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This morning State Representative Ron Sandack and many of his Republican colleagues asked the members of the House Democrat Caucus to remain in Springfield over the weekend to continue working on a compromise budget. As a member of some of the bipartisan working groups that had been meeting for weeks to come to a budget agreement, Sandack said real progress was being made. Unfortunately, in spite of passionate pleas made by Sandack and other House Republicans, session was adjourned at approximately 1:30 PM on Friday, and a Saturday session that was listed on the original session calendar was cancelled. The House is expected to be back in session on Sunday at 3:00 PM.

You may listen to Sandack's floor speech by clicking here.
This morning I joined many of my Republican colleagues to stand up to demand compromise and negotiation toward a balance budget before our adjournment date of May 31. We still have four days and I am willing to stay here around the clock to get our work done. I challenge my friends on the other side of the aisle to do the same. It’s time for this impasse and this battle of wills to end. We need to work together toward a compromise balanced budget and I remain ready to meet anywhere at any time to get that done.
In a slap in the face to bipartisan lawmakers who had been meeting for weeks and making progress in budget working groups, House Democrats rammed through a 500-page budget bill on Wednesday that spends $7 billion more than what the state is expected to bring in for Fiscal Year 2017. In response to the fast-tracked vote, State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) issued the following statement:

“This 500-page budget bill was brought to the floor of the House, and there was not one person in the entire chamber who had read it in full. Even the majority leader who carried the bill admitted that she had not read the bill in its entirety. Leader Currie couldn’t provide exact expenditure numbers or revenue expectation numbers, yet she said her amendment to SB 2048 was a good bill that should be supported by all.”

“Our best guess is that this budget is more than $7 billion out of balance. With today’s backlog of bills totaling just over $7 billion, House Democrats, with one single vote, just agreed to double that backlog of bills. It’s unconscionable.”

“Today’s travesty belittles and mocks all of the rank and file lawmakers from both parties and both chambers who have been working in good faith over the last several weeks on a compromise budget. Every person in those working groups demonstrated their genuineness and brought to the table a spirit of compromise and a willingness to reach an agreement. Progress was being made. On some topics we were very close to agreement. The Speaker’s decision to ignore that progress and instead pull this power-play when we still have six days to reach a budget agreement makes the strongest case yet that it’s time for him to go.”

To watch Sandack’s floor debate on today’s budget vote, click here.
Legislation that allows children and developmentally disabled people to testify via closed circuit TV in cases of domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery is headed to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signature.

State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) was the Chief House Sponsor of SB 2880, and said the bill will allow for easier gathering of testimony in sensitive cases. “Today we allow this type of one-way closed circuit TV testimony for sex crimes, and SB 2880 simply extends that same opportunity in cases of domestic violence or physical abuse,” said Sandack. “It allows for a greater level of sensitivity when these people must provide testimony during criminal proceedings.”

The House vote on SB 2880 was unanimous.

SB 2880 originated in the Senate by Senate Sponsor Michael Connelly, where it also received a unanimous vote. “While current law provides protections for victims of alleged sexual abuse, children and developmentally disabled individuals who were subjected to sometimes horrific physical abuse are left unprotected,” Sandack said. “If they suffered physical abuse at the hands of a defendant who is often a family member, the emotional distress that would be caused by facing the accused in open court is very real. They deserve the same protections, and I am pleased to see that both chambers of the General Assembly gave unanimous support to this important initiative.”

The idea for the bill was brought to Connelly and Sandack by the State’s Attorney of DuPage County. To hear Rep. Sandack talk in detail about the bill, click here.
Legislators Return to Springfield for Final Days of Spring Session
Lawmakers returned to Springfield today for the final nine days of the spring legislative session. During this time, Senators and State Representatives make a final push for their own legislative initiatives, but the most pressing element of this time is the approval of the appropriation bills that will comprise the Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Bipartisan and bicameral budget working groups have forged a compromise budget framework which includes $2.4 billion in spending reductions, and more than double that- $5.4 billion- in new revenue. This new revenue proposal represents a huge concession for Republicans who traditionally oppose tax increase measures. In spite of this significant showing of compromise, Speaker Madigan has already called $5.4 billion in new revenue “inadequate.”

