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From the NW Herald:

A proposed bill that would give McHenry County residents the power to abolish townships with a majority vote at the polls is on its way to the desk of the Illinois governor.

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the bill, 33-16, with an amendment that would make the bill effective June 1. The House on Thursday voted, 78-23, to concur with that amendment.

State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) said the bill clearing the General Assembly hurdle represents a "big win for taxpayers."

"It'll be sent to the governor," McSweeney said. He mentioned the infighting drama brewing inside Algonquin Township as an example of why voters should have the ability to abolish local governments. "It’s turning into a statewide embarrassment. They’re a bunch of children that are disgracing local government."
A day after Toni Preckwinkle adjusted the timeline of when she says she first heard claims of questionable behavior by a top aide, political opponents slammed the Cook County Board President for not taking swifter action.

State Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, introduced a House resolution Friday calling on the County Board to investigate Preckwinkle’s “egregious” six-month delay between when Preckwinkle says “an unsubstantiated rumor” was brought to her attention, and when she forced her chief of staff John Keller to resign.

“The story keeps changing,” McSweeney said. “It’s serious stuff, and I think it certainly is the right of the citizens to get all the information.”

Read more at the Sun Times.
From the NW Herald:

Legislation spearheaded by state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, requiring the state to detail how much money is wasted as a result of the state not paying its bills on time has been signed into law.

State law requires the state to pay interest on bills that are more than 90 days late at a 12 percent annual rate, and even sooner for certain medical bills. Illinois’ first Debt Transparency Report showed that taxpayers are on the hook for about $1 billion in late payment interest penalties as of December 2017.

“A billion dollars is going down the drain instead of being used to pay for vital services,” McSweeney said. “That is unacceptable. We need to curb these payments. This legislation will help us do just that.”
Op-Ed from Rep. McSweeney originally published in the NW Herald:

As the late Congressman Jack Kemp said, “If we have better ideas, we will win.” In Illinois, the Republican Party has a good chance to win if we’re bold and stand firmly for lower taxes, less spending and real reform. There should be a GOP “Contract with Illinois” based on a commitment to cut property taxes by 10 percent and roll back the 32 percent increase in the income tax rate that was passed in 2017.

Illinois residents face the highest total combined income tax, property tax and sales tax burden in the nation. Illinois also has the second highest property taxes in the country. Despite the high Illinois tax burden, Moody’s estimates that Illinois’ unfunded pension liabilities stand at about $250 billion and Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation.

Illinois also has a $6.8 billion backlog of unpaid bills.

Predictably, people are leaving Illinois in droves. The Land of Lincoln lost more than 33,000 people net last year and has moved behind Pennsylvania in population to become the sixth most populous state. Illinois also might lose two Congressional seats after the next census.

Illinois is an example of what happens when state leaders decide to ignore tried and true methods of economic growth and instead choose to double down on the disastrous policies of high taxes and out of control spending.

Some politicians are now advocating to replace the Illinois flat income tax structure with a progressive tax structure. The result would surely be another massive tax increase.

Backers of a progressive income tax constitutional amendment claim that the progressive income tax would only target the wealthy. They want the General Assembly and Illinois voters to approve a progressive income tax without knowing the tax rates. If we look at the history of other high tax blue states, we know that most Illinois citizens would end up paying higher taxes.

Many Illinois Democrats like to use California as an example of a progressive state that Illinois should emulate. If 2017 California tax rates are adopted in Illinois, a married couple with $150,000 of taxable income would pay 18.5 percent more in taxes. Illinois families with taxable income above $59,978 would face a state tax rate of 6 percent compared to the already too high Illinois tax rate of 4.95 percent. The highest marginal tax rate in California is effectively 13.3 percent.

Illinois is at a crossroads. Does the state embrace the successful policies of low taxes, deregulation and spending reform or will Illinois continue to follow the destructive path of high taxes?

The first key to promoting economic prosperity in Illinois is to cut property taxes. Specifically, the Illinois General Assembly needs to extend the statewide property tax cap (PTELL) to all units of government (including home rule units of government) and then mandate a 10 percent cut in property taxes levies over two years (5 percent per year). Property tax would then be permanently frozen unless local voters approve an increase.

Local governments will be forced to cut administrative expenses and make hard spending decisions just like hard-working Illinois families are required to do every day. Illinois has 7,000 units of local government. The key to long-term lower property taxes is to give voters the right to consolidate many local governments.

The second transforming item is for the General Assembly to repeal the 32 percent increase in the income tax rate approved last year. The tax hikes are hurting Illinois families and small businesses and driving more people out of the state. The recently approved unbalanced budget, which relies on the revenues from the tax hike, is the wrong approach.

State spending needs to be cut in Illinois. Taxpayers want bold real spending reform in Illinois. They are tired of the waste and mismanagement in state government. Taxpayers have had enough!

