Good things are happening in Cherry Valley! Today there was a groundbreaking for Happy Life Laundromat by Cherry Bowl. This is a state-of-the-art facility that will use high-efficiency equipment and isn't coin operated. You will use a debit/credit card to load money onto a Happy Life Laundromat frequent shopper reward card. Congratulations and thank you to all the partners that made this happen for the community.

Thank you to the Illinois Collation of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) for helping me host a citizenship workshop. Navigating the U.S. citizenship process can be challenging and these workshops allow applicants to have their questions and concerns addressed by knowledgeable individuals. I was delighted that many individuals both young and old took advantage of this opportunity.     

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) participated in the groundbreaking for the new McDonald’s in Rockton on Wednesday. The new restaurant will be at the corner of Rockton Road and Quail Trail, 4567 E. Rockton Road. Applications for employment at the new McDonald's will be accepted in October, with the restaurant set to open in mid-December. To read more, please click HERE

By Scot Bertram | Illinois News Network

A new law is designed to protect Illinois consumers from years of back-billing by local utility providers.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, says previously there was no limit as to how many years of payments could be recovered if a local, municipal utility discovered an issue.

“There’s been numerous instances locally and around the state, where through no fault of the customer, municipalities or sewer plants have gone back and required that they back bill as much as ten years,” Sosnowski said. “That’s just way too much of a burden for something that’s not the consumer’s fault.”

Sosnowski says the amounts owed can be enough to cause enormous hardship for individuals or businesses in the state...
SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement tonight following final passage of a bipartisan compromise on education funding reform, Senate Bill 1947, which was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 73-34-3:

"This compromise bill brings a scholarship system to Illinois that will allow students from all walks of life to access excellent schools and will allow parents the opportunity to choose which type of education best fits their family. If families are in failing school districts, they will have alternatives. "

# # #
State Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD – A new bipartisan law co-sponsored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) will enable local school districts to keep more of the federal funds designated for them by the U.S. Department of Education by reversing a provision in state law that, until now, allowed the State to withhold a significant portion of those funds to cover teacher retirement costs. House Bill 656, recently signed into law as Public Act 100-0340, ensures that local school districts across Illinois, including Rockford Public Schools District 205, will get to keep federal funds provided to them under Title I and Title II  for the normal costs of the employer’s share of a teacher’s retirement contribution. House Bill 656 is estimated to save Rockford Public Schools District 205 an estimated $1.69 million.

“This new law is a victory for local school children, teachers and parents in Rockford and in every part of our state,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “Local school districts will now receive the federal funds owed to them for normal teacher pension costs, which the State of Illinois has been unfairly withholding from them to pay for the state’s own mistakes of the distant and recent past.”
School choice programs provide families with the opportunity to choose the academic environment that best matches their students’ educational needs, rather than being restricted to attending a school based only on where they live. Many low-income families face financial barriers limiting where their children can attend school, and as a result are sometimes forced without other options, to attend failing schools. Charter schools have helped create some options.

A recently proposed scholarship program attempts to increase school choice opportunities for all families by creating a state-funded program where individuals and corporations can donate to a scholarship program and receive a “dollar-for-dollar income tax break” based on their program contribution. A Chicago Tribune Editorial supported the initiative, calling it “a lifeboat for families trapped in chronically underperforming schools”. Seventeen other states have a similar tax-credit scholarship program.

Opponents have condemned the proposed program, arguing that it will hurt public school districts. David F. Larson, a superintendent of Glenbard Township High School District 87 wrote in the Chicago Tribune to “beware of snake oil salesman”, and ultimately to avoid scholarship proposals because it would funnel tax revenue away from public schools. This is a legitimate concern if you are looking to protect the monopoly of public education.  The reality is that parents deserve a choice especially in cases where there are underperforming school districts.  We in state government should do everything we can to empower parents, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
A new law spearheaded by State Representative Joe Sosnowski will protect consumers from being back-billed for years of local utility charges caused by the utility’s own error. House Bill 3400, recently signed into law as PA 100-0178, ensures that families and businesses served by local, municipal utilities will now enjoy the same back-billing protections as customers served by larger utility companies in Illinois.

