Legislative Update: December 2

No budget fix. Just more gamesmanship…and a group of democratic legislators sue for their pay and refuse to fix Illinois

Unfortunately, no progress was made on budget negotiations. The primary focus of negotiations during veto session was over passing taxpayer funded subsidies to support the Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear power plants, which are among six nuclear plants in Illinois. 

Exelon for the past several months has been threatening a shutdown of its financially struggling nuclear power plants in Clinton and the Quad Cities if the General Assembly did not approve additional subsidies and rate increases. Initially, many in opposition to this bill referred to it as the Exelon Bailout Bill. The bill went through several changes. Initially containing a controversial new “demand charges” billing system. In addition to, unknown rate hikes, massive taxpayer subsidies for coal, wind, and solar energy industries, to name a few. To garner support for their proposal Exelon advertised this bill as the Future Energy Jobs bill claiming to keep jobs in Illinois along with supporting green energy expansion. I will admit Exelon and its supporters worked very diligently and in a compromising fashion to craft this bill from a bailout to something palatable; however, in the end, I could not endorse it.

Exelon will be required to keep the Quad Cities and Clinton power plants open for the next 10 years in exchange for more than $200 million annually in taxpayer-funded subsidies. In addition, at least $220 million a year in funding for the wind and solar energy industries. In a concession to ease financial worries, Exelon agreed to a rate cap. This rate cap is misleading and residential and commercial business owners will now have to deal with their own financial struggles to cover additional electricity costs.

SB2814 received bi-partisan support, but again it did not receive my support. This is an economic supply and demand issue with nuclear energy. Exelon claimed a rate increase was inevitable if the plants stayed open or closed, but Illinois already produces 40% more energy than it uses and there is a planned $1 billion electrical generating natural gas facility expansion in Grundy County. This bill protected nuclear energy jobs over other commercial jobs and did absolutely nothing to fix Illinois’ core problems with attracting and maintaining access to good paying jobs.

Illinois cannot continue to provide financial incentives and corporate bailouts for businesses. You give one handout and others will seek the same. Sears and Exelon got theirs, whose next? Illinois must fix its high property taxes and reduce workers compensation costs.  Moreover, we must implement term limits and redistricting reform to restore the voter’s faith in state government. We will never stop being looked at as the state that needs a bailout out, if we don’t start making the necessary changes to show our significance.

Lawsuit Filed Over Legislator Pay

State Representatives Emmanuel Chris Welch, Kate Cloonen, Mary Flowers, Sonya Harper, Lisa Hernandez, and Silvana Tabares filed a lawsuit against Comptroller Leslie Munger today for delaying issuance of legislator paychecks. They claim Comptroller Munger used this as a political tactic in an attempt to force them under the control of Governor Bruce Rauner.

“Our lawsuit is a principled stand for an independent Legislature that cannot be bullied by any governor, Republican or Democratic,” Cloonen said. “The 177 members of the General Assembly are elected to serve the people of our districts, but the Comptroller’s and the Governor’s actions show they believe we are elected to serve them, and that they can use illegal means to force us to bow to their extreme agenda.”

To read more about this up to date issue from the Chicago Tribune click here. For background information read Austin Berg’s Illinois Policy Institute article here

CPS Pension Funding

On Thursday, December 1st Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed the Chicago Public Schools pension funding bill, SB 2822. As you may recall, this bill would have sent $215 million in state General Revenue Funds to Chicago Public Schools. This money was part of a stopgap package.

Governor Rauner vetoed SB 2822 because of Chicago and the State’s failure to enact promised reforms, including comprehensive pension reform. In addition, he pointed to the fact that Illinois is still facing an ongoing budget impasse and to set aside money for one section of the state is not prudent policy.

For a look back at why the CPS bailout is not good policy read Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner’s article, ” 5 Reasons Why Illinois Politicians Should Reject a CPS Bailout” here.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about the topics discussed in this newsletter, or any other part of state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (815) 547-3436 or email me at sosnowski@ilhousegop.org.

Joe Sosnowski
State Representative

69th District