Windhorst Weekly – May 10, 2019

Dear Friend,

This week, news broke that Illinois’ financial picture may be a shade better than we all had once thought. Reports from the Illinois Comptroller’s office revealed that Illinois has taken in $1.5 billion more in tax revenues than previously estimated.

Spurred on by unexpectedly good financial news, Governor Pritzker announced he was abandoning his plan to skip a $900 million pension payment to balance the FY 2020 budget. I have been a loud and clear opponent of the Governor’s plan to skip the pension payment since the Budget Address in February.

If Governor Pritzker in fact makes the full pension payment, that will be good news for our state’s credit rating and overall financial outlook. If House and Senate Democrats line up to get a share of the newly found revenue to expand government through the creation of new programs, that will be BAD news for the state’s financial future. In Governor Pritzker’s case, I suppose this time it turns out he was better to be lucky than to have a good plan. I applaud the Governor for this positive news, and encourage more good financial decision making in the future.

Illinois must take positive steps to draw down our massive debt and increase our credit rating. Making the full pension payment is just the first step in what is sure to be a long journey to financial solvency for the State of Illinois. For the long-term, if Illinois is to dig out of the massive financial hole, we must make policy decisions that lead to strong economic growth. Creating more taxpayers, not more taxes, will be the key to Illinois’ financial recovery. The only way to do that is to create an economic environment that will provide good paying jobs for citizens in the most economically blighted regions of our State.

House Republican Leader Durkin and House Republicans Say No New Taxes Needed Following Positive Revenue News

“We have the money to balance the budget without new taxes.”  On Wednesday, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, along with Deputy Leaders Dan Brady and Tom Demmer, held a press conference to reiterate the need for bipartisan negotiations to pass a balanced Fiscal Year 2020 budget.

In light of this week’s announcement that April revenues were up by $1.5 billion and that FY20 estimated revenues were revised upwards by $800 million, Leader Durkin announced that we have the money to balance the FY20 budget without new taxes. Durkin’s full remarks follow:

“For the first time in years, we are here to report great news for Illinois taxpayers. 

Some of you might recall, though it seems Speaker Madigan has already forgotten, that last year after bipartisan negotiation between Republican and Democrat members in the House and Senate, we were able to enact an FY19 budget that was not only balanced but will likely be running a surplus by the end of the year. 

Furthermore, projections are showing that this year’s tax receipts will be the HIGHEST they have ever been in our state’s 200-year history.

All of this is clear evidence of what I have always preached: when Democrats invite Republicans to the table and respect our priorities, we will work together in good faith and come to agreements that help move our state forward. And because of our bipartisan work last year, Governor Pritzker was able to move off his misguided and short-sighted approach to balancing the FY20 budget by artificially lowering our obligations to the state’s pension systems.

What’s even better is that taxpayers can now be reassured that Governor Pritzker and his Democrats repeated call for more and more of their hard-earned money to balance the budget is unnecessary. 

Work with the Republican caucus and we will help you balance the FY20 budget too, all without raising taxes. The numbers are clear – WE HAVE THE MONEY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET WITH NO NEW TAXES AND NO TAX INCREASES. There is no more need to talk about raising taxes on bags or cigarettes or businesses or the middle class. There is certainly no reason to even be considering a graduated tax now.  The desperate pleas for more taxes have rung hollow in Illinois for years, and now taxpayers know the truth. 

We have the money to balance the budget without new taxes. With only 18 days left of session, we must start working NOW to craft another truly balanced budget, with no new taxes or increases, that will continue projecting our state towards fiscal stability.”

House Democrats advance $2.4 billion in tax and fee increases to fund transportation infrastructure. 

On Thursday, Democratic members of the House Revenue & Finance Committee advanced an amendment (on a partisan roll call) to the full House that would raise the gas tax and related fees by $2.4 billion to fund transportation infrastructure needs.

House Amendment #1 to HB 391 contains language proposed by Local 150 to provide funding for “horizontal” capital, i.e. roads and bridges. This legislation is identical to HB 3233, Senate Amendment #1, which is Local 150 language. It is important to note that these bills have not been negotiated or agreed to by all parties involved and do not represent a finalized capital infrastructure funding plan.

The major revenue components contained within HB 391 include increasing the motor fuel tax by 25 cents (a 132% increase) and increasing vehicle registration fees by $50 (a 51% increase). Together with the other tax and fee increases outlined below, HB 391 would bring in approximately $2.4 billion in annual funding for transportation infrastructure.

Take the Poll!
Now that you have all the details on the proposed gas tax hike and fee hike for motorists, I’d like to know your opinion. If you agree that the gas tax should be raised and the fee for driver’s licenses, registrations, and license plates should be increased in order to fund road construction and other capital infrastructure projects, vote yes. If you do not think that the gas tax or fees for driver’s licenses, registrations, and license plates should be raised to fund capital infrastructure projects, then vote no. Thank you for your input!

Teacher Appreciation Week!
“If you can read this…thank a teacher!” That is exactly what I would like to do this 2019 Teacher Appreciation Week.

I am proud to be both the son and brother of former teachers. My brother now serves as a principal. Education in the Windhorst family is of the utmost importance. I want to thank all the teachers across the State of Illinois and everywhere in the world for the honorable and important work that they do!

4-H Students Visit the Capitol
On Wednesday, I was pleased to greet 4-H students from the 118th district in Springfield!

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The Session is quickly approaching its end, and with so much left to do, the action will happen at a blinding pace. Please stay tuned to this space each week for news from Springfield and more. My office in Harrisburg is located at 2 N. Vine, Suite 5A and is open -from 8:30 to 4:30 Monday through Friday. You can reach us at 618-294-8703.