Senator Bush

June 23, 2014

Dear Friends,

 

The spring session of the General Assembly has officially adjourned, but my work as your senator continues. I will be spending the next six months in Lake County hosting everything from town hall events to job fairs. Please join me to share your concerns or make use of the various services my office provides.

 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

 

BudgetThe Budget:

In the final days of the legislative session the state budget was as contentious an issue as ever. Since the temporary tax increase of 2011 was set to expire this coming January, the General Assembly was faced with the very real prospect of serious cuts in state services, education and public safety that could have a disastrous effect on Illinois residents. The General Assembly was able to pass a reasonably flat budget, however we did so through one-time borrowing. It is, by no means, a perfect plan and in my opinion was the best of a series of bad options. It will make for much more difficult financial circumstances when that money starts to run out.

 

So…What happened to the money from the tax increase?

Many people are interested in where the money from the income tax increase has gone over the last four years. The 2011 increase produced $31.6 billion in additional revenue dollars. That revenue has helped us pay down our bill backlog by billions. The backlog grew as high as $9.2 billion during the 2012 budget year; however we are on track to pay down an additional $3.6 billion in old bills to vendors by the end of the current year. As it stands today, we’ve cut the bill backlog by more than 1/3 in just three short years and most of the remaining past-due bills are less than 60 days old.

 

It’s good news that we’re catching up on most of our old bills. However, we can’t make progress and move Illinois forward without making the investments that will allow us to be competitive. We need creative long-term solutions to our budget problems, which includes a comprehensive plan that reduces the income tax burden while finding ways to fill revenue holes. That’s why I’m focusing on the best revenue generator of all…economic development and jobs.

 

Economic Development:

 

EconThis year, much of my legislative efforts went to programs that put Lake County and Illinois in a better position to compete for good-paying jobs.

 

I sponsored Senate Bill 217, a measure that is currently awaiting passage in the House of Representatives, which would create the first Illinois State Training and Employment Program (I-STEP). With some of Illinois’ highest unemployment in parts of Lake County, closing the skills gap and getting workers trained for those good-paying jobs is one of my top priorities.

 

Employers would partner with community colleges and key organizations to provide effective, customized job training that will get our workforce prepared to use new technologies and back to work.

 

Employers who use the I-STEP program to add jobs to the Illinois workforce would receive tax credits to pay for the cost of training. And with no up-front cost to the state of Illinois, this is a win for everyone. Read More

 

In addition to I-STEP, one of my top priorities this session was to improve Illinois’ ability to retain and attract businesses in border communities like Lake County. We are often the target of business poaching efforts from states like Wisconsin, and Illinois lacks a strong strategic plan to address that reality.

 

I sponsored a proposal (awaiting the governor’s signature) that tasks our best minds from the private and public sector with developing and recommending a business retention plan unique to border communities. Read More

 

Education Initiatives:

 

EducationAs a member of the Education Funding Advisory Committee, I believe we have made great strides over the last year and have identified undeniable problems with the current K-12 public education funding formula. While I strongly support education funding reform, the bill that passed the Senate in May was not acceptable or equitable for the schools in our area – some of whom stood to lose nearly 80% of their state funding.

 

I am committed to ensuring that every child in Illinois gets a good education. But until the state meets current minimum school funding obligations there’s no way we can truly achieve funding equity. Read More

 

Over the last year, I have also been working closely with members of Decoding Dyslexia – an advocacy group committed to easing the struggles of students with dyslexia. With their help, I was able to pass a measure out of the General Assembly that will improve the way Illinois school districts’ teach dyslexic students. Read More

 

EducationFortunately I was also successful in passing a measure that makes school transfers easier for children of active duty military personnel. Military children statistically move far more than the average student. This proposal, which passed the Senate and the House and now awaits the governor’s signature, ensures that military children who move to Illinois from other states remain in the same grade and guarantees their ability to play in extracurricular sports if they so choose. Read More

 

Earlier this month, the governor also signed two of my education initiatives into law. The first allocates more money to support early childhood education and to financial incentives for continuing teacher education.

 

The second incentivizes teacher success by streamlining the requirements to apply for a $1,500 annual incentive to teachers who achieve Illinois Master Teacher certification.

 

Transportation Victories:

 

I am very pleased to announce more than $18 million in highway, bridge and local road repair projects in the 31st Senate district. The majority of the money promised to Lake County is part of a larger $1.1 billion construction plan that does not call for any new taxes or fees to finance the construction. Instead, the state will reallocate money that is no longer needed to pay off construction bonds.

 

In addition to the $1.1 billion construction project, the General Assembly also passed a $100 million transportation measure that will help local governments with their road upkeep. Lake County, various townships and most local communities are all scheduled to receive local transportation funding totaling nearly $3 million from this program.

