The spring legislative session continues February 3 as the Senate returns to Springfield.
Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his first State of the State Address on February 4, setting the tone for what Illinoisans can expect this spring. Rauner has already given indications that job growth and fixing the state budget are to be among his administration’s top priorities.
Also during the week, Illinois’ controversial medical marijuana law continued to make headlines over delays in issuing licenses. Also, newly released numbers show which counties have the highest, and lowest numbers of active concealed carry licenses in the state.
Rauner Says Budget is Immediate Concern
In a recent interview with the Illinois Radio Network (IRN), Rauner continued to emphasize the severity of the budget problems facing Illinois. According to Rauner, dealing with the cumulative effects of years of tax-and-spend budgets and questionable fiscal practices is one of his primary concerns, and one that will be difficult to fix.
Rauner said that the current fiscal year budget is nowhere near balanced, and the state is running out of money with five full months still left in the fiscal year. The Governor noted the previous administration didn’t appropriate enough money to some departments, then told agencies to ignore what was appropriated and spend what they needed to – promising that they would address the revenue shortfall at a later date.
“…that’s a problem that I’ve got to fix, and I will fix it, but it’s going to be hard to do,” Rauner said to IRN.
Rauner has indicated that he will push for reforms to the state’s tax code. The State of the State Address is February 4, and the Budget Address is scheduled for February 18.
It’s no secret that we have our work cut out for us! And do not let the tax-and-spend lawmakers tell you that there is no room for cuts. Every little bit helps.
For example, I have declined a state pension and will be sponsoring a bill to end defined-benefit pension plans for state legislators. Every little bit helps.
As a business man, I know that when money is tight, you might need to cut personnel costs. My legislative aide in Springfield is now helping a new Senator, so instead of hiring another legislative aide to work just for me, I asked if one legislative aide could work for both Senator Chris Nybo of Elmhurst and me. Every little bit helps.
Representative Keith Wheeler and I are both saving taxpayer dollars by sharing a district office in North Aurora. Check out his Web site at www.repkeithwheeler.com to learn more about your new 50th District State Representative. Every little bit helps.
Medical Marijuana Licenses Delayed
A lack of action and questions about the selection process by the former Administration are causing further delays in issuing medical marijuana licenses to patients. Under the 2013 state law legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois, state agencies were required to score and rank applications for the 21 facilities that would be allowed to grow medical marijuana and 60 of the retail stores that would be licensed to sell it.
Recently released internal documents show that the administration of former Governor Pat Quinn evaluated and ranked license applications for growers and dispensaries before leaving office, but for unknown reasons never announced their choices. The internal documentation revealed a sometimes dysfunctional selection process that critics have called secretive and open to favoritism.
Quinn’s Administration left the licensing process for Rauner to complete, but the new Governor says that his office will need to perform a legal review of how Quinn’s administration evaluated applications before it can complete that process.
Active Concealed Carry Licenses
Recently released numbers from the Illinois State Police give a county-by-county picture of active concealed carry licenses in the state of Illinois.
Top 10 Counties for Concealed Carry:
1. Cook 24,751
2. Will 6286
3. DuPage 5721
4. Lake 4347
5. Madison 3401
6. Kane 2950
7. St. Clair 2720
8. McHenry 2621
9. Winnebago 2195
10. Sangamon 2139
Bottom 10 Counties for Concealed Carry:
1. Scott 45
2. Brown 55
3. Gallatin 64
4. Schuyler 66
5. Calhoun 71
6. Henderson 71
7. Putnam 71
8. Stark 76
9. Pope 79
10. Hardin 95
A full listing is available by clicking here.