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State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) is issuing the following statement on Governor JB Pritzker’s Budget Address.

"The one thing Democrats and Republicans should agree on is the severity of the financial problems facing our state and I think the Governor is acutely aware of the state financial issues but the budget he presented does not seem to acknowledge the financial realities of our state.

The Governor focused on all the new ways he is going to spend taxpayer money. I certainly agree that education funding and funding for MAP grants are important but how we pay for these cost increases is a vital question we really did not get answered today.

Of course, the Governor presented ideas such as recreational marijuana and legalized sports betting as ways to pay for all this spending, but none of these sources of revenue are even legal right now.

We are once again focusing on the wrong things when it comes to the state budget. I am all for prioritizing education and other worthwhile budget expenses but funding for these budget items should be based on money we have – not money we think we are going to get. For too long, our budget process has been based on fantasy numbers and not on real math and the end result has been disastrous.

There was little in his speech about ways to grow our economy or to lower the cost of government. Raising taxes is not going to grow our economy. Illinois lost 45,000 residents last year – the most by far of any Midwest state – and there is nothing the Governor said today that is going to make that number better. In fact, what he said today is only going to make that number worse. We needed vision and leadership and good ideas. Instead, all we got is more taxes and more spending. Very disappointing.”
State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) says the minimum wage hike the Illinois House approved today will hurt local businesses throughout the state and make it more difficult for the state to overcome the current financial problems.
The House today approved Senate Bill 1which will increase the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 per hour in six years.

Halbrook said he is disappointed in the actions taken today especially when there were good faith efforts to try to reach a compromise.

“It is not often that you see business groups extending the olive branch to work on a minimum wage increase, but that is exactly what happened,” Halbrook said. “There were considerable efforts to try to reach a compromise, but unfortunately the Democrats put this legislation on the fast track and refused to reach any kind of mutual agreement. This increase is going to hurt downstate communities – especially communities near Illinois’ borders. Not only that, the legislation will increase the cost of state government payroll by more than $1 billion. Taxpayers are going to have pay these costs. Today was not a good day for the State of Illinois.”

Halbrook said Illinois already has a hostile climate for employers and the minimum wage law is only going to serve to make a difficult situation even worse. According to Chief Executive Magazine, Illinois is the third worst state in the country for doing business.

“Illinois has long had a reputation for being unfriendly to job creators,” Halbrook said. “With our excessive workers’ compensation costs, a minimum wage that’s already higher than most of our neighbors, and higher taxes, we really can’t afford to do any more damage to our business climate. There is not a single financial problem in our state that can’t be solved by creating more job opportunities. Our leaders at the state level continue to implement policies harmful to the business community and we wonder why we can’t get out of the current financial mess. Instead of more of the same – we need to be focused on policies that will create jobs and improve our economy.”

State Representative Brad Halbrook has this spring secured positions on key House committees that play a vital oversight role for both state and local governments. In the new 101st General Assembly, Representative Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) will serve as the Republican Spokesman on the House State Government Administration Committee, and will also serve on the House Cities and Villages and House Counties and Townships Committees. 

“With the new, incoming administration in Springfield it’s more important than ever for our district have a strong say in how our state government will operate for the next two years so I’m especially pleased to be able to lead the debate in the State Government Administration Committee,” Rep. Halbrook stressed.

“Discussions continue this spring on the possibility of consolidating some units of local government. That could have a big impact on our district,” Rep. Halbrook added. “The needs of our local communities will always be a top priority, so having a place at the table on the two House local government committees will also be vitally important.”

As the new spring session of the General Assembly gets underway, State Representative Brad Halbrook today announced the first two locations for his spring listening tour that will begin on January 23.

 “In a district as large as ours it can be difficult for everyone who needs help or has an idea to share to travel to one of my district offices. Conducting a listening tour throughout the district is a great way for me to meet one on one with more of the folks that I represent; and the start of the new session is the perfect time for me to gather ideas and suggestions for legislation I can introduce to help our local families and communities,” Representative Halbrook said.

The first two dates and locations are:

 Paris- Wednesday, January 23, noon to 1:30pm in the Edgar County Farm Bureau Building conference room.

 Arthur- Wednesday, January 23, 4:00pm to 5:30pm in the Arthur Village Hall village board room.

Representative Halbrook will be announcing more listening tour dates and locations in the coming weeks. He stressed that local residents are always welcome to call or stop by his Shelbyville office located at 203 N. Cedar (217-774-1306).
At a noontime ceremony at the University of Illinois at Springfield, State Representative Brad Halbrook took the Oath of Office to serve the 102nd District in the new 101st General Assembly. Rep. Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) stressed that new and returning members have big challenges ahead to get Illinois back on firm financial ground.

“Progress has been slow, but I believe there’s reason to be hopeful,” Rep. Halbrook said. “The national economy has strengthened, and if we remain committed to expanding job opportunities, supporting our agriculture industry and holding the line on taxes, we can strengthen our state and local communities as well.”

The Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation is hosting a naming contest for participation by eligible Illinois young adults. Current members of three groups -- Illinois 4-H, Illinois FFA (Future Farmers of America) and the Illinois Junior Horsemen's Council -- are eligible to submit naming ideas. The Foundation will accept naming ideas through Friday, December 14. A winner will be announced on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

The century-old centerpiece of the Illinois State Fairgrounds, an oval arena with Illinois-style clerestory windows, is being re-roofed and partly rebuilt. The Coliseum was temporarily closed to the public in 2016. The building’s original ceiling beams, which were part of the first generation of steel-building technology when the Coliseum rose in 1901, have reached the end of their useful life. The project is being funded with donations of $7.5 million from the private sector. When rebuilt, the Coliseum will resume its role as a place to show horses in saddle and in harness.

Click HERE for more information on the naming contest.