As promised, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner issued his amendatory veto of SB 1 to protect the state from sending additional dollars to Chicago’s pension system at the expense of Illinois’ 851 schools districts. State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Highland) released the following statement:

“I’m glad Governor Rauner took swift action in order to keep the schools open on time,” said Rep. Meier. “The Governor’s amendatory veto removes additional funds that would have bailed out Chicago Public Schools at the expense of schools downstate. I will support the Governor’s amendatory veto and I will not vote to override his veto.

I have been against SB 1 from day one due to the fact the education bill included a Chicago bailout. Treating our schools equally and the same is the goal. I support the Governor’s plan to fairly fund our schools.”
With back to school approaching in August, the Democrat controlled legislature has delayed sending Governor Bruce Rauner their school funding bill Senate Bill 1 (SB1). The Illinois General Assembly approved SB 1 in late May, yet as of July 19th, the Illinois Senate has placed a hold on sending SB 1 to the Governor as a way to leverage funding to pay for Chicago teacher pensions. According to State Representative Charlier Meier (R-Okawville), “a funding plan that gives a special benefit to Chicago at the expense of schools in my district is a plan I will not support.”

“SB 1 in its current form is nothing more than a bailout for Chicago schools at the expense of schools in our region,” said Rep. Meier. I support the Governor’s plan to fix SB 1 because his plan will provide more funding for downstate schools and it will not bailout Chicago. Governor Rauner’s fix for SB 1 will provide $3.6 million for schools in my district.”

According to the Governor’s office, when SB 1 reaches his desk, Governor Rauner plans to issue an amendatory veto that will result in higher state funding for almost every school district in Illinois. The bill includes a bailout of Chicago’s broken teacher pension system, so Governor Rauner plans to amend SB 1 to remove this from the bill.

SB 1 directs millions of dollars to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and away from school districts in southern Illinois. Under SB 1, the other 851 school districts in the state will receive less funding while Chicago schools would receive a $506 million historical pension payment, resulting in less funding for downstate schools. To make matters worse, CPS recently disclosed they anticipate 8,000 fewer students attending the city’s public schools this fall, making the Governor’s fix to SB 1 even more necessary to make sure downstate schools receive their fair share of school funding.

Rep. Meier added, “I stand in strong support of the Governor’s plan to fix SB 1. I urge the Senate to send their education funding bill to the Governor’s desk immediately in order for the Governor to fix the bill in time for our schools to receive the funding they need to open as scheduled in August.”

To find out how much more your school will get under Governor Rauner’s school funding plan, click here. Enclosed is a chart illustrating how much schools will gain under the Governor’s plan to FIX SB 1 supported by Rep. Meier:
State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Highland) released the following statement after voting against Mike Madigan’s 32 percent permanent income tax hike:

“I listened to my constituents and voted against the permanent income tax hike. The people I spoke with want to see more reforms and cuts before any talk of increasing taxes. I voted against the tax hike since zero reforms came back from the Senate. I supported the Governor’s veto and the taxpayers’ wishes.”
State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) released the statement below following the passage Illinois’ first House budget approved in two years:

“The fact of the matter is our state is penniless, flat out broke. Yesterday, the Illinois House voted to send Governor Rauner a budget which spends $3 billion less than if we were to continue operating without a state budget. In addition to passing a budget, the House approved a 1.25% income tax increase, a proposal I supported. The truth is, this wasn’t easy, I realize a tax increase isn’t popular. However, this was the viable option to keep our state government from shutting down and putting lives at risk.

If the state continues to operate without a budget, it will result in adding more than $22.6 billion to Illinois’ deficit. This year our state government is on pace to spend almost $8 billion more than what is in the bank if we continue to operate without a budget. No budget for two years has resulted in $15 billion in unpaid bills.

Here are the realities we faced that led us to the place we are at today:

1. If we had not acted, as the bond markets opened today, the State would be downgraded to junk status- the first time for any state in the entire country. “Junk” is more than just a clever name. With a junk rating, most institutions legally cannot buy our bonds. This makes our ability to borrow virtually non-existent which is essential to even keeping minimal state services functioning. Without funding, our universities and community college faced de-accreditation. This would gut our institutions of higher education which not only are commercial drivers in the state, supporting entire communities, but provide education and opportunities keeping our students in Illinois to help build the future of our state. Instead, those students would be uprooted in the middle of their education, and they would have to find alternatives, if that is even possible.