“Before the signing of this bill, municipal utility billing companies could back-bill a customer for 10 years or more when the municipality itself erred on billing,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “The new law prevents residents from being gouged with years and years of bills when the utility was the one at fault.”

Unaccounted for water or sewage service can happen because of a lack of meters or the utilities own billing mistake.  But once the error is discovered, Rep. Sosnowski stressed,  there was previously very  little in the way of limitation on how far back a local public utility could go to seek compensation for the unbilled service. In the Village of Greenfield, the local sanitary district mistakenly stopped billing residents in 2009 as the City of Joliet had assumed providing that service. The city of Joliet back-billed residents in Greenfield for $197,000 in unpaid sewage service in 2015.  Bills for $2,000 went out to about 100 Greenfield residents.

Under Rep. Sosnowski’s new law, municipal utilities will only be allowed to back-bill residential customers for up to 12 months of unbilled charges and non-residential customers for up to 24 months.

“Other public utility providers are regulated by the Illinois Commerce Commission and already had regulations in place limiting back-billing for usage discovered at a later date. Families and businesses served by utilities run by their municipalities now have equal protection,” Rep. Sosnowski said.
State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is sponsoring new legislation to repeal the costly Cook County “pop tax”. Rep. Sosnowski this week joined a number of his House Republican colleagues calling for prompt consideration of House Bill 4082 which would eliminate the new tax on sugary beverages that will not only cost families more at the grocery store, but could cost Illinois jobs and more than a billion dollars in economic activity.

The tax, which went into effect on August 2, imposes a new one cent per ounce tax on sweetened beverages sold in Chicago and Cook County. It will result in Cook County consumers having to pay on average 67 percent more for a 2-liter of pop, 43 percent more for a gallon of juice drink or sweetened iced tea, and 29 percent more for a 12-pack.

“Families are still reeling from the 32% state income tax increase forced on them this summer and
now they’re hit with another government cash grab that will do more harm than good. This ‘pop tax’ needs to be repealed,” said Rep. Sosnowski.

The City of Philadelphia recently enacted a similar, 1.5-cent-an-ounce tax on sweetened beverages and found that following implementation beverage sales fell by as much as 50 percent and more than 400 jobs were lost. Rep. Sosnowski noted that an economic analysis indicates that the “pop tax” impact on Cook County could be even worse, potentially resulting in a loss of 6,100 jobs, $321 million in lost wages and $1.3 billion in lost economic activity. In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently notified Cook County that portions of the tax were illegal and that the state could stand to lose more than $86 million in federal funding if the problems are not resolved.

House Bill 4082 would repeal the new Cook County ‘pop tax” and prevent any home rule county from imposing a tax on sweetened beverages based on volume sold.

 “We all know this type of tax doesn’t work. It will never raise the amount of revenue projected, but it will most certainly hurt Illinois families and businesses, and that’s why nearly 90% of Cook County residents oppose it,” Rep. Sosnowski said.

 Rep. Sosnowski wants to know what you think about the Cook County “pop tax”. Click “Support or Oppose the Pop Tax” in the right hand margin of this website to weigh-in.
Today Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) joined with community members to welcome Aunt Martha's new Rockford Community Center at Swedish American Hospital. Aunt Martha's continues to set a remarkable example of what it means to treat more than just symptoms; but to help men, women, and children of all ages live healthy active lifestyles. The partnership between Swedish American Hospital and Aunt Martha's will have countless benefits for our community.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) hosted a coffee talk at Sophia's Restaurant in Roscoe this morning. Special thanks to all those who were able to attend. Rep. Sosnowski appreciated your questions and listening to your concerns.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski
We already have an overly complicated funding formula that is near impossible to explain to the average Illinois resident.  The newly proposed evidenced-based formula, Senate Bill 1, makes our current formula look simple in comparison.  Unfortunately, it essentially says that we are underfunding our schools to the tune of billions of dollars.  Essentially by passing this new formula, we are setting the pathway for more taxes in the future to fulfill the financial demands from the formula.  Additionally, the formula doesn’t change outputs.

