Capitol350On Dec. 1 the Legislature concluded the fall veto session with no sign of a balanced budget agreement in sight, even as we quickly approach 2017, at which point stopgap funding for universities, local governments and human service agencies will run out.

As I've said numerous times, this situation is completely unacceptable, with tragic consequences for students, seniors, victims of sexual assault and more.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislative leaders have been meeting to discuss the budget, and that's an encouraging sign. I'm calling on all sides to compromise to end this stalemate. However, we must remember that negotiation can only have a successful outcome if no party is asked to violate its core principles.

Unfortunately, Gov. Rauner consistently has sought to tie budget negotiation to unrelated policy battles where there is simply no hope of agreement between Democrats and Republicans.

I will continue my efforts to find a different path forward, one that is consistent with the values of our community. Stay tuned to hear more from me on that front; read on for a summary of some of a few issues we've encountered recently in Springfield.

Read more: An update from Springfield: Veto session wrap-up

Category: Latest

Biss12012016With the State of Illinois sorely in need of a budget, it’s essential for Democrats in the legislator and Gov. Bruce Rauner to find common ground. Unfortunately, it appears he is determined to obstruct any good-government measure that isn’t attached to his political agenda.

The latest example is automatic voter registration, a sensible cost-savings measure that many Republicans backed – until the governor decided they shouldn't.

The concept of automatic voter registration is simple. Eligible voters would be automatically registered to vote when they conduct business with certain state government agencies, such as the secretary of state to renew a driver’s license. People can choose not to be registered, and there are safeguards to protect against fraud.

Essentially, automatic registration creates a convenient opt-out system for voters, rather than the more burdensome opt-in system that most states, including Illinois, currently have. This reform would have enabled us to curb redundant government paperwork, clean up the voter rolls and enable taxpayers to save time and money.

In fact, automatic registration is such a good idea in this fast-paced, technology-driven age that five other states have adopted it, most recently Republican-leaning Alaska, and more are considering it.

Read more: Things are stuck in Springfield. Here's why.

Category: Latest

Biss11152016Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement today following the state Senate’s vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of automatic voter registration in Illinois:

“Automatic voter registration is an issue that brought Democrats and Republicans together in the Illinois Legislature in the spring, and it continues to generate bipartisan support all over the country – Alaska being the most recent example.

“I was pleased to join my Senate colleagues in overriding the governor’s misguided veto of this important and sensible legislation. I hope lawmakers in the House will do the same.

“Every day that we carry on with our current, duplicative method of registering voters is another day that taxpayers foot the bill for unnecessary government bureaucracy. Senate Bill 250 has been thoroughly vetted, it makes sense and it should be the law in Illinois.”

Senate Bill 250, the automatic voter registration bill, garnered bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature in the spring but was vetoed during the summer by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Category: Latest

With so much attention focused on the past week's alarming national events, I want to take a moment to update you about developments in Springfield and to assure you that Illinois' pressing financial problems have not been forgotten.

State lawmakers will return to the Capitol this week to consider overriding some of the governor's vetoes of legislation we passed earlier this year.

But that's not the most important matter awaiting our attention. The six-month stopgap budget that we passed in June mostly runs out on Dec. 31. The stopgap spending plan for elementary and secondary schools covers the entire fiscal year, but essentially the rest of the measure was temporary and only guaranteed funding for state operations through the end of 2016 (and, by the way, much of this funding is wholly inadequate even for this calendar year).

If we enter 2017 without another plan in place, Illinois' universities, community colleges, human service providers, businesses and others will face renewed uncertainty, the state's mountain of debt will climb higher and our reputation likely will be further damaged. This is particularly alarming given the deterioration that all these entities have experienced during the long, grueling 18 months we've endured without a proper budget.

Illinois has been in turmoil for a year and a half, and it's not clear that we're any closer to a resolution than we were when the governor took office nearly two years ago.

The uncertainty has to stop. The unnecessary and self-inflicted wounds we're subjecting our social safety net and higher education system to are not only cruel, they are also likely to have extremely long-term negative consequences.

State leaders can’t address any of that until we start working together to find a different path forward. We need a responsible, long-term plan for spending and revenue that fuels the state’s economic engine without targeting working families and the social safety net. The governor has to set aside his radical anti-union agenda if he wants to move forward, and Democrats must come to the table in a spirit of cooperation on the fiscal issues that matter and will make a difference for the state.

My message to the governor is simple: "Let’s work it out. I'm willing to compromise where it's consistent with my basic principles — and you should do the same. We probably won't be able to convince each other on your union-busting agenda, and just as I respect your right to your opinion I hope you respect mine. In the meantime, to move our state out of this mess, let's find the areas where there's a chance at an agreement and tackle those first."

I'll keep you posted.

Category: News

Contact Me

District office:
3706 Dempster St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 568-1250
(847) 568-1256 FAX

Springfield office:
417B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

Email:
biss@senatedem.illinois.gov

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