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Yesterday, Governor Rauner delivered what is deemed to be a historic address at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, calling for unity and bipartisanship from the General Assembly to end our state's budget impasse. The Governor urged the members of the General Assembly to vote on the Capitol Compromise, a plan that was introduced by Senate and House Republican leaders that has the Governor's support.

Representative Avery Bourne joined Governor Rauner in calling for unity, emphasizing the critical importance of coming together to work on and pass a budget that will put Illinois on the right fiscal path moving forward.

"Now is the time for working together. With only ten days before our deadline, we must come together, for the people of Illinois, to pass a bipartisan, balanced budget," said Bourne.

The Capitol Compromise Plan includes:

* Balanced Budget with Spending Caps
* Property Tax Relief
* Worker's Compensation Reform
* Government Consolidation (Already Passed House & Senate)
* Education Reform
* Term Limits
* Pension Reform

Representative Bourne added, "While we won't all agree on every aspect of the plans that have been proposed, we cannot wait any longer. This plan is a full year balanced budget that forces the state to live within its means. It also contains good policies that will get our state growing again and represents much of where the Senate Grand Bargain plan found compromises. I am calling on leadership on both sides of the aisle to come together, resolve the remaining issues in a budget deal and get it done."
House and Senate Republicans held a press conference today to introduce a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and include reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is asking the Democratic Majority in both Houses to call the plan for a vote and, finally give Illinoisans a budget after two years without a budget in place. “Our budget proposal is reflective of where the negotiations between the Senate Democrats and Republicans broke down. This should be our starting point. Our plan includes a balanced budget with spending caps and meaningful structural reforms,” said Rep. Bourne. “We’ve included many compromises that were previously agreed to as well as new concessions. Additionally, this legislation would clean up Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform proposal, to provide fair, equitable reform for every school district in the state.”

“Time is running out before the fiscal year ends, and we must act now! Where is the sense of urgency with Speaker Madigan to end this stalemate? Lawmakers should be in Springfield working around the clock until our job is finished. This comprehensive budget package with structural reforms that we are proposing today is the path forward to breaking the budget impasse,” said Durkin.

The comprehensive proposal includes a truly balanced budget, a four-year hard spending cap, lasting property tax relief, and changes to our regulatory system that will create jobs and grow the economy. The bills also include a $250 million increase for the new school funding formula, and fulfilling commitments to restore child care eligibility to 185% of the federal poverty level and a wage increase to Direct Support Professionals. It also includes term limits on legislative leaders and constitutional officers.

"These proposals continue the important work already done in the Senate, where we'd seen significant progress on these issues. I am confident there is still an opportunity for bipartisan compromise on a balanced budget, as well as the critical reforms that will bring a much-needed economic boost to our state," said State Senator Karen McConnaughay. "We need to act expediently to get Illinois back on a path to fiscal stability and security."

The summary of the bills are as follows:

Budget Bill: Comprehensive budget proposal that includes real spending cuts and a four-year spending cap, while providing funding to state agencies like the Department of Human Services to care for our state’s most vulnerable and the Department of Transportation to continue important infrastructure projects.

Property Tax Relief: Four-year freeze for all taxing districts, but would allow residents, through voter referendum, to lower or increase their taxes. Allows for an exemption on existing debt service payments as requested by Senate Democrats.

Local Government Consolidation: Strengthens and improves the already passed SB 3, and will allow for citizens-initiated consolidation on units of local government.

Education Funding: Changes to the K-12 education funding formula that treats every district equitably that is consistent with the bipartisan framework of the Governor’s School Funding Commission. Funding for early childhood education, K-12 education, community colleges and universities.

Workers’ Comp: Uses previously negotiated language between Senate GOP and Senate Democrats, like changes to the medical fee schedule, but does not reduce benefits to workers or include a causation standard.

Pension Reform: Accepts SB 16, which has previously passed the Senate, including President Cullerton’s consideration model and the state’s pickup of Chicago Public School’s pension payments.

