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State Representative Brad Halbrook (R- Shelbyville), announced today that his district office operations has saved the taxpayers of Illinois $15,998.61 and will be returning that amount back.

“I think that government bureaucracy has grown too large and spends too much of our residents’ hard-earned money,” declared Rep. Brad Halbrook, a small businessman and member of the Cities & Villages Committee as well as the Counties & Townships Committee in the Illinois House. “I feel that I need to continue to set an example and make cuts in spending if I am expecting other government entities to do the same.”

Rep. Halbrook established shorter hours of operations in his district office while maintaining the Springfield staff Monday through Friday. Though his district includes all or parts of seven central Illinois counties reaching to the Indiana border, Halbrook feels that constituent concerns can be handled efficiently with the increased use of technology.

“Most people can reach the office through phones and emails today and the volume of postal mail is not what is used to be,” added Halbrook. “Also, constituents can stay apprised of what is going on in Springfield through my web blog at RepHalbrook.com and through social media like Facebook.”
Illinois residents pay some of the highest taxes in the nation and unfortunately for Illinois taxpayers the situation is only getting worse.

In April, WalletHub ranked Illinois the highest taxed state in the country. Just three months later the Democrat-controlled Legislature passed a 32 percent permanent income tax hike making the situation even worse. Included in that figure is the second highest property tax burden in the nation.

Illinois has 7,000 units of local government. It is no wonder the Illinois tax burden is so high. But what makes the situation even more egregious is the stockpiling of funds that far exceed the amount of money a local unit of government needs to operate.

For example, Shelbyville Township levied $511,234 in taxes in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The Township had $1.19 million in reserves at the time which meant the Township had $1.7 million in cash on hand for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Their expenses that year totaled $443,702. With the cash on hand the Township could have completely eliminated the tax levy altogether and still operated for nearly 4 years.

This spring, I introduced legislation (HB 1896) to address the issue of townships stockpiling cash reserves. The measure places a cap on the accumulation of Township funds, other than the Capital Fund, to 2.5 times the average annual expenditure [of each fund] of the previous 3 fiscal years. The measure has now been signed into law.

It is an affront to taxpayers for townships to continue to collect the highest tax levies possible when it is not needed. As taxpayers, we accept that it is our civic duty to pay our taxes. We understand units of government need tax money to operate but it is not fair to taxpayers for units of local government to take in far more in taxes than they actually need to operate.

There is nothing wrong with local governments having some cash reserves. Emergencies do happen and the responsible thing to do is to make sure there are funds available to adequately address those situations. But in the case of Shelbyville Township, having four times the operating budget in reserves goes far beyond an emergency fund.

It is time we took a hard look at the number of units of local government we have here in Illinois and how we might lower our state’s tax burden. Illinois taxpayers need property tax relief. I believe this new law is a step in the right direction. It is my hope we can build on this new law and enact even more meaningful reforms in the near future.
Equifax, an Atlanta based credit-rating agency, suffered a security breach on July 29th that exposed sensitive information of millions of Americans. Such information included social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, birthdays, and addresses. It has been determined that 5.4 million Illinois residents have been affected by the breach. 

The company has set up a website where you can check if your personal information was affected by the breach: www.equifaxsecurity2017.com

Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into the recent security breach, and called on Equifax to provide free credit freezes to all Illinois residents in the wake of the breach. She urges Illinois residents to take the Equifax breach seriously and take steps to protect themselves from the possibility of identity theft:

· Seriously consider placing a credit freeze on your credit reports with all 3 consumer reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax;

· Regularly request your free credit reports, inspect them closely, and promptly dispute any unauthorized accounts;

· Inspect all financial account statements closely and promptly dispute any unauthorized charges;

· Consider placing alerts on your financial accounts so your financial institution alerts you when money above a pre-designated amount is withdrawn;

· Beware of potential phishing emails; don't open any email messages or attachments from unknown senders and do not click on any unknown links. Fraudsters will frequently send coercive and misleading emails threatening account suspension or worse if sensitive information is not provided. Remember, businesses will never ask customers to verify account information via email. If in doubt, contact the business in question directly for verification and to report phishing emails; and

· Be on the lookout for spoofed email addresses. Spoofed email addresses are those that make minor changes in the domain name, frequently changing the letter O to the number zero, or the lowercase letter l to the number one. Scrutinize all incoming email addresses to ensure that the sender is truly legitimate.