This unwillingness to budge is hurting Illinoisans. We have seen the devastating impact of not having a budget for the last 11 months, and it’s time for the Speaker and his caucus to meet the Republicans in the middle so that a compromise budget can be approved before our adjournment date of May 31. I applaud the work of these bipartisan working groups, and I will be working fiercely toward creating a final budget that uses their blueprint as a guideline for revenues and expenditures for FY17. I am willing to compromise. I am willing to take the difficult votes that would be required to make this balanced budget a reality. I invite my colleagues from the Democrat side of the aisle to do the same. Our primary job over these next nine days is to approve a budget. Now let’s get it done.

Rep. Sandack Emcees Local Fundraising Race
I say it all the time- Downers Grove is a special community filled with very special people. Over the weekend it was my honor to serve as the emcee for the 5th Annual Cupcake Classic 5k race to help fight Batten Disease. Proceeds from the event raised money for the Noah’s Hope Batten Disease Research Fund. My dear friends Tracy and Jennifer VanHoutan and their daughter Laine (shown in the photo) participated in the 5k in honor of their son Noah, who they lost to Batten Disease in March. Tragically, Laine also has the disease. More than 1,200 people participated in this year’s Cupcake Classic, and while I have not found out how much money was raised, it was no doubt a significant amount of money that will be channeled toward research and development to fight and treat this rare and fatal neurological disease.

Leaders Meet to Discuss Budget Negotiations, but Many Obstacles Remain
The four legislative leadders met with Governor Rauner for only the second time this year on Tuesday, May 17. The leaders agreed to deputize lawmaker working groups, including key members of the House Republican Caucus, to discuss specific issues relevant to an agreement. Illinois began operating without a constitutional balanced budget to control spending on July 1, 2015, and is now the only state not to have a budget for the current fiscal year.

Many issues stand in the way of a durable agreement to craft a constitutional balanced budget for Illinois in FY17. After the meeting, Republican House Leader Jim Durkin urged the negotiators to achieve agreements on questions that involve the status of collective bargaining labor-management relations within local governments, public-sector pension reforms, and workmen’s compensation reforms. Many House Republicans believe that lack of progress on these issues has become a very serious threat to future job creation and future tax revenues in Illinois. Current statistics show that Illinois’ economy is generating few if any new private-sector jobs. Our state’s unemployment rate, as of April 2016, has grown 0.7% since October 2015, and our state’s most recent 6.6% jobless rate is now the highest in the nation. The unemployment rate has fallen to 5%.

Sandack Talks School Funding Reform on Comcast Newsmakers
Senator Andy Manar’s SB 231, a bill that would strip millions in state funding from DuPage County schools and channel it toward Chicago Public Schools and some downstate schools, is currently pending before the House Executive Committee. I sat down with Comast Newsmakers’ Paul Lisnek recently to discuss the problems with SB 231 and explain how we can improve funding for education while freezing property taxes at the same time. You can listen to that interview by clicking here.

