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A spend first mentality and the unwillingness to compromise from the Democrat majority in the House made presenting and passing a balanced budget agreement extremely difficult this legislative session. Yet, the renewed emphasis by Governor Rauner and House Republicans to advocate for the taxpayers, urging a bipartisan compromise for a responsibly funded budget—one the taxpayers deserve—ultimately succeeded when House Republicans defeated the Democrat supermajority’s $40 billion spending plan: a $7 billion underfunded budget that would have raised personal income tax levels over 55% to pay for the shortcomings.

The end of regular session in May brought the passage of this unbalanced budget, one that was largely vetoed by the Governor, setting the state up for a year of very public funding crises in every area from lottery winners to state universities. Stopgap budget plans for higher education and human services provided temporary funding, but were by no means solutions to the ever present fiscal problem.

At the close of the fiscal year, a stopgap budget agreement was secured which brought necessary funding for education, human services, and many of the state’s biggest needs. Senate Bill 2047 was passed and signed by Governor Rauner on June 30th, authorizing money to flow on July 1st, the first day of the new fiscal year.
As the fiscal year came to a close, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2047, a bi-partisan education funding bill and stop-gap budget agreement.

Senate Bill 2047 provides $75 million in funding for early childhood education, and a statewide equity grant for the poorest school districts.  In doing so, the bill prioritizes education funding and represents a historic investment in education by funding schools at 100% foundation level for the first time in seven years. 

Specifically, the stopgap funding plan provides $1 billion to higher education, in addition to the already allocated $600 million for FY16, and also includes $151 million for MAP grants.  The bi-partisan compromise also provides $742 million in critically-needed funding for human service providers.  The plan also made state infrastructure a priority by funding $3.4 billion to the pay-as-you-go road program, which will ensure more than 800 active transportation projects continue keeping 25,000 workers on the job.

In response, State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) released the following statement:

“Today’s agreement was a huge step in moving past an 18 month budget impasse.  While this is not a full budget, it appropriates funds for our state’s biggest needs—and most importantly, it moves our State forward beyond the impasse.  This stopgap is vital for Illinois to continue to operate and gives our taxpayers certainty that the state’s services can continue.  This agreement has made funding education a priority.  Schools will open on time and have essential resources for the entire school year. It guarantees critical state operations and services continue- providing for those in our state that need it the most. 


“While we must do far better moving forward, today was a significant improvement where we stood accountable for our taxpayers and found genuine compromise.  Ultimately bi-partisan negotiations prevailed and we ended the fiscal year with an agreement, which is the next step in moving toward a balanced full year budget.”  


Representative Steve Andersson composed a legislative newsletter that highlights the important aspects of the 2016 legislative session in the General Assembly. 

Click here to view Rep. Andersson’s newsletter, and learn more about what was accomplished this year.
Today a group of state lawmakers urged Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino to step aside from his duties due to the state board of elections and a federal investigation of his campaign spending and reporting practices. The investigations date back to his time in the Illinois House of Representatives, and as a result over the last few months dozens of lawmakers formally asked Auditor General Mautino several times to provide answers to the questions raised in the State Election Board investigations but have yet to receive any answers.

It was recently disclosed that federal authorities are now looking into his campaign spending and reporting practices—news that prompted legislators to ask for the Auditor General to step aside from his job as he defends himself against potential criminal charges.

State Representative Steve Andersson (R-Geneva) was among the group of legislators who today urged Mautino to voluntarily take a leave of absence while numerous investigations continue to dissect his expenditures.

“As the investigations only seem to be escalating, I agree with my colleagues that Auditor General Mautino should take a leave of absence until the federal and state investigations are concluded,” said Andersson. “There is no way he can effectively serve Illinois at this time. Our state and our residents deserve better. As a legislator, I support transparent government—and having so much uncertainty and clout surrounding our state’s financial watchdog is simply unacceptable. ”

Having received no answers from the Auditor General after many questions from lawmakers on the matter, today’s request for Mautino to step aside is the latest effort to protect the integrity of the office of Auditor General. The General Assembly and Illinois taxpayers await Auditor General Frank Mautino’s response to this request.
This week in the House, Representative Steve Andersson spoke in favor of a mental health bill, and called for more awareness on the issue of mental illness.

Andersson voiced his support for Senate Bill 565, which would require age-appropriate developmental and social and emotional screenings to be included as part of a standard health examination. He further discussed the importance of mental health, and the opportunity this bill would have to promote the early diagnosis of mental illness.

Andersson urged legislators to not only support the legislation, but to also recognize mental illness and the growing impact it has. He noted that as many as one in five children under that age of 18 has or will have a serious mental illness. Yet, despite that staggering number, the average delay between onset and diagnosis of a mental illness is ten years. Andersson supports SB 565 as he believes the earlier mental illness can be identified and diagnosed the better chance that child will be given.

“Mental illness is real. Too much time is wasted after the onset of mental illness and before assistance or treatment is given,” said Andersson. “This bill provides for early intervention, and gives parents a shot at helping their children—so they can know the signs, catch mental health early on and get the treatment they need as soon as possible.”

Andersson supports efforts to bring more awareness to mental illness, and advocates for the support of mental health initiatives like SB 565.

The bill is currently in its third reading in the House. More of Rep. Andersson’s remarks on the legislation can be seen in the video below.

 

Tonight, House Democrats passed a budget bill over $7 billion underfunded. The 500 plus page spending bill was presented last minute, giving House Republicans only hours to review the bill prior to voting.

Senate Bill 2048 appropriates roughly $14 billion that with court order, continuing appropriations, and consent decrees would push state spending over $40 billion.

In addition to overspending, the measure would push income taxes to over 5.5 percent for a 47 percent tax hike. Representative Andersson (R-Geneva) stood with his House Republican colleagues to express disappointment and anger at the broken process that resulted in the $40 billion spending bill—that which 63 voting in favor moves on for further confirmation.

“This spending bill will nearly double our state’s current unpaid bills, and is money our state simply does not have,” said Andersson. “Above all, there was no dialogue involved in this process and we were given no time to review the bill before voting. Debate was cut off and required procedures were denied. Tonight’s debate was nothing short of illegal and any momentum gained from the working groups and the progress being made among the rank and file was all but ruined.”

With the budget impasse nearing its year-long mark, compromise has yet to be achieved. Andersson still remains hopeful that a reasonable solution can be still be met.
Representative Andersson has launched his second annual summer reading program, Ahoy Matey, for all students in K-5th grades in the 65th District. Participating students must read 10 books of their choosing, and return their completed reading lists to Rep. Andersson’s district office by August 21st to be invited to a special recognition party in the fall.

Last year’s program had over 60 children participate, and Andersson hopes to continue the momentum of reading success. Last September, Rep. Andersson hosted the children and their families at a pizza party where each child received a special certificate of recognition and he is looking forward to doing the same this fall.

“I am excited to hold my second summer reading program to promote continued learning during the summer,” said Andersson. “It is so important to keep kids excited about reading in the months off school, and I hope this program will do just that. Ahoy Matey encourages reading in a fun way, to really engage the students and drive their love of reading.”

For more information on the program or to request a reading program brochure, contact Rep. Andersson’s District Office at (630) 456-5460.