Ohio, North Dakota, Arkansas and Wyoming have all had “evidence-based” funding in place, yet in all those states, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, not only has student achievement on NAEP tests failed to grow at the rate the evidence-based funding model promises, but achievement has been virtually flat.
ROSCOELocal residents with questions or concerns on issues impacting the State of Illinois are invited to attend “Coffee Talk with Joe” hosted by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) at Sophia's Restaurant in Roscoe on Tuesday, August 15.  The event is free and open to the public. Coffee will be provided courtesy of Representative Sosnowski:

Coffee Talk With Joe
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
8:00 am to 9:00 am
Sophia's Restaurant
5467 Bridge Street
Roscoe, IL 61073

“Community coffees are a valuable opportunity for me to listen to the concerns of local residents firsthand,” Representative Sosnowski said. “We are at a critical juncture in state history in terms of the budget, state spending, taxes, and the investments we make in education, public safety and many other areas. I encourage everyone who has questions, comments or concerns to come make their voice heard at my coffee talk in Roscoe.”
ROCKFORD Winnebago and Boone County families are invited to attend State Rep. Joe Sosnowski’s annual Kids’ Health and Safety Fair, to be held from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm on Saturday, August 5 at Rockford Christian Schools, located at 1401 N. Bell School Road in Rockford. The event features over 50 health and safety booths from local organizations, businesses and government agencies that provide a wide range of educational, health and child care, recreational programs and other activities for kids.

Other special attractions include the popular Cool Vehicles exhibit featuring over 20 trucks and emergency vehicles for kids to see and interact with; as well as a car seat safety check, bouncy houses, petting zoo, Knocker Ball, a free kids identification kit and diabetes screening. Guests are encouraged to bring a donation of canned food items to enter the raffle for prizes and giveaways. Admission to the Kids’ Health & Safety Fair is free and open to the public:
ROCKFORD – State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) will host his 2017 Ice Cream Social for local kindergarten through sixth grade students who participated in his ‘To the Library & Beyond! Summer Reading Program’ on Wednesday, July 26, from 5-7 p.m. at Peak Sports Club, located at 4401 Peak Drive in Loves Park. 

“This year’s summer reading program, “To the Library and Beyond!” featured the theme of space exploration as a way to illustrate to kids the unlimited paths of adventure they can discover through reading,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “We will be recognizing the readers who completed the program with ice cream, certificates and some great prizes.” 

Participants were allowed to choose their own books and were asked to complete and return a list of books read before attending the ice-cream party. At the celebration, the summer readers will enjoy ice cream, receive prizes for their achievement as a summer reader, and also be entered for the chance to win various gift cards to Barnes and Noble.
ROCKFORD – State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today on Senate Bill 1, the education funding reform bill waiting to be transmitted to the Governor:

“Instead of looking for ways to ensure the best for our children and school districts, Democrats are holding school funding hostage in order to play politics and pay into a broken and unfair system. The fact is, South Beloit School District 320 would lose over $181,000 in new funding under Senate Bill 1 compared to our alternative education funding reform plan, Senate Bill 1124, which would provide an increase of $556,918 to South Beloit students and classrooms."

"Our kids’ education is too important not to get this right. We should reject Senate Bill 1 which shortchanges our local school districts at the expense of the Chicago Public Schools system. The idea of school funding reform is to help all children in Illinois prosper and South Beloit school children deserve fair funding. Senate Bill 1 diverts their resources and other Winnebago and Boone County schools to Chicago, a city that hasn't increased property taxes to fund schools like the rest of the state."

The Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc proposed rail line is a poorly constructed proposal. As a concerned citizen and legislator I signed onto Illinois House Resolution 437 (HR437), which opposes the Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. proposed rail line that would run through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. This resolution passed the House with a vote of 103-0 on June 29, 2017.

This is a massive proposal that is very costly and has a significant number of moving parts. At this time no state or federal dollars are allocated for the project, it is a private investment.  I will continue to ensure accountability and transparency as this project develops.

