Rep. Winger visits the Itasca Cares charity at National Night Out in Itasca on August 7th!


Praise for Illinois High Schools 

14 of the top 100 public high schools in the U.S. are located in Illinois, according to an annual ranking by “Niche.” High-ranking Illinois public high schools include the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora; Walter Payton College Prep in Chicago; and the Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

The “Niche” website provides reviews of schools across the U.S. Their 2019 report, which uses data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education and its user base, ranks the Illinois Math and Science Academy as the top public high school in the U.S. More than half of the data used to generate the rankings was generated from academic numbers and competition, including SAT/ACT standardized test scores.

Illinois high schools made up five of the “Niche” top 20 and eight of the top 50. Students from schools such as Northside College Prep High School in Chicago were highly ranked for their ability to move from high school graduation into attendance at America’s finest colleges and universities.

New Law Authorizes Police to Take Action to Protect Pets 

Many Illinoisans have been saddened to see companion animals trapped in overheated vehicles. SB 2270, which became law this week, authorizes law enforcement to take temporary custody of a dog or cat if the companion animal is exposed to extreme temperature conditions for a prolonged period of time. The new law is worded so as to apply not only to companion animals trapped in motor vehicles, but also to animals forced to stay outdoors in conditions of extreme cold.

After unanimous House passage, the measure was sent to Gov. Rauner for his signature. The bill was signed and became law on Tuesday, August 7.

Illinois State Fair Underway

The Illinois State Fair opened on Thursday, August 9, and will continue until Sunday, August 19. Fair events will include concerts, races, carnival rides, judging competitions, children’s events, and festival food. Grandstand concerts will kick off with Boy George and Culture Club on Friday, August 10. Other events will fill every night of the Grandstand’s Fair schedule. The State Fair has drawn as many as 350,000 visitors in recent years. The State Fairgrounds, located on the north side of Springfield, have been the headquarters of the State Fair since 1894.

Representative Winger recently attended a Car Seat Check-Up Event in Itasca hosted by the National Safety Council. Proper use of a child restraint can lower a child’s risk of injury or death in most car crashes. You can find out more about child passenger safety resources here.
Representative Winger is greeted by Itasca Fire Department Deputy Chief John Radzinski at the car seat safety check on August 4th. 
Thank you to the Illinois State Police who partnered with the Village of Itasca to check child car seats for proper installation. 

New Diabetes Solution Center
A new Diabetes Solution Center will be available August 1st of this year. The new helpline, to be launched by Eli Lilly and Company, will assist individuals who need help paying for their insulin. Through customized solutions that meet an individual’s personal needs, including increased financial assistance, multi-lingual operators will provide short- and long-term options for diabetes patients so we never again hear of diabetes patients that cannot access life-saving insulin.

The goal of this new initiative is to help increase affordable access to care for patients. Additional information on the new Diabetes Solution Center can be found here.
The Illinois State Police Merit Board is currently processing applications for Cadet Class 129, tentatively scheduled for April, 2019. In order to be considered for Cadet Class 129, the Merit Board must receive a completed application and required documentation by August 15, 2018.

You can apply online at: https://www.illinoistrooper.com

The Illinois State Police has fostered and served with a reputation for integrity, service and pride. This includes working to protect life and property, enforcing both criminal laws and motor vehicle safety laws, responding to emergencies and disasters and providing a myriad of diverse specialized services to both the public and the criminal justice community.

You can read more about the recruitment process on their website, and to watch the ISP recruitment video click here.



July 28th at Bartlett Village Hall. Representative Winger and the Bartlett Police Department are excited about the 35th Annual National Night Out on August 7th. Hope to see you there!


Disability Independence Day 


Last week Representative Winger recognized Disability Independence Day, a day of celebration in honor of the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law was passed on July 26th, 1990 to prohibit discrimination and guarantee equal rights to those with physical and intellectual disabilities.
Not too long ago, inaccessibility was all too common, making today an important celebration of how far we’ve come to provide the same access to services, businesses, buildings, and employment opportunities to all Americans.


Governor Signs Bill Expanding Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program
Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed SB 3527, a bipartisan bill improving and expanding the River Edge Redevelopment Zone (RERZ) Historic Tax Credit. The successful economic development incentive now will be available to communities statewide.

“This legislation opens up millions of dollars in economic incentives in the form of tax credits for historic preservation projects throughout Illinois,” Rauner said after signing the bill at the Peoria Riverfront Museum Plaza. “It is imperative that we add jobs and fuel economic development. This bill will help Illinois achieve those goals while also preserving our past and making our state even more beautiful to visit.”
Established in 2012, the RERZ originally was a five-year pilot program allowing a 25 percent state income tax credit for qualifying projects in blighted, historic riverfront areas in Peoria, Rockford, Elgin, East St. Louis and Aurora.