The best way to reduce spending is to enact meaningful pension reform. Currently, Illinois gives public employee retirees a 3 percent compounded benefit increase each year. Arizona, like Illinois, has a Constitution that makes changing pension benefits very difficult. The best path for Illinois is to follow the Arizona model and pass a constitutional amendment to limit annual benefit increases. Also, all new workers need to participate in a 401(k) plan.

The next way to reduce Illinois spending is to do a much better job of managing the state’s Medicaid program. Illinois should be actively pursuing multiple innovative waivers that would save money and make the program more efficient. We should also be aggressively fighting to increase the federal government’s unfairly low 50 percent Medicaid matching percentage for Illinois. Many other states are receiving a far higher percentage of federal support.

We have to make sure that the truly needy continue to receive Medicaid, but eligibility needs to be tightened. Approximately 25 percent of Illinois citizens receive Medicaid benefits compared to 17 percent for Wisconsin.

Nationally, tax cut and deregulation policies are helping to produce an economic boom with low unemployment and high growth. It’s time for Illinois Republicans to be bold and run on a platform of cutting property taxes and income taxes. Those are better ideas that will produce a win for real reform.
Springfield, IL – State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) today filed legislation to protect students from predatory educators and ensure accusations against educators are managed properly with the best interests of students in mind. House Bill 5914 makes numerous changes in state law to address the flaws and gaps in legislation and policy that led to Chicago Public School’s gross mishandling of sexual abuse and assault cases that occurred at schools within the district.

“The mistakes made by the schools in Chicago are reprehensible; nothing like this should ever be allowed to happen again,” Rep. McSweeney said. “These cases were handled atrociously by CPS and they were allowed to get away with it because of shortcomings in state law. The Chicago Tribune’s investigation unveiled that while this is a significant issue in Chicago, this is also a statewide problem.”

A Chicago Tribune investigation identified 72 school employees as alleged perpetrators in the last decade in schools all across Chicago. They found that CPS conducted shoddy background checks, which led to the hiring of educators with red flags in their records, several of whom went on to commit abuses at CPS schools. Among those that left CPS after being investigated, several were rehired elsewhere. 

HB 5914 mandates that the Illinois State Board of Education must be aware of, and monitor, the process with regard to each individual background check conducted by school districts. It also amends the Freedom of Information Act to allow school districts to disclose the disciplinary records of school district personnel relating to sexual abuse. It further allows a school district to divulge internal investigative findings and discipline to another school district. Any arresting agency is required to share its reports pertaining to the arrest of a licensed educator with the superintendent of any school district that employs the educator.

In addition, the Tribune’s investigation found significant failures in the way individual schools and the overall district handled cases of sexual abuse. CPS admitted that they do not have a standard protocol for investigating reports of sexual misconduct. HB 5914 will require school boards to report all credible cases of sexual assault or abuse by a licensed educator to the State Board of Education, to establish a hearing procedure for student victims, and to ensure that a licensed educator under investigation by the State Superintendent of Education is reassigned to non-classroom duty. 

Modeled off a Florida law, the bill would also make it a criminal offense for an authority figure to engage in sexual conduct or sexual relations with a student, regardless of age.

“This isn’t just on CPS, these failures exist in state government as well and need to be fixed as soon as possible,” Rep. McSweeney continued. “This comprehensive legislation is a solid start and a good base that we can amend as further policy recommendations are given or more legislative gaps come to light.”

The bill was drafted by Rep. McSweeney and State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park). State Representative Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) is the chief co-sponsor in the Illinois House.
Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board:
If Illinois’ government is going to keep burning money in a garbage can, as one lawmaker puts it, it should at least keep track of how much that’s costing us.

The wasted money — literally over a billion dollars — is cash the state shells out for high interest on overdue bills. Keeping track of that utterly wasted money is the idea behind a House bill that passed unanimously Monday. The bill would require future governors to stop ignoring how much late-payment interest is costing the state each year when they submit their annual proposed budgets.

This is a bill that absolutely should become law.

State Journal-Register Editorial Board:
The House has already taken steps to address this issue by approving House Bill 5814, which if signed into law would require governors to identify and account for the cost of late payment interest penalties in their budget proposals. The idea behind requiring the governor to start with it, according to Mendoza’s office, is that the budget starts with the governor and if it’s included in the first step, legislators can be pressured into following suit.

This shouldn’t be a partisan matter. We are encouraged that the House vote of 101-0 indicates that chamber did not see it as such. It was sponsored by Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, in the House and Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, in the Senate, which gives us hope that legislators can agree on common sense, good-government measures regardless of what letter follows their name.

Better budgeting practices can only help the future. But we can learn from the mistakes of the past. We look forward to this becoming law — and soon.