Just weeks into the start of spring Legislative Session, the Senate voted on a Democrat initiative to incrementally increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour – a plan that could have huge repercussions for employers across the board, including public universities, school districts, and not-for-profit organizations.
In anticipation of the upcoming U.S. Census and the redrawing of Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps, the Senate Republican Caucus hosted a press conference at the State Capitol this week to voice their support for a fair maps amendment on the next statewide ballot—and urged voters to join them in demanding a more transparent, fair and nonpartisan redistricting process.
During the week, Senate Republicans also introduced key initiatives to target the issue of campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and legislators, and government consolidation to save taxpayer dollars.
Minimum wage hike passes Senate hindering Illinois businesses
The Senate convened Feb. 7 and passed a Democrat plan to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. Senate Republicans were united in opposition to the measure that could have far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, human service providers and hospitals.
“This legislation only adds to the burdens placed on Illinois’ employers, backing them into a corner, raising costs for consumers and posing a threat to our business sector. Just consider the harm this will have on colleges and universities. We’re looking at millions of dollars being added to their overhead, potential decreases in enrollment and the elimination of student worker programs,” said Senator Righter. “Instead of focusing on pro-business, pro-growth reforms, we’re entertaining a political ploy filled with false promises and overlooks the unintended effects of a massive wage increase. This isn’t good business for our state and this isn’t a measure I will support.”
The incremental increase will have far-reaching implications for employers across the board, including an increase in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, human service providers and hospitals.
According to the Pritzker Administration, a 15 dollar minimum wage increase will add over 1 billion dollars to the annual state payroll. Meanwhile, the nursing home industry will see a massive cost-impact as high as 1.5 billion dollars.
Hear full floor remarks from Sen. Righter here.
Senate Bill 1 goes next to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senate Republicans make push for fair maps amendment on ballot
With the U.S. Census and the redrawing of Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps fast approaching, the Senate Republican Caucus gathered for a press conference on Feb. 6 to voice their support for a fair maps amendment on the upcoming statewide ballot.
The ballot initiative, which has garnered bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle, would grant the control of the redistricting process to a nonpartisan, independent committee to draw the districts, rather than entrenched politicians.
State Sen. Righter (R-Mattoon) has stepped forward in support of a fair, nonpartisan and transparent redistricting process in Illinois.
“Our goal is to remove politicians from the process, giving voters the authority they’ve been denied because party interest has always taken precedence,” said Sen. Righter. “It’s time to empower our voters and provide the people of this state with legislative districts that are representative, rather than convenient, gerrymandered and uncompetitive.”
Every 10 years, following the decennial U.S. Census, Illinois’ Congressional and General Assembly maps are redrawn. Illinois currently has a winner-take-all system for the redistricting process, where the politicians who are in control right now have the power to draw the maps for the next 10 years. This gives them the ability to shift legislative district lines to create an advantage for the members of their party, which is often referred to as “gerrymandering.” This system is what creates strangely-shaped districts and uncompetitive elections.
Senate Joint Resolution-Constitutional Amendment 4 (SJR-CA 4) gives voters the opportunity to amend the Constitution to create a new, non-partisan system for drawing maps. It would establish an independent redistricting commission, increase transparency in the process and provide for public hearings to allow Illinois residents to weigh in.
Join the Senate Republican Caucus in demanding fair legislative maps in Illinois. Sign this petition to urge political leaders to add a fair maps amendment to the ballot.
Good government legislation to prevent campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and legislators
In an effort to target campaign fund corruption between lobbyists and state legislators, new legislation filed in the Senate aims to prohibit lobbyists with political campaign accounts from donating to members from that account.
Under current law, there are no regulations to prevent newly registered lobbyists who have access to a campaign account from donating campaign funds to members of the Illinois General Assembly. Senate Bill 128 would specify that donations to members from campaign accounts are strictly prohibited, and will remain forbidden for two years after the individual's lobbyist registration expires.
The legislation is a preventive and precautionary measure to prevent retired legislators-turned-lobbyists—and new lobbyists involved with a Political Action Committee (PAC)—from misusing campaign funds to benefit their lobbying career, as well as help stop the corrupt flow of campaign money in the State Capitol.
The concerning oversight in the lobbying ethics policy was brought about by members of the public who inquired about former legislators’ use of campaign funds.
Senate Bill 128 is currently awaiting a Senate Committee assignment.
Legislation to dissolve drainage districts reveals potential to reduce property taxes
Legislation to allow the dissolution of unnecessary drainage districts passed out of the Senate’s Local Government Committee this week, which presents a proactive and valuable opportunity to reduce the property tax burden in Illinois.
Senate Bill 90 particularly targets suburban regions of Illinois that used to be farmland, and are now residential areas and paying taxes to both the municipality and the drainage district. These circumstances are costly and duplicative for the taxpayer, as the municipality is already taking on the drainage responsibilities for those areas, rendering the drainage district unnecessary.
By allowing municipalities to dissolve drainage districts, taxpayers should see significant property tax relief and a more streamlined government.
Senate Bill 90 will now move to the Senate for consideration.