Senator Steans

3/24/14

Dear Friends,

 

Wednesday, March 26th at 6pm, I will be joining Rep. Kelly Cassidy live for a Virtual Town Hall. During the Town Hall, we will discuss the budget and other issues currently facing our state.

 

There are two different ways to join us on the Virtual Town Hall. If you have a Google account and would like to have the opportunity ask questions in the chat, the link for the Hangout will be posted here before the event. If you would simply like to view the Town Hall, please visit Rep. Cassidy's YouTube channel here. Links will be posted on both sites approximately 30 minutes before the Town Hall begins.

 

We highly encourage you to submit questions beforehand by filling out the form here. Any questions we aren't able to answer will be responded to via email.

 

If you have any additional questions, please contact me at 773-769-1717 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

M120 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

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Senator Steans

3/21/14

Dear Friends,

 

This morning, as chair of one of the Senate's budget committees, I presided over a sobering hearing that I'm hoping will convince my colleagues of the need to summon their political courage and protect our most vulnerable residents. (For more of my thoughts on the budget and the income tax, please see my column in today's Tribune.) One after another, state agency directors came to the microphone and testified to the unacceptable reductions they will have to make in the services they provide if we don't stop the income tax roll-back scheduled to take place January 1, 2015.

 

If legislators run out the clock and allow the income tax rate to fall from the current five percent to 3.75 percent, state government will see a $2.4 billion shortfall for the fiscal year that runs from July 2014 to July 2015. In order to balance the budget, many state agencies would have to cut their budgets by as much as 20 percent. The likely consequences include eliminating:

 

-child care subsidies for 23,000 children
-in-home help for 12,000 senior citizens
-mental health services for 40,000 individuals
-MAP scholarships for 30,000 college students
-shelter and assistance for 11,000 victims of domestic abuse
-an estimated 13,000 teaching positions in local school districts
-necessary services for 3,700 victims of rape
-treatment for more than 10,000 people with substance abuse disorders
-educational and job-training programs for inmates
-jobs for 10,000 home care workers -all Illinois State Police forensic labs
-medications for 400 individuals living with HIV/AIDS
-breast and cervical cancer screenings for 6,000 low-income women

 

This bleak scenario, which will become reality if legislators do nothing, would not only be devastating in human terms but short-sighted, costing the state more in the long run in expensive institutionalizations, unnecessary hospital stays and more. We've already closed state facilities and made significant cuts in Medicaid and pensions - cuts that I supported. While there's always room to make state government more efficient, it's not realistic to suggest we can cut our way out of a $2.4 billion shortfall.

 

The voters deserve to know whether their representatives are willing to tell the truth about this harsh fiscal reality and take action to protect our most vulnerable residents. I will push for consideration of our income tax rate before the adjournment of regular session on May 31.

 

As always, I encourage you to keep in touch with me and let me know your thoughts on cuts to state services or any other issue in state government. You can reach my office at (773) 769-1717.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

M120 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

Senator Steans

3/17/14

Dear Friends,

 

In addition to establishing a budget that continues Illinois on a path to restore fiscal responsibility without further harming Illinois’ students and neediest residents, I am working on a number of legislative initiatives this session. Some highlights are summarized below.

 

Banning Micro Beads (SB2727). This bill will ban plastic microbeads used for exfoliating from beauty products. The tiny beads contaminate the Great Lakes and end up in drinking water and fish, as noted in this Crain’s article.

 

Reducing Urban Flooding (SB2966). Significant flooding is occurring outside floodplains – in Cook County there was $660 million in property damage from flooding over 5 years according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. This bill requires DNR to identify the prevalence and costs of urban flooding, storm water management programs that can prevent flooding, strategies and financing methods to minimize property damage from flooding, and strategies to increase participation in the National Flood insurance program and availability of affordable flood insurance.

 

Increasing Wages for Direct Service Workers Caring for People with Disabilities (SB2604). Direct service workers currently get an average of $9.35/hour (21% below poverty level for family of 4). This bill would raise wages to $13 by January, 2016. The Springfield Journal-Register explains their support for this effort in an editorial.

 

Cutting LLC Fees (SB2776). Illinois has the highest LLC filing fee in the nation ($500), hurting small business start-ups. This bill decreases the fee to $39, making it the lowest in the country.

 

Establishing a Rainy Day Fund. I am working with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, the Comptroller’s Office, and the House to determine how to best establish a meaningful Rainy Day Fund for Illinois. Such a fund will provide security in economic down periods without creating bill backlogs like the state has been experiencing since the last recession.

 

If you have any questions about these or any other bills this session, please call my office at 773-769-1717, or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

M120 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

Senator Steans

2/24/14

Dear Friends,

 

The General Assembly is back in session. With the state’s ongoing fiscal challenges and as an appropriation chair, much of my attention this year will focus on the budget. This update provides an overview of the tough choices we face in passing a balanced budget. Next week I will highlight other legislative initiatives I am working on this session.

 

In January, 2011 the General Assembly and Governor enacted a temporary income tax increase that raised individual and corporate income tax rates. This temporary increase begins to phase out January 1, 2015, halfway through the state’s next fiscal year (FY15). Thus despite natural revenue growth, the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) projects revenues to fall $1.6 billion in FY15. You can view COGFA’s overview of the temporary tax increase and revenue projections here.

 

While revenues are decreasing, the state’s mandated expenditures will grow. Certified pension payments are estimated to increase $243 million (as the recently passed pension reform is being challenged as unconstitutional, the State cannot count on the expected $1 billion in savings until the cases make it through the court system). Due to 2% pay raises and employee healthcare cost inflation, the state’s expenses for employees will grow about $374 million. Medicaid is a federal entitlement program, and while we made significant cuts to the program, it is expected to grow due to more recipients and healthcare cost inflation. Finally, by statute the state provides a share of revenue to local governments and these transfers will increase about $278 million.

 

The fall in revenues coupled with the increase in mandatory expenditures results in a shortfall of $2.6 billion for discretionary spending, or a 19% decrease, as shown in the chart below.

The adjustable spending includes many human service programs, general state aid to schools, and higher education and financial aid. Without additional revenue, programs like child care services, in-home care and meals for seniors, treatment for individuals with mental health illnesses and substance addictions, general state aid to schools, and financial aid for college students will be cut significantly.

 

It is easy to suggest that we simply cut waste, fraud and abuse to solve our problems. However, Illinois’s per capita employee headcount is already the second lowest in the country, and the state’s spending is the 4th lowest in the country as a percent of Gross State Product.

 

I believe all options, including additional revenue, need to be on the table as we seek to produce a balanced financial plan. Budgets reflect our priorities and values, and I am alarmed about continuing to cut services to our most vulnerable residents. The Governor will present his 5-year budget plan on March 26th, and I look forward to working with him and my colleagues in the House and Senate as we make difficult choices. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the State’s budget. Please call me at 773-769-1717 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

In The District

 

In addition to the work on the budget in Springfield, I would like to make you aware of these upcoming events in the district. Please click here to see more.

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

 

District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)

 

Springfield Office

M120 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

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Contact Us

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

Springfield Office
623 Capitol Building
301 S. Second St.
Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492