The Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation last month that would eliminate a pay raise for lawmakers. State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) co-sponsored the legislation.
House Bill 576 will keep the current base legislative salary for State Representatives and Senators at $67,836 for Fiscal Year 2016. The legislation also prevents increases in mileage, lodging and meal reimbursements for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
“We have the 5th highest legislator salaries in the nation and many in the legislature think they deserve another pay raise,” said Rep. Kay. “It’s common sense that legislators should not be receiving a pay raise while our state is buried in debt.”
HB 576 passed the House 101-1 on July 28th and now awaits approval in the Senate.
Kay/McCarter Legislation to Stop Paying Public Aid Benefits to the Deceased Signed by Governor Rauner
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed legislation sponsored by State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) and State Senator Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon) to ensure public aid benefits are not paid to the deceased.
According to a state audit released in February, approximately 5,916 deceased individuals were identified as being eligible for public aid during former Governor Pat Quinn’s administration for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. In fact, $3.7 million in medical costs was paid for 1,111 deceased individuals and 180 public aid recipients enrolled in managed care more than 90 days after date of the individuals’ death.
“When I found out the State of Illinois was paying public benefits to the deceased, it was a no brainer to file legislation to put a stop to the fraudulent spending,” said Rep. Dwight Kay. “When I started looking into the problem I found out that DHS did not have access to the death record database which caused the problem to spiral out of control. This outrageous mistake to pay benefits to the deceased occurred during the Quinn administration and I am glad Governor Rauner signed our bill to clean up the mess he inherited by putting a stop to paying benefits to dead people.”
Public Act 99-0087 requires the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to enter into an agreement granting DHS access to the IDPH electronic reporting system for death registrations. The legislation also requires that public aid recipients who are found to have a death record in the IDPH system, are subject to an immediate suspension of their public aid benefits, including the deactivation of their LINK card upon certification that the death certificate matches the identity of the public aid recipient.
“Some people may think this is a joke, but it’s not. Only in Illinois do we have to pass a law to prohibit dead people from receiving public aid benefits,” said Senator Kyle McCarter. “In the middle of our on-going budget crisis, don’t let anyone tell you that waste, fraud and abuse involving state programs doesn’t exist.”
With session scheduled to adjourn in just a few short days a bill that would keep legislators from receiving their 2% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Fiscal Year 2016 has been introduced in the House. State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) co-sponsored the legislation.
House Bill 4225 will keep the current base legislative salary for Illinois State Representatives and Senators at $67,836 for FY16. “I have always been an advocate for eliminating COLAs for legislators,” said Rep. Kay. “In fact, I introduced legislation earlier this year that would permanently eliminate COLAs for legislators and unsurprisingly the bill didn’t go anywhere. This new bill would certainly be a step in the right direction.”
There is also a large disparity with how much Illinois legislators make compared to neighboring states. While Illinois legislators are currently paid $67,836 a year the average compensation for neighboring states legislators is $31,292.
“We have the 5th highest legislator salaries in the nation and many in the legislature think they deserve another pay raise,” Rep. Kay added. “With the current budget crunch we are in its total nonsense to offer COLAs for legislators.”
On Wednesday the Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation co-sponsored by Illinois State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) to ban the use of red light cameras from being utilized to enforce traffic violations.
“Red light cameras have been abused by the City of Chicago,” said Rep. Kay. “The issue with red light cameras seems to be about revenue and not public safety. Quite often motorists receive traffic tickets imposed by a red light camera without even breaking any traffic laws. To make matters worse, if you are innocent, it can be quite a hassle to receive due process by proving your innocence. Traffic violations should be left to our law enforcement – not cameras."
House Bill 173 would ban red light cameras from being utilized as a tool to send traffic violations to motorists in nine Illinois counties. If signed into law, the bill provides that after January 1, 2017, non-home rule units within the counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Madison, McHenry, St. Clair, and Will are prohibited from enacting or enforcing existing automated red light camera systems. The bill exempts home-rule communities throughout Illinois.
HB 173 passed with 79 voting in favor, 26 voting against, and 4 voting present, the bill now awaits approval in the Illinois Senate.
Many new laws passed by State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) and the Illinois General Assembly will take effect on January 1, 2015.
“I believe it is important to keep the constituents of the 112th District informed of upcoming changes in our laws,” said Rep. Dwight Kay. “A wide variety of legislation was presented to the General Assembly over this last year but there is still much work to be done. I look forward to working with our new Governor in 2015 to bring much needed reforms to Illinois.”
Some of the more notable bills effective January 1 are a ban on police ticket quotas, stricter penalties for methamphetamine production near schools, “sign and drive” in Illinois, and gold star specialty license plates for the sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients.