SB 3527, which passed both Houses in May, expands availability of the historic tax credits to similar projects across the state. It also adds a new Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit with $15 million in credits to be administered by the Historic Preservation Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources each year between January 2019 and December 2023.

Legislators joined business officials and leaders from Landmarks Illinois and the American Institute of Architects-Illinois in applauding the bill action, which they said will not only revitalize historic structures that are falling into disrepair, but also will spur job growth and boost tourism.

Representative Winger attended the bill signing ceremony for legislation that makes the Department of Innovation & Technology an official State Agency. 

The Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), formed by Executive Order in 2016, is now officially recognized as a state agency. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed HB 5611, a bill which passed unanimously in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly this spring, codifying the agency into law. Bipartisan support for the legislation reflects the state’s commitment to improve cybersecurity, enhance employee work processes, and provide better services to Illinois citizens.

“When we first came into office, we discovered that our technology systems had been grossly neglected. Employees at multiple agencies relied on manual, paper processes for much of their work. That was extremely inefficient,” Rauner said. “We created DoIT, put a team of experts in place and developed a comprehensive approach to modernize our technology. Now, I’m proud to say we are among the nation’s leaders when it comes to using smart technology and making sure our citizens’ personal information is secure.”

“Illinois’ digital transformation is being realized as a result of Gov. Rauner’s vision and leadership,” said DoIT Acting Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Kirk Lonbom. “We’re making rapid strides toward improving operational efficiencies and offering state services through the convenience of mobility, while placing the security of data and operations at the foundation of all initiatives.”

Cybersecurity has been a priority for DoIT. Since its inception, the agency has encrypted more than 5.8 billion records, protecting the personal and private information of Illinois citizens. DoIT launched the first statewide security operations center with 24/7 monitoring aimed at identifying risk and proactively responding to cyberthreats.

Staff members at DoIT also have focused on streamlining state operations and improving efficiencies across state agencies. Over half of the state’s financials are now managed on a common system to address decades of lack of interoperability and financial management challenges. Infrastructure and network unification efforts in Illinois have already resulted in savings and cost-avoidance of over $20 million.

“This legislation creates a necessary department that will be able to efficiently handle the magnitude of information gathered by state agencies in the safest and most secure way possible,” said Rep. Christine Winger. “DoIT will transform the antiquated nature of the state’s systems, and help protect Illinois residents and their information efficiently. I am pleased to see this initiative move forward, especially one that will support the infrastructure and future of Illinois.”

Through its Smart State initiative, DoIT also is helping local governments use SMART technology (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) on things like street lighting — which cuts down on energy costs and saves taxpayer dollars.

For additional information, please see the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology strategy at https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/doit/Strategy/EnterpriseStrategies/Pages/default.aspx.

Illinois Created 18,100 Jobs in June; Unemployment Rate Held Steady 

The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has announced jobless numbers for June 2018. As with the May 2018 numbers, the State’s economic status continued to approach 4.0% “full employment.” In addition, nonfarm payrolls increased by 18,100 month-over-month, based on numbers submitted by employers to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“June’s payroll gain is the largest in 12 months and the third largest in 24 months,” said IDES Director Jeff Mays. “Illinois’ unemployment rate held steady in June and stands at its lowest point in 12 years.”

The net gain of 18,100 payroll jobs in June 2018 was greater than any monthly Illinois hiring increase credited to the second half of calendar year 2017 or the first five months of 2018. When all 12 months are counted, over the past year the Illinois economy has created 58,300 net new nonfarm payroll jobs. The 4.3% unemployment rate, which tied with the May 2018 mark, was the lowest unemployment rate enjoyed by Illinois in the past 12 years.
Today HB5611 was signed into law, which officially recognizes the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) as a state agency.

DoIT is a comprehensive approach to modernizing Illinois’ technology. Cybersecurity will be the new agency’s top priority, and since its inception, the agency has encrypted more than 5.8 billion records, protecting the personal and private information of Illinois citizens. DoIT has also launched the first statewide security operations center with 24/7 monitoring aimed at identifying risk and proactively responding to cyber threats.
State Representative Christine Winger was a co-sponsor of the legislation and was present for the bill’s signing. 

“This legislation creates a necessary department that will be able to efficiently handle the magnitude of information gathered by state agencies in the safest and most secure way possible,” said Rep. Winger. “DoIT will transform the antiquated nature of the state’s systems, and help protect Illinois residents and their information efficiently. I am pleased to see this initiative move forward, especially one that will support the infrastructure and future of Illinois.”

Through its Smart State initiative, DoIT is also helping local governments use SMART technology (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) on things like street lighting — which cuts down on energy costs and saves taxpayer dollars.

