I will keep this update brief. You can scroll below for a recap of the following topics:
- Reaction to Governor Pritzker’s Budget Address
- “I-Cash” event in DeKalb on March 16
- My new bill to help address Illinois’ teacher shortage
- Schedule for Traveling Office Hours on Fridays in March, April and May
- Opposition to Income Tax Hike on Illinois Families
- Page for a Day – opportunity for youth to join me in Springfield on a day of legislative session
Please do not hesitate to contact my district office in Sycamore if I or a member of our staff may be of assistance to you. You can reach us by phone at (815) 748-3494 or via e-mail at Keicher@ilhousegop.org.
State Representative, 70th District
Reaction to the Governor’s Budget Address
I know your time is valuable, and like me, your family life and other responsibilities keep you pretty busy. That’s why I recorded a quick video, a minute and a half, to share my reaction to the Governor’s budget proposal with you.
Click HERE to watch my video. If you want more detail, please continue reading!
Governor JB Pritzker gave the annual Budget Address to the General Assembly on February 20. The Governor’s introduced Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal estimates general funds revenue at $38.9 billion and proposes $38.7 billion in general funds spending. To help close a $3.2 billion budget deficit, the Governor is proposing pension savings through a ramp extension, new revenues through taxes on new and existing services, and closing so-called “corporate loopholes.” Altogether, the Pritzker Administration estimates a $1.5 billion increase in revenue over FY19.
The Governor’s speech also included a five-point pension reform plan to deal with the State’s $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities. Yet this plan is simply a proposal to extend the $878 million pension payment, which will only prolong the problem and does nothing to fix the system. Shortchanging our pension payment by over $800 million is not the answer, and ignoring this obligation will only add to our troubles down the road.
I was encouraged to hear the Governor emphasize higher education, specifically a 5% increase in funding for our state universities and community colleges, as well as an increased commitment of $50 million to the MAP grant program, which would help as many as 15,000 more students afford to attend college. Strengthening our commitment to higher education and investing in college affordability is one area where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground and deliver results.
Unfortunately, I was concerned by other aspects of the Governor’s speech, which failed to offer solutions to provide property tax relief or embrace needed reforms to make Illinois a more welcoming place for new job creators to locate or enable existing job creators to grow and thrive. Hopefully the Governor will make room for bipartisan ideas to move the state’s priorities in that direction while we work together to achieve our mutual goals to strengthen NIU, our community colleges and higher education throughout Illinois.
Seniors can claim lost funds at I-Cash Event in DeKalb on March 16
Local residents interested in finding out whether the State of Illinois is holding unclaimed funds owed to them are invited to attend my “I-Cash” event at the DeKalb Senior Center to be held from 10:00 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, March 16. The DeKalb Senior Center is located at 330 Grove Street.
The I-Cash program is an important tool to get money in the pockets of local residents that is rightfully theirs. I welcome and encourage you to stop by and find out if you have any money owed to you. It’s quick, easy, and will only take a few minutes of your time.
Common types of unclaimed property include checking and savings accounts, uncashed wage and payroll checks, uncashed stock dividends and stock certificates, insurance payments, utility deposits, customer deposits, accounts payable, credit balances, refund checks, money orders, traveler’s checks, mineral proceeds, court deposits, uncashed death benefit checks and life insurance proceeds. Unclaimed property does not include real estate or vehicles.
I-Cash is administered by the Office of Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. Property is returned to the original owner or their heirs at no cost with the proper identification. Staff from the Treasurer’s Office will be on hand to assist guests with filing claims of any funds owed to them. Each unclaimed property claim requires a minimum of a completed and signed claim form, a copy of photo identification and social security number. Individuals who are already aware the State owes them money but just need assistance filling out the claim form are welcome to attend our event as well.
For questions or more information, please call my office at (815) 748-3494.
Keicher files bill to help address Illinois’ teacher shortage
I have filed new legislation to help address Illinois’ need to recruit more teachers. House Bill 3364 aims to help mitigate Illinois’ teacher shortage by providing financial assistance, by way of the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant, to a person who is in enrolled in an educator preparation program approved by the state.
