Illinois is heading toward a second year without a state budget, putting some schools and colleges in jeopardy of closing and all but ensuring more social services and state programs will be cut amid a legislative standoff unlike anything the state has ever seen.

With the Legislature set to adjourn its spring session Tuesday night, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and majority Democrats remain deadlocked over a spending plan and business-friendly laws Rauner has made a condition of any budget deal.

The state already has gone almost a full fiscal year without a budget. Democrats on Tuesday could give final approval to a spending plan for the new fiscal year that begins July 1, but Rauner has said he'll veto it because the measure spends about $7 billion more than Illinois is expected to take in without addressing additional revenues. Rauner instead is making a last-ditch effort to pass a short-term spending bill and provide money for schools -- an idea he opposed and some Democrats were pushing just days ago. Read the rest of the story in the Daily Herald.
During the House floor debate on Friday with only 4 days left in the regular session, Rep. John Cavaletto, Minority Spokesperson for the Appropriations-Public Safety Committee stood up to join his colleagues in calling for a commitment towards a bipartisan budget solution and compromise.

Today was 4-H Day at the Illinois Capitol. 4-H leaders from my district met with me this morning: Rhiannon Branch and Kelsey Littrell of Iuka and Danielle Brinkmann of Carlyle.

Since its inception, 4-H has placed emphasis on the importance of young people being engaged, well-informed citizens. By connecting to their communities and leaders, youth understand their role in civic affairs and are able to expand their role in decision-making processes. It's clear that civic engagement provides the foundation that helps youth understand the big picture of life and learn the skill sets that will allow them to become wise leaders for the 21st century. Learn more about the 4-H here.
Illinois farmers are paying attention to assessed land value as they pay their 2016 property taxes because of a remedy to a disparity that hinged on soil quality.

In Illinois, calculating the value of cropland takes soil productivity into account. Central Illinois acreage with better soil is valued higher for tax purposes. Southern Illinois’ less productive acreage is valued lower. State law had held value changes to 10 percent per year. That meant the assessed value of lower quality soils was held artificially low.

A fix was enacted in 2013, limiting value changes to 10 percent of the state median cropland productivity value. The Southern newspaper in Carbondale  reports the change means values on lower quality soil will increase at a faster rate. Properties with better soil will increase at a slower rate.
Helping Hands For Freedom is a nonprofit organization that provides programs and support for families of veterans. In an effort to raise funds for new projects, the group will be walking across the United States this summer along Route 40 from Atlantic City to Los Angeles and will make a stop in Greenville, most likely on Wednesday, June 1. Learn more at WGEL radio.

Jim Blankenship, of the American Legion Post 282, told WGEL Radio the American Legion plans to show the group some hospitality when the Helping Hands for Freedom group stops in Greenville, with assistance from other local veterans groups.

The public is invited to join the veterans groups in welcoming Helping Hands For Freedom representatives. American Legion officials say the Helping Hands for Freedom group are now expected to stop in Greenville around 9:30 a.m. on Friday, June 3. The hospitality area will be set up at VFW Post #1377 on South Fourth Street in Greenville.
A rough outline of budget ideas for Illinois may already be on the way to a dead-end;  Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is giving a cool reception to a potential budget framework drafted by a group of state legislators. NPR Illinois has the story.
Today, the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office announced a change to Illinois driver’s licenses and ID cards designed to protect against identity theft and to bring Illinois into compliance with the REAL ID Act of 2005. The enhanced security features will include a new photo structure, a design that includes patterns, lines and images to make it more difficult to counterfeit, a laser perforation and an ultraviolet feature.

There’s no need to replace your driver’s license or ID card immediately, but there are a few changes to the process you should be aware of when it comes time to renew your license or ID.

When you visit the DMV, take any tests you may normally be required to, but when you leave you will no longer be issued a new driver’s license or ID card at the end of the process. Instead, you will leave the facility with a temporary secure paper driver's license, which will be valid for 45 days and will serve as your license or ID for driving purposes and proof of identification. You will also receive your old license back with a hole punched in it. Your information will then be sent to a centralized, secure facility to conduct fraud checks and ensure your identity. The new, more secure license or ID will be printed and sent via U.S. mail within 15 business days to your address. For air travel, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said that it will accept the temporary document in conjunction with the old license or ID to board an aircraft until the permanent card arrives in the mail.

Click here for a step-by-step brochure from the Secretary of State’s Office on how the new process will work.

The transition will take place in phases. Beginning today, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver's license with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, through a gradual rollout, DMV’s throughout the state will implement the new process. By the end of July 2016, all DMV’s will have transitioned to the new process.

For questions, call the Secretary of State’s Office at (217) 782-7044.
Last week, the Illinois State Board of Education heard presentations from two groups of committed community members wanting to make changes to the current K-12 funding formula. Both groups included educators, legislators and parents who have worked long and hard to address the inequity and inadequacy in the way that Illinois funds schools. As a religious leader, a former legislator and the current chair of the Illinois State Board of Education, I applaud their focus and hope that together we can find a resolution that will allow more children in Illinois to graduate from high school ready for a high paying job and a rigorous college program.