Democrats Advance $1.5 Billion in Unfunded Wage Increases
Using a large labor union rally at the Capitol as the backdrop, House Democrats advanced four pieces of legislation last week that would raise wages for Service Employees International Union (SEIU) workers and others to $15 per hour. The Democrats’ wage increase package comes at a total cost to Illinois taxpayers of $1.5 billion, at a time when Illinois has $7 billion in unpaid bills.
  • HB 5764 – SEIU initiative to provide wage increases for homemakers in the Community Care Program for the elderly, as well as an enhanced rate for those agencies that provide health insurance coverage to their employees. Provides at least a $1.25 wage increase in years 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Under both proposed changes, the cost of providing services to the aging population will rise significantly. During the next four fiscal years, the proposed rate increase is estimated to result in $1.1 billion in additional program and administrative costs.
  • HB 5931 – Disabled Service Provider rate increase to $15/hour for personnel in residential programs (Community Integrated Living Arrangements, Independent Care Facilities for the Developmentally Disabled): $330 million annual cost to the State.
  • SB 2536 – SEIU initiative to increase wages to $15/hour for all non-relative providers in the CCAP (child care). Requires mandatory training where SEIU may organize and sign up workers: $30.3 million annual cost to the State.
  • SB 2931 – SEIU initiative to provide home service program rate increases to $15/hour. Requires mandatory training where SEIU may organize and sign up workers. Codifies provisions of the current collective bargaining agreement. Wage increase for home health workers would cost the State an additional $73 million annually. The training provisions will cost the State and additional $13.8 million, bringing the total annual cost to $86.8 million.
Democrats Pass $227 Million Unfunded Higher Education Bill
HB 4167 appropriates $227 million in General Revenue Funds (GRF) to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for the Monetary Award Program (MAP). Democrats in the House and Senate passed the bill last week despite the fact that Illinois does not have $227 million in available GRF to fund MAP grants. I was vocal in my opposition to this bill, which relies on phantom money to fund MAP grants because our college students deserve honesty and not empty promises when it comes to grants for their higher educations. You can listen to my floor comments here. HB 4167 faces a likely veto when it reaches Governor Rauner’s desk. 

The Illinois General Assembly worked in a bipartisan manner to pass stopgap higher education funding last month, which included nearly $170 million for MAP grants from a dedicated funding source. SB 2059 passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Rauner as Public Act 99-502.

Local Constituent Brings 7th Grade Class to Springfield
Last week Kelly Saranecki, a Downers Grove resident who teaches 7th grade at Hinsdale Middle School, brought her students to the State Capitol for a field trip. This time of year the Capitol is filled with students from across the state who are taking end-of-the-year educational trips to Springfield. I enjoyed talking with these bright students and I hope they enjoyed their tour of the Capitol. 

Discussions of Legal, Regulated Daily Fantasy Sports Betting Continue
Bills such as Senate Amendment #2 to HB 3655 would explicitly legalize daily fantasy sports betting in Illinois, subject to various strict regulations. These measures are currently being considered by the Illinois General Assembly as the May 31 adjournment deadline approaches. The Illinois Senate voted in favor of HB 3655 on Thursday, May 19 with a vote of 32-22-1 and continued the discussion and debate in Springfield on this issue. A motion has been filed, however, to hold the bill in the Senate and to delay returning it to the House for final General Assembly approval.

Several U.S. states, such as Iowa and New York, have taken steps to ban the operation of daily fantasy sports websites within their state. In the states where daily fantasy sports are explicitly banned, major sports betting websites face legal penalties for overseeing activity from computers located in the forbidden states. Websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel will not consciously take bets from these locations. The Illinois Attorney General opined that daily fantasy sports betting activities violate Illinois laws against illegal gambling. If this opinion is upheld through further legal action and, in the absence of legislative action, Illinois could join the list of states where this type of activity is discouraged or forbidden.

Two large gray areas in the discussion of daily fantasy sports betting activity in Illinois are: (a) the effect that legalization – if enacted – would have on existing gaming activities, such as casino riverboats and tavern video poker; and (b) the effect that strict regulation, if enacted, would have on casual neighbor-to-neighbor sports activities, such as weekend fantasy football leagues. These are questions that are being asked as discussion of this issue moves forward in Springfield.

Illinois Moving Closer to Achieving REAL ID Compliance
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office is upgrading security features to the Driver’s License/ID card design and centralizing the central issuance process for driver’s licenses and ID cards. With implementation of these changes, Illinois moved closer to achieving full REAL ID compliance which is a federal mandate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

By the end of July, applicants visiting Driver Services facilities will no longer be issued a new permanent DL/ID card at the end of the application process. Instead, they will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver’s license, which is valid for 45 days and will serve as their DL/ID for driving purposes and proof of identification. The temporary, secure paper driver’s license or ID card will contain a photo and the basic information that appears on the permanent driver’s license or ID card. In addition, the facility employee will return the old DL/ID card back to the applicant after punching a hole in it.

