with out-of-state schools that are poaching Illinois’ best and brightest. This will also help make college more affordable for the middle class and provide cost certainty to students and their families,” said Schimpf.
Check Your Boat Registration
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reminds boat owners in Illinois to check their three-year boat registration/decal and renew their registration if it expires in 2018. Renewing watercraft registration can be done online through the IDNR website or by phone by calling 1-866-867-3542.
To renew registration, have available the following:
- watercraft’s Illinois registration number
- the first six characters of the watercraft’s hull ID number
- the first three letters of the registered owner’s last name
- a credit card
As of June 1, 2018, new or renewed three-year watercraft registrations will expire on Sept. 30 in the calendar year of expiration. For details on Illinois watercraft registration requirements and fees, check the IDNR website at dnr.illinois.gov/boating/.
Non-motorized watercraft, including canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, or sail boards in Illinois, are no longer required to have a Water Usage Stamp.
About Senate District 58
The 58th Senate District includes all or parts of Jackson, Jefferson, Perry, Randolph, Monroe, St. Clair, Washington, and Union Counties and represents more than 220,000 Illinois citizens. Discover more at senatorschimpf.com.