The end of our regular legislation session came and went on Wednesday with no agreement on a balanced budget. We remained on the floor of the House until late in the evening, hopeful that bipartisanship and reason would prevail. But as the night progressed, similar to the days that led up to May 31, most of the bills brought to us for votes were politically-motivated bills that mocked Republicans’ insistence that spending be limited to available revenues.
From day one Republicans have said they would put a proportionate number of votes on a tax increase if those increases were paired with reforms that grow jobs, build the Illinois economy, ease the property tax burden and root out waste and fraud in our systems. We have never wavered on that point. Democrats, on the other hand, have long said that tax increases are their preferred method for balancing a budget. Prior to May 31, just 60 votes were needed to approve a budget. There are 67 Democrats in the House. In the end, the majority party could not find 60 Democrat Representatives willing to put their name on a tax increase-only budget. When the clock turned to June 1, the threshold for budget approval increased to a three-fifths majority, or 71 affirmative votes. Approval of a budget just became significantly more difficult.
When it became clear in recent weeks that House Democrats could not move their preferred budget without Republican support, shouldn’t that have signaled that it’s time return to the negotiation table? Unfortunately, at the same time that many House Democrats were saying they couldn’t support the massive tax hike that went along with their budget, they continued with their refusal to work with Republicans on reforms that would add enough Republicans to a budget roll call. I can only liken it to a spoiled child who refuses to share on the playground. Rather than reach a compromise, they took their ball and went home. This marks the third year that lawmakers will be in continuous session over the summer I’m told to expect session one day a week during the month of June.
Rep Reick Welcomes 4-H Students to State Capitol
Recently I partnered with Sate Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) for a Teletown Hall Meeting, and constituents from Illinois’ 63rd and 69th Legislative House Districts were invited to participate. We had an amazing level of engagement, with close to 6,000 initial participants and several hundred who remained on the phone line for most of the hour-long event. Between Representative Sosnowski and I, we took questions from approximately 20 callers, and those who did not have their own question answered during the live call were encouraged to leave a message with our offices at the conclusion of the event.
During the Teletown Hall Meeting, we asked two poll questions. Those results are as follows:
- Do you believe that the state budget should be balanced by raising taxes only, cutting spending only, a combination of taxes and cuts, or something else?
- Cut Spending Only 43%
- Use a Combination of Taxes and Cuts 39%
- Something Else 15%
- Raise Taxes Only 3%
- In your estimation, what do you believe should be the highest priority for the State when it comes to crafting a state budget?
- Economic Development and Job Retention 42%
- Health Care and Human Services 26%
- Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice 15%
- Education 11%
- Infrastructure and Transportation 6%
I thank all who participated in my first Teletown Hall Meeting, and hope they found the information to be helpful.
Reick Passes Two Bills During First Legislative Session
While gridlock was constant on major issues in the State, there were opportunities for bipartisanship on individual member initiatives. This year I was pleased to pass one House Bill and one Senate Bill. Both now have been forwarded to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signatures. My 2017 bills that will soon be Public Acts include:
HB 2449: Provides additional protections for military personnel who are called to relocate in the course of their active duty, by allowing servicemen and women to terminate or suspend certain contractual services, like Internet services, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships or satellite radio services, without penalty.
SB 1478: Amends the Radiation Protection Act of 1990 by abolishing the Radiologic Technologist Accreditation Advisory Board (RTAAB). The board was created to assist the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in ensuring that technologists who apply radiation to patients are qualified to perform the procedures safely and effectively, but due to fiscal and staffing realities, the group had not met since 2010.
Lawmakers Recognize Importance of Foster Care System at State Rally