With questions on the data breach, you can contact Equifax at 866-447-7559, or the Illinois Attorney General’s Identity Theft Hotline at 1 (866) 999-5630.

Compromise legislation included equitable funding for districts, more school choice for families

CHICAGO (Aug. 31, 2017) – Flanked by school children and legislative leaders, Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed historic school funding legislation that puts children first and makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come.

“The passing of this historic legislation was no easy feat, but it’s a reminder of the good things we can accomplish when we put politics aside and focus on what’s important: our children and our future,” Gov. Rauner said. “I am proud to sign this bill, which will bring more money to school districts based on the needs of the children, guaranteeing that all Illinois students have access to adequate education funding.”
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R- Shelbyville), is pleased that a school funding plan has finally passed the Illinois House and now goes to the Illinois Senate for consideration. It took two tries but finally Senate Bill 1947 passed which is a compromise piece of legislation to provide adequacy and fairness for all school districts in Illinois.

“I know this proposal is not perfect but it will give some mandates relief to school districts and expands school choice for parents and students,” Rep. Halbrook said. “This legislation finally puts the state on a path to equitable school funding and no one loses in this compromise legislation. Also, the proposal to bail out Chicago Public Schools’ pension costs was taken out of this funding formula.”

This legislation would give the four legislative leaders the power to expedite those waivers. As well, physical education (PE) requirements would be rolled back from five days per week to three, and more students who play sports can be exempted from PE. Drivers' education can be outsourced to private providers, which is common in many states.

This legislation would allow local voters to reduce their districts' educational property tax levy by up to ten percent, but only if the levy wasn't lowered below what's considered to be 110 percent of "adequacy." Ten percent of all registered voters in a school district would have to sign a petition to get the measure on the ballot. The new private school scholarship tax credit program in this historic piece of legislation is expected to be a big benefit for many schools. This tax credit program is a pilot program that would need to be renewed in five years when it's due to sunset.

“I am pleased with the compromised legislation that includes a pilot program to allow for a tax credit program to allow for scholarships to low-income children to be able to attend a school of their choice,” added Rep. Halbrook. “There is also an opportunity for taxpayers to receive property tax relief and this is a good thing for the over-taxed people of Illinois,” concluded Halbrook.

Project would come through Shelby County in the 102nd District


The planned 3,500-megawatt high-tension power line has been proposed to deliver electricity from Kansas to western Indiana. Crossing Missouri and Illinois, the projected 780-mile-long Grain Belt Express would be used to deliver wind-generated energy from the Great Plains to the northeastern United States. Beneficiaries would include electricity suppliers and their customers in places like Ohio and western Pennsylvania where power has traditionally been generated from burning coal. Many Illinois residents, along the route to be followed by the Grain Belt Express high-tension line have expressed concern about health threats that the electric line could generate. The line would run through many counties and small cities in central and southern Illinois, including Alton and Effingham.

In a move that is significant to the entire length of the projected line, the Missouri Public Service Commission (Missouri PSC) has rejected the application by Grain Belt Express to run the line through the “Show Me State.” This move marked the second time that Missouri PSC has rejected Grain Belt’s application, and the repeated position places completion of the line, may now be under some pressure to change the parameters of its proposal, or to drop the project altogether.
Rep. Halbrook (center standing) at the signing
of HB 643 by Gov. Rauner at the State Capitol.
Today, Governor Rauner signed House Bill 643, which was co-sponsored by State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) and recieved bipartisan support in both chambers. The bill eliminates a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for fiscal year 2018. The bill also puts a cap on per diems received by legislators during session.

Rep. Halbrook said that passing HB 643 was the fiscally responsible thing to do for Illinois as a whole which is evident by the overwhelming bipartisan support it received.

“It has been clear to everyone involved that signing House Bill 643 into law was the right thing to do,” Halbrook said. “Illinois’ finances are not in order and to think we as legislators should give ourselves a pay raise is offensive to taxpayers. I applaud the Governor for signing HB 643 and both sides of the aisle for showing tax payers the respect they deserve.”

Along with eliminating the cost of living adjustments for FY18, the bill sets legislative per diem rates at $111 per session and mileage reimbursement at $0.39 dollars per mile, which are the same rates that have been used since 2012.

Watch the WAND Channel 17 (NBC) video of the signing here.