Quite a lot happened in the four final days of the General Assembly’s spring session last week. Here’s an update on the good and not-so-good news from Springfield.
Democrats Pass Unbalanced, Irresponsible Budget
In spite of record unemployment, business closings and other suffering caused by the Governor’s continued COVID lockdown, Democrats in the General Assembly this week pushed through passage of a 2021 state budget that actually spends two billion dollars more than our current budget. Here are the new budget facts:
- The Democrat’s FY21 budget spends roughly $42.9 billion even though the State only expects to bring in a little under $36.8 billion, $5 billion of which comes from additional borrowing.
- Even with the additional borrowing, the budget contains a $6.1 billion deficit.
- The budget bills grant an enormous amount of control and authority over spending or withholding budget dollars to Governor J.B. Pritzker with practically no oversight or limitations
- On top of all of this, Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats included a pay raise for themselves.
I was a hard no vote on this terrible budget. Make no mistake, it will likely result a multi-billion dollar tax hike (on top of the graduated income tax) on hardworking Illinois families already suffering due to our struggling economy and the Coronavirus restrictions.
Vote by Mail Expansion is an Invitation to Voter Fraud
During our final week of session Democrat lawmakers also used Coronavirus restrictions to enact new election laws that open Illinois up for more potential voter fraud.
The legislation, which will only be in place for this fall’s upcoming General Election (for now) requires Vote by Mail (VBM) application to be mailed to any registered voter who voted in t2018, 2019 and 2020. The Illinois Secretary of State will conduct a taxpayer-funded “chase” program for VBM applicants encouraging them to return their VBM application or ballot.
What’s most disturbing is that this legislation allows for “curbside voting” and calls for the placement of ballot “drop” boxes throughout communities that will have very little security to prevent tampering.
Illinois already has some of the most permissive election laws in the country: absentee voting, a long period of early voting, grace period voting, in-person Election Day voting, Election Day voter registration, online voter registration and more. The Democrats’ vote by mail expansion adds unknown costs to local communities, and invites election fraud.
As I promised, there was also some good news:
Pritzker Order Punishing Reopening Businesses Withdrawn
Families and businesses across the state called, emailed, and rallied to push-bask against Governor Pritzker’s executive order that would have fined and even jailed small business owners across the state who reopen to save their businesses.
In a meeting of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules the Governor and the Illinois Department of Public health bowed to public pressure and withdrew the order! House Democrats immediately filed legislation to revive the penalties, but again, with your help, we were able to keep it from being called for a vote.
In the midst of so much frustration last week, this was a huge victory!
Daycare Facilities Poised to Reopen
Child care facilities closed by the Governor’s executive orders may reopen as early as the end of this week. This past week we were successful (again with much help from public pressure) in getting child care facility reopening moved up to phase 3 of the Governor’s reopening plan, which means in most communities they may reopen on May 29.
Today 5500 childcare providers remain shut down in Illinois. All of these facilities will be able to reopen when their community moves into phase three reopening. For the first four weeks providers will be limited to 10 children per classroom. After four weeks of operating safely, they will be able to expand to larger class sizes.
Our families need to get back to work, but many can’t do that without safe, available daycare. This is another big win for our communities that are ready to reopen.