For additional information, please see the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology strategy here.  

Rep. Winger celebrates the Grand Opening of Metro Self Storage in Addison alongside Mayor Veenstra.


Report Shows Relatively Strong FY18 Budget Numbers
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the nonpartisan budget accounting arm of the General Assembly, tracked State tax and other receipts throughout FY18, the fiscal management period that ended on June 30, 2018. The monthly report for June 2018 contains final CGFA numbers for the year. General funds receipts totaled almost $42.5 billion for the twelve-month period.

More than half of the receipts were derived from personal income tax receipts ($20.8 billion) and federal reimbursements through Medicaid and other programs. Illinois has to raise and spend Medicaid money in order to get matching funds from the federal government. $5.2 billion in federal matching funds and other federal funds were included in Illinois general funds accounts in FY18.

Illinois’ FY18 sales tax revenues of more than $8.2 billion could be augmented in FY19 by a recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. In the June 2018 decision cited as South Dakota v. Wayfair, the federal high court upheld the rights of the states to work with interstate retailers (such as firms that sell goods over the Internet) to enforce the collection of sales taxes that are being sent to an end-user in that state. The State’s FY19 balanced budget includes a projected $150 million annual cash infusion from sales taxes that will be charged on goods sold to Illinois residents. As an increasing percentage of consumers buy goods online, CGFA staff believes this could be a conservative estimate.
 


Rep. Winger and daughter Sammy participate in “Saturday Stories” and Open Playtime for kids and parents at the Carol Stream Public Library on July 7th.


Honor 200
The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Illinois Bi-Centennial Committee will honor the work of 200 veterans from across the State of Illinois, whose contributions are above and beyond the call of duty as they dedicate their time and energy to assist their fellow veterans and service members. Nominees are evaluated based on their achievements, and on the extent to which their contributions have aided, benefited and provided inspiration to their community at large. Additionally, nominees must have received an honorable discharge from the U.S. military and reside in Illinois. 
This award has a very special meaning for our state. It provides us the opportunity to showcase the value of community service as exemplified by our Illinois Veterans. Whether it’s service to one’s country, one’s family, friends, neighbors or community, the example set by our veterans illustrates how far individuals are willing to go, to help their fellow citizens. Both on and off the battlefield, veterans exemplify the meaning of selfless service, courage and compassion.  In this way, they are the exact role models we need in our communities! 
To access the nomination form, visit https://illinois200.com.


Rep. Winger was honored to attend the opening of the annual Marklund "Summer Games" in Bloomingdale on June 23. Marklund is a non-profit provider of services for individuals with profound disabilities. Marklund's promise is to "make everyday life possible for individuals with profound disabilities."

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decision in Janus Case 

In a 5-4 decision, the court sided with Mark Janus, who contended his free speech rights were violated by being forced to pay fair share dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Janus works as a child support specialist for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The job is a union position represented by AFSCME. 

The opinion will mean immediate changes for Illinois state workers. Gov. Bruce Rauner said the state will stop withholding fair share fees from non-union member paychecks. He also said state workers will be notified of the ruling and “be given an opportunity to modify their union status.” He said the average unionized state employee pays more than $900 a year in fees.

The case, which was pursued by conservative organizations and originally launched by Rauner, involved fair share fees. Fair share fees are charged to people in union jobs who do not wish to join the union and pay full union dues. The fees are supposed to help cover the union’s costs in negotiating contracts on behalf of workers in union jobs.

State Representative Christine Winger recently hosted Illinois Farm Bureau representatives from neighboring counties to her 45th District. The Representative was happy to welcome Chastity Welch, Brad Smith and Ed Livengood from the Carroll County Farm Bureau, Melanie Krawczyk, from the DuPage County Farm Bureau, Bona Heinsohn from the Cook County Farm Bureau and Christina Nourie, from the Illinois Farm Bureau for a day in her district! 

Rep. Winger took the group on a tour to show them different aspects of her district, including the Bloomingdale Park District’s Springfield Park and Springfield Park Wetlands. Carrie Fullerton, Executive Director of the Bloomingdale Park District provided the tour of the new baseball fields and infrastructure in the park, and Forrest Rackmyer was able to provide specific information on the updates to the Wetlands to the group.
Representative Winger is pictured above with Forrest Rackmyer of Pizzo and Associates, who is in charge of the Wetlands project at the Bloomingdale Park District. 

Representative Winger is pictured with Carrie Fullerton of the Bloomingdale Park District. 


Rep. Winger recently hosted a Student Art Gallery at her district office, recognizing artistic talents of local students at Westfield Middle School (also pictured: Jon Bartelt, Superintendent of SD 13, Linda Wojcicki, SD 13 board member, Deyana Matt, art teacher at Westfield Middle School).

