State Representative Steve Andersson recently toured 25N, a co-working business space in the heart of Geneva’s downtown. 25N provides full concierge services and offers open work spaces, private offices, conferences rooms, and can also host events.

The space was originally a grocery store and then converted into a bank, but was vacant for over six years before 25N was built. In fact, many artifacts from the previous structures were retained, like the bank vault door, and grocery store cabinets and table tops.

CEO and founder, Mara Hauser, would like to see 25N expand throughout the state, and eventually hopes for further national expansion.

Rep. Andersson was able to see the innovative work spaces available inside 25N, who hosts businesses from 16 different cities. Andersson said, “It is fantastic for the community to have this space. It was transformed from dead space to something that is a great work space and resource for the community.” In addition to providing a comfortable work culture and innovative environment, 25N draws in foot traffic to the downtown community, which has helped increase economic development in the area.

Currently, 25N houses several individuals and small businesses, and seeks to provide a comfortable setting to encourage these businesses to grow. Rep. Andersson finds this business model to be a great addition to the city, and one that is helping small businesses grow and thrive. “As a state, we need to help support businesses like this, and do what we can to help this business grow, which would further help foster the businesses inside this business.”

For more information, please visit their website: 25ncoworking.com, or stop by their office at 25 N. Third Street.

Illinois continues to face an unprecedented fiscal crisis. As of late, there is no clear solution in sight, and the budget impasse continues in the General Assembly.

The state is suffering from a debt burden of over $100 billion, and despite this crisis, a bill was passed last year to give pay raises to state legislators for the current fiscal year. This pay raise not only includes a salary increase but also increases the per diem and mileage reimbursement rates given to legislators. The state cannot afford to give legislators a raise. It is completely wrong as legislators to give ourselves a pay raise when our state’s finances are in turmoil, and there is still no budget in place.

At the same time, we do not have the ability to refuse this pay raise. The last General Assembly created this automatic pay increase when the aforementioned bill passed last year. House Bill 4225, seeks to rectify this problem. This bill amends the Compensation Review Act, and prohibits any financial adjustments that were previously recommended and determined for compensation. I signed onto this bill in full support. While this bill is currently still in the Rules Committee in the House, you can follow the bill’s status here.

I believe that House Bill 4225 is a step in the right direction. I am ready to work together with my fellow legislators to create a balanced budget for our state, and help fix our finances. 
State Representative Steve Andersson spoke today on the House floor during the debate of Senate Bill 2040, legislation that would create a temporary one month budget for the state. As a budget solution has not yet been met, this bill seeks to provide a short term solution.

Representative Andersson described this bill as a hard vote, and one that is tempting but in reality does not solve our state’s biggest problem. He further stated that this legislation is not a step in the right direction, but rather a cruel move that sends the wrong message to the people of Illinois.

Andersson said, “Over promising is cruel. The budget is still $4 billion out of balance, and these short term fixes just delay the problem. We need to prioritize our budget because we cannot have it all, and we need to get back to real negotiations. While my temptation is to vote yes, I must vote no.”

You can hear more of Representative Andersson’s remarks in the below video.

As the state budget is no longer in place beginning July 1, I understand state employees may have questions about how their benefits will be impacted. The following Q&As were designed to help answer any questions you may have.

Employee Benefits
Q.  Will an employee's health, dental or life insurance be affected?
A.  No. Group insurance coverage during a budget situation will not be impacted. If paychecks are delayed, and as long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, insurance premiums will be taken accordingly. The missed payroll deductions will be taken once paychecks are issued.

Q. What will happen to an employee's contributions to any flexible spending accounts (i.e., MCAP, DCAP) during the budget situation?
Ø  Employees enrolled in MCAP will not be impacted. ConnectYourCare debit cards will continue to work. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, deductions should be taken accordingly. If MCAP deductions are missed, they must be made up when the budget situation is resolved.
Ø  Employees enrolled in DCAP may be impacted as reimbursements are limited to the available account balance contained in their DCAP account. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, and once all payroll deductions are deposited into the DCAP account, reimbursements can be made for eligible expenses up to the available account balance.

Q.  What will happen to an employee's Commuter Savings Program benefit?
A.  Employees enrolled in the Commuter Savings Program will continue to receive the benefit under this program. Employees will owe any underpaid amount upon their return to payroll.

Workers' Compensation Program
Q.  Will an employee's Workers' Compensation benefits be affected?
A.  No. In the event of a budget situation, Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Permanent Total Disability (PTD) and survivor death benefit payments under the Workers' Compensation Act will continue through July. Work-related injuries should continue to be reported through the procedures in place today.

Deferred Compensation Program
Q. What will happen to an employee's Deferred Compensation contributions during the budget situation?
A.  As long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, payroll deductions for Deferred Compensation should be taken accordingly. Deferred Compensation contributions can only be made through payroll deduction. The employee cannot deposit money directly to his or her fund to catch-up the contributions.

Q.  If an individual is currently receiving a distribution from their Deferred Compensation account, will that distribution continue during the budget situation?
A.  Yes. Current distributions and changes to distribution amounts will continue to be processed. To make any changes in distribution, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770.

Q.  Will hardship distributions/loans from an employee's Deferred Compensation account be available during the budget situation?
A.  A loan provision is available at any time and allows a participant to have one outstanding loan and borrow a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $50,000 or 50% of their account balance over a five year period. The interest you pay goes back to your account along with the principal amount each month as you repay the loan through Automatic Clearing House (ACH) deductions from your bank. Employees would likely not qualify for a hardship distribution as they will be made whole of any missed payrolls when the budget situation ends.

Q.  How do I borrow from my Deferred Compensation account?
A.  To apply for a loan from your account over the phone, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770 to speak to a Representative. There is a $75 processing fee and you will need to supply bank routing and account information for your checking/savings account numbers to set up the automatic ACH deduction. Participants are allowed one outstanding loan at a time. You may repay the full loan balance amount at any time through the same phone number at T. Rowe Price.

State Employee Compensation
Q. What options exist if certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees?
A. State employees will be paid for their work. If certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees, there may be an opportunity for employees to get bridge loans from local financial institutions. Credit Union 1, for example, has already agreed to offer no-interest loans for qualifying members of the credit union should salary payments for state employees be delayed. To be eligible to receive 0% interest loans from Credit Union 1, participants must have been members on or before May 1, 2015. Employees who have become members of Credit Union 1 since May 1, 2015, can apply for a loan, subject to normal criteria, rates and terms.