- State Rep. Joe Sosnowski

Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORD--- On July 6, 2017, the State House of Representatives overturned Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a 32% permanent state income tax hike and $36.5 billion spending plan by a vote of 71-40. These bipartisan veto overrides were supported by 14 Republicans and 57 Democrats ending the more than 2-year budget impasse.

“It is very unfortunate that Springfield passed yet another massive tax increase, this time permanent, which will continue to drive businesses and taxpayers out of our state,” said State Representative Joe Sosnowski. He added, “In 2011 Illinois decided to temporarily raise its income tax to deal with its fiscal mismanagement rather than implement structural reforms and spending reductions. In response, outward migration skyrocketed. When people move they take their income and talent with them. This budget relies on the same broken policies that have destroyed our state for years.”
Budget Veto Override

On July 4th, the day we celebrate our sovereignty and reaffirm our country's commitment to freedom and liberty a budget was passed that further protects an entrenched leadership, broken political system, and fiscal absurdity. Governor Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 42 (SB42) which implements a permanent 32% income tax increase, inadequately addresses our fiscal crisis, and does nothing to overhaul the root problems of our economic deficiencies. Illinois cannot continue a tax and spend approach. Furthermore, bond rating agencies have warned Illinois to quit the gamesmanship and address the festering problems that continue to plague our economic recovery.

The people of Illinois, the social service providers in Illinois, businesses, and vendors of our great state deserve a budget that timely issues payment and is fiscally responsible. Illinois needs reforms. A tax increase only rewards our government for its heinous mismanagement and financial ineptitude. 
ROCKFORD– State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) passed legislation on concurrence from the Senate today to allow for the creation of adult learning education centers to issue high school diplomas in accordance with the guidelines outlined in the bill. The bill, House Bill 2527, is important because it allows adults who have "aged out" (21 or older) of being able to obtain a high school diploma from a high school to obtain an actual diploma, not a GED.

“This provides a new opportunity to combat low educational attainment,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “I am pleased that the Senate has alleviated any concerns with funding for this legislation and it is on its way to becoming law.”

Furthermore, this bill does not appropriate any tax dollars from the state. Funds for these centers are through private donations or other financial resources. No state funding for current programs will be diverted to this new effort.

This legislation will provide greater opportunities for residents of all ages to pursue not only their high school diploma, but additional college coursework and credentials that will positively change their employment and economic outlook.  We are grateful to Representative Sosnowski and all our local elected officials for their vision and leadership in this endeavor and look forward to the next step,” said Courtney Geiger, Mission Services Director for Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois.
BELVIDERELocal residents with questions or concerns on issues impacting the State of Illinois are invited to attend “Coffee Talk with Joe” hosted by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) at Ned’s Restaurant in Belvidere on Friday, July 7.  The event is free and open to the public. Coffee will be provided courtesy of Representative Sosnowski:

Coffee Talk With Joe
Friday, July 7, 2017
8:00 am to 9:00 am
Ned’s Restaurant 
2132 Business Route 20
Belvidere, IL 61008

“Community coffees are a valuable opportunity for me to listen to the concerns of local residents firsthand,” Representative Sosnowski said. “We are at a critical juncture in state history in terms of the budget, state spending, taxes, and the investments we make in education, public safety and many other areas. I encourage everyone who has questions, comments or concerns to come make their voice heard at my coffee talk in Belvidere.”
ROCKFORD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today on the protest taking place outside his district office:

“I support every American’s First Amendment right to free speech and assembly, including the right to peacefully protest or demonstrate at the offices of their elected officials. Everyone should have the ability to make their voice heard in our democracy; and I want today’s demonstrators to know I respect their voices and concerns. We all agree that the current state budget impasse must end.  I support passing a full-year balanced budget with reforms that provide relief to property tax payers and make our economy more competitive so that Illinois can once again be a place where people can afford to live, work and raise a family. I look forward to returning to Springfield and advocating for northern Illinois families during special session to achieve this goal.”

# # #
CHICAGO – House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) and a group of House and Senate Republicans today introduced a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal.

