This week in Springfield, lawmakers discussed property taxes during a Committee of the Whole meeting. State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) spoke about how property tax bills are calculated in Chicago as compared to how they are calculated in all other parts of the state. As an example of the inequity that exists in taxation, Reick pointed House Speaker Mike Madigan's home in Chicago, with a fair market value of $294,000, and a recent property tax bill of $4,600. He then ran his exact tax information through the formula used for the rest of the state, and determined that the Speaker's house, if it was located in Woodstock, Illinois, would have a property tax bill of over $11,000, which is more than 2 1/2 times what he paid in property taxes for his $294,000 home in Chicago.

"It's time for the City of Chicago to be taxed the same way the rest of us are," said Reick. "It's time for Chicago to ante up." Click here to watch Reick's floor comments during the property tax discussion.
Committed to creating a fairer and more equitable manner for funding Illinois schools, State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) has signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation that would make sweeping changes to how school districts receive state aid.

HB 4069 is compromise legislation that includes recommendations brought forward from the Governor’s bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission and priorities of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. Unlike the current method for funding schools, HB 4069 applies an evidence-based model that would ensure that every child has access to a high quality education. Most importantly, according to Reick, the bill does not provide special treatment or giveaways to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). What it does include, according to the lawmaker, is true compromise in areas like hold harmless, unfunded mandate relief, the Chicago Block Grant and CPS pensions.

“Discussions for how to change the school funding formula have been ongoing for years, and I believe we are moving toward consensus on a new formula that helps all Illinois school districts rather than sending a disproportionate share of taxpayer dollars to CPS,” said Reick. “The funding reform bill that was approved in the Senate this year, SB 1, included many good provisions, but it also included a poison pill in the form of a massive financial bailout for Chicago schools. That’s money that should be channeled equitably for the betterment of all students. HB 4069 eliminates the special CPS giveaways and relies on data alone to drive resources to the schools that need it most.”

Specifically, school districts in the 63rd Legislative House District would receive $2.7 million more under HB 4069 than through SB 1. “Every suburban and downstate school district receives more funding through HB 4069,” Reick said. “The bill is realistic, fair and it represents the best and most reasonable outcome for Illinois school children. It is great compromise legislation that we can pass right now and get signed into law before the start of the upcoming school year.”
On the final day of the Spring Legislative Session in Springfield, State Rep. Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) spoke out against legislation that would place additional fees and restrictions on interior designers who are not currently members of the Illinois Interior Design Coalition or the American Society for Interior Designers. During his floor comments on SB 326, Reick said the bill was another example of the State taking it's heavy hand and creating a barrier to entry for people trying to do business in Illinois. You can watch Rep. Reick's floor debate on the bill here.
The end of our regular legislation session came and went on Wednesday with no agreement on a balanced budget. We remained on the floor of the House until late in the evening, hopeful that bipartisanship and reason would prevail. But as the night progressed, similar to the days that led up to May 31, most of the bills brought to us for votes were politically-motivated bills that mocked Republicans’ insistence that spending be limited to available revenues.

From day one Republicans have said they would put a proportionate number of votes on a tax increase if those increases were paired with reforms that grow jobs, build the Illinois economy, ease the property tax burden and root out waste and fraud in our systems. We have never wavered on that point. Democrats, on the other hand, have long said that tax increases are their preferred method for balancing a budget. Prior to May 31, just 60 votes were needed to approve a budget. There are 67 Democrats in the House. In the end, the majority party could not find 60 Democrat Representatives willing to put their name on a tax increase-only budget. When the clock turned to June 1, the threshold for budget approval increased to a three-fifths majority, or 71 affirmative votes. Approval of a budget just became significantly more difficult.

When it became clear in recent weeks that House Democrats could not move their preferred budget without Republican support, shouldn’t that have signaled that it’s time return to the negotiation table? Unfortunately, at the same time that many House Democrats were saying they couldn’t support the massive tax hike that went along with their budget, they continued with their refusal to work with Republicans on reforms that would add enough Republicans to a budget roll call. I can only liken it to a spoiled child who refuses to share on the playground. Rather than reach a compromise, they took their ball and went home. This marks the third year that lawmakers will be in continuous session over the summer I’m told to expect session one day a week during the month of June.

Rep Reick Welcomes 4-H Students to State Capitol
Last week the halls of the Capitol were filled with youngsters sporting green shirts in honor of 4-H programming in Illinois. I have stated publicly that one of the many things that makes McHenry County such a great place to live is the strong commitment of 4-H to our young people. Through 4-H, children are able to participate in a variety of programs that build a strong work ethic and vital problem solving skills. The value of our local 4-H programs contributes greatly to the success of our McHenry County Fair and I appreciate the 4-H participants who took the day to promote support of what I consider to be an incredibly useful program.

Huge Participation for Reick’s First Teletown Hall Meeting
Recently I partnered with Sate Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) for a Teletown Hall Meeting, and constituents from Illinois’ 63rd and 69th Legislative House Districts were invited to participate. We had an amazing level of engagement, with close to 6,000 initial participants and several hundred who remained on the phone line for most of the hour-long event. Between Representative Sosnowski and I, we took questions from approximately 20 callers, and those who did not have their own question answered during the live call were encouraged to leave a message with our offices at the conclusion of the event.

During the Teletown Hall Meeting, we asked two poll questions. Those results are as follows:
  • Do you believe that the state budget should be balanced by raising taxes only, cutting spending only, a combination of taxes and cuts, or something else?
    • Cut Spending Only 43%
    • Use a Combination of Taxes and Cuts 39%
    • Something Else 15%
    • Raise Taxes Only 3%
  • In your estimation, what do you believe should be the highest priority for the State when it comes to crafting a state budget?
    • Economic Development and Job Retention 42%
    • Health Care and Human Services 26%
    • Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice 15%
    • Education 11%
    • Infrastructure and Transportation 6%
I thank all who participated in my first Teletown Hall Meeting, and hope they found the information to be helpful.

Reick Passes Two Bills During First Legislative Session
While gridlock was constant on major issues in the State, there were opportunities for bipartisanship on individual member initiatives. This year I was pleased to pass one House Bill and one Senate Bill. Both now have been forwarded to Governor Bruce Rauner for his signatures. My 2017 bills that will soon be Public Acts include:

HB 2449: Provides additional protections for military personnel who are called to relocate in the course of their active duty, by allowing servicemen and women to terminate or suspend certain contractual services, like Internet services, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships or satellite radio services, without penalty.

SB 1478: Amends the Radiation Protection Act of 1990 by abolishing the Radiologic Technologist Accreditation Advisory Board (RTAAB). The board was created to assist the Illinois Emergency Management Agency in ensuring that technologists who apply radiation to patients are qualified to perform the procedures safely and effectively, but due to fiscal and staffing realities, the group had not met since 2010.

Lawmakers Recognize Importance of Foster Care System at State Rally
I recently joined many of my colleagues for a rally in the Capitol Rotunda as we recognized Foster Care Awareness Month in Illinois. We were joined by Susan McConnell from an organization called “Let It Be Us” and Director George Sheldon from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for a showing of support for youth in care in Illinois.

Reick Schedules Senior Fair for July 27
Please mark your calendars and join me on Thursday, July 27 for my free Senior Fair, which will be held from 10:00 AM until noon at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 401 St. John’s Road in Woodstock. I will be bringing together a variety of state, county and local government agencies that will be able to provide helpful guides, literature and other resources. My knowledgeable staff will also be available to assist constituents with their state government concerns. Those who attend will be encouraged to sign in for a chance to win a door prize. Refreshments will be served. For more information about this and other upcoming events, please call my local office at (815) 880-5340.