Senate Week in Review: January 29-February 2, 2018

Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his fourth State of the State Address Jan. 31, highlighting several accomplishments over the past few years and laying out a road-map of what he’d like to see Illinois achieve in 2018.

Also during the week, Democratic majorities overrode the Governor’s Amendatory Veto of technical changes to education funding legislation, sending millions of additional dollars to Chicago Public Schools at the expense of most of the rest of the state. Meanwhile, the state and federal government is now accepting tax returns and fire officials launched a new program to get free smoke alarms in homes that don’t have any.

Rauner: ‘We can and must grow our way into a more prosperous future’

Creating more jobs, spending within the state’s means, ending the practice of borrowing to cover the state’s deficits, addressing the state’s pension crisis, and lowering the tax burden on families and businesses were some major themes Gov. Rauner pushed during his annual State of the State Address Jan. 31.

Calling for both parties to work together in 2018, the Governor highlighted issues where Republicans and Democrats both played a role in what Rauner says helped the people of Illinois over the past year. This includes the bipartisan education funding reform law, lowering fees for start-up businesses, enacting criminal justice reform, helping keep and attract new businesses, and fighting the opioid epidemic, among others. The Governor says that Illinois is in a “state of readiness” to capitalize on the state’s potential.

“We have the assets, and we certainly have the incentives: 12.8 million fellow citizens who want us to ignite our economy,” Rauner said.

Most of Rauner’s ideas are things he and Senate Republicans have been pushing for years, but the Democratic majority in the General Assembly has refused to advance most of the policies brought forward by Republicans. These include property tax reform, ending corruption within the property tax system, spending reductions, putting term limits on the ballot, and improving ethics laws.

“The simple truth of our shared experience is that we cannot tax and borrow our way into prosperity,” Rauner said. “We can and must grow our way into a more prosperous future.”

In December, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Illinois lost 33,703 people between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017, causing Illinois to drop from the fifth most populated state, to sixth. Senate Republicans say this is just another example that shows if Illinois doesn’t pass job-growth reforms and focus on lowering the tax burden on families and businesses, people will continue to move out of Illinois, taking their purchasing power and income with them, resulting in more local economies lagging and less tax revenue for the state.

“It is within our power to produce an Illinois that lives up to its resources,” Rauner said. “The seeds are planted. The work has begun. Now it is time to finish the job.”

Rauner will deliver his annual Budget Address Feb. 14

Senate Democrats send more money to CPS at expense of rest of state

More than $45 million additional dollars is now projected to head to Chicago Public Schools at the expense of the vast majority of school districts throughout the state. This, after Democratic majorities in the House and Senate overrode the Governor’s Amendatory Veto of Senate Bill 444 on Jan. 31, making it law.

Senate Bill 444 made technical changes to the evidence-based school funding law (Senate Bill 1947) that dealt with how Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is calculated in the formula.

To see a simulation breakdown of how Senate Bill 444 will impact school districts across the state, click here.

New campaign to provide free smoke alarms

“Be Alarmed!”, a new program being pushed by the State Fire Marshal and Illinois Fire Safety Alliance will provide free smoke alarms, education about fire safety, and proper smoke alarm installation to people throughout the state through their local fire departments.

Fire departments that participate in the program will receive smoke alarms with 10-year sealed batteries which firefighters will install in people’s homes. 

According to the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance, six out of 10 residential fire deaths happen in homes because the smoke alarm doesn’t work or none are installed.

State/federal government now accepting tax returns

Both the state and federal governments are now accepting 2017 income tax returns.

The Illinois Department of Revenue says that filing tax returns electronically and using direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund. They expect refunds will be issued four weeks from the time a return is filed electronically.

For more information on state returns, go to and to check the status of your refund, go to

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