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Budget – FY17
$7 billion out-of-balance budget passed by House Democrats. Illinois House Democrats introduced their own “budget” for FY17, contained in House Floor Amendment #2 to SB 2048, undermining the work of the bipartisan budget working groups that had been making progress toward achieving a compromise to end the budget impasse.

The House Democrats’ budget weighs in at approximately $40 billion in spending with only $33 billion in estimated revenue. The Democrats unbalanced, unconstitutional proposed budget is $7 billion out-of-balance and would require a 47% tax hike to pay for all the additional spending.
On Tuesday, State Representative Christine Winger's legislation to help parents identify hearing loss in their newborn babies passed the Senate and is headed to the Governor for his signature.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) two to three out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a hearing impairment. If hearing loss is not identified early, language development is delayed, affecting a child’s ability to learn and develop social skills.
Property Tax Relief
Rep. Christine Winger votes for property tax relief. In April, Rep. Christine Winger voted for legislation to freeze property taxes in Illinois. She cast a yes vote for HB 696, legislation that would prohibit local governments from raising property taxes without first asking voters through a referendum.  House Bill 696 passed in the House and now awaits a hearing in the Senate Subcommittee on Special Issues.
State Representative Christine Winger is again sponsoring a special Summer Reading Club for students in Kindergarten through fifth grade.

Rep. Winger’s program encourages fun and educational reading for young people during the summer months. Studies have shown that reading just 5 books can prevent summer learning loss for students returning to school in the fall.

Rep. Winger's reading program challenges youth to read at least eight books on their own during the summer break. Participants choose their own books and keep track of their reading. The students have until August 21 to complete the program.

Those who read all eight books and submit their forms to Rep. Winger’s office will be invited to a special recognition event in the fall.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that his office is upgrading security features to the Driver’s License/ID card design and expanding the central issuance process for driver’s licenses and ID cards to all applicants. With implementation of these changes, Illinois has moved closer to achieving full REAL ID compliance  which is a federal mandate of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education heard presentations from two groups of committed community members wanting to make changes to the current K-12 funding formula. Both groups included educators, legislators and parents who have worked long and hard to address the inequity and inadequacy in the way that Illinois funds schools. As a religious leader, a former legislator and the current chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, I applaud their focus and hope that together we can find a resolution that will allow more children in Illinois to graduate from high school ready for a high paying job and a rigorous college program. Read the rest of the letter to the editor by James Meeks in the Chicago SunTimes.
Budget – Possible Compromise
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, Governor Bruce Rauner hint at possible budget compromise.  Illinois is the only one of the 50 states that has not enacted a balanced budget to control its spending in FY16.  Not surprisingly, Illinois also has the lowest credit rating among the 50 states.  On Monday, May 9, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin expressed optimism that current talks going on between partisan budget experts could generate movement towards a solution.

At an educational event in west suburban LaGrange that he attended with Governor Rauner, Durkin discussed the need to reach budget action in order to improve prospects for sufficient school funding for Illinois public schools.  While Illinois’ General Assembly enacted full funding for Illinois school districts in FY16, this money was not part of a constitutional balanced budget and does not extend into FY17.  The next fiscal year will begin on July 1, 2016, adding to pressure on state negotiators to talk seriously on urgent issues of fiscal reform, budget reform, and Illinois job creation.