Currently, if a person has a received a baccalaureate degree, they are ineligible to receive a MAP grant. Under my bill, if you are going back to school after receiving a degree to become a teacher and enroll in a program to receive a teaching certificate, you could be eligible for a MAP. The goal is to encourage someone who has already received a degree and has a desire to become a teacher, but unable to do so financially, to go back and get their certification. To be eligible, a person must also agree to teach in Illinois for 5 years after receiving a Professional Educator License.
Illinois has many of the finest teachers in the country, but the fact is, we need more of them. My bill can help us do that, by making the MAP grant program available to eligible students in financial need who return to school in order to earn their teaching certification.
The Monetary Award Program (MAP) provides grant assistance to eligible students demonstrating financial need. MAP grants are applied toward tuition and mandatory fees for undergraduate students, not to exceed the maximum award amount for the academic year. Approved Illinois public and private two- and four-year colleges, universities, and certain other degree-granting institutions participate in the MAP grant program.
To determine financial need, an applicant completes and submits the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after October 1 preceding the academic year for which they are applying. Funding for the MAP grant is limited; to ensure full-year consideration for an award, an applicant must apply early.
Schedule for Traveling Office Hours on Fridays in March
Have questions or concerns on state issues or legislation that you would like to share with me? While you’re always welcome to call, e-mail, or stop by my new District Office in downtown Sycamore located at 158 W. State Street, Suite C any time during the year, I recognize that it may be more convenient for you to visit a location closer to where you live.
We’re excited to offer Traveling Office Hours in Cortland, Campton Hills, Kingston, Hinckley and Burlington in March to give local residents a chance to give us feedback in-person in their own community. For those who work weekdays, we will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting with Senator Dave Syverson on Tuesday evening, April 23 in DeKalb. Stay tuned for details on that.
Constituents who stop by the Traveling Office Hours will be able to meet with a member of my staff, who will collect information to bring back to me for a personal review and follow-up.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of March:
FRIDAY, MARCH 8
12:00 P.M. TO 2:00 P.M.
Campton Hills Community Center
5N082 Old LaFox Rd., St. Charles
FRIDAY, MARCH 15
12:00 P.M. TO 2:00 P.M.
Kingston Village Hall
101 E. Railroad St., Kingston
FRIDAY, MARCH 22
12:00 P.M. TO 2:00 P.M.
Hinckley Community Center
120 Maple St., Hinckley
FRIDAY, MARCH 29
12:00 P.M. TO 2:00 P.M.
Burlington Village Hall
175 Water St., Burlington
Looking further ahead, we’ll be in Maple Park on April 5, Hampshire on April 12, DeKalb on April 19 and in Kirkland on April 26. In May, look for us in Kaneville on May 3 and in Big Rock on May 10.
Thanks to the folks in Genoa who stopped by our Traveling Office Hours two Fridays ago, and everyone in Cortland who met us at the Cortland Town Hall this past Friday, March 1.
Keicher Signs on to Oppose Income Tax Hike on Illinois Families
I signed on to co-sponsor House Resolution 153 last week, legislation stating opposition to any measure that would allow for the creation of a graduated income tax on Illinois residents.
Before we push full steam ahead to enact a Graduated Income Tax, I believe we must conduct a thorough and comprehensive review of state spending so that we can provide greater accountability to taxpayers. I’m co-sponsoring legislation to do that, House Bill 275. Furthermore, I am concerned that we have not seen the rates that proponents of the Graduated Income Tax seek to impose. Let’s see the data, let’s see the numbers. Show us the plan, not just the idea. Last year’s version of the Graduated Income Tax, HB 3522, raised tax rates starting at incomes of $17,800 and above. I could not support any plan that raises income taxes on low income and middle income families.
Page for a Day – Opportunity for Youth to Visit House of Representatives “In Action”
Do you have a child in grades 7-12 who would like to visit Springfield to serve as an Honorary Page for a Day in the Illinois House of Representatives? My office is currently accepting applications for session dates between now and May 31. Space is limited, so please e-mail my office at email@example.com ASAP to reserve a date. Please use “Page for a Day” as the subject line of your e-mail.
To apply, please provide your child’s name, address, school and grade level. Also let us know what date(s) your child is available to Page. To see the calendar of upcoming session dates, please click HERE.
Pages get to be on the House floor during the legislative session, witnessing democracy in action. They can also receive a tour of the State Capitol and meet with me in my Springfield Office. For questions or more information, please call my District Office at (815) 748-3494.
State Representative Jeff Keicher