Senator Bush

April 17, 2014

Dear Friends,

 

The last few months of session have been important ones for our state.

 

All Illinoisans know there are difficult budget decisions on the horizon. While we don’t all agree on how to solve our problems, the number of different solutions and the work being done makes me hopeful we will make significant progress.

 

For my part, I am working diligently to create long-term solutions to our budget crisis through various legislative initiatives. Initiatives that continue the hard work of building an Illinois economy that creates good-paying jobs. Initiatives that fix a broken education funding system that leaves our children lagging behind in the math and science skills necessary for tomorrow’s careers. These are the types of efforts I believe are vital to solving our state’s problems. You can read more about them in the sections below.

 

While we are currently in our districts working hand-in-hand with our constituents, session will reconvene on April 24. You can view the remainder of the Senate session calendar here.

 

Prior to the spring session reconvening, I will be hosting an event highlighting new capital funding for the Shoreline Stabilization Project at Illinois Beach State Park. This additional funding is an investment both in our tourism economy and a valuable natural resource – maintaining the integrity of our Lake Michigan Shoreline. Any and all are welcome to join us.

 

MY LEGISTATIVE INITIATIVES

 

Illinois State Training and Employment Program
I have long advocated for job creation as a way to drive the Illinois economy forward – especially in such tough budget years. Throughout my years of work in economic development, small and large business-owners alike have reinforced to me that one of the keys to job creation and business expansion is access to a skilled workforce. Unfortunately, Illinois ranks 45th in dollars spent on job training and faces a growing skills gap.

 

Sen. Bush speaking to a reporterEarlier this month, I sponsored a proposal creating a workforce-training program designed to address these very issues. The Illinois State Training and Employment Program – otherwise known as I-STEP – is a no-cost job training initiative that empowers community colleges to provide job training for new hires at companies that are adding to the Illinois workforce. The income tax collected from the new employee will go to pay down the cost of the program – making it entirely revenue-neutral.

 

In Iowa and Michigan, where similar programs have been enacted, the proposals have produced jobs that average annual salaries of $50,000 or more.

 

I am happy to report I-STEP passed the Senate overwhelmingly with bi-partisan support. (READ MORE)

 

Investment in Transportation In January, I wrapped up a six-month effort to meet with every municipality and discuss the transportation and infrastructure improvements most vital to their cities, villages and towns. I want to make sure state transportation officials know the needs of Lake County and its communities and that we finally get the investment in projects that we’ve long deserved.

 

Please help me fight for our communities by signing my petition to show that transportation needs in Lake County must be a state priority.

 

School Funding Reform Act of 2014
I have been active in the Education Funding Advisory Committee for the better part of the last year. We have travelled across the state to dozens of Committee hearings and heard over 40 hours of testimony on the current education funding formula. Our work has culminated in a proposal to streamline the current funding structure for public education into one funding formula – the School Funding Reform Act of 2014.

 

This proposal would provide a more equitable funding stream for public education in Illinois and offer more transparency in how education dollars are spent. (READ MORE)

 

While we all agree our current funding system doesn’t work, as we move forward it’s important to me to make sure those that deal with these issues every day have a seat at the table and are part of the conversation.

 

That’s why last week I met with 21 Lake County Superintendents to discuss the details of the proposal. I want to make sure that our superintendents are able to make improvements and participate in the process of changing how we fund education in the State of Illinois.

 

CAPITOL WATCH

 

Constitutional Amendments
I am a strong believer in the use of Constitutional Amendments as a way to give voters more say in how they are governed. Once the General Assembly votes to include an amendment on the November ballot, voters will have the opportunity to decide whether or not an amendment will become law.

 

Sen. Bush speaks on a billThe General Assembly voted on two Constitutional Amendments this month. One would end voter discrimination. The amendment guarantees that no person shall be denied the right to vote based on race, color, ethnicity, language, sex, sexual orientation or income. It will now appear on the November ballot for voters.

 

The other would allow crime victims to assert their rights in court. If approved by voters, the amendment would require courts to hear and rule on crime victims’ requests for enforcement of their constitutional rights. (READ MORE)

 

The State Budget
While there is certainly quite a bit of politics and opinion over how big our state’s budget hole will be, everyone agrees there will be a large hole left if we don’t find additional revenue sources.

 

There are many options being considered. One is a Millionaire’s Tax – where those making over $1,000,000 pay an additional 3% on their income over $1,000,000.

 

A second option is a Fair Income Tax – where those who make more pay more, and those who make less pay less.

 

The third option is to leave the current income tax rate in place.

 

Two of these choices (the Fair Income Tax and the Millionaire’s Tax) will require a constitutional amendment – and you, the voter, would get to decide.

 

The General Assembly has been busy holding budget hearings with state agencies. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have attended these budget hearings and listened to the dire situation that many of these departments will be left in without additional revenue sources. This will certainly be an item to watch as we move through the last six weeks of the spring session. (READ MORE)

 

FROM THE DISTRICT

 

Zion Satellite Office Hours Throughout the year, I will be holding recurring, full-service satellite office hours in Zion. Being accessible and responsive to communities across the 31st District is a core value of mine, and holding additional office hours helps me provide as much help to constituents as possible.

 

Area residents are welcome to attend these satellite office hours to seek constituent services and discuss any issues you might be having with state government or within your community.

 

Please visit www.senatormelindabush.com for updates on when new satellite office ours will occur.

 

CLOSING

 

Thank you to all who have called and emailed thoughts and concerns over the past few months. I very much appreciate your input on the pressing matters that have come before the General Assembly. Please know that you may call my offices at any time with all state or district matters or e-mail me via my new website.

 

 

Sincerely,
Senator Bush
Senator Melinda Bush
31st District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

34121 US Highway 45, Suite 224 • Grayslake, IL 60030

847-548-5631 (Phone)

 

Springfield Office

M122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-7353 (Phone)

 

www.SenatorMelindaBush.com

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Contact Me

Springfield Office:
218 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-7353

District Office:
10 N. Lake St., Suite 112
Grayslake, IL 60030
Phone: (847) 548-5631