“Time is running out before the fiscal year ends, and we must act now! Where is the sense of urgency with Speaker Madigan to end this stalemate? Lawmakers should be in Springfield working around the clock until our job is finished. This comprehensive budget package with structural reforms that we are proposing today is the path forward to breaking the budget impasse,” said Durkin. 

The comprehensive proposal includes a truly balanced budget, a four-year hard spending cap, lasting property tax relief, and changes to our regulatory system that will create jobs and grow the economy. The bills also include a $250 million increase for the new school funding formula, and fulfilling commitments to restore child care eligibility to 185% of the federal poverty level and a wage increase to Direct Support Professionals. It also includes term limits on legislative leaders and constitutional officers.
Rep. Joe Sosnowski sponsored a free luncheon for seniors at Belvidere High School on Tuesday with the Belvidere Area Chamber of Commerce. Lunch was provided by Tropical Oasis Restaurant & Catering. Rep. Sosnowski enjoyed greeting local seniors and answering their questions about state government.
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today after the Illinois House of Representatives approved SB 81, legislation to raise the Illinois minimum wage from the current $8.25 per hour to $15 per hour:

“The Springfield majority has approved nearly $ 2 Billion in new costs to taxpayers so far this spring. The minimum wage increase costs the state more money and they have no way to pay for our current debt, let alone new costs. It is a fantasy land budget process where math doesn't matter.” 

Prominent examples of new spending approved by the Illinois House of Representatives this spring include:

Tuition Grants to College Students (HB 1316) - $429 mil
Raise Minimum Wage to $15 per hour (SB 81) - $1.5 billion (but could be greater)
Waiving Fee for Expungement of Arrest Records (SB 1781) - $2 mil
Pay Raise for Health Care Facility Workers (SB 1353) - $6.2 mil
Costs to Start Licensing Student Loan Servicers (SB 1351) - $300,000
Taxpayer funded abortion under Medicaid (HB 40) - Estimates suggest cost could be up to $60 million per year 

The State of Illinois is rapidly approaching two full years without a budget. Democrats hold a 67-51 seat majority in the Illinois House of Representatives and a 37-22 seat supermajority in the Illinois Senate; yet have thus far failed to pass a state budget. According to the State Comptroller, Illinois’ bill backlog exceeds a record-high $14.4 Billion as of May 26.

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Senate Grand Bargain Negotiations

Over the past few days, many constituents in my district have received robo-calls from organizations informing them to contact my office to oppose potential tax increases being negotiated in the Senate Grand Bargain proposal. Bipartisan conversations in the Senate are ongoing; however, in the House chamber, we have not achieved similar fluid communication.

Below please find some of the new revenue items being negotiated by the Senate:
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) expressed support today for Governor Bruce Rauner’s intention to veto the controversial House Bill 40, which was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives on Tuesday by a vote of 62-55. The legislation would remove the existing ban on taxpayer-funded abortion with no restrictions through the state’s Medicaid program.

“Proponents of House Bill 40 claim it improves access to reproductive health care for women, but the facts tell a different story,” Sosnowski said. “The legislation actually diminishes protections for pregnant women by removing basic health care standards, preventing women from being provided basic information and denying all rights to unborn children.  We need to reevaluate what it means to protect women and children, because it is clear House Bill 40 is not the answer.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
By Joe Sosnowski
State Representative, 69th District

In business, job creators and entrepreneurs compete to provide the best product or service at a good value for consumers. Unfortunately, when it comes to state government, meaningful efforts to lower costs and increase value to taxpayers are too often met with viral opposition. Let me give you a current example:

Illinois’ prison inmate population has declined over 9 percent since January 2015; yet that has not stopped the Illinois General Assembly from advancing legislation that would strip the governor's ability to reduce staffing levels at state prisons. Senate Bill 19, currently pending in the Illinois House of Representatives, would mandate a headcount for personnel at the Department of Corrections (DOC) and wipe out $8 million in annual savings to taxpayers. This action essentially allows the union to manage the employees; this is an inherent conflict of interest. 

This legislation was hastily filed after the Governor announced most corrections nurses would be transitioned to a private contractor already working for the state to streamline medical services; a move that would save the state $8 million annually mostly through a reduction in benefit costs. 
Click HERE to download the application for Representative Sosnowski's Summer Legislative Internship Program!

