Springfield…Wyatt Anderson, a senior at Ottawa Township High School, served as an Honorary Page for the Illinois House of Representatives during a legislative session of the 100th General Assembly over Memorial Day Weekend.
Mr. Anderson, a resident of Marseilles, was invited by Illinois State Rep. Jerry Long (R-Streator) after winning a writing contest hosted by the representative. The contest was for high schoolers in the 76th District where they were asked to come up with a new law that would benefit the State of Illinois. Mr. Anderson wrote his essay about a law mandating yearly infrastructure improvements in Illinois. He believes that if Illinois enacts legislation similar to the public works programs created by President Roosevelt during the Great Depression, than Illinois could create jobs while investing in its roads and bridges.
It’s a special privilege for a student to be selected to serve as an Honorary Page. Mr. Anderson got the opportunity to serve his state, observed the work that takes place on the House floor, and participated in the Legislative Session. After the conclusion of session on Memorial Day, Mr. Anderson was awarded an Illinois House of Representatives Certificate of Recognition.

 
Springfield… With the final days of session coming to a close, there is still significant legislation looming over Springfield. House Bill 2462, an amendment to the Equal Pay Act, was introduced by State Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), passed through the House a month ago and is currently up for debate in the Senate. State Representative Jerry Long (R-Streator) voted no on HB 2462 but supported a similar bill, HB 2094. Rep. Long felt that it was important to distinguish the differences between the two.
               “HB 2462 is nothing more than a political piece of legislation,” stated Rep. Long. “If the sponsor had intended to just copy the Massachusetts’ Law where the inspiration was drawn from, then Illinois employers could live with that. Unfortunately, HB 2462 has some poorly thought out provisions.
“The first of which is the fact that this legislation would ultimately let employees dictate employers’ business practices.  Secondly, and most importantly to me as a small business owner, this legislation would dramatically increases the damages available under the Illinois Equal Pay Act adding compensatory and special damages up to $10,000 against the smallest of employers. This legislation was touted as a tool to close the gender wage gap when in reality it’s all about making it easier to sue employers. HB 2462 will do nothing but send out another negative message about what a poor decision it is to invest in Illinois as a business owner.
“The legislation I sponsored, HB 2094, prohibits employers from asking about prior wage and salary history but also adopts the Massachusetts’ approach of incentivizing employers to address equal pay deficiencies. This would further equality in the workplace and give employers a reason to invest here. The legislation I chose to sponsor not only protects our female labor force, but our employers as well. We want investing in Illinois to be a sound decision for all.
“But like a lot of great legislation, HB 2094 is now dead in the Rules Committee because Speaker Madigan won’t allow it to see the light of day.
Constituents interested in this legislation or any of Rep. Long’s other bills, are urged to look on ilga.gov or repjerrylong.com. Questions or comments can be emailed to long@ilhousegop.org or can be called in at (815)-510-9689.


Springfield…On Wednesday, State Representative Jerry Long (R-Streator) cosponsored House Resolution 360, calling for the House to adopt a resolution that contains a fiscal year (FY) 2017 revenue estimate. An estimation of the state’s revenue is the first and most important step in the budget-making process as it gives them the framework for what they are allowed to spend. Lawmakers passed a budget that was nearly $7 billion out of balance for the FY 2016 so pressure is mounting with the May 31st deadline looming around the corner. Rep. Long was found for comment after session concluded Wednesday afternoon.
“The opportunity to come together and end the budget impasse is right now,” stated Long. “That is why I am joining fellow Republicans in urging our colleagues to adopt one of the resolutions containing a revenue estimate. Illinois has gone nearly two years without a budget, and in the meantime, our schools and universities, social service providers and those most in need are struggling. Every day that goes by without honest negotiations and discussions is a wasted opportunity. Neither side of the aisle can fix the budget stalemate by themselves so it’s time to come together and give the taxpayers what they deserve.”
The resolution now awaits approval from the Rules Committee. Constituents that would like to follow this resolution or any other legislation introduced or sponsored by Rep. Long are urged to contact his office at either 815-510-9689 or via email at Long@ilhousegop.org. 

When I was elected on November 8th, 2016, I knew that I was walking into a political hotbed, but I didn’t fully realize how bad things actually were until I stepped foot in Springfield. The problems facing our state have been decades in the making. For example, Illinois’ pension liability represents 10 percent of the entire nation’s pension debt, the overall tax burden for families and businesses is the 5th highest in the nation and we have the 48th worst business climate in the country. These statistics aren’t the result of the last two or three years. They are the direct result of years upon years of failed policies and false promises.
It’s important to know that Michael Madigan and the Democrats have long been in control of the General Assembly and currently have a majority in the House and a supermajority in the Senate. Due to these majorities, the Democrats have complete control of the legislative process.
In the House, the majority party alone decides which bills are allowed to move through the legislative process through the powerful Rules Committee.  And after that, it is up to the sole discretion of the Speaker as to which bills are allowed to be called for a vote and when. I have seen this first hand with some of my bills. The majority party didn’t like them, so they refused to call them for a vote. But don’t just take my word on it, last week, the House passed 179 pieces of legislation. Of those, 133 bills were Democrat bills and only 46 were Republican bills.
This concentration of power in the legislature leads to a much larger problem facing Illinois though, and that’s the budget stalemate.
A balanced budget is required in the state of Illinois by our constitution, and there are a number of steps that must be completed in order to make this happen. First, the legislature is required by law to pass a revenue estimate. Then the Governor and the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) present their budgets.
The next step is for Senate and House Appropriations Committees to meet, hear testimony from state agencies, and determine the funding levels for those agencies based on the previously approved revenue estimate. Finally, the budget bills are filed, receive votes and move on to the Governor’s desk to be signed. 
If it’s really that simple, what’s the hold up? The fact is, the majority party in the legislature has failed to complete step one. As a reminder, the Illinois Constitution states in Article VIII, section 2, Paragraph b that, "The General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.
So instead of focusing on step one, the majority party has decided to focus on passing bills totaling $295 million last week alone without identifying how we’re going to pay for it. This has to stop. 
My Republican colleagues and I stand ready and willing to negotiate on a balanced budget that will lead to economic growth in all corners of the state. But we can’t negotiate alone. In a divided government we all have to come together and compromise for the people we represent. 
I remain optimistic about our future because I believe that the people of the 76th District, as well as the people of Illinois, know that we can't keep doing the same thing time and time again while expecting different results. Reckless spending plans, insurmountable debt, and other burdensome legislation have been the norm for too long.  I will continue to push to grow our economy and make Illinois a friendly state to do business in so that we can bring good-paying jobs back to our hard-working families. 
For all the people that I have come to know, and the ones that have expressed concerns about the future of our state, I can't think of a better place to be able to help than fighting for them in Springfield. The opportunity to turn our state around and bring the certainty that families, businesses and future generations deserve is upon us. I hope that my colleagues recognize this opportunity and join me in making Illinois a national leader again and a state for which we can all be proud.