This weekend Rep. Winger also hosted a paper shredding event in Bloomingdale. The event had a great turnout, and is one the Representative enjoys providing for district residents every year! Special thanks to ComEd for sponsoring the event. Rep. Winger is pictured above with Cynthia Thomas, External Affairs Manager from ComEd. 

Moody's Cites 'Positive' Moves in New Illinois Budget
The 2019 Illinois budget enacted last week includes a voluntary pension buyout plan and a boost in school funding, which are credit-positive moves for the relatively low-rated state and its school districts, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

The $38.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 incorporates $423 million in savings that would be generated by current or former public-sector workers choosing to accept a buyout of their pensions or a retirement benefit in exchange for cash raised by the sale of up to $1 billion of state general obligation bonds.

“The state’s buyout offer is credit positive because it will generate significant pension liability savings to the extent that employees accept the offer,” Moody’s said, adding that actual savings could fall short if participation fails to meet targets of 22 percent of vested former workers and 25 percent of retiring current workers. Read the rest of the story here.
State Representative Christine Winger is hosting her annual paper shredding event on Saturday, June 16th in Boomingdale, at the parking lot on the Northwest corner of 3rd Street and Schick Road. Area residents can drop off up to two bags of paper documents for shredding from 9am-Noon.

Shredding documents to ensure personal information and data is destroyed is now more important than ever, with identity theft and fraud continually on the rise. This is one of the reasons Rep. Winger likes to remind her constituents to take the extra step to protect their information.

The upcoming shredding event is a great opportunity for local residents to destroy sensitive documents to help prevent identity theft and fraud. Documents that should be shredded include mail with personal information such as names, addresses, phone numbers or account information.

The Representative has hosted a paper shredding event every year so that it is convenient for local residents to drop off their documents to be shredded free of charge.

If you have questions about the upcoming event, feel free to contact Rep. Winger’s district office at (847) 252-9311.


Rep. Winger Hosts Annual Property Tax Seminar 

State Representative Christine Winger held her annual Property Tax Seminar recently at the Bloomingdale Public Library. Representative Winger has prioritized this event every year to help residents understand the complex and often confusing property tax system and assessment process.

At this year’s seminar, Rep. Winger was again able to provide her 45th District residents with all the information they need to understand the process of how properties are assessed, and the right tools to learn how to appeal an assessment.


Local Tax Assessors were on hand to lead a detailed presentation on what variables affect your tax bill, how the assessment process works, and what exemptions are available. They were also able to answer residents’ specific questions on their tax bills and provide helpful insight. For any resident who was unable to attend this year’s seminar, but would like to know more, feel free to contact Rep. Winger’s District Office.

FY19 Budget

On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a $38.5 billion bipartisan compromise budget that holds the line on taxes, increases funding for education, curbs spending, and creates a new adoption tax credit that will make it less costly for Illinois parents to adopt children.

“For the first time in years, we have an opportunity to manage our way into balance, and we don’t have to dip into the pockets of overtaxed Illinoisans to do it,” Rauner said. “Balance is in reach because we were able to accomplish $445 million of pension reform and the economy is stronger thanks to federal tax reform, and we are benefiting from an unexpected boost in tax receipts.”

“I’m signing this legislation because it is a step in the right direction, but it is not perfect,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do before we fully restore the state’s fiscal integrity. We still need to enact reforms that bring down the cost of government, make the state friendlier to job creators, and ignite our state economy so it grows faster than government spending.”

The bulk of the FY19 plan was laid out months ago when the Governor gave his budget address to the General Assembly on Valentine’s Day. It was there that he framed his chief goals for the upcoming fiscal year: spending within our means, and no new taxes.

"This balanced budget was a bipartisan compromise that contains no new taxes and includes full year funding with appropriations for those who rely upon us - schools, universities, corrections, seniors, families, children and the underprivileged," House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. "I have always said we can achieve great things when we respect the priorities and principles of our counterparts, and with this new framework I look forward to accomplishing more reforms for the state of Illinois."

