SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House of Representatives acted today to follow State Senate approval of a measure strengthening the state’s commitment to ensuring equal pay for women in the workplace; expanding the Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 to cover all employers and creating a two-tiered civil penalty system for violations:

The legislation, House Bill 3619, provides that an employer with fewer than 4 employees that violates the Act is subject to penalties of:
·         $500 for a first offense,
·         $2,500 for a second offense, and
·         $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense

The bill further provides that an employer with 4 or more employees is subject to penalties of:
·         $2,500 for a first offense,
·         $3,000 for a second offense, and
·         $5,000 for a third or subsequent offense.

“There is no question, together on a bipartisan basis we stand for the principle of equal pay for equal work,” said State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) a co-sponsor the measure. “As the daughter and granddaughter of pioneering businesswomen, I am pleased to honor the legacy of all women trailblazers by supporting this bill. Illinois law is now clear and ensures pay equity for hardworking women in every industry across Illinois.”

Bellock is the first woman in state history to serve as Deputy Minority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives. She played a leading role in passing the original Equal Pay Act of 2003, which prohibits employers with four or more employees from paying unequal wages to men and women for doing the same or substantially similar work, requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility, under similar working conditions. Today’s House passage of HB 3619 extends those provisions to all employers.

SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) reacted today following a series of votes in the Illinois House of Representatives to approve a partisan budget advanced by House Democrats that spends $4 Billion more than the state’s revenue projections:

“The most vulnerable individuals and families in Illinois need leaders who are willing to set politics aside and come together to achieve real budget solutions. What we witnessed today is a far cry from a spirit of cooperation and compromise. The majority party is jeopardizing essential services and not respecting taxpayers by passing a budget that, by their own admission, spends $4 Billion more than what the state can afford.”

SPRINGFIELD - Deputy Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) and members of the House Republican Caucus stand outside the State Armory to observe a moment of silence in honor of Illinois' fallen soldiers this Memorial Day.

Budget – FY16
·         Despite deadline, Democrats again refuse to pass balanced budget for FY16.  The Illinois Constitution requires that the State annually pass a balanced budget in which revenues match mandated expenditures.  One way that Speaker Madigan has been Speaker for 32 of the past 34 years is by passing a series of unbalanced budgets, which have all spent money the State has not had.  He has curried favor with powerful interests and forced Republicans to be the villains whenever steps are taken to prevent the spending of imaginary money.

Strong rumors circulated on Friday, May 22 that Democrats were preparing another unbalanced budget for FY16, the fiscal year starting July 1, 2015.  This budget may get filed in the week starting Memorial Day, May 25.  This phony budget is expected to commit $4 billion that Illinois does not possess to the Democrats’ spending priorities.  Governor Bruce Rauner has proposed a different budget for Illinois and has strengthened his calls for the State’s government to live within its means.
Property Taxes
·         Trick bag; no property tax relief in sight.  Once again the Democrat-controlled House brought sham legislation to a vote for the sole purpose of putting Republican lawmakers in a trick bag and embarrassing the new Governor.

House Republicans have long worked to provide Illinoisans with much needed and deserved property tax relief. Each year members of the House Republican Caucus introduce legislation that would deliver property tax relief and each year the Democrats block those measures. The real roadblock to property tax relief has been the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.
By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — Democrats and Republicans tussled again in the Illinois House on Wednesday as the Democrats continued to build a fiscal year 2016 human services budget without traditional negotiation.

Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) started the fireworks Wednesday afternoon as he introduced more floor amendments to an existing budget measure, House Bill 4141...

Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale) argued that by committing $83 million to a particular cause at this point, the House was disregarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s funding priorities and might short programs and staffing elsewhere in state government — perhaps in other human services or in education, prisons or some other area...

Pensions – Illinois Supreme Court SB 1 Ruling
  • Illinois Supreme Court strikes down pension reform law.  On Friday, May 8, the Illinois Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed a lower circuit court ruling on State pension system reforms contained in SB 1 (P.A. 98-599).  In response to enactment of P.A. 98-599, five separate actions were filed in Cook County and Sangamon County courts to enjoin implementation of the pension reforms, claiming the reforms were unconstitutional due to a violation of the provision in the Illinois Constitution (Article XIII, Section 5) that asserts pensions are a contractual right and cannot be diminished or impaired. The five suits were subsequently consolidated into one action in Sangamon County Circuit Court.
From the Illinois News Network:

A sham, a scam, a fraud, a joke– That’s how House Republicans characterized budget bill amendments passed Thursday that restores social service programs being reduced or eliminated in the proposed 2016 fiscal year. House Speaker Michael Madigan originally offered up an amendment to House Bill 4141 that reflected the Governor’s proposed cuts to various social services programs. Republicans were blindsided and ended up largely voting present on the measure. Fifteen amendments were then added to the bill for votes, something republicans said circumvented the standard committee-to-floor process...

Republican Patti Bellock worried the budget amendments, without revenue to cover the bills, would increase the state’s backlog.

“When it comes to the end I don’t know where we’re going to have the funding for this. And again I brought up before about the unpaid bills. They’re not just out there. Those unpaid bills go to the providers, doctors, nursing homes, small business people.”

Bellock said the states needs to pay it’s bills and get back on track...

Rep. Patti Bellock (center right) joins friends at the Walk for Wellness House on Sunday. The event raised $579,721, surpassing last year's total of  $517,000.

Budget – FY15 – Social Services Restored
·         Revenue estimate up; $26 million in State grants to be restored.  The State of Illinois has faced continuous challenges in “keeping the lights on” during the final months of FY15.  When the Governor’s office changed hands in January, Governor Bruce Rauner found that the FY15 budget passed by Democrat majorities and signed by former Governor Pat Quinn was drastically unbalanced.  The General Assembly and the Rauner administration have worked together since that time to shift funds around to cover shortfalls.  In some cases, additional cuts were imposed on some agencies and their spending programs. 

Citing an improving economy, Governor Rauner announced Thursday that he would restore $26 million to social service and public health grants that were frozen earlier this year because of budget constraints.  Grants for autism, addiction prevention, assistance for homeless, teen REACH and other programs were impacted by the freeze. The Governor was able to restore funding to these programs because of better than expected revenues projections.  The bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability expects an additional $300 million to $500 million in tax revenue because of an improving economy in Illinois.