Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: May 25 – May 29, 2015

Springfield, Ill. – With the May 31 scheduled spring session deadline quickly approaching but no budget compromise negotiated, State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) says the ball is in Democrat lawmakers’ court. Republican lawmakers and Governor Bruce Rauner have consistently demonstrated they are open to working with their Democrat counterparts on passing a balanced budget for Illinois, in conjunction with reforms that would improve our state’s job climate and boost Illinois’ sluggish economy.

Legislative leaders have said they will continue to meet together with Governor Bruce Rauner to negotiate a resolution to the current budget impasse. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President have said all options are on the table—however, as of May 29, Democrat lawmakers had rejected most of the job-creating, good government reforms introduced by Republicans, choosing instead to pass a budget that is $4 billion out of balance.

Dems pass status quo budget, ignore reform opportunities

Governor Rauner and Republican lawmakers have repeatedly offered to negotiate and compromise on the state’s fiscal issues, beginning with discussions centered on much-needed structural reforms to state government. However, repeated attempts to work in good faith with Democrat legislators have been rebuffed in favor of the same failed budget policies that have dominated Illinois finances for the last twelve years.

Instead of working with the Governor on a balanced budget compromise, Democrats moved forward by passing an unconstitutional unbalanced spending plan. Their plan calls for more than $36 billion in total spending, which is more than $4 billion over projected revenues of about $32 billion for the next fiscal year.

The Governor has indicated that he has no intentions of signing the Democrats’ spending plan into law, and will instead push for a balanced budget in conjunction with much-needed job reform policies.

Pro-jobs reform killed by Senate Democrats

Significant portions of Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate Republicans’ pro-jobs reform agenda were stalled this week by opposition from Democrat lawmakers in control of the General Assembly.

Property Tax Freeze (SB 1046)

Illinois has the second-highest property taxes of any state, a distinction that a proposal considered this week sought to rectify by freezing property taxes until local voters approve an increase.

However, legislative Democrats blocked the effort to provide the people of Illinois with real property tax relief, and stymied the ability of local voters to control their own taxes.

Lawsuit Reform (SB 884)

Reform that would even the legal playing field and fix the state’s broken lawsuit system was stalled by Democrat lawmakers in a Senate Committee May 28. The compromise lawsuit reform legislation was intended to put a stop to the frivolous lawsuits that have pushed employers and jobs out of Illinois.

Ranking 46 out of 50 states, with one of the worst lawsuit climates in the nation, Illinois is home to two counties deemed “Judicial Hellholes” by the American Tort Reform Association.

The bill is the result of bipartisan working groups organized by Governor Bruce Rauner. The measure would limit the practice of venue shopping, where plaintiffs file lawsuits in courts based on where they are most likely to win regardless of where injuries actually occurred. The measure would have created a process where locations are prioritized based on the parties involved and location where the injuries were incurred.

The legislation would also limit the ability of plaintiffs to seek damages from wealthy businesses and individuals, even though they may have had significantly less involvement in causing the injury, as well as modifications to ensure a plaintiff only recovers the amount actually paid for medical bills.

Workers’ Compensation Reform (SB 994)

Pro-jobs workers’ compensation reform also failed to advance on May 27 when Democrat lawmakers voted against a major reform initiative that would have had a dramatic impact on the state’s economic health and jobs climate.

Illinois workers’ compensation rates are currently the seventh-highest in the nation, and are often cited as a reason companies choose not to move to or expand in Illinois. Employers testified in support of Senate Bill 994, saying the state’s high workers’ compensation costs have a significant impact on their bottom line and deter job creators from expanding or locating in Illinois.

Senate Bill 994 would have reduced workers’ compensation rates for businesses through a package of reforms, including a provision that would ensure the workplace is the major contributing cause of the injury.

Term Limits (SJRCA 14) and Redistricting (SJRCA 15)

Legislative Democrats refused to allow any public hearings on two constitutional amendments, one which would impose term limits on legislators and executive office holders and another which would have created a new independent commission to draw fair and balanced legislative district maps.

“What’s disappointing with all these job reform ideas is that while I believe there is room to negotiate and compromise on these bills, the current majority summarily voted them all down, opting to keep the failed status quo,” Senator Syverson said.

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