The General Assembly adopted many of the Governor’s key agenda items. He listed some of them during a press conference attended by legislative leaders, sponsors and budget negotiators.

o Blocked New Spending. Rauner and the Republican leaders staved off $1 billion in spending increases by aggressively managing agency budgets and tabling $500 million in spending increase proposals. That’s a billion and a half dollars in much-needed spending restraint.

o Education Funding. The budget fully funds the new evidence-based formula the administration introduced in 2015 and signed into law last summer. There’s $350 million in new K-12 dollars, which is up $1.4 billion since 2015, and $50 million for Early Childhood Education, which is up $200 million since 2015. AIM HIGH scholarships get $50 million to encourage Illinois high grads to attend Illinois universities. The MAP grant program is funded for four years. Colleges get $25 million of new money and the tuition tax credit program stays intact.

o Pension Reform. The legislature addressed pension costs by making some modest reforms that will reduce long-term liabilities and save $445 million this year.

o Adoption Tax Credit. Rauner said he was “particularly proud” of the work on his measure to create tax credits to encourage more adoptions by Illinois parents. Parents who can provide stable, loving homes for needy children can qualify for tax credits up to $5000 per child.

o Illinois Innovation Network. The budget gives the University of Illinois System $500 million to fund the Governor’s signature economic development program. The initial step is to get the Discovery Partners Institute up and running. DPI envisions a research and business public-private partnership that involves the entire Illinois university system and business innovators. U of I System estimates that the effort could spark $4 billion in annual invested capital for Illinois and create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

o Quincy Veterans’ Home. There is $53 million in FY19 budget to get underway with the administration’s plan to construct a new veteran’s home in Quincy.

The budget was contained in two separate bills. HB 109 appropriates the $38.5 billion contained in the State’s general funds spending plan for FY19. HB 3342, the FY19 Budget Implementation (BIMP) bill, contains changes to the State’s statutory laws necessary to enable the State’s spending to be carried out within the overall $38.5 billion framework.

A major credit rating house, Standard & Poor’s, followed up on the budget enactment by reaffirming Illinois’s investment-grade credit rating. The two bills represented the first bipartisan, balanced budget enacted by Illinois in 15 years. Both HB 109 and HB 3342 were approved by final action of the House and sent to the Governor for signature. HB 109 (now P.A. 100-586) was approved by a vote of 97-18-00, and HB 3342 (now P.A. 100-587) was approved by a vote of 100-14-0. Both votes took place on Thursday, May 31. The two budget bills were signed into law on Monday, June 4.

House Adjourns 2018 Spring Session

Following more than four months of committee and floor action, the Illinois House adjourned on Thursday, May 31. This was the second and final main session of the 100th General Assembly, which was sworn into office in January 2017. As of May 31, the House members of the 100th General Assembly have sponsored 5,913 bills and 1,166 resolutions. In addition, state senators have sponsored more than 5,000 bills and resolutions. Many of these bills have been passed by both houses and sent to the Governor to become law.

The House and Senate look forward to returning to Springfield on Tuesday, November 13 for Veto Session, which is the six-day period set aside for consideration of the Governor’s vetoes of bills passed by both houses. In addition, committees and task forces of lawmakers will continue working throughout the summer and fall, and will hear witnesses offer testimony and guidance on key and ongoing State issues.
State Representative Christine Winger held her annual Property Tax Seminar yesterday at the Bloomingdale Public Library. Representative Winger has prioritized this event every year to help residents understand the complex and often confusing property tax system and assessment process.

At this year’s seminar, Rep. Winger was again able to provide her 45th District residents with all the information they need to understand the process of how properties are assessed, and the right tools to learn how to appeal an assessment. 


Local Tax Assessors were on hand to lead a detailed presentation on what variables affect your tax bill, how the assessment process works, and what exemptions are available. They were also able to answer residents’ specific questions on their tax bills and provide helpful insight. 

“Property taxes in Illinois are too high, and place an unfair burden on our residents,” said Representative Winger. “This seminar is a great resource for residents to learn everything they need to know about their taxes and the system at large. I will continue to be an advocate for real reforms that our residents deserve, until we get it done.”

For any resident who was unable to attend this year’s seminar, but would like to know more, feel free to contact Rep. Winger’s District Office.
In the past I rejected budgets that would spend more, tax more and not fix what was fundamentally wrong with the state. This year I voted for a budget that is balanced, funds priorities and does not contain a tax increase.
We began this year’s budget process with three common-sense requests:

1. The budget must be balanced. We cannot spend more than the revenue we expect to bring in. We must live within our means.

2. The budget must cover the entire fiscal year. No short term fixes or partial budgets just to get by.

3. No tax increases. Illinoisans have already been hit hard by two recent tax increases in the last few years and simply cannot endure yet another one.

I am delighted to report that we were able to successfully negotiate our requests and fund our priorities, especially education. The FY 2019 budget:

• Fully funds the new bipartisan K-12 Education funding formula. This will result in more financial support for schools across Illinois and reduce reliance on local property taxes.
• Increases funding for Early Childhood Education that keeps Illinois on track to receive millions in federal matching dollars for these programs.
• Provides for a merit-based scholarship called AIM HIGH that will keep our best and brightest high school graduates in Illinois to attend community colleges and state universities. It also funds MAP grants to help students attending Illinois colleges and universities.
• Offers new pension reform measures like voluntary buyouts and capping end-of-career salary increases that cause pension spiking, which should help school districts control costs.
• Increases funding by 2% to universities and colleges to help reduce the pressure to raise tuition.

