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Update from the Capitol 1/28/2018

Monday, January 28, 2019 - Posted 9:22:24 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

As always, you can contact me via webform at, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.

House Republicans file "Fair Map" amendment

I along with all of my House Republican colleagues have filed a resolution in the House calling for the creation of a new redistricting process to end decades of gerrymandered legislative districts in Illinois.

Our current partisan map-drawing process allows whichever party is in power to draw district boundaries that heavily favor their candidates to make sure they can retain and expand their power. That's not fair to the voters.

House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 10 is modeled after prior Independent Map citizen initiatives. It would establish an independent, non-partisan commission to draw fair maps for legislators after each 10-year census. The Commission would be comprised of 11 randomly selected members and would hold public hearings throughout the state before and after releasing a proposed district boundary plan.

All Republicans in the House are supporting the fair map amendment. During the campaign Governor Pritzker vowed to veto any partisan maps sent to his desk, so if other members of his party will join us we can move forward with a truly fair process.

Governor to grant AFSCME step increases

Governor Pritzker has announced that he will grant step increase payments to AFSCME members that had been on hold during contract negotiations between the state and AFSCME.

You may remember that in February of 2015 new contract negotiations began and CMS announced they would not pay any step increases as negotiations were ongoing.

AFSCME filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) with the Illinois Labor Relations Board (ILRB) against the State for failing to pay the step increases.

According to the Governor's Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) Five-Year Budget Forecast the step increases carry a potential liability between roughly $170 and $500 million.

Illinois taxpayers continue to be on hook for more than $7 billion in current debts The mammoth number was published recently by the Office of the Illinois Comptroller, which is currently holding more than $6 billion in unpaid bills that have been presented to the State by creditors. In addition, more than $1.0 billion in bills are sitting in state agency offices waiting to be forwarded to the Comptroller for payment.

Illinois's taxpayers are responsible not only for these bills, but for heavy interest payments. The Office of the Comptroller reported that their estimate of the Illinois general funds bill backlog was $7.75 billion. Based on the ratio of debts to citizen incomes, Illinois' public-sector debt burden is one of the highest among the 50 states of the U.S.

Celebrating County Fairs

I was pleased to attend the recent Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs event. County fairs help the local economy, provide good family entertainment, and help youngsters and young adults learn more about being responsible and accountable! Great programs! Glad to see New Ag Director John Sullivan, Radio host Gale Cunningham, Radio host Kent Casson, several good folks from Vermilion county, Iroquois county and other parts of the district.

Illinois winter road conditions

Thank you to all who work to keep our roads clear!

The Illinois Department of Transportation portal page "Getting Around Illinois" contains links to webpages that describe Illinois winter road conditions, current travel information, and road construction notices and updates. As of mid-January 2019, wide sections of Illinois have already seen snowfalls of more than twelve inches.

Also, please remember that under the Illinois "Rules of the Road", if you see a completely stopped snowplow, you should yield a lane if possible, or reduce speed and proceed with caution. Please stay safe out there this winter!

Did You Know?

Did you know that each year hundreds of Basset Hounds come here to the 106th District for one of the biggest basset parades in the country? The Illinois Waddle hosted by Guardian Angel Basset Rescue based in Dwight each fall brings in hounds from throughout Illinois, Indiana and Missouri for a weekend-long slobbery celebration in GABR Park that culminates in the hounds and their families taking to the streets of Dwight for the annual basset waddle parade.