Today the Governor will deliver his "State of the State" address to a joint session of the General Assembly at the Illinois State Capitol in the House Chambers. For those who are interested, you may watch the live video or listen to the live audio at the Illinois General Assembly web site (ILGA.GOV) by clicking on the link HERE.

If you have problems connecting at the House link,
the address will also be streamed
on Facebook Live and at the following links:

Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order declaring it impermissible for state legislators to represent clients before the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board, which hears appeals of assessment decisions made in the state’s 102 counties.

Calling the practice a “clear conflict of interest that must end,” Rauner said the order, which is effective immediately, is a key step toward restoring public trust and motivating lawmakers to tackle meaningful property-tax reform.

“We have a deeply flawed and overly complicated property-tax system that recent investigations have shown results in inequitable, disproportionately high property-tax burdens on low-income residents — not to mention our property taxes overall are simply too high,” Rauner said. “For any legislator to profit from this system undercuts the public’s faith that they are in office to do what’s best for their constituents.

“Legislators who make money representing clients who are appealing their property-tax assessments have little incentive to do what’s right when it comes to property-tax reform,” Rauner continued. “Frankly, they have everything to gain from the status quo. The action I’m taking today marks the beginning of the end of a dubious era.”

The order:

*Directs members of the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board to prohibit state legislators from participating in appeals coming before them.

*Directs the board to prohibit legislators from receiving any fee or compensation, directly or indirectly, through any interest in a partnership, limited liability corporation or other business entity representing clients before it.

*Notes a State of Illinois Code of Personal Conduct requirement that government be conducted in a transparent, ethical, accountable and motivated manner.

*Points out that state officials and employees “may not engage in outside employment or activities, including seeking or negotiating for employment, that conflict with their official state duties and responsibilities,” according to the conduct code.

*Directs the board to amend its rules and procedures to reflect the executive order.

The Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board hears about 30,000 appeals a year, approximately three-fourths of them from Cook County.

“Conflicts of interest clearly arise where legislators and regulators receive financial benefits by charging Illinois citizens and businesses through a morass of red tape those same officials created by passing complicated rules and establishing confusing and bureaucratic processes,” the executive order states.

Crippling taxes overall and an onerous property-tax system are eroding the state’s ability to thrive and driving homeowners and small businesses toward insolvency — and increasingly, toward the border.

While property taxes are cited frequently as a top reason for leaving Illinois, the state is duty-bound to take concrete steps to correct the system, Rauner said. He noted the state’s population declined by an estimated 33,700 in 2017, the greatest numeric population loss of any state, and the fourth year in a row that Illinois’ population dropped.

“Illinoisans are tired of a rigged system that allows lawmakers to profit at their expense,” Rauner said. “I’m here to fight on their behalf.”

"Even though there's a budget, we have people that are hurting and that have needs that need to be met," said state Rep. Dave Severin, R-Benton. "So we've got to be realistic and address things that can help people go forward."

Read the story and see the broadcast video from WSIL ABC TV 3 by clicking here.

State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton) announced that the following school districts will be receiving grant money from the Secretary of State’s School Library Grant Program:

                                          Benton CHSD #103 - $750.00

                                          Benton CCSD #47 - $819.00

                                          Carterville CUSD #5 - $1,571.25

                                          Christopher Unit School District #99 - $750.00

                                           Johnston City CUD #1 - $794.25

                                           Marion CUSD #2 - $2,875.50

                                           Crab Orchard CCU #3 - $750.00

                                           Sesser-Valier CUSD #196 - $750.00

                                           Thompsonville CUSD #174 - $750.00

                                           Frankfort CUSD #168 - $750.00

“The School Library Grant Program is intended to provide more library books and materials for public school students across the state," Rep. Severin said. "I am excited to see so much money is coming to the schools in our district. I know from my experience as a member of the Benton School Board, libraries often times get short changed in favor of other school programs. These funds will greatly help our public schools provide their students with access to quality libraries.”

Statewide, the program awarded $1.2 million to public schools. Qualifying school districts had to apply for the grant and have a functional library in the district. The amount of money each district received was based off of school enrollment from the Illinois State Board of Education.

“As a former public school teacher and administrator, I know our school libraries are very important in helping students learn and prepare themselves for the future,” said Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Jesse White. “Illinois was the first state to implement a school district grant program for libraries, and I am pleased that we can continue to provide them with some of the financial resources they need to produce well-educated students.”