The Weber Wire: AJ Freund Act, State Budget & More

Filing the AJ Freund Act to reform DCFS.

During a press conference at the Capitol, I was joined by colleagues Terri Bryant and Joe Sosnowski to present several pieces of legislation to reform the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). We must change the course of a broken DCFS and that’s why I’ve filed the AJ Freund Act to give local law enforcement the ability to investigate any allegation of child abuse or neglect. If local law enforcement had this investigative ability in December of 2018, when AJ told the ER doctor that his bruises might have been caused by his mother, he may still be alive today.  Read More Here.

Governor’s budget proposal lacks necessary reforms.

Governor Pritzker gave his Budget Address to a joint session of the 101st General Assembly on February 19. Illinois needs significant structural reform to address our fiscal issues, but I hardly heard a word of that in the Governor’s budget proposal. Last fall, he told state agencies to look for efficiencies and reductions to improve the cost-effectiveness and delivery of services – and it’s frustrating his budget proposal doesn’t seem to represent any of those scenarios. He also said reforming the state pension system to address the unfunded liability of more than $130 billion in state pension debt is a non-starter. His only answer continues to be to raise taxes. He even suggested that funding for essential services, like those for K-12 and higher education could be held hostage if the graduated tax amendment isn’t passed in November. We will never get our fiscal house in order if we don’t address these issues.  Read More Here.

Rejecting Pritzker’s decision to tie school funding to graduated tax approval.

Following his February 19 budget address, House Republicans denounced Gov. Pritzker’s decision to place passage of his graduated income tax proposal ahead of a commitment to fully fund education, health care and public safety in the FY21 budget. In his address, the Governor recommended holding back $150 million in funds for the evidence-based school funding formula and an additional $40 million for mandated categorical payments for school special education and transportation. The result is that less funding would be available to help close the equity gap for schools. In addition, his recommendation would disproportionately impact funding for rural and small schools.  Read More Here.

Petition: Urge Gov. Pritzker to not hold school funding hostage to a tax hike.

To urge Gov. Pritzker against his proposal to withhold $150 million of state funds for local K-12 schools unless voters approve his income tax hike in the November elections, please sign this petition! Our schoolchildren and teachers deserve certainty in funding.  Click here to sign!

How to file a witness slip.

As bills move through the legislative process, citizens have an opportunity to express support or opposition to a piece of legislation as it moves through the committee process when it is assigned to a committee for a hearing. Prior to a hearing for a bill, the committee chairperson reads into the official record the number of people who have filed witness slips in support or opposition to the bill being discussed. Filing a witness slip is easy – please use the short tutorial video on my website to add your voice to the legislative process!  Watch the Video Here.

Preventative action to limit spread of coronavirus.

From the Illinois Department of Public Health: The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is working with local, state and federal health partners to take all preventative steps available to limit the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). While COVID-19 is not spreading in communities in Illinois or the U.S., there is evidence of community spread in several countries around the world and IDPH is committed to working across local, state and federal agencies to ensure Illinois is prepared. IDPH is currently conducting hospital assessments to determine all available capacity in the event more people need medical care. Earlier last month, Illinois became the first state to provide COVID-19 testing in-state and IDPH is continuing to work on increasing capacity for testing to ensure rapid results. The CDC also has several useful guides about steps you can take to stay healthy.  Read More Here.

Filing the Taxpayer Protection Act.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to most of us that another independent study recently ranked Illinois as having the 2nd highest property taxes in the nation. To deal with this crushing burden, the Taxpayer Protection Act lays out a framework to address the underlying problem of property taxes by requiring more transparency, preventing taxing bodies from unilaterally extending property tax increasing debt and limiting how often debt incurring referendums can be pursued.  Read More Here.

March is Women’s History Month.

Chemist and physicist Leona Woods, a daughter of Illinois, is one of the women whose work helped create victory in World War II.  As part of her graduate work, she was recruited into the top-secret Manhattan Project at the campus of the University of Chicago in 1942. In a makeshift bunker, concealed in storage space beneath the bleachers of an unused football stadium, stood a “pile” of carbon graphite that would help win the war.  Read More Here.