VIDEO: BRADY REACTS TO “STATE OF THE STATE”
In this video State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) reacts to Governor Quinn’s “State of the State” Address.
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SENATE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ADVANCES SAME SEX MARRIAGE LEGISLATION
The Senate Executive Committee advanced legislation on Feb. 5 that would authorize same sex marriage in Illinois. During the January lame-duck session a similar bill passed the committee, but was never brought to a vote on the Senate floor. Debate on this bill once again centered on the degree to which religious organizations and parochial schools’ religious liberties would be affected by the bill.
Concerns have been raised by many in the religious community that overly broad language in Senate Bill 10 would force churches to host or participate in same sex weddings. Opponents to the legislations say that it is in direct conflict with these institutions’ religious principles as well as their constitutional First Amendment rights. Despite these concerns, the bill passed committee and the sponsor has announced that she intends to call the bill for a full Senate vote on Feb. 14.
Controversial legislation that would advance the second exemption to the state’s Medicaid expansion freeze was considered by the Senate Public Health Committee on Feb. 5. Senator Brady explained that the law had initially been required as part of the federal Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Later it was rendered optional following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found that particular component of the federal law unconstitutional.
Despite concerns expressed by Republican members that the expansion would add a burdensome load to the annual costs of an already overloaded state Medicaid system, the measure was advance by the committee. The expansion would offer benefits to an additional 350,000 individuals and could cost the state an additional $300 million to maintain the federal reimbursement level beyond the first two years of the program’s implementation. It is estimated that by 2020, the cumulative state cost of this expansion could exceed $2.9 billion.
HOUSE AND SENATE APPROVE SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING
Before adjourning on Thursday, Feb 7, the Senate approved legislation that would free up $2.2 billion in supplemental funding for state programs, road programs, and other financial obligations. House Bill 190 passed despite concerns that one of the first acts of the 98th General Assembly would be to approve a massive new spending proposal.
State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) expressed dissatisfaction with the high price tag of the legislation, “There is funding contained in this bill that I really do want to see reach the intended programs, but the size and scope of this legislation is just too much.” Brady who expressed support particularly for transportation funding in the bill ultimately voted against the legislation.
The measure had initially garnered bipartisan support, as lawmakers looked to direct revenue to important programs in need of a fiscal boost. However, when Democrats piled on additional spending for questionable projects, many Republicans withdrew their support for the legislation.
One of the major changes to the bill was the addition of $600 million for group health insurance costs for state workers. At the start of the fiscal year, the legislature had deliberately underfunded health insurance costs to provide the Governor leverage in contract negotiations. However, when those talks stalled and no savings materialized the spending authorization became necessary.
Additionally, the measure included $675 million for the current year’s road construction program. Other notable services which received funding include personal services, mental health grants, and early learning challenge grants.
Many Senators expressed discomfort over a one-time $9 million bail-out for the East St. Louis School District included in the bill. Opponents say that there are many school districts that could use this kind of help and that giving a bailout to just one district sets a bad precedent. The money will allow the district to stay open through Nov. 2013 but a total of $27 million will be necessary to keep the school open through June 2014. Concerns were raised over the quick passage of these appropriation changes, and it is not yet known whether and how often the East St. Louis School District would require additional funding in the near future.
The bill was signed into law by Governor Quinn later on Thursday Feb 7.