In the Rockford area alone, there are over 30,000 people without a high school diploma or GED. Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is proactively working to remedy this challenge by sponsoring a bill that would give adult learners the opportunity to complete their high school education. The Excel Center has proven to be a premier example of how to achieve this shared goal.

Rep. Sosnowski was joined at a press conference in Rockford today by Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois, Rock Valley College and Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti to highlight House Bill 2527

To learn more about Rep. Sosnowski's bill and what it could mean for the Rockford area, please click HERE.
(Left to right) State Representative Joe Sosnowski, Kim Ryder from Goodwill of Central Arizona, Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, President Sam Schmitz of Goodwill Industries of Northern Illinois, and President of Rock Valley College Dr. Doug Jensen.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski speaks during
debate on House Bill 3784
SPRINGFIELD The Illinois House of Representatives has approved legislation sponsored by State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) to make achieving a high school diploma more attainable for students who are struggling academically or those who have truancy issues. Under current Illinois law, a school or school district can deny enrollment to a student 17 years of age or older for one semester for failure to meet minimum academic standards, under certain conditions.  Representative Sosnowski’s legislation, House Bill 3784, would remove those provisions from state law. 

The bill also raises the standard for addressing students with school attendance issues by providing that a truant minor may not be expelled for nonattendance unless he or she has accrued 15 consecutive days of absences without valid cause and the student cannot be located by the school district; or the school district has located the student but cannot, after exhausting all available support services, compel the student to return to school.

“The concept behind my bill is simple; a school district should not be able to drop a student from enrollment for academic reasons,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “We have some of the finest and most dedicated educators in the state right here in Winnebago and Boone Counties. I have confidence in them to help struggling students improve their academic standing and prepare them for success after high school. We also need to give truant students every possible opportunity to stay in school and complete their education. We have a moral responsibility not to give up on them.”
Representative Joe Sosnowski's office participated in the Stateline Chamber of Commerce 21st annual "RoRo Expo" April 1-2 in Roscoe. Team Sosnowski had a booth to provide state brochures and literature about state programs and resources for residents of Winnebago and Boone Counties. Several thousand local families attended the weekend event. The 69th District is home to many outstanding local businesses, entrepreneurs and service providers; all showcased at this year's RoRo Expo.

SPRINGFIELD State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today on the status of the ongoing state budget impasse amid indications that the State Senate may proceed with passing an unbalanced budget that raises taxes without matching state spending with projected revenue:

Rep. Joe Sosnowski
“We are more than halfway through the spring session with little to no progress made on the state budget. It is long past time that leaders in both parties get serious about working together to pass a responsible budget. I am proud to be co-sponsoring bipartisan pension reform legislation to save the state billions of dollars moving forward. This is one example of how we can and must work together. One thing we cannot do is pass an unbalanced budget that includes tax increases and no responsible reforms that provide taxpayer relief. We can bring manufacturing jobs back to the Rockford area and other parts of the state by insisting that economic reforms be part of any final budget agreement.”

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Legislative Update for the Week of March 20-24
Please scroll below for selected updates on the state budget, jobs, cybersecurity in Illinois, a new pension reform proposal filed today, and a helpful guide on safe driving during the spring road construction season.

Budget – COGFA testimony
  • Nonpartisan budget watchdog office testifies on FY17 budget situation.  The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) presented FY17 and preliminary FY18 budget projections to the House Revenue and Finance Committee this week.  COGFA, a nonpartisan economic watchdog office within the Illinois General Assembly, presented a revised estimate of $33.1 billion in FY17 general funds ($30.2 billion net of refund funds and non-general funds distributions) inflows for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.  These numbers represented significant reductions from the FY17 preliminary estimates of $33.9 billion ($30.9 billion net of refunds/non-general funds distributions) published by COGFA in July 2016. 
In an effort to make state government and the legislative process more accessible to Illinois residents regardless of their national origin or spoken language, State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is providing a link to translate the Illinois General Assembly website,, into any one of dozens of different languages.