Read the Opinion Piece in its entirety here.
St. Rose School participated in the TECH 2016 program sponsored by Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) this year at the Capitol. It was a nice display and great to meet the students, Dee Boeing, Riley Fisher, Samantha Faust, and Abbi Kampwerth. Also in the picture is student Colby Koester 3rd Grade teacher Jodi Mammoser from Dieterich Elementary.and Thank you, Sheri Steward (St. Rose music/ band) for the picture!

Learn more about TECH 2016 here.
This morning State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem) met with Superintendent Ron Daniels at Centralia High School to discuss a variety of topics of concern to administrators from the Regional Office of Education (ROE) #13 area that includes Marion, Clinton, Washington and Jefferson Counties. Also in attendance were State Rep. Terri Bryant and State Senator David Luechtefeld. In addition to the financial challenges facing schools and the state, the state's school aid formula was also discussed and the proposal that is moving through the legislature. Based on the current formula, some districts may lose dollars and others may gain depending on the final language of the legislation.
House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment (HJRCA) 36 is a response to the lack of an overall State balanced budget and the movement of money from specifically transportation-related taxes and fees to other spending programs. If approved by the voters in November, this amendment will put all revenues from transportation taxes and fees into a “lockbox” that can only be used for transportation purposes.

Under HJRCA 36, the money generated by these taxes and fees could only be spent for road construction and repair, enforcing traffic laws, and paying off transit-related debt. Cash flows that would be affected by this amendment include the state tax imposed on motor fuel of 19 cents per gallon of gasohol and 21.5 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. Sales taxes also imposed on motor fuel are not defined as specifically transportation-related taxes and fees, and would not be affected by this amendment.

The transportation “lockbox” amendment was the only constitutional amendment approved by both houses of the General Assembly in time to be submitted for final action to the voters in November 2016. Other proposed amendments, such as measures to abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor, to legalize a graduated individual income tax rate, or to change the way districts for members of the Illinois General Assembly are drawn on maps, failed to get the required three-fifths approval of both legislative houses by the constitutional deadline, and will not appear on the ballot.

The House vote to approve HJRCA 36 for submission to the voters was 98-4-2. Approval of the amendment by the state Senate on Thursday, May 5, completed the task of clearing this measure for submission to the voters in November 2016.

(Read more on this issue by Todd Maisch, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. and Michael Kleinik, executive director of the Chicago Laborers District Council-LMCC. They prednisone are the Transportation for Illinois Coalition.)
 A change in Illinois law for the 2016 Illinois license year allows any resident youth hunter age 18 and under (formerly 16 and under) to purchase a Youth Hunting License, which does not require the hunter to have a Hunter Education Card. A youth hunter with this license must hunt while supervised by a parent, grandparent, or guardian who is 21 years of age or older and has a valid Illinois hunting license. The youth hunter shall not hunt or carry a hunting device unless the youth is accompanied by and under close personal supervision of these individuals. 2016 Illinois licenses are available online or from IDNR license and permit vendors. For more information click here
The movie “Mom, Murder and Me” will debut at the Globe Theatre in Greenville, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, at 7 p.m.

It will be a special event, as the writer, director and producer of the independent film, Heather Donnell, a Greenville native, will attend Sunday’s show.

Dave Willey, owner of The Globe, told WGEL he’s excited to show a film directed by a Greenville citizen. “Mom, Murder and Me” will be shown at the Globe every night through Thursday.

Hear more at the WGEL Radio web site by clicking here.
Thank you to all entrepreneurs who take the risk to start a business and create jobs in our communities! In the 107th district, We have good chambers of commerce that help promote positive tax policy and regulation policy to encourage men and women to create and grow their small businesses like the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, Vandalia Chamber of Commerce, Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, Greenville Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Centralia Chamber of Commerce. If you are looking to start a business or expand your business relationships to grow your business, please consider joining these groups and supporting their programs.
If you were bothered by the lack of a costumed character roaming the sidelines at Illinois football and basketball games, your troubles are over.

University of Illinois chancellor Barbara J. Wilson announced during a campus meeting Monday that the school is beginning the process of choosing a new mascot, according to a report from the Champaign News-Gazette's Julie Wurth.
State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), who serves on the Transportation: Regulation, Roads & Bridges Committees, announced that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has confirmed two projects to help improve local roads.

The first project is a section of road along U.S. Highway 50 from Metcalf Road in Iuka to the Clay County Line. That project was awarded to Howell Paving in Salem and is scheduled to be improved this construction season.

The second project is along U.S. Highway 51 between Patoka and Sandoval, from south of Britt Road to just north of U.S. Route 50. This projected is included in the IDOT Multi-Year Program and anticipated to under construction by the summer of 2017.

“I am very pleased that my constant inquiries into the status of these projects has resulted in IDOT finally confirming the roads in these two areas are actually on the list to begin in the near future,” said Rep. Cavaletto. “Now we can focus on the next list of priorities for roads, bridges and railroad safety projects for our area,” he added.