Rep. Wheeler’s Weekly Roundup: December 7

PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH

Funeral services held, National Day of Mourning for President George H.W. Bush. 

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, passed away at his Houston home on Friday, November 30that the age of 94. President George H.W. Bush was the last veteran of World War II to serve as president. Bush spent decades in public service, as a congressman, ambassador, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Vice-President for two terms under Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States from 1989-1993. 

In addition to serving as president, George H.W. Bush was the father of George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. They were the only other father-son duo to serve terms as president besides John Adams and John Quincy Adams in the nation’s infancy. President George H.W. Bush’s flag-draped coffin lied in state at the U.S. Capitol from Monday through Wednesday morning. Wednesday, December 5thwas a National Day of Mourning and the date of President Bush’s State Funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Thousands of mourners attended the State Funeral, including the five surviving presidents: Donald Trump, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter. On Thursday, funeral services were held at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston. Following the service, President Bush’s coffin was transported via a special train that carried him to his burial plot near his presidential library, on the grounds of Texas A & M. He was buried next to his wife of 73 years and daughter Robin, who died in 1953 at age 3 of leukemia.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Andrew Chesney sworn in as State Representative of 89th District. 

Senator Brian Stewart and Representative Andrew Chesney were sworn in Wednesday, December 5th, at the Lincoln Douglas Debate Square in Freeport, Illinois by the Honorable Michael P. Bald, Presiding Judge of Stephenson County.

“I want to thank my family, friends, and especially State Senator Tim Bivins for supporting me in this endeavor,” said Senator Stewart. “I am truly honored to have this opportunity and am confident that my extensive experience and proven commitment will help me represent the citizens of the 45th District in the State Senate and help move all of Illinois forward.”

Illinois legislators are scheduled to return to Springfield January 7th before the 101st General Assembly is inaugurated on January 9th. Senator Stewart believes bipartisan pension reform, balanced budgets, and common sense economic growth initiatives are immediate priorities.

“The state’s pension liability is now estimated at $150 billion,” stated Senator Stewart. “Those dollars continue to erode spending on education, senior services, healthcare, and other areas unless we reform pensions. I will never support passing enormous tax increases on working families. We must tackle this problem to protect our retirees and taxpayers before the system completely fails.”

Representative Andrew Chesney is thankful for the opportunity to get to work before next month’s inauguration. “I’m extremely grateful and excited to serve the 89th District and determined to give the people my very best,” Representative Chesney said. “I believe this allows both me and Senator Stewart to transition in a much more seamless way so we can quickly get to work for the great people of Northern Illinois.”

Representative Chesney also believes property tax reform is a key priority for the 101st General Assembly. “Illinois families and businesses pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. I support legislation that would cap property taxes and give the local taxpayers a say in any tax increases through a referendum.”

“As a young, small business owner and city council alderman, Andrew Chesney will be able to hit the ground running in Springfield fighting for the best interests of the 89th District,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. “It is a truly noble calling to take up this great challenge to serve our districts to make Illinois a better state, and I am honored to have Andrew in the House Republican Caucus.”

The 89th Legislative District encompasses all of Stephenson and Jo Daviess Counties and portions of Carroll, Ogle, Whiteside and Winnebago.

The 45th Senate District includes the 89th and 90th Legislative Districts, adding all or parts of Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, and LaSalle Counties to Senator Stewart’s legislative responsibility.

Senator Stewart will keep former Senator Tim Bivins’ offices at 629 North Galena Avenue in Dixon, Illinois and at 50 West Douglas Street Suite 1001 in Freeport. Representative Chesney will join Senator Stewart in the Freeport office.

BUDGET

November revenue report issued by CGFA. 

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability issued its November Monthly Briefing this week detailing revenue receipts for the month. As expected, November 2017’s surge in reimbursements resulted in large monthly federal sources decline in 2018. Excluding $250 million in interfund borrowing, as well as $2.500 billion which was deposited into the GRF stemming from the $6 billion bond sale executed in November 2017, base monthly receipts fell $1.738 billion. The significant drop in revenues was not a surprise and merely reflects last year’s reimbursable spending surge made possible as a result of the bond sale.

That important item aside, most of the other revenue sources showed mixed results this November. The month had one less receipting day compared to the prior year. Sales taxes increased $105 million on a gross basis, or $100 million net of the direct distributions to transportation funds. Gross personal income taxes grew $47 million, or $37 million on a net basis. Public utility taxes posted a gain of $9 million, while cigarette taxes moved up $6 million as a result of receipt timing. Interest income reflected higher rates of return and advanced $6 million. Corporate franchise taxes rose $2 million, and liquor tax as well as vehicle use tax each eked out a $1 million increase.