 

Lake County is often forgotten about when it comes to transportation needs. We have a huge number of highways and bridges that are in desperate need of upkeep and structural repair. One of my top priorities has been to address these issues and keep our highways and bridges safe for drivers. Read More

 

Upcoming District Events: This summer I am excited to announce quite a few district events to help and inform local residents. More details will be announced in my next newsletter. Our first event is:

 

Round Lake Area Senior Fair

 

Date: Wednesday, July 23rd

Time: 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Location: Round Lake Area Cultural & Civic Center, 2007 N. Civic Center Way Round Lake Beach

We are also planning several additional senior fairs, town hall meetings and job fairs. Click here for more details.

 

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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Category: E-Newsletters

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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Category: E-Newsletters

Senator Bush

March 10, 2014

Dear Friends,

 

The new session of the 98th General Assembly is in full swing and I want to hear from you about what you find important. Your input and feedback helps focus my energy Lake County and in Springfield. Make sure your voice is heard by taking my 2014 legislative survey.

 

I will also begin holding satellite office hours on the second Thursday of every month in Zion. Our satellite location will be another fully functional constituent service office ready to help you. Please stop by for assistance or to pass on ideas.

 

Community Office Hours – Senator Melinda Bush
2pm – 6pm Thursday, April 10th (and 2nd Thursday of every month)
Crew Offices – 1632 23rd Street, Zion

 

Here’s a look at some of our recent accomplishments.

Regards,
Melinda Bush
State Senator
31st Legislative District

 

YOUNG ADULT HEROIN USE TASK FORCE

 

Sen. Bush in committeeThe Young Adult Heroin Use Task Force was recently assembled and had its initial meeting. As a member of the task force, I am working to find solutions to one of the biggest threats to the Lake County community – increased heroin use by young adults.

 

Sharp increases in heroin use and heroin-related deaths have shaken our communities. We are seeing heroin use grow in the suburbs because it is stronger, cheaper and easier for people to get than prescription pain medication. At the state level, we need to recognize this problem and provide policies and programs to protect our youth.

READ MORE

 

REVENGE PORN

 

Sen. Bush on the floorTechnology has raced ahead of many of our criminal laws and in too many cases created loopholes that lead to victimization and abuse. That’s why I lent my support to a proposed law that would make it a felony to post sexually explicit videos or photos of another person, without their consent, to an Internet site.

 

I chose to co-sponsor this initiative because I feel that threats and manipulation that cause such harm and distress are unacceptable. Victims of this type of cyber-abuse have been cut off by their families, chided by acquaintances in public settings and even fired from their jobs. It can be devastating and it can ruin a person’s life.

READ MORE

 

BORDER COUNTY BUSINESS RETENTION

 

Sen. Bush speaks in committeeAs a lifelong resident of Lake County, I know the unique economic challenges we face as a border community. That’s why I sponsored legislation requiring the state to create policies that will keep us competitive with our neighbors who too often try to poach our employers.

 

That proposed law passed the Illinois Senate this week and now moves to the Illinois House. It’s part of my effort to fight for Lake County and make state bureaucrats address our needs so our county and our state can remain competitive.

READ MORE

 

AROUND THE DISTRICT

 

 

LAKE COUNTY RISING

 

Lake County Rising GroupOn Feb. 14, I joined a diverse group of Lake County leaders in calling for an end to the epidemic of violence against women and girls. In the United States alone, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds.  We must all take an active role in breaking the cycle of violence and empowering women to speak out against their attackers.

 

The Lake County Rising for Justice 2014 event in Round Lake Beach was an extraordinary success thanks to Chairperson Judy Armstrong and her dedicated team of volunteers.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE

 

Modern roads and bridges make our communities safer for families and more attractive to businesses. Investing in our transportation network is a top priority.

 

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.

 

AVAILABLE INTERNSHIPS

 

Advocating for the people of Lake County is rewarding work, but requires a dedicated team. My Grayslake District Office offers internship opportunities in the spring, summer, fall and winter months.  

 

Interns have an opportunity to participate in nearly every facet of district advocacy. To apply, please send your resume and a brief statement to Nick Meyer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In the subject line, please put: [your name] for State Senator Melinda Bush Internship.

 

 

Thank you to all who have called and emailed thoughts and concerns over the past few months. I am proud to represent you, and promise to continue to do my best for the good of Lake County and all of Illinois.  I encourage you to contact me at any time with any state or local matters.

 

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/

Unsubscribe

Category: E-Newsletters

IPC AwardRGRAYSLAKE - The Illinois Poison Center (IPC) this week presented State Senator Melinda Bush with the IPC Lifesaver Award in recognition of the Senator’s continued commitment to protecting Illinois residents’ health and safety.

The honor was bestowed on state senators and representatives who demonstrated their dedication to the IPC by supporting a dedicated funding source for the state’s only poison center.

“Each year, the IPC takes more than 82,000 calls from Illinois residents with almost half of the cases involving small children,” said IPC Medical Director Michael Wahl, M.D., who presented Senator Bush with the Lifesaver Award on behalf of the organization. “Senator Bush’s support allows the IPC to continue to provide critical information in emergency situations for families and health care providers around the state.   We extend our deepest gratitude to Senator Bush and the ILGA for their efforts to save the IPC.”

Read more ...

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Contact Me

Springfield Office:
121C Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-7353

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