Ban Police Ticket Quotas
Police Departments throughout the state will no longer be able to issue ticket quotas for their officers come January 1st. “Many people throughout Illinois feel that ticket quotas place unnecessary pressure on officers and forces them to write citations they would not regularly issue,” said Rep. Kay. “This law will help to eliminate these types of situations and help keep departments focused on keeping the public safe and not about bringing in extra revenue.”
Rep. Kay co-sponsored P.A. 098-650 (Senate Bill 3411) which prohibits state and local police departments from having any type of quota regarding tickets. This law would still permit officers to be evaluated on many other key attributes such as the number of traffic stops, completed arrests and crime prevention measures.
Stricter Penalties for Methamphetamine Production Near Schools
Another important law taking effect in January is P.A 098-0980 (House Bill 4093). This law, co-sponsored by Rep. Kay, increases the penalties for anyone who manufacturers methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school. Previously, an individual who produced meth within 1,000 feet of a school could not be found guilty of aggravated participation in methamphetamine manufacturing. With this new law any such offense would be a Class X felony with penalties ranging from 6-60 years in prison.
“One of my top priorities as State Representative is keeping our young people safe,” said Rep. Dwight Kay. “Any individual found guilty of producing methamphetamine near a school should face the consequences for potentially endangering the lives of children.”
“Sign and Drive” Traffic Tickets in Illinois
A new bill prohibiting police confiscation of driver’s licenses for certain traffic tickets will take effect on January 1, 2015. P.A. 098-870 (Senate Bill 2583) will allow Illinois drivers to simply sign the traffic citation for tickets not requiring a court appearance in lieu of relinquishing their license. Signing the citation will not be an admission of guilt.
“Identification is an integral part of our society in today’s world and many people use their driver’s licenses as their main form of identification daily,” said Rep. Kay. “With that being the case it is sensible to allow motorists to keep their drivers licenses for minor traffic offenses.”
Gold Star Specialty License Plates
Sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients will now be able to obtain honorary license plates to remember their loved ones. P.A. 098-869 (House Bill 5475) will finally permit sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients to receive the license plates from the Secretary of State. Prior to this legislation these plates were only available to widows/widowers, siblings and parents of those who gave their life while serving in the US Armed Forces.
“I am quite pleased that the General Assembly was able to come together to allow the sons and daughters of Gold Star recipients to receive honorary license plates,” said Rep. Kay. “This is truly a fitting tribute to the men and women who have fallen protecting our great nation. They will always be remembered.”
For more information about the new laws which will take effect in 2015, please visit www.ilga.gov or http://www.ilga.gov/reports/static/Public%20Acts%20by%20Effective%20Date.pdf to view all new laws effective throughout 2015.
Following a Belleville News-Democrat investigation into Venice School Superintendent Cullen Cullen’s spending habits that uncovered over $5,000 spent on fast food and nearly $18,000 on lavish hotels since September 6, 2013 using taxpayer funds, a further investigation uncovered even more wasteful spending in the years since Cullen took over as the school’s superintendent.
From June 26, 2009 to August 29, 2014, Cullen used the school’s taxpayer-funded credit card to spend $23,532.89 on food purchases, including many fast food lunches. For the same period, Cullen also used the school’s credit card to spend $55,345.56 on lavish hotel stays in downtown Chicago. Most of this happened while the Venice School District was under financial oversight due to the school’s spending problems and performance.
“It’s a shame to uncover more wasteful and abusive spending under Cullen’s watch at the Venice School District, especially since the school was under financial oversight for most of the time period,” State Representative Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) said. “With a salary of nearly $110,000 a year, one would think Cullen could afford to buy his own fast food lunches without having the taxpayers foot the bill.”
From 2003-2012, Venice Community School District #3 was under financial oversight by the Illinois State Board of Education. The oversight panel was tasked with developing an emergency assistance and recovery plan for the troubled school system. Fast forward to 2014, the school district is still the second worst performing school in Illinois even though the school spends $17,000 per student all while Superintendent Cullen repeatedly abuses school district funds to pay for his fast food meals and lavish hotel stays.
Rep. Kay added, “I believe all the taxpayer money spent on fast food and lavish hotels would have been better spent in the classroom helping the student’s achieve the educational success they deserve. I once again call on Cullen to refund the school district for his fast food lunches and to stop wasting taxpayer dollars on himself. If Cullen really cared about saving his school district money, he should have thought twice about buying fast food and should have drove to Chicago instead of flying and he should have chose cheaper hotel accommodations.”
To view Cullen’s Credit Card Purchases since 2009 click on either of the three links: