Last week Democrats passed a budget out of the House that spends $7 billion more than the state will take in, causing an 8-month delay in payments to anyone to whom the state owes money and adding to the already growing deficit.

To add insult to injury, members of the General Assembly are scheduled for a 1.7% pay raise starting July 1. Each year in Illinois, members of the General Assembly receive an automatic Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) unless they take action to reject it. The amount paid for per diems and mileage are also automatically increased.

"It is unacceptable for lawmakers to get a pay raise when the state is in a financial crisis,” said Rep. Christine Winger (R –Wood Dale) who is a chief co-sponsor of legislation that will prevent that increase.

House Bill 6584 prohibits the implementation of automatic pay increases for legislators, constitutional officers and certain appointed state offices. Additionally, it freezes per diems and mileage reimbursements at the current levels. If passed, lawmakers and others identified in the legislation would not receive a raise in pay for FY2017.

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.
On Thursday, Rep. Christine Winger voted to provide stopgap funding in the amount of $700 million to Illinois’ social service agencies. The measure passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate and is now headed to the Governor. Senate Bill 2038 came about after Republican and Democrat rank-and-file lawmakers joined together to craft and pass a funding mechanism for higher education two weeks earlier.

“It is important to stress that this is not a final solution and it doesn’t solve our financial woes,” warned Winger. “But, it does provide promise that continued bipartisan collaboration will yield positive results for the people of Illinois.”
Winger requests AG's help for residents impacted by O'Hare
Rep. Christine Winger continues to stand with residents adversely impacted by O'Hare Airport. In April, Winger sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan asking her to take action to protect the health of those affected by noise and pollution generated by operations at O’Hare.

According to the Attorney General's website, "One of the primary responsibilities of the Attorney General's office is safeguarding the public by protecting the environment. Attorney General Madigan plays a significant role in protecting the health and welfare of all Illinois residents and strives to provide a future that will include a safe environment." Read the letter.
Rep. Christine Winger continues to stand with residents adversely impacted by O'Hare Airport. In April, Winger sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan asking her to take action to protect the health of those affected by noise and pollution generated by operations at O’Hare.

According to the Attorney General's website, "One of the primary responsibilities of the Attorney General's office is safeguarding the public by protecting the environment. Attorney General Madigan plays a significant role in protecting the health and welfare of all Illinois residents and strives to provide a future that will include a safe environment."
State Representative Christine Winger recently held a property tax seminar to help area residents better understand the property tax assessment and appeal process.

Winger’s educational event was free and open to the public, and drew a large crowd of over 100 people that filled the room to capacity. Bloomingdale Township Tax Assessor John Dabrowski gave a detailed presentation to the group, while Mike Musson, the Wayne Township Tax Assessor, and local assessors were also on hand to assist with specific questions.

“The state of Illinois has the highest property taxes in the country,” said Winger. This event was about giving the tax payers all the information they need to understand the often frustrating tax process, and help them learn how to appeal their tax assessment should they find it unfair. This event was so popular, we were at capacity, and I was happy to provide such a necessary and needed resource to our residents.”