Crain's Chicago Business - August 11, 2017 | original article

It looks like Illinois is finally getting back its most important job-creating incentives tool.

More than three months after Edge program—Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits—expired, caught up in the partisan warfare over the state budget, lawmakers on Aug. 13 are set to take final action to restore the program. And I'm told that everybody involved, including Gov. Bruce Rauner, is on board.

Scheduled for a vote in the Senate is a measure sponsored by Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Chicago, that would somewhat reduce the value of the payroll tax credit and focus the program more on helping bring new jobs to impoverished area, but still put the development tool back in the state's toolbox.

The bill passed the House on a 102-5 vote, but stalled in the Senate. That caused some embarrassment a couple of weeks ago when it became apparent Illinois couldn't even begin to compete for the big new Foxconn plant that's going to southeast Wisconsin, because it had no incentives it could offer.

Sponsor Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, who is handling the bill with GOP colleague Sen. Pam Althoff of Crystal Lake, tells me the weekend vote is on and all signals are go.

"It's a damned miracle," Bush said, verbally shaking her head at how long it took to get this far. "We really needed to do this in the regular legislative session," which ended June 30, "but with all the focus on the budget, all the (legislative) oxygen was used up."

Sources tell me Rauner, who'd wanted changes in the old policy, is now happy enough that he'll sign the bill.

In fact, Bush said the GOP governor got everything he wanted except a clause allowing recipients to sell or transfer Edge credits to someone else. "We certainly can work that out at a later time," she said.

Bush emphasized that she'll be running a "clean" bill, one that's identical to the version already approved by the House. So Senate action should be final.

"We need Edge credits in place," said Bush, whose district is not too far from where the Foxconn plant will be. "We need to do everything we can to be competitive."

Category: In The News

Senator Melinda Bush - photo credit: Daily HeraldDaily Herald - July 27, 2017 | original article

By Kerry Lester

An already expensive four-day legislative special session underway in Springfield could have cost taxpayers $56,740 more if it hadn't been for the efforts of a suburban lawmaker.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner Wednesday signed legislation, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake, that freezes lawmaker pay rates and reimbursements as they travel down to Springfield to negotiate over a bill that would free up state funding for schools.

Bush's bill, which goes into effect immediately, caps all 177 General Assembly members' per diem rates at $111 per session day; lawmakers who travel more than 50 miles to the capitol would continue to be reimbursed 39 cents per mile. It would also eliminate a 2.1 percent cost of living adjustment to their annual salary, which has a base pay of $67,636 before stipends for leadership and committee roles. Without the legislation, per diems were set to rise to $142 per day, and mileage to 53 cents per mile, based on federal rates.

Senate President John Cullerton's office estimates that a special session costs roughly $48,000 per day -- and would have cost an added $14,185 daily without the bill for the session, which started Wednesday.

Bush, in a statement, encouraged the governor "to go one step further in saving money for Illinois taxpayers by disclosing his plans for his school funding veto and meeting with legislative leaders to negotiate a plan instead of wasting Illinois tax dollars on unnecessary special sessions."

Read the full article...

Category: In The News

WICS Channel 20 - July 24, 2017 | original article

Senator Bush on HB 643

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS) — Democratic State Senator Melinda Bush is calling on Governor Rauner to sign a bill to save money on special session.

The House Bill would stop mileage reimbursement and per diem rates from going up.

In a statement Bush says in part “The governor’s special sessions are needlessly expensive, costing taxpayers upwards of $48,000 each day. If the governor doesn’t sign this bill, the special sessions he’s demanding become even more expensive.”

The bill was sent to the governor’s desk in June.

Category: In The News

Senator Bush is joined by local superintendents in urging Rauner to sign Senate Bill 1Daily Herald - July 18, 2017 | original article

By Doug T. Graham

Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will veto a school funding bill as soon as it reaches his desk because it includes a bailout of the Chicago Public School pension system, an accusation fiercely refuted Monday by state Sen. Melinda Bush at a news conference in Gurnee.

The bill, Senate Bill 1, passed the legislature in May but has yet to be sent to the governor's desk.

"I totally disagree with the governor," Bush said Monday while surrounded by a group of Lake County school district leaders. "Stop blaming Chicago for the inadequacy of the funding system."

The bill changes the way state money is doled out in a new method, which leaders of school districts rich and poor alike say is more equitable.

Brian Harris, superintendent of Barrington Area Unit School District 220, said he supports the new evidence-based model.

"It was important to make sure there was no Robin Hood scenario going on," Harris said. "This is good for Barrington, for Lake County and for every school district in Illinois."

Connie Collins, superintendent of Round Lake Area School District 116, said it is urgent the governor signs the bill so districts could have the certainty to open their doors in time for the start of school next month. About 82.5 percent of District 116 students are from low-income families.

Rauner said in a news release Monday that the bill directs millions of dollars to CPS and away from other districts that would benefit under his plan. He intends to use his power to veto the bill and amend it to reduce the amount of money Chicago schools receive.

"It's not right to give CPS more than its equitable share at the expense of other struggling school districts," Rauner said. "That's not reform. It is the same old rigged politics that created this disgraceful system we are trying to fix."

Bush argues that every school district is treated the same under the bill. Rauner's concerns about Chicago getting more than their share is unfounded, she said, noting that 268 school districts would receive more money per pupil than CPS.

Time is running out for Rauner to act. Jason Lind, superintendent of Millburn School District 24 in Old Mill Creek, said if the governor doesn't sign the bill, the district will have to close its schools on April 1, 2018, or rely on neighboring districts to lend them money.

Category: In The News

opioid crisis button