News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
  315 West Wesley Street 309H State House
  Wheaton, Illinois 60187 Springfield, Illinois 62706
  630-690-4500 217/782-8022  

For Immediate Release

Date:  April 14, 2006/mkp

 Week in Review: April 10-14

Springfield – The General Assembly has missed its scheduled April 7 deadline, and now days after the scheduled Spring Session adjournment date, the State of Illinois is without a final budget bill and without a foreseeable date of adjournment, according to State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

The Democrat leaders who control both the Illinois House and Senate and the governor’s office have had all year to work on a budget proposal. Yet, the three leaders from the city of Chicago could not make their self-imposed deadline.

Roskam explained that the House and Senate Republicans, for the second year in a row, have been completely cut out of the budget talks, while Democrat leaders continue to press for more borrowing and spending in place of cutting expenses in areas that have proven to be less beneficial to the people of Illinois .

Last year, the Democratic leaders forced through a budget bill that skipped $2.3 billion in pension payments for two years in order to free up money to be spent elsewhere. The two-year pension raid was supposed to make this year’s negotiations quick and simple.

Yet, despite raiding $2.3 billion from retirement accounts, diverting millions of dollars from dedicated funds, and using healthcare providers as unofficial lenders for $1.8 billion, it is still not enough money to satisfy Governor Rod Blagojevich’s desired $1 billion increase in state spending.

With no budget agreement to move on, the Senate will now return to Springfield on April 25th. The Senate has also scheduled a session date for May 2nd, which would be more than three weeks after their original adjournment date.

Roskam says taxpayers are the ones who will suffer because of the one-sided budgeting process, because each day a budget is delayed, more unaffordable demands are added to an already bloated list.

In other news, legislation designed to restore a Senior Citizen Tax Exemption, which would provide significant financial relief for many Illinois seniors, is on its way to the Governor for final consideration having received overwhelming approval from both legislative chambers.

House Bill 4789 is a response to a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision striking down a 1994 law which created the Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze. The Court ruled in December last year that the 1994 law violated the state’s single subject requirements.

The measure restores the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption to ensure that seniors will be able to claim the exemption when they pay their property taxes this year. The Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption essentially allows qualified seniors to have their assessments on their homes frozen for as long they own their home.

The Senator said this is an attempt to hold down rising property taxes for senior citizens, many of which have lived in the same home for years and cannot afford sudden property tax increases when their property value jumps.

If signed by the Governor, seniors will be able to claim the exemption when they pay their property taxes this year.

Legislative committees also met this week, but one in particular stayed busy, when the legislative Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) voted to reject the Illinois State Board of Education’s recommendation to prohibit junk food in Illinois ’ elementary and middle schools.

The Senator said the Committee asked the Board of Education to review and present a comprehensive proposal with regard to school nutrition, despite the fact that every school district in Illinois has a local board elected to make these kinds of decisions.

The proposed rule changes would have applied the junk food ban before and during the school day. Current State Board rules prohibit the sale of junk food in elementary schools during breakfast and lunch; however, at this time some schools do allow the sale of these foods between meal times.

Bills signed into law this week:

Bills approved by the General Assembly this week: