On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his budget address to the Illinois General Assembly. The governor’s budget proposal spends $37.6 billion. This is less than the $37.96 billion Illinois is projected to receive in revenue this year. In his speech, the governor urged the General Assembly to spend more money on education while shifting pension costs to local governments.
"The governor’s budget proposal should be a wake-up call to anyone who thought we could achieve fiscal stability by simply raising taxes,” said Schimpf. “Despite the massive tax increase, the legislature will still need to make difficult choices. The increased infrastructure and education spending that Illinois needs requires economic growth to generate the necessary funding. I hope the General Assembly will not repeat last year's mistakes. This spring we need a budget that is truly balanced, accompanied by pro-growth reforms."
Optional Pension “Buyout” Legislation Filed
Senator Paul Schimpf filed legislation (SB 3073) on Thursday, Feb. 8, to create a voluntary buyout option for vested, inactive pension holders. The legislation provides that on Jan. 1, 2019 (and each year annually thereafter) the SERS, SURS and TRS pension systems shall calculate the net present value of the pension benefits for each eligible person and offer them an opportunity to elect to receive an accelerated pension benefit payment equal to 70 percent of the net present value of his/her pension benefits in lieu of receiving any pension benefit.
The proposal would be strictly voluntary and comply with the requirements of the Illinois Constitution. If the plan becomes law, it could reduce Illinois' pension liability by up to $1 Billion.
Southern Illinois Studies
Sen. Schimpf continued his legislative push to revitalize the Southwestern Illinois economy this week as he filed legislation calling for the initiation of strategic planning studies for the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta and Pyramid State Park in Perry County.
“These are two, prime tourist destinations in our region. We need to be proactive and find ways to maximize the use of these sites,” Schimpf said. “Full utilization of these facilities is not going to happen by accident. Strategic planning is necessary to align their functions with the economic strengths of the region.”
Sen. Schimpf's legislation can be followed on ilga.gov.
Case of Legionnaires’ Disease discovered at Chester Mental Health Center
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) notified Sen. Schimpf on Wednesday, Feb. 14, that a patient at the Chester Mental Health Center tested positive for Legionnaires Disease. The patient is currently in stable condition and staff are heightening their clinical vigilance while actively monitoring for additional cases.
Out of an abundance of caution, IDHS has also turned off the water to the unit where the patient lives. The agency has also provided bottled water for staff and other residents. IDHS is working with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to determine the potential source of the bacteria. IDPH environmental engineers are gathering data and collecting water samples.
Sen. Schimpf will continue communicating with IDHS in the days and week ahead while they seek to ascertain the source of the bacteria and ensure the safety of staff and patients.
Du Quoin High School Represented in Page for a Day Program
Two students from Du Quoin High School visited the Illinois State Capitol this week as Sen. Schimpf’s Honorary Pages for a Day.
Ryan Myers (left) and Grace Haney were both nominated by faculty members at their school. The program gives high school students from the Senate District the chance to learn about the legislative process and interact with lawmakers. Students experience first-hand what it is like to be a legislator on the Illinois Senate Floor.