2. The Comptroller advises that starting in July the state’s cash-flow will enter a stage where we won’t have enough money to pay our core bills (these include items such as bond interest payments, state employees’ salaries or anything else) because we will only be paying back due bills. In other words, Illinois will have no money at all for expenditures, and being in junk bond status, no ability to borrow. Further, last week a Federal Judge ordered the state to prioritize payment of back due Medicaid payments to the tune of 600 million dollars a month in addition to everything else we are required to pay. It is not an exaggeration to say that there was the very real possibility that the state of Illinois would not be able to survive this added burden.

The fiscal crisis we are faced with today didn’t happen overnight and I applaud the Governor for working to turn our state around. If the legislature does not send reforms to improve the fiscal stability of our state, then I will support Governor Rauner’s amendatory vetoes of the budget we sent him Monday evening. I can’t sit back and watch our state continue to be a national embarrassment.

I want to make this clear, I voted on the revenue and budget bill Monday because we can’t go another two years without a budget. I hope this will leave the door open for a compromise to be worked out that provides property tax relief, creates jobs or otherwise our Governor will and should veto this bill.

In light of the estimated $22 billion deficit and $15 billion in unpaid bills we are faced with today, I made the best decision possible in order to keep the state of Illinois viable for our residents.

As your Representative I was left with two bad choices and only two bad choices. I had to pick the least bad of the two choices. I chose to save the state first and continue to fight for reforms. The other option was unthinkable, and irresponsible. To allow the state to fail is not an option. If I voted to allow the state to fail, the damage would take years if not decades for our state to recover.

I don’t anticipate this tax increase taking affect without major cuts and real reforms enacted for the taxpayers of this state. This may sound like a long explanation, and it is, I feel like I owe it to the taxpayers to let you know why I voted the way I did. I care about the future of our state."

State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Highland) released the statement below following Governor Rauner’s proclamation calling lawmakers back to Springfield for special session June 21st through June 30th:

“It’s time for lawmakers to get back to work by ending this budget impasse. I’m glad Governor Rauner has called a special session in order to jumpstart budget negotiations. For two years in a row the General Assembly has failed to send the Governor a budget which is why we are being called back to work until a bipartisan solution is reached. I am ready to work each day this month until we pass a balanced budget.

Before I was elected to serve in the legislature, Governor Blagojevich called several special sessions which resulted in no action by the General Assembly. I hope the outcome will be different this time due to the fact Speaker Madigan is working with a different Governor. A Governor that actually has a plan to improve our state instead of digging our state deeper into debt.”
"The recent shooting of Jerseyville's police officer reminds me of the sacrifices our men and women in blue give to keep us as safe as possible. I pray for the officer wounded and pray for his recovery. I am close friends with the officers family, they were in my thoughts and prayers when I heard of the tragic news this morning and will continue to pray for the family during this difficult time. Thank you to all of our men and women who serve and protect, your sacrifice does not go unnoticed because you put your life at risk for us all."

-Charlie Meier, State Representative 108th District

With 21 days left until the Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 31st. State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) recently co-sponsored a legislative package to encourage lawmakers to adopt a revenue estimate for Fiscal Year 2018. According to Rep. Charlie Meier, “adopting a revenue estimate is an important step in the budget making process.”

Rep. Charlie Meier co-sponsored House Joint Resolutions 49, 50 and 51, to provide realistic revenue estimates for the upcoming fiscal year 2018 set to begin July 1, 2017.  HJR 49 uses the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) FY2018 revenue estimate of $31.147 billion, HJR 50 uses the FY2018 estimate published by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) of $31.476 billion, and HJR 51 utilizes an average of the COGFA and GOMB revenue estimates, or $31.312 billion, as the starting point for the creation of a balanced state budget.

According to Section 2, Article VIII of the Illinois Constitution, “Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year. Pursuant to this constitutional mandate, it is the duty of the Illinois legislature to adopt a revenue estimate for each and every fiscal year in order to have a basis from which to design a budget that is balanced.” Which means the legislature can’t spend more than what the State will have in the bank account.