DOWNSTATE

30 tornadoes struck Illinois on December 1st

Downstate Illinois was struck hard on Saturday, December 1, with the latest confirmed total of 30 tornadoes hitting communities throughout central Illinois. This was the largest December tornado outbreak in Illinois history. Taylorville was especially hit hard, with 500 homes and properties damaged.

On Monday, Governor Rauner declared Christian County a state disaster area after severe storms and tornadoes ripped across Illinois. More than 20 people were injured in the storm and hundreds of structures were damaged or destroyed. “After seeing the destruction first-hand, we are extremely fortunate that no lives were lost in this storm,” Rauner said. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to those impacted.  The State is providing resources and necessary personnel to the affected area. We will continue to assist in the days, weeks and months ahead as those families recover and heal.”

The state disaster declaration makes available a wide variety of state resources that can help affected communities respond and recover from the storms. The state of Illinois has mobilized personnel and assets to help local government officials with disaster recovery. As of Monday, more than 300 customers remained without power in freezing temperatures. Ameren Illinois reported approximately 100 power poles need to be replaced in the Taylorville area alone. Currently, all state roads are open.

Local governments are conducting damage assessment around the hardest hit communities. Governor Rauner activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield Saturday evening to support local governments as they assess the damage caused by the long line of severe storms and tornadoes that moved through the state. The SEOC received initial reports of storm damage from several parts of the state,and has been working closely with local emergency management officials since then to determine the extent of the damage and what state assistance is needed.  

In addition to operating the SEOC and directing resources to communities requesting assistance, IEMA also sent liaisons to local Emergency Operations Centers to coordinate assistance requests. State assistance to date includes Illinois Department of Transportation equipment to help burn debris and Illinois Emergency Management Agency equipment and personnel. Governor Rauner announced Thursday that individuals and businesses devastated by tornadoes and severe weather in parts of Christian County on Dec. 1, 2018, may request waivers of penalties and interest on state taxes if they cannot file their returns or make payments on time. The waivers apply to individual and business income taxes, withholding taxes, sales taxes, and specialty and excise taxes.  “Families and businesses affected by the storms may need additional time to gather essential paperwork to file and pay their taxes,” Rauner said. “The waivers help give taxpayers the time they need to recover and get their affairs in order. This is another way we can help them deal with the destruction caused by the storms.”

Taxpayers seeking waivers of penalties and interest for taxes should send a brief written explanation of why they cannot timely file or pay to the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR). Taxpayers should provide their full name, account number (if using a Social Security number, include only the last four digits), mailing address, and an estimate of when they believe they can file or pay their taxes.  

Requests may be sent electronically to REV.DisasterRelief@Illinois.gov or via postal mail using the address on the return. Taxpayers who mail their request to IDOR should write Tornado – December 2018 on the top of the return in red and include their explanation for penalties and interest abatement request.

ILLINOIS 200

Illinois celebrates its 200th Birthday with Grand Bicentennial Party. 

Two hundred years ago Illinois became the Union’s 21ststate, and on Monday, Dec. 3rd, Illinois celebrities, dignitaries, veterans and citizens came together to celebrate at the Bicentennial Birthday Party on Chicago’s Navy Pier.   

Legendary journalist Bill Kurtis hosted the program, which opened with Wayne Messmer belting out the national anthem and Gov. Bruce Rauner welcoming a crowd of more than 2,300 party-goers. “Tonight, we recognize some of the great contributions Illinois has made to society and the world.” said Gov. Rauner. “The milestones featured during our 2ooth birthday represent opportunities to reflect on our past and understand the great assets our state has to build on for the future. We have a lot to be proud of … and lot to build on.” Rauner noted the contributions of Bicentennial sponsors who made it possible to conduct a year’s worth of Bicentennial activities without spending taxpayer money.

The key sponsors included Wintrust, which served as the Official Bank of the Bicentennial, Walgreens, Abbott, Boeing, BMO Harris, Illinois Office of Tourism, Comcast and United Airlines. Act 1 of the program started with features to establish the Bicentennial theme of things Born, Built and Grown in Illinois. While members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra performed Happy Birthday, Gov. Rauner joined Eli Cheesecake’s Mark Schulman to cut a 1,000-pound Honest Abe Apple Cheesecake that was shaped like the Illinois State Capitol. Chicago vocalist Simone Green added a stirring rendition of the Illinois state song. Governor-elect JB Pritzker also addressed the crowd. “We are celebrating our bicentennial as one Illinois,” he said, “ringing in our third century with hope and optimism to build on the progress of our first 200 years.”  

ABOUT ILLINOIS BICENTENNIAL

On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are Illinois Proud.  For more information about the Illinois Bicentennial celebration visit www.illinois200.com and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by using the hash tag #IllinoisProud.

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