Term Limits: Constitutional amendment to impose 10-year term limits on legislative leaders in the General Assembly and eight-year limit on Constitutional Officers (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Treasurer, and Secretary of State)

“We all agree that we need to fix our broken school funding formula right now," said State Senator Jason Barickman. "This legislation contains much of the priorities Democrats advanced in Senate Bill 1, provides meaningful help for Chicago, ensures that no districts lose money, and treats all of our schools fairly and equitably under the evidence based model."

“Passing an unbalanced budget like the Senate Democrats did and the House Democrats choosing to not even take up a budget is beyond unacceptable and a complete failure from the majority party,” State Sen. Dale Righter said. “We must return to Springfield, put party differences aside, work together, and pass an actual budget that is not only balanced, but moves Illinois forward economically and fiscally. The fact we need 3/5 vote now to pass a budget is a good thing in that it forces Democrats to finally work with Republicans in complete good faith to pass a true and real balanced budget – one that is good for schools, social services, and taxpayers.”

“The comprehensive balanced budget we are offering today will provide care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Deputy Republican Leader Patti Bellock. “With last week’s court ruling on the $2 billion backlog of unpaid Medicaid bills, it is critically important we take immediate action to address this backlog. Our plan includes more than $4 billion in bonding to help pay off old bills. We must address this crisis now. The consequences of not taking action now would be devastating to human services.”

“Our plan will allow for citizens-initiated consolidation of units of local government,” State Rep. Tom Demmer said. “Our nearly 7,000 units of local government contribute to why Illinois residents pay some of the highest local government taxes in the nation, including the 2nd highest in property taxes. On pension reform, we accept Senate Bill 16, which has previously passed the Senate and includes President Cullerton’s consideration model. Pension reform and local government consolidation will save taxpayers billions of dollars.”
My entire time in the General Assembly, I have been working on fixing the school funding formula. What I will not support is a masked effort to rig the school funding formula. This week, House Democrats passed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) - a bill to change the way we distribute state money to our schools.  

This bill was a version of the evidence-based funding model which is an excellent blueprint for us to follow when we discuss overhauling our broken state funding formula. This model, in theory, is significant to Illinois for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was specifically designed to send money to the schools that need it most, first. 

What’s so disappointing, however, and why I could not support SB1 is that the bill sponsored by Senator Manar and Representative Davis corrupts the evidence-based model and skews its results in favor of driving money to one school district - Chicago. 

For months, we have been negotiating, on a bipartisan basis, a new funding model that recognizes the unique characteristics of each school district, sends money first to the schools who need it most, and that appropriately considers the needs of schools across the state - including Chicago. However, the recent legislation that passed the House and the Senate is not reflective of our negotiations. As is often the case in Springfield, at the last minute they added in special deals and went with what was politically expedient instead of what was fair. 

To be clear, I am not denying that students in Chicago need a high quality education too. But, when politicians choose to rig the system to send more money to Chicago, it comes at the expense of every other student in the 850 other districts in the State. That includes us. 
Here is a snapshot of schools in the 95th District under our plan for school funding reform and then after the changes to benefit Chicago: 

All of these numbers seem like a benefit to our schools. You may ask - isn’t something better than nothing? The problem is, if we make all of these deals for Chicago permanent, we will lose money that we deserve every year from here on out. Also, if education funding is cut in the future like we've seen in the past, Chicago will automatically get more while everyone else suffers losses. That is not a system that is “fixed,” that is a system that is rigged. 
Also, let’s not forget about the financial condition of the state. Our schools across the state are already owed $1.1 billion from the state for this year alone. We’re broke. This bill assumes that the state will be able to pay another $350 million more next year than we did this year. Also, while House and Senate democrats wave this bill around as a victory, the House majority failed to even bring a budget up for a vote. That means, so far, not a single dollar is headed to schools next year. 
We truly were close to a historic agreement on reforming the school funding formula, but the House and Senate Democrats sold out to Chicago again. It’s time that Springfield got its priorities right. Let’s truly fix the formula for every school in the state - not rig the system for one school district at the expense of the rest of us.
 