The budget also funds a capital plan and road plan that will take care of road projects, park maintenance, and maintenance of state building as well cover the cost of building a new veterans home.

Additionally, the passage of a budget means organizations that provide services to those most in need will receive their funding so they can continue their good work.

For years the majority party in control of Springfield has passed unbalanced budgets that spent billions of dollars more than we took in. While this budget is not perfect, it is balanced and a product of compromise and negotiation. I will continue to advocate for our district in Springfield.

While I am proud to support this budget, the financial future of Illinois will not be secure until we pass real reforms to make Illinois more competitive so we can create more jobs, stem the loss of population and reduce property taxes.

Last week was the deadline for Senate Bills to be approved by the House of Representatives.  It was a busy week in Springfield, and with only a few days to go before the end of spring legislative session, there is still much to be accomplished before the May 31st deadline. 

In the Capitol, Representative Winger had the opportunity of meeting students from her district during the TECH2018 demonstration.  The purpose of this demonstration is to increase awareness of the critical role technology plays in preparing students to succeed.   Students had various exhibits set up to show lawmakers the innovative uses of technology and demonstrate the need for increased state funding for technology in education throughout Illinois.
Pictured above:  Rep. Winger visits students and staff from Itasca District 10 for TECH2018.  This is a technology demonstration in the State Capitol building, where lawmakers could visit different booths and see what students in their legislative districts were working on in the technology field.





New Animal Welfare Act Approved in House

State Representative Christine Winger presented Senate Bill 2380 in the House of Representatives to amend the Animal Welfare Act. This legislation will help create greater transparency on the health and welfare of animals at facilities, and help discern whether a facility has a history of performing high numbers of euthanization.

SB2380 will include animal control facilities on the list of establishments that can transfer animals to other facilities.  In addition, new license renewal requirements are established under the bill for animal control facilities and animal shelters. For license renewal, animal shelters must submit a report of their total intake number for dogs, cats, or other animals from the calendar year.  Also, if a microchip is present in an animal, the registered owner must be contacted before intake.

Upcoming Property Tax Seminar

State Representative Christine Winger is hosting a seminar for local residents on Understanding and Appealing Property Tax Assessments.  The event will be held on June 6th from 6:30—8:00pm at the Bloomingdale Library, 101 Fairfield Way, meeting room A/B.

This is an annual event the Representative hosts, to help residents understand the process behind property tax assessments and how to appeal them if they believe they are unfair.  Several local assessing officers from Rep. Winger’s 45th district will discuss what variables affect your tax bill, how the assessment process works, what exemptions are available, and how to appeal your assessment.

Residents are encouraged to bring their tax bills to the event to ask specific questions.

While the event is free, space is limited and an RSVP is required. Pease contact Rep. Winger’s District Office today to reserve your spot at (847) 252-9311.


State Representative Christine Winger presented Senate Bill 2380 in the House of Representatives today to amend the Animal Welfare Act. This legislation will help create greater transparency on the health and welfare of animals at facilities, and help discern whether a facility has a history of performing high numbers of euthanization.

SB2380 will include animal control facilities on the list of establishments that can transfer animals to other facilities.  In addition, new license renewal requirements are established under the bill for animal control facilities and animal shelters. For license renewal, animal shelters must submit a report of their total intake number for dogs, cats, or other animals from the calendar year.  Also, if a microchip is present in an animal, the registered owner must be contacted before intake.

The bill passed unanimously today with no opposition.


I recently attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new baseball field renovation at Springfield Park in Bloomingdale.  It was a great day to celebrate with the Bloomingdale Park District!

State Orders CPS to Grant Special Education Oversight

The move followed significant special education findings affecting Illinois’ largest school district.  The overarching theme of criticism against existing Chicago Public Schools (CPS) special education management was that despite spending $900 million annually for the benefit of 52,000 enumerated students with a broad range of special needs, the troubled school district had failed to meet a series of mandates set down by federal special education law.  Many of the 52,000 enumerated student affected by this order are young persons with individualized education programs (IEPs).

Under the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) order published on Wednesday, May 16, Chicago Public Schools are required to grant operational sign-off powers over much of its special education establishment to a monitor appointed by ISBE.  The monitor will oversee the implementation of a list of 40 mandated corrective actions.  Students affected by the order include students with learning issues, behavioral disabilities, and physical disabilities.  In cases uncovered by investigation, students and their families with diagnosed needs and challenges were unable to get help in a timely manner.

