The National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB) has named Rep. Wheeler as a “Guardian of Small Business” in recognition of votes taken in Springfield during 2015-2016. In an independent review of her voting record, Wheeler scored a perfect 100% on the criteria reviewed by the NFIB.
The award, given every two years by the non-partisan National Federation of Independent Business/Illinois (NFIB), judged lawmakers on their votes on 11 key bills during the 99th General Assembly. The bills included: HB 6162, SB 2964, HB 3887, HB 1285, HB 1287, HB 4036, HB 5576 and HJRCA 26. Lawmakers who received an 80% or higher rating received the award.
According to Kim Clark Maisch, State Director of NFIB/Illinois, Wheeler showed unwavering support of small business during the 99th General Assembly. “Small business is an extremely important part of Illinois' economic engine, and Representative Barbara Wheeler’s 100% voting record with the NFIB demonstrates her commitment to helping small businesses succeed in a very tough environment,” she said. “Small businesses are our primary job creators, and Representative Wheeler stood up on behalf of these businesses time and time again in her representation of Illinois’ 64th District.”
It was an honor to be recognized for my support of the business community. There were several bills during this General Assembly that represented an attack on small business owners in Illinois, and as lawmakers who recognize the importance of small business, it was our responsibility to fight these anti-business initiatives. Small business owners are the people who have the power to improve our economy and we need to do everything we can to support them.
NFIB/Illinois includes over 11,000 small business members from across the state. A link to a summary of the 11 key business bills and an overall tally and ranking of all Illinois State Representatives and Senators can be found at: http://www.nfib.com/pdfs/Illinois-Voting-Record.pdf.
The long awaited stopgap State budget, enacted and signed into law on June 30 provides a full 12 months of funding for Illinois K-12 public schools. This plan will fully fund the foundation level for the first time in many years, ending the unfair practice of proration and will ensure that all school districts get at least as much funding from the State as they received last year. Under this budget, every school district within the boundaries of District 64 will see an increase in funding.
The school aid includes both general State aid (GSA) and a series of categorical grants provided to many school districts to cover parts of the costs of mandates imposed by the State and other costs of school district operation. In addition, the FY17 K-12 education bill appropriated $361 million over what was distributed last year in FY16 for the 2015-16 school year. It also allocates $250 million for a new statewide equity grant that will be distributed to school districts based on the State Board of Education’s low income grant formula. The plan also includes a $75 million increase for early childhood education and does not include a state bailout of Chicago Public Schools.
This chart illustrates the estimated increase in funding that District 64 schools will receive for 2016-2017:
On Friday, the Illinois House of Representatives passed a bill that I sponsored that will save local taxpayers thousands of dollars. House Bill 5584 allows two Lake County Sanitary Districts to have their duties and obligations taken over by the Lake County government, potentially saving local property taxpayers thousands annually.
One of the major contributors to high property taxes in Illinois is the number of special taxing bodies we have on the local level. Many of the services these taxing bodies provide can be easily assumed by a broader local government at lower cost. This is exactly the case with the Sanitary Districts in Round Lake and Fox Lake Hills. Lake County already has the infrastructure to provide these sanitary services and can save taxpayers thousands by assuming the responsibilities. It’s an obvious move and I hope more opportunities like this can be found to keep more money in residents’ pockets.
House Bill 5584 provides that the Round Lake Sanitary District and the Fox Lake Hills Sanitary District may enter into agreements with Lake County to assume their assets and responsibilities and then dissolve. This would be a cost saver for local residents because the County already performs these duties in many areas and has the infrastructure to take over the sanitary district duties at lower cost to taxpayers.
Last week I was proud to advance legislation in the House that would improve the acceptance chances for college bound high school students in Illinois and provide an opportunity to earn credit at the same time. Students applying to one of Illinois’ many public universities are currently required to complete two years of foreign language to be considered for admission. House Bill 4330 would allow students to qualify based on a proficiency exam and those who earn high makes can earn college credit for their skills.
I believe that every hardworking student deserves the chance to pursue a quality college education, but I know that the heavy cost of paying for college puts it out of reach for many today. This bill gives students who have shown they have strong foreign language skills the ability to earn credit and save on costs through earning the State Seal of Biliteracy. When you consider that the cost for one class at U of I averages out to be more than $5,000, students and parents could save a lot of money.
House Bill 4330 was passed out of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee in the House with unanimous consent and will now be taken up by the full House for consideration. If passed into law, the bill allows a student who earns a score of “intermediate high” on the State Seal of Biliteracy test to meet foreign language admission requirements at any public community college or university in Illinois. Once accepted, the student may then request that their State Seal of Biliteracy be used to earn credit, potentially saving thousands on the overall cost of attendance.
According to data from CollegeCalc.org, which compares and calculates college costs across the country, using the State Seal of Biliteracy to earn credit for one foreign language class at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign could have saved $5,553 during the 2014/15 academic year.
We have college bound students leaving Illinois every day because they can get a more affordable education out of state. I am confident that this legislation will be a step in the right direction to encourage students stay in Illinois, use their knowledge to save them money, and lead them to pursue their career here in Illinois after they graduate.
The State Seal of Biliteracy score is similar to Advance Placement (AP) scores, but open to students who didn’t have the chance to take the AP test through their high school classes. To learn more about House Bill 4330, click here.
Over the last couple years, it has only become more clear that the State of Illinois, and the General Assembly in particular, in in desperate need of reform. That's why last week I signed on as chief co-sponsor on legislation to enact term limits for Illinois lawmakers and put a stop to gerrymandering by removing the process of incumbents drawing their own legislative districts to ensure their re-election. The two reform proposals if approved by the legislature would send a signal to Governor Rauner that the legislature is ready to solve the current budget impasse.