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is the Chief Sponsor of House Bill 3656 that seeks to increase the use of Illinois coal. The bill creates a taskforce to study the costs and benefits of using the latest scrubber technology to allow Illinois coal mined in our home state to be burned here as well. This legislation recently passed out of the Illinois House and is now before the Senate for consideration.
State Representative Avery Bourne(R-Raymond) is challenging local kindergarten through fifth grade students to complete her reading program to earn a free ice cream with the Representative at the end of summer. Students involved in the program are asked to read 8 books during their break from school and return their reading logs to the Representative’s office by August 1, 2017.

“Reading has such a big impact on a child’s future and hopefully this program helps to strengthen their reading skills,” said Rep. Bourne. “I would encourage kids to take my challenge; make time to take a break and get lost in a good book.”
Participants from last year are seen here with Rep. Bourne. These children from the Taylorville area
enjoyed a free cone and then had play time at the local ice cream shop.
Currently, Illinois lawmakers are required to test their knowledge of ethics laws annually by taking an ethics exam - the kicker though, they’re allowed to fail every question. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is the Sponsor of House Bill 526, a bill that is seeking to change this practice by requiring that lawmakers must pass the test on their first attempt.


State Rep. Avery Bourne today released the following statement on school funding reform upon the House's return to Springfield for the final month of the spring legislative session:

For years, multiple legislative commissions and committees have studied the obvious inequities of Illinois’ school funding system. As it stands now, Illinois has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. That means students are essentially forced to play a zip code lottery that will determine whether they learn in classrooms equipped with an iPad per student or one where students share decades old textbooks. This is a challenge we need to tackle as the legislature, and there is bipartisan agreement that it must happen soon.
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) and First National Bank of Litchfield are partnering to host a free shred event at her district office on Saturday, June 10th.  The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and all district residents are invited to bring their confidential documents, two bags maximum, to be shredded.

“Consumer fraud and identity theft are a growing problem in our communities,” said Bourne.  “This event is an effort to prevent this type of crime from happening.  This is why I am encouraging are residents to come out and have their personal documents safely and securely destroyed at no charge.” 
 
Bourne’s district office is located at 301 North Monroe Street in Litchfield. Cars will be directed to enter the parking lot across from the post office, on Monroe Street. Participants can leave their documents to be shredded on site or park in the lot while the shredding takes place. This free service is for residential, not business, shredding only and bags will be accepted until the trucks reach capacity. 

Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is sponsoring legislation to help local farm families by repealing the estate and inheritance taxes paid on land transfers upon death.  The legislation, House Bill 432, is an effort to stop double taxation of land transfers for agricultural purposes.

Bourne’s HB432 states that if a farmer gifts his land upon death to a descendant, there is no longer a state tax due on the assessed value of the property. Currently, the rate of taxation may be as high as 51% on estate transfers (35% to the Federal Government and between 7.2% and 16% to the State Government).

Representative Bourne explains, "The estate tax in Illinois, especially at a time when small farms are struggling to stay afloat, often means that families must sell the family farm to meet their tax obligations. This adds to the overwhelming tax burden in Illinois.”  Bourne states, “This proposal grew out of a suggestion from my Agriculture Advisory Board and I am proud to bring it forward as just one more way we can make Illinois more competitive and compassionate."

The legislation would be effective immediately upon being signed into law. Currently, 18 states impose an estate tax and 32 states (including neighboring Indiana) do not.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) operates several Small Business Development Centers around the state to provide information, training, and resources for start-ups and existing small businesses. Recently, the Illinois House unanimously passed legislation recently that would add marketing and networking to those services.

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is a Chief Co-Sponsor of
House Bill 1813, which directs DCEO to create a Networking for Success program within its Small Business Development Centers to assist small businesses with strategic market research, geographic information systems, web design, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.


“This bill modernizes, through the digital expansion of services that DCEO offers, and creates a network of assistance that I hope businesses in the area will utilize,” said Bourne. “Current business incentives and assistance programs mainly focus on large companies. House Bill 1813 is a way to assist small businesses within our communities so they, too, can be successful and flourish.”

Currently, such services are often out of reach to many Illinois small businesses because of the cost. This program would make such services accessible to small businesses – the very businesses that employ so many of our neighbors and generate so much economic activity in our communities. The bill is now awaiting action in the Senate.