Update: Traveling Office Hours, Budget, Scott’s Law

Rep. Spain to host Buda Traveling Office Hours. To assist 73rd House District residents with questions or concerns about state issues or legislation, State Representative Ryan Spain invites you to attend a Traveling Office Hours event with his staff at the Mason Memorial Public Library in Buda on Wednesday, September 13. 

“Constituent services are a top priority for me, and I have dedicated staff ready to assist you in navigating state services and address your questions or concerns about other important state issues,” said Spain. “Our team is ready and willing to serve you and looks forward to helping in any way we can.”

The Mason Memorial Public Library is located at 104 W Main Street in Buda. Rep. Spain’s staff will be on hand from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome, and no appointment is necessary. For questions or more information, please visit RepRyanSpain.com, call 815-632-7384, or email repryanspain@gmail.com. Additional Traveling Office Hours times and locations will be announced in the future.

The 73rd House District includes portions of Bureau, Henry, Lee, Marshall, Peoria, Rock Island, Stark, Whiteside, and Woodford counties. A map of the district is available on Rep. Spain’s website.

General Assembly budget watchdog reports on declining State income tax revenues.  The report summarized revenue trends observed by the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) in August 2023.  During this 31-day period, total Illinois income tax revenues declined $61 million from the revenues enjoyed in August 2022.  The decline was $38 million in personal income tax payments (payments made by individuals and individual-equivalent taxpayers, such as trusts and estates) and $23 million in corporate income taxes.  The August 2023 numbers were reported to the General Assembly by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget monitor office. 

Illinois’ personal income tax cash flows are closely tied to trends in Illinois’ employment and wage rates.  Most personal income tax payments are made through withholding from the 6.15 million Illinois employees who collect paychecks for nonfarm employment.  CGFA accompanied its August 2023 spreadsheet with a data-based report, “FY 2023 Employment and Wage Data,” on trends in Illinois jobs and paychecks over the most-recently-competed 12-month fiscal period.  During the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2023, Illinois payroll growth and wage rate increase trends displayed a significant slowing trend.  The economic boom conditions that had affected Illinois income tax receipts during the first part of FY23, including August 2022, had sharply slowed down by the summer of 2023.  This could explain part of the negative trend in August 2022 – August 2023 year-over-year State income tax revenue numbers.     

CGFA reports that healthy wage conditions continued in Illinois’ construction sector in FY 2023, with the average construction worker enjoying earnings of $1,683/week (equivalent to more than $87,000/year, assuming continuous employment).  Unfortunately, higher interest rates and an overall increase in costs in the housing market were contributing to the continued outburst of inflationary prices that are pressuring many Americans.  Many Illinoisans can no longer afford to buy a home or are being forced to cut back on purchases of other goods and services.  CGFA reports that new Illinois home permits issued in July 2023, the most recent month for which figures are available, dropped by 4.5% from comparable numbers in the prior month.  Only 803 permits to build single family houses were issued in July 2023 throughout Illinois.

In spring 2023 the General Assembly’s Democrats passed, and Gov. Pritzker signed, an optimistic FY24 budget.  The spending plan pledged to expend $50.4 billion during the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2023, and ending June 30, 2024.  The FY24 budget included hundreds of millions of dollars in budget increases for fast-growing programs, such as the provision of medical care for non-legal Illinois residents.  Illinois’ tax collectors were then asked to find the money to cover the costs represented by this optimistic budget. The slowdown in month-to-month and year-to-year revenue numbers indicates that Illinois may not be generating enough tax money to keep the promises made in the FY24 budget.  The CGFA August 2023 report was released on Tuesday, September 5.      

Increase in coronavirus cases impacts Illinois patients, hospitals.  The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) which continues to track coronavirus case reports from across the State, says 441 Illinoisans were admitted to hospital care last week with diagnoses related to COVID-19.  This hospitalization number jumped 28% from the prior week.   New variants of the virus continue to infect Americans, including persons with partial immunity from previous cases of the disease.  The comparable week-to-week change across all 50 states was 19%, signaling the circulation of new variants of the virus nationwide. 

A new anti-coronavirus vaccination has undergone recent clinical trials and may become available soon throughout Illinois.  

Scott’s Law offender sentenced to 15 months in prison for violation of law.  The traffic-move-over law, in effect on all multilane Illinois highways, requires all drivers to move out of any traffic lane that is adjacent to a first-responder vehicle with its lights flashing if the motor vehicle can safely change lanes.  The law was enacted by the Illinois General Assembly as “Scott’s Law” in honor of Lt. Scott Gillen (Chicago Fire Department) who was struck and killed by a DUI driver on the Dan Ryan Expressway on December 23, 2000. 

Most Illinois drivers obey Scott’s Law.  Some do not, and on February 15, 2021, a driver was at the wheel of a vehicle that, in an incident on Interstate 55 in Will County southwest of Chicago, struck the squad car of Illinois State Police Trooper Brian Frank, even though the trooper’s car had its emergency flashing lights activated.  Frank suffered severe head injuries and was airlifted to a hospital for emergency surgery.   Medical care saved Trooper Frank’s life, but as of 2023 he continues to face severe challenges requiring nursing assistance on a 24/7 basis.  The driver was arrested and, after lengthy pretrial proceedings, pleaded guilty this summer.  He was sentenced this week to serve 15 months in State prison for violation of the law.

Forbes “Top 25 Public Colleges” list honors University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  The ranking uses public data to search out schools that, in the eyes of the Forbes magazine and website, “offer a world-class education for a fraction of the list price at top private colleges.”   Illinois’s flagship public university was ranked as No. 9 among the United States’ public-sector institutions of higher education.  Other top-25 schools in the Midwest included the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), the University of Wisconsin (Madison), Purdue University, and Michigan State University in East Lansing.   Schools at this rank are sometimes called the “Public Ivies,” in reference to the East Coast’s Ivy League. 

Forbes stated that, to generate their list, they had inserted data sets for each eligible school’s return on student family investment, student success, student debt, alumni salary, and graduation rates.   A “top 25” school is one where the student body enjoys a high rate of success in obtaining lifelong salaried employment, which in many cases includes additional studies at a graduate school.  

Incobrasa Industries breaks ground on $250 million Illinois plant expansion.  The manufacturing plant, located near Interstate 57 in Gilman, Illinois, crushes soybeans and processes the product into protein-rich and bio-oil products.  Illinois soybeans, including the beans crushed at Incobrasa, are used to make animal feed, vegetable oil, and biodiesel fuel.  Illinois is the largest producer of soybeans among the 50 U.S. states.  The Gilman plant, which currently maintains 200 production and production-related full-time jobs, will maintain 240 full-time jobs upon completion of the expansion.  

Incobrasa is an Illinois-based, Western Hemisphere-owned specialist in agricultural processing.  The Gilman plant, including the 170,000 square feet that will be added by the expansion, is located in Iroquois County.  The plant expansion is supported by the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit program, created by the General Assembly to create and protect Illinois jobs.  The groundbreaking ceremony took place at Gilman on Wednesday, September 6.