Rep. Meier added, “the legislature has yet to agree on a revenue estimate. A revenue estimate will help the legislature craft a balanced budget as required by the Illinois Constitution which is why I agreed to co-sponsor this legislative package. If the legislature adopts a revenue estimate, than it will certainly help steer lawmakers in the right direction towards approving a balanced budget. With less than 21 days until adjournment, the clock is ticking. It’s time to get to work on passing a revenue estimate so we can adopt a balance budget now.”
The Illinois House of Representatives recently adopted House Resolution 327 to congratulate the Chicago Tribune for receiving the 2016 Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism for its three-part series “Suffering in Secret.” The investigative stories identified 1,311 cases of documented harm occurring in state funded group homes for the developmentally disabled since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.

According to State Representative Charlie Meier, “The three-part series published by the Chicago Tribune which exposed the abuse and neglect that unfortunately occurred in group homes throughout the state was  in part due to the Murray Parents Association bringing their concerns to light. The story had to be told in order to further prevent these incidents of abuse and neglect from ever happening again.”

The Bingham Prize honors investigative reporting of stories of national significance where the public interest is being ill-served. These stories may involve state, local or national government, lobbyists or the press itself, wherever an “atmosphere of easy tolerance” exists, as journalist Worth Bingham himself once described public misconduct in his reporting on the nation’s capital.

Rep. Meier added, “This Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism will help ensure the story of abuse and neglect that occurred is not forgotten as it will be printed in newspapers throughout the country. I am hopeful this story will cause other states to reevaluate how they care for the developmentally disabled by making sure what happened in our state doesn’t occur in their state.”
Cardinals Opening Day against the Chicago Cubs is on the horizon, which is something most baseball fans can all look forward to. But there is something else I look forward to happening, and that is for both Democrats and Republicans to work together and approve a balanced state budget.

The Illinois General Assembly held its version of Opening Day on January 11, 2017 when all 118 representatives and 59 senators took the oath of office, marking the first day of business for the new legislature following the November election. It was a fresh start, a new year, and a real opportunity to accomplish what many promised to do after the election – pass a balanced budget. Yet here we are today, halfway through the season we call ‘session’ and the legislature has accomplished little to brag about in the record books except more losses and less victories for the taxpayers.

To make matters worse, two Senate Democrat Leaders recently went on the record to say they don’t believe we will have a budget until after the Governor’s election in November 2018. The unpaid bills are stacking up, our universities and community colleges are exhausting their emergency funds to stay open, healthcare providers are not getting paid. The lack of a state budget is continuing to harm our most vulnerable. The fact that some Democrats are already signaling they are giving up on the taxpayers and giving up on bipartisanship is outrageous.

House Republicans have repeatedly called for action on issues Illinois residents care about such as property tax relief for homeowners, redistricting reform that will give more power to the voters, not the politicians, and furthermore my Republican colleagues introduced a plan to ensure our State can pay down its massive pension debt. Unfortunately, the majority of House Democrats have not shown a willingness to work together on a balanced budget or compromise on any of the issues Illinois residents care about. Instead we are faced with silence and talk of giving up from the other side of the aisle.
The Illinois House of Representatives recently approved legislation directing the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The resolution (HR 34) sponsored by State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) was introduced in light of the abuse and neglect which took place throughout the state in group homes for the developmentally disabled dating back to 2011.

The tragic reports of abuse and neglect came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association’s work with the Chicago Tribune, sparking an investigation by the newspaper, then followed by the Tribune publishing its story earlier this year titled SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities,” in which the newspaper “identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.”

“The audit unfortunately can’t undo the abuse and neglect which occurred, however this audit will help us learn more about what went wrong and how Illinois can improve the quality of care for our most vulnerable,” said Rep. Meier. “DHS has already made improvements, though I am optimistic this audit will further improve how the state properly cares for the developmentally disabled.”

The Illinois Department of Human Services has seven State-operated developmental centers (SODCs) serving approximately 1,800 residents. Individuals also receive services in community-based settings through Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs), which house one to eight residents each otherwise called “group homes”. In 2012, then-Governor Quinn announced a "rebalancing initiative" with the goal of moving individuals from SODCs to community settings. In 2012, the SODC in Jacksonville was closed and the majority of its residents were transitioned to CILAs. Followed by the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia being slated for closure, resulting in some residents being transitioned out of their home they call Murray and being placed into group homes. However, as it stands today, Murray Center is and will remain open.

