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Decatur… With the State’s budget impasse entering month seven, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is calling for passage of new legislation that will require lawmakers to pass a budget that is truly balanced – or not be paid.

Speaking at Richland Community College Tuesday, Representative Mitchell discussed the negative impact the lack of a state budget is having on Richland.

“We’re in our seventh month without a budget. Illinois is a dysfunctional state. The lack of a budget, along with years of unbalanced budgets, is hurting our schools, colleges and providers. Here at Richland, the lack of a budget has had a profoundly negative impact. Millions of dollars in grants have been lost, tuition has been increased and there’s no MAP funding for students this semester,” said Rep. Mitchell.

“Our current balanced budget provision in the Illinois Constitution has no ‘teeth’, and as a result, some General Assemblies and Governors have used budget gimmicks and accounting tricks to get around it, or simply ignored it altogether with no real consequences to themselves. The consequences to our communities, however, have been devastating,” said Mitchell.

Representative Mitchell is proposing legislation to put real “teeth” into the state’s balanced budget requirement. It demands that within 30 days of the enactment of a budget, the Auditor General’s Office must certify that the budget will be balanced with expenses not exceeding expected revenue. If the Auditor General declares that the budget is not balanced then the Comptroller will: 
  • Stop payment for the salary of General Assembly members and Constitutional Officers; and
  • Within 10 days of the Auditor General’s certification that the budget is not balanced, the General Assembly must convene to enact a new state budget.
“For years now, Democratic majorities have passed budgets that were absolutely unbalanced, leaving billions in unpaid bills,” said Rep. Mitchell. “It’s time to hold state government accountable to the taxpayers. My balanced budget bill will force lawmakers to put their money where their mouths are. Pass a truly balanced budget or don’t get paid. This is a common-sense fiscal reform that is sorely needed in Springfield.”

Rep. Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) participated in AARP’s Caring for Caregivers forum Monday, December 7 at Hickory Point Golf Course. He discussed recent legislation, the IL CARE Act, and how it helps caregivers. Lori Hendren, Associate State Director of AARP, spoke about preparing to care for a loved one and Diane Drew, Executive Director of Community Home Environmental Learning Project, discussed resources available for caregivers.

With the State’s budget impasse entering month five, State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) is renewing his effort to pass meaningful welfare reform legislation that emphasizes personal responsibility and implements new technology to stop the waste, fraud and abuse in the welfare system.

Mitchell, a long-time advocate of welfare reform, believes the Illinois General Assembly needs to pass reforms to save taxpayer dollars and properly prioritize spending.

“We need to pass strong welfare reforms to put a stop to the waste, fraud and abuse in the welfare system,” Rep. Mitchell said. “With 4.7 million Illinoisans on welfare, more than one-third of our citizens are receiving taxpayer-funded benefits. We simply cannot afford to do nothing.”

Representative Mitchell is once again sponsoring welfare reform legislation to require drug testing of welfare recipients, to include a work requirement in order to receive food stamps, to crack down on LINK card fraud, and to ban illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer-funded benefits.

“Welfare should not be a way of life, nor should it be generational,” Mitchell said. “Big government has institutionalized poverty by massively expanding the welfare state, which is cruel to the people it entraps and further disincentivizes work. We need to protect the safety net for those who have fallen on hard times while at the same time emphasizing personal responsibility and the values that made our country great – an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.”

With new technology being implemented for credit and debit cards, Rep. Mitchell is backing legislation to require micro-chipped smart cards that utilize technology to prevent welfare fraud.

“Our welfare system figures in a 10% fraud rate. Think about that – welfare fraud eats up 10% of the total amount spent on welfare. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars, possibly as high as a billion dollars, on a statewide level. Requiring smart cards for welfare benefits and photo IDs for food stamps would cut way down on fraud and lead to billions in long-term taxpayer savings.”

Decatur – State Representatives Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) and John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) held a press conference Wednesday in Decatur to discuss legislation they are sponsoring to reinstate the death penalty in Illinois for cop killers and child murderers.

With violence against law enforcement officers making headlines on an almost weekly basis, the Republican legislators believe it is time to bring back the death penalty for the worst criminals.

“The statistics are alarming,” said Rep. Mitchell. “There have been 95 law enforcement fatalities so far this year, with 26 officers being shot and killed in the line of duty. We must do everything possible to support law enforcement and provide them with the tools necessary to prevent these despicable acts of violence. If you kill a police officer, you should get the death penalty.”

State Rep. John Cabello, Republican spokesperson on the House Judiciary – Criminal Law Committee, also serves as a Rockford Police Detective. Cabello introduced legislation earlier this year to reinstate the death penalty and create the Capital Crimes Litigation Act of 2015. Rep. Cabello filed the legislation in response to the most heinous crimes involved in first degree murder charges.

“We need a mechanism in place for the criminals who decide to commit a heinous act that results in a violent death,” said Rep. Cabello. “This legislation is aimed at combatting the worst of the worst. Criminals that decided to take the life of a first responder, child or multiple victims should face the most serious consequences for their actions.”

House Bill 4059 narrows the list for prosecutors seeking capital punishment for a convicted first degree murderer to the murder of a peace officer, correctional employee or fireman while performing his or her duties, multiple murders, murder of a child under the age of 12, murder committed on school grounds, and murder as a result of terrorism.

“Correctional officers interact with convicted murderers on a daily basis,” Rep. Mitchell added. “If a prisoner is already facing a life sentence, what is going to deter him from killing an officer who is protecting the public from these murderers? We believe the possibility of being executed would make these criminals think twice before attacking officers.”

State Representative Bill Mitchell (R-Forsyth) issued the following statement regarding the lack of payment of health care costs for state employees due to the ongoing budget stalemate in Springfield: 

“I have consistently stood up for our state employees and strongly believe that even in the absence of a budget agreement, we have a responsibility to cover payroll and health insurance costs for our workers.

“While the courts have agreed that the State must pay its employees, we are now hearing about health care providers requiring upfront payments from state employees and insurance companies not paying providers.

“At the same time, due to various court orders and consent decrees, state funds are still being expended without an appropriation for health care and other benefits for those on public aid.

“Taxpayer funds are being spent on health care costs for those who don’t work, while our hardworking state employees are forced to pay their own health care costs. That is completely backwards and is an insult to working families.

“The State of Illinois should live up to its obligations and pay the health care costs for its employees – before it pays the welfare benefits of those on public aid.”

Decatur - “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mayor Mike McElroy. Mayor McElroy was a wonderful man who had a tremendous passion for the City of Decatur. My thoughts and prayers are with the McElroy family during their time of grief. I’ve know the Mayor for 25 years; he had the wonderful gift to never have met a stranger. He was a good man.”