Meanwhile, the applicant’s information will be sent to a centralized, secure facility in Illinois. After fraud checks have been conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity, a higher quality, more secure DL/ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to the applicant’s address.

For purposes of air travel, DHS states that it will accept the temporary document in conjunction with the old DL/ID to board an aircraft until the permanent card arrives in the mail. Illinois joins 39 other states that have moved to centralized production of DL/ID cards. This includes heavily populated states like California, Texas, and New York – as well as Illinois’ neighboring states.

For more information on Illinois’ REAL ID compliance efforts, please visit The Caucus Blog.

Governor Vetoes AFSCME’s Mandatory Arbitration Bill
In a widely-expected move last week, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a partisan bill that would have turned key elements of State labor-management relations over to a panel that is widely viewed as being friendly to labor and unfriendly to management. The veto was filed on Monday, May 16.

Governor Rauner explained his veto of HB 580 as a defense of Illinois taxpayers. Rauner believes that some unions that legally represent state workers, especially AFSCME, are using their political clout to try to cut taxpayers’ concerns out and away from the negotiating table. Unanswered questions concerning AFSCME workers’ future pay, health benefits and retirement health benefits could represent hundreds of millions of dollars in future expenses to state workers or taxpayers.

HB 580 had been a highly partisan bill when it was debated and discussed by the House in February, with House Republicans standing in alliance with the Governor. The House vote was 68-46-2, three votes short of the 71 votes required to override the Governor’s veto.

Upcoming Events in District 81
This summer and fall I will be offering a variety of community outreach events throughout the 81st District. Please attend any or all of these free events:
  • June 4: Children’s Safety Expo, 9:00 AM until noon, Lakeview Junior High School, 701 Plainfield Road in Downers Grove. This event will feature over 40 participants with demonstrations throughout the morning. Back by popular demand will be the Traveling World of Reptiles show at 10:00 AM and a Touch-A-Truck area where children can see and touch about 25 different vehicles, including police squad cars, ambulances, a SWAT vehicle and several large trucks and utility vehicles. A medical helicopter will be part of the display from 9:30-11:30 AM.
  • June 21: Senior Fair: 10 AM until noon, Lincoln Center Gymnasium, 935 Maple Avenue, Downers Grove
  • August 6: Document Shredding Event
  • August 13: Understanding and Challenging your Property Tax Assessment
  • August 31: Jobs Fair
  • September 10: Veterans Fair
Please call my Downers Grove office at (630) 737-0504 or visit ronsandack.org to learn more about these and other events that could be added to the schedule.

State Representative Ron Sandack recently sat down with Paul Lisnek of Comcast Newsmakers to discuss SB 231, the latest school funding reform proposal that Sandack says "takes from Peter to pay Paul." You may listen to the interview by clicking on the image to the left.
House members loyal to Speaker Mike Madigan approved a proposal Tuesday that would promise additional funding for Illinois’ Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grants. Unlike the $600 million allocation toward higher education and MAP grants that was approved and signed into law a few weeks ago, which was tied to an available revenue source, HB 4167, sponsored by Speaker Mike Madigan, was tied to an empty and overextended fund.

State Representative Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove) was vocal in his opposition to the bill. “This is yet another bait and switch proposal that relies on phantom money so that lawmakers can say ‘look at me, I supported funding your program,’” said Sandack. “It’s nothing more than a cruel hoax to promise these MAP grants to students when the Speaker and his allies know very well that those bills will just go to the back of the line of Illinois’ $6.8 million backlog of bills.”

Madigan’s HB 4167 calls for an appropriation of $227,274,400 to pay for additional MAP grants. “At the end of April we did the responsible thing and sent a fully funded bill to the Governor that sent emergency money to our institutions of higher learning and to students who rely on MAP grants,” Sandack said. “That money would cover costs until the start of the next fiscal year and possibly beyond. With that emergency money now in place we need to turn our attention to the approval of a balanced budget for Fiscal year 2017. I am fully committed to that goal so that our institutions of higher learning, students who receive MAP grants, and all other areas of the budget have their Fiscal Year 2017 funding in place on July 1.”