Since I first took office in January 2013, I have been advocating for term limits and redistricting reform. These are two very simple reforms which deserve an up or down vote in the legislature in order to pass on to the people, who can make their final decision. At the very least we owe it to the people of Illinois to allow their lawmaker to vote on term limits and put a stop to gerrymandering.
Term limits and redistricting reform are two of the five proposals Governor Rauner would like to see considered by the legislature. We should be back in Springfield today and at least send these two simple proposals to the Governor’s desk, then get back to the negotiating table to hammer out a state budget. We need to get back to work now and we need a state budget now.
The two legislative reform proposals I am chief co-sponsoring are HJRCA 49 and HJRCA 51 to amend the redistricting process and enact term limits, respectively.
More specifically, HJRCA 49 calls for the State Board of Elections to develop a specialized computer program to create unbiased districts for Illinois State Senators and Representatives. The computer program designated by the Board of Elections must disregard specified data and must consider certain prioritized factors to help ensure that districts are otherwise produced in a random manner and not correlated to a political party affiliation and gerrymandering. At present, Illinois State Senators and Representatives draw the maps for redistricting themselves, often leading to a basis in favor of one party.
HJRCA 51 seeks to prohibit members of the Illinois General Assembly from serving more than ten years in office. This Amendment to the Illinois Constitution would essentially limit Illinois State Senators to three terms (one term of two years and two terms of four years) and Illinois State Representatives to five terms in office. It also stipulates that no person can use a combination of the offices of Senator or Representative to serve more than ten years. Currently, neither of these offices have any limit on the number of terms or years served, or limitations on an elected official holding a leadership role in their respective body of the legislature.
Please use your voice to urge Speaker Madigan to allow a vote on these proposals so that the people of Illinois can definitively act at the next General Election as to whether or not these proposals should be adopted! These changes should be up to the voters, and every day they remain stuck in the Rules Committee is another day the will of the people is ignored.
Speaker Michael J. Madigan
Illinois House of Representatives
300 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Now that the primary season is over, it is time to get back to business. And our General Assembly has a LOT of business to attend to:
The last time the House was in session (TWO WEEKS ago), House Democrats made an attempt to override the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 2043. I am bewildered and saddened by the lack of compromising as well as the misinformation about this bill and the budgetary process in general. This piece of legislation is a lie to college students who depend on MAP Grants to attend college.
I said it last fall, I said it last month, and I'll say it today: without a means of funding, we can’t actually pay the money in this bill and without a budget in place it’s just another lie. We need a budget!
In January, House Republicans offered a counter proposal, House Bill 4539, which would provide $1.68 billion from general revenue to adequately fund colleges and universities, and students’ MAP grants. The proposal has sat in limbo, despite a request from House Republicans to craft compromise legislation last week.
To make matters worse, Speaker Madigan decided to end the House's work for this month on March 3 and adjourn the House for OVER A MONTH until April 4 despite passionate objections from the other side of the aisle.
Can the partisan wrangling please stop so we can finally pass a constitutional, balanced budget and stop these unconscionable lies to students, families, and every other person in this state whose funding has been stopped due to this impasse? Let me say it once more, we need a budget now!
Please contact Speaker Madigan and ask him to call the House back to Springfield so we can do our jobs and contact the Speaker and Governor Rauner to tell them that enough is enough and negotiations must continue. Make sure not to send a form letter that will just be put in a pile somewhere. If possible, please send a personal note or call their office to show how important this is to Illinoisans:
Speaker Michael J. Madigan
Illinois House of Representatives
300 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
Governor Bruce Rauner
State of Illinois
207 State House
Springfield, IL 62706
This contentious primary season will soon be over. As a reminder, early voting ends March 14 at 7pm and official voting day is March 15. Please do remember to vote. But as this heightened primary season draws to an end, we are reminded that no matter who wins or loses, we all still live and raise our families in the same, close knit community. This has been one of the most interesting primaries I have experienced yet. The presidential race has certainly made it more entertaining. And unlike many of the other counties, we have a lot of local races.
In addition to one of the more fascinating "sign war" battles this year, we have also seen, without a doubt, far more mudslinging. That's disappointing, but not unusual. We know politics is a full contact sport, but hopefully the name-calling will dissipate so that policy contrasts can be determined by voters.
Staying focused on the policy differences rather than engaging in personal attacks is the best ways to stay above the fray. It's a lot easier to work together for the benefit of this community when we are able to get along AFTER the primary elections. As candidates, we need to remember this; as supporters of candidates, we need to remind them of this.
March 15 is next week. The primary is officially over at 7 pm next Tuesday. Polls will then be closed. Some candidates will win, but the truth is...more candidates will lose. It will be the time to celebrate and congratulate all who were a part of the process. Let's share in the victories of our founding fathers and honor their efforts of bring a representative form of government to our country.
Remember: we are only half way there. November is the "winner takes all" election. We need everyone working together to make a difference in this county, state, and country. After all, "A house divided ..." Well, you know the rest.
Please join us at these celebratory events:
McHenry County GOP Election Night Party
Hosted by McHenry County GOP Chairwoman Sandra Salgado
March 15 beginning at 7pm
Marzano's Wood Fire Grill
National and Local election results will be playing throughout the evening.
All are welcome.
Chairman Joe Gottemoller's Election Night Event
March 15 beginning at 8pm
Georgio's in Crystal Lake
Chairman Joe Gottemoller is hosting a open event for all candidates and supporters.
Comptroller Leslie Munger is having a fundraiser!
Monday March 7, 2016
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Brief program around 6:15 PM
Half Day Brewing Company - Lincolnshire, IL
Tickets $100 available at the door or via RSVP email@example.com
Looking forward to a positive November with all of our capable candidates!