Rep. Meier added, “There are good CILAs and there are some bad CILAs. My goal is to help make sure unsafe CILAs are a thing of the past.”

State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Highland) released the statement below following Governor Rauner’s annual budget address before the General Assembly:

“I agree with Governor Rauner when he said we must ‘think anew and act anew’. It’s time to look forward instead of what’s behind us. We have an opportunity today to fix our broken state by growing our economy, paying down our debt and passing a balanced budget. We must work together. If so, we can move Illinois forward.”
Illinois State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) was recently chosen by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin to serve as Republican Spokesman for the Agriculture and Conservation Committee. The Spokesman role serves as the top spot for a republican member serving on the important house committee. Rep. Meier replaced retired State Representative Don Moffitt who was appointed assistant director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture effective January 17th.

“I look forward to representing the agriculture and conservation community while serving as spokesman of the committee,” said Rep. Meier. “I grew up on my family farm which is over 112 years old - parts of my family have farmed in America for 200 years. I till the same land my great grandparents tilled years ago. To this day, my family farm is very diverse, we produce corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, and raise beef cattle. It is very important to me to ensure Illinois Ag continues to be a leading producer of corn, soybeans and swine.”

According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, marketing of Illinois' agricultural commodities generates more than $19 billion annually. Illinois' 74,300 farms cover nearly 27 million acres - about 75 percent of the state's total land area. Furthermore, Illinois ranks third nationally in the export of agricultural commodities with $8.2 billion worth of goods shipped to other countries.
On Thursday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a motion in St. Clair County court to stop the Comptroller from sending paychecks to all state employees effective February 28, 2017.

Illinois State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) today released the following statement:

“This is just another political stunt by a Madigan from Chicago. If she really wants to help the legislature pass a budget, then I ask her to please call Speaker Madigan and ask him to sit down and negotiate a balanced budget with both Republicans and Democrats. The state does not have a budget because Speaker Madigan has not shown the willingness to negotiate.

“Lisa Madigan’s attempt to prevent all state employees from receiving a paycheck is foolish and irresponsible. We all want to pass a state budget, but shutting government down and putting lives at risk is not the way we reach an agreement towards a balanced budget.”
Governor Bruce Rauner presented his third annual State of the State today before members of the Illinois General Assembly at the state capitol in Springfield.

Illinois State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) released the following statement:

“Over the last two years Governor Rauner made several notable accomplishments such as delivering $700 million more for our schools, restoring ethical standards to the Governor’s office, creating new jobs, and streamlining state government. The Governor recognized challenges still exist and I agree with him that both Democrats and Republicans must work together. By working together we can get Illinois back on track by increasing jobs and growing our economy. 2017 marks a new session and a new General Assembly, I look forward to working with both parties and the Governor to make Illinois a better state to live and work.”
Charlie Meier (R-Okawville) was sworn into office as State Representative of the 108th District at a ceremony held Wednesday, January 11 at the University of Illinois – Springfield. The year 2017 is important for the legislature as it begins the 100th Illinois General Assembly.

“I’m grateful to return to the House of Representatives for another term,” said Rep. Meier. “I strive to do the very best I can for the individuals and families I represent. Today we are faced with many challenges ahead and passing a balanced budget will be at the forefront.”

Over the last 18 months, the Democrat controlled legislature has failed to pass a balanced budget by only passing unbalanced budget proposals which spend anywhere from $4.5 billion to $7.5 billion more than what the State has in the bank. In 2016, Governor Rauner presented the legislature with two options in order to pass a state budget – work with the Democratic majority on reaching a balanced budget or give the Governor the authority to fashion a balanced budget.

Rep. Meier added, “In addition to passing a balanced budget. I will continue to support legislation that creates more jobs, delivers property tax relief, fully fund our schools, and be a strong advocate for the safety and well-being of our developmentally disabled.”

Rep. Meier is a lifelong resident of Washington County who lives on his family’s Centennial Farm outside of Okawville. A farmer and real-estate developer, Meier has previously served as an elected member of the Washington County Board.   Additionally, Meier has served as a board member for Southwestern Illinois RC&D (a conservation-focused organization), the Vice-Chair of B.C.M.W. (a multi-county social services organization), a longtime member of the Addieville Area Jaycees, and multiple other local organizations.