The duration of the takeover order will be at least three years.  Chicago Public Schools will have to get permission from the monitor to implement any changes to its special education policies and procedures.  Stakeholders will have the right to talk to the monitor and report ongoing special education problems and challenges within CPS.  The monitor will have the right to attend any and all CPS senior staff meetings at which operations are discussed.  The role of the appointed ISBE monitor will be akin, in some facets, to the “special masters” that can be appointed by federal courts under current law to oversee or assist in the oversight of school systems and other units of public infrastructure.  

U.S. Supreme Court Sports Betting Decision Affects Illinois

Placing large-scale and electronic bets on sports teams is currently prohibited in Illinois.  The Criminal Code ban on Illinois gambling covers many forms of wagering activity, with one sports-related exception that covers bets on horse racing.  Until this week, this ban was buttressed by a federal law enacted by Congress in 1992 that froze in place the laws of 46 U.S. states that forbade betting on sporting events.  Pushed by the state of New Jersey, the U.S. Supreme Court this week struck down this federal law.

The action by the federal high court opens the door for the General Assembly to begin to debate the amendment or modification of Illinois’ ban on sports betting.  Many Illinoisans will continue to oppose expansion of the State’s gambling industries.  Others may look at the revenues that taxing a gambling transaction can bring in – money that does not have to be extracted by incomes, sales, or property taxes.  Potential revenue estimates from the legalization of sports betting in Illinois range from $300 million to more than $600 million.

Record year announced for Illinois Tourism. 

Records from Illinois hotels, motels, and tourist attractions show that nearly 114 million visits were made to Illinois in 2017, up 1.4% from 2016.  The visitors spent $39.5 billion, up 3% from 2016, and supported the creation and maintenance of 335,500 jobs.  The numbers for 2017 were announced by Governor Rauner on Tuesday, May 15.   

The Illinois Office of Tourism encourages visits to Illinois as a way for persons from elsewhere to enjoy authentic U.S. “heartland” products and experiences.  Illinois experiences are featured in our State’s “Illinois Made” campaign.  Visitors pay taxes for goods and services such as hotel rentals, restaurant meals, local beverages, and rental motor vehicles.  Tourist travel to Illinois generated $2.95 billion in 2017 State and local tax revenue, representing $1,300 in tax payments for the average Illinois household.    




“The event had an amazing turnout, and I have already received a great amount of feedback from job seekers and employers who were happy to have this opportunity.  I recently heard from one constituent who attended the Job Fair and has already been hired,” said Rep. Winger. “As a State Representative, it is important for me to provide necessary outreach services like this, to connect our employers with job seekers in the community."





Behavioral Health Initiative Announced

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced this week that Illinois has received federal approval to launch a sweeping $2 billion behavioral health initiative designed to deliver better outcomes for Medicaid beneficiaries suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative is the culmination of a 30-month long effort to involve state health agencies, legislators and behavioral health organizations in a coordinated plan to help people with disorders that require treatment of the whole person.

"The Better Care Illinois effort is one the most significant developments in the history of Illinois' health programs," Governor Rauner said. "For the first time here in Illinois, we are in a position to devote massive integrated resources to the devastating effects - personal and societal - of behavioral health problems."

"This effort puts a strong new focus on prevention and public health; pays for value and outcomes rather than volume and services; makes evidence-based and data driven decisions; and moves individuals from institutions to community care, to keep them more closely connected with their families and communities."

"The waiver will allow the state to care for its most vulnerable citizens earlier and more efficiently," Rauner continued. "Better Care Illinois will use an integrated approach, so we can focus on helping the whole person and get the right services to the right person in the right setting at the right time."

The waiver is not a grant but rather an opportunity to use $2 billion Medicaid dollars differently to increase the efficiency and quality of care for Medicaid populations. The state got the go-ahead to launch the initiative from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) which approved the state's application for an 1115 Waiver.

The waiver means that beginning July 1, 2018, Illinois can begin investing $2 billion of federal funds in 10 pilots to demonstrate better care alternatives and outcomes. The pilots will feature newly-created delivery systems designed to improve care, increase the value of patient experiences, and produce better outcomes for the dollar. The federal government has also been approving related innovations called state plan amendments.

Better Care Illinois is a win for state taxpayers who over time will see better health outcomes without spending more state dollars. The demonstrations will result in more early help for beneficiaries, so savings can eventually be invested in more cost-effective services.  More than 750,000 beneficiaries, 25 percent of Illinois' Medicaid population, have behavioral health conditions, and they account for 52 percent of Medicaid spending.

The application process was led by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), the state's Medicaid agency. Thirteen state agencies participated in the development of the approved application.

"The opioid crisis and violence in our communities call on us to find better ways to help those in need, and that is what we are accomplishing with this transformation," said HFS Director Felicia Norwood. "Smarter spending will lead to healthier lives and safer communities. By bringing state agencies and medical providers into closer cooperation for our members, we ensure stronger whole-person care for vulnerable individuals."

According to the Governor, the pilots will help Illinois address a variety of vexing societal problems that are impacted by behavioral disorders: mental health, violence, public safety, and opioid abuse among them.

The 10 CMS-approved pilot projects involve a variety of treatment, intervention, case management and home health programs. Summaries of the 10 pilots in the Better Care Illinois Behavioral Health Initiative can be accessed here.

State Budget

For more than 24 months, from the end of June 2015 until mid-July 2017, the state of Illinois spent taxpayers’ money without an approved budget.  The partial withdrawal of Illinois’ legislative branch from the job of overseeing and controlling Illinois spending effectively kicked this oversight power over to the federal and state judiciary, and created wide gaps between Illinois spending areas.  Although the General Assembly maintained partial oversight of state spending through continuous public hearings and discussions of spending programs and issues, this partial oversight fell short of the mandate contained in subsection 2(b) of Article VIII of the state Constitution.  This subsection requires the General Assembly to make annual formal appropriations for all expenditures based upon funds estimated to be available in the approaching fiscal year. 

Despite the explicit language of the state Constitution, as the spring 2018 session of the Illinois General Assembly moves towards its mandated May 31 adjournment once again no action has been taken to adopt a binding revenue estimate or to pass appropriations and a budget for FY19.  FY19 will begin on July 1, 2018.  The more than two dozen members of the House Republican Caucus who are currently freshmen or serving their second term in office have never seen the Illinois House adopt a binding revenue estimate as required by constitutional law.  House Republicans continue to demand that the House and Senate come together, discuss the State’s spending challenges in FY19, and adopt a binding revenue estimate in line with the demands of the Constitution.              


State Revenue Numbers Published

The numbers for State of Illinois revenues were published by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the nonpartisan budgeting arm of the Illinois General Assembly.  COGFA works with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and other State agencies to track Illinois general funds revenues on a month-to-month basis.  The data gathered by COGFA is reported to the General Assembly annually and is supposed to be used by the House and Senate to adopt a revenue estimate to control spending in the appropriations process.

COGFA’s most recent report to the General Assembly, which covers the month ended on Monday, April 30, was published on Wednesday, May 2.  The report showed total general funds revenues from federal and state sources of $5.1 billion in the month of April 2018, which was marked by significant income tax payments.  COGFA tracks trends not only in tax revenues but in other features of the Illinois and U.S. economy in order to establish precise estimates of how money will be paid to the State in FY19, beginning July 1, 2018.  It will be necessary to restrict spending to numbers within this estimate in order to enact a balanced budget in line with the mandate imposed on the General Assembly by the state Constitution.

Illinois Republican leaders continue to call for the adoption of a revenue estimate for FY19.  With the new fiscal year beginning in less than 2 months and the General Assembly scheduled to adjourn in less than 4 weeks’ time, the House and Senate should be using COGFA’s numbers to regain control over state spending and to ensure that the State does not appropriate or spend more money than it has.  The ability to put forth an official revenue estimate and to match this estimate with state budget appropriations is, however, the responsibility of the General Assembly’s majority party.  Previous acts of non-compliance by Illinois with the balanced-budget requirements laid upon it by the state Constitution have led to the State’s economy suffering under a mountain of debts, unpaid bills, and delinquent pension obligations.

House Passes Bill to Alleviate Local Teacher Shortages

For many Illinois school pupils and families, a shortage of teachers in elementary and secondary education has become a standard part of the school experience.  Examples include special education teachers for pupils with individualized education programs (IEPs), logistics directors and schedulers for students with IEPs, and multilingual teachers for students who use English as a second language.  

The House with bipartisan support has passed and sent to the Senate legislation to help alleviate these shortages.  HB 5627 contains measures aimed at streamlining the process of affirming that out-of-state teacher credentials are in line with Illinois-mandated requirements for licensed teaching status.  Other sections of the bill create a new, alternative substitute teacher re-certification process that targets retired teachers who want to continue teaching on a part-time basis.  Moving towards reciprocity with other states in the standing of Illinois teaching credentials and licenses is a longstanding goal of the Illinois school reform community. 

Illinois Remembers Sacrifices Made by Illinois Firefighters and First Responders

International Firefighters’ Day, which is observed on Friday May 4, is a day to remember firefighters throughout the world.  The Illinois Firefighters’ Memorial in Springfield is our State’s place of firefighter remembrance.  The annual observance at the Illinois Firefighter’s Memorial is always held on a Tuesday close to International Firefighters’ Day.  It will be held this year on Tuesday, May 8.