The Illinois General Assembly website contains legislator profiles, full text of all legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and State Senate, live audio and video feeds of legislative session and committee hearings; and a wide variety of other legislative information and support services.

Please click any of the links below to translate the Illinois General Assembly website into your preferred language:

Spanish         Español
Arabic          عربي               
Hindi           हिन्दी      
Chinese (Simplified) 中文简体               
Chinese (Traditional) 中文繁體                
Japanese       日本語 
Korean          한국어             
Russian         Русский 
French          Français    
German        Deutsch             
Italian            Italiano           
Polish             Polski        
Greek             Ελληνικά            

You can translate the Illinois General Assembly website into as many as 57 different languages using any of the above links.

Rep. Joe Sosnowski is the chief sponsor of the bill, which could help alleviate Rockford's 'GED crisis'

By Isaac Guerrero
Rockford Register Star

ROCKFORD — Lawmakers are considering a bill that could help the Rockford region provide a high school diploma to more than 40,000 adults in Boone and Winnebago counties.

State law prevents school districts from awarding high school diplomas to students who are 21 or older. Adult learners instead have the option of earning an equivalency certificate, such as the General Equivalency Development diploma. Although more than 700 adults in Boone and Winnebago counties earn a GED diploma each year, hundreds more young adults in the region drop out of high school every year.

Illinois House Bill 2527, introduced by state Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford, would effectively eliminate the high school diploma age cap. If approved, the legislation would allow a nonprofit agency, in partnership with the state Board of Education, to establish a school for adult learners that would issue high school diplomas and additional vocational credentials so that graduates have a certified job skill upon graduation…
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD The Illinois House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation today, House Bill 791, to block local governments from enacting any ordinance prohibiting the use of autonomous vehicles on its roadways. "Autonomous vehicle" means any vehicle equipped with technology that has been integrated capable of driving the vehicle without the active control or monitoring of a human operator. State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) reacted to the bipartisan consensus that led to the unanimous passage of the bill:

“In the interest of public safety, it is critical that we avoid creating a patchwork of laws throughout the state with regard to autonomous vehicles,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “If some communities allowed the use of self-driving cars while others banned it, an unfeasible situation would exist endangering public safety and creating a legal and insurance nightmare. It is more appropriate that we take the necessary time to assess this innovative technology thoughtfully and come to a consensus on the best way to move forward as a state.”
SPRINGFIELDMembers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31 voted to give their union bargaining committee the authority to call a strike on Thursday, threatening the interruption of critical taxpayer-funded services across Illinois as the union remains at an impasse in contract negotiations with Governor Bruce Rauner. Since taking office in 2015, the Rauner Administration has successfully negotiated new contracts with the state’s 20 other unions, agreements that balance the needs of Illinois’ diverse and talented workforce with respect for taxpayers.  

State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) reacted to the vote by AFSCME members today to authorize a strike:

“The Governor has negotiated in good faith with AFSCME, the only union which has refused to compromise on terms for a new contract in the past two years. As the representative of the taxpayers at the negotiating table, the Governor has consistently offered a fair, common-sense proposal that includes merit pay, allowing volunteers to lend their time and talents to assist government agencies, and stating that overtime pay can be earned for any time worked beyond 40 hours per week. Caving in to AFSCME’s extreme demands and refusal to compromise would result in higher taxes on all working families in Illinois; an outcome we should not accept. Instead of striking and jeopardizing the services Illinois families pay for and rely upon, I encourage AFSCME members to pressure their leaders to negotiate with the Governor in good faith and agree to a fair contract as soon as possible.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski listens to the
Governor's Budget Address
SPRINGFIELDGovernor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual Budget Address to a joint session of the General Assembly today, emphasizing the need to focus on economic growth and job creation as the way to achieve a sustainable balanced budget that, paired with long-overdue structural reforms, can set the state back on a path toward long-term prosperity and opportunity for every Illinois family. 

State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) called attention to a passage from the Governor’s speech that reflects the grim reality at the root of what has plagued Illinois in recent years: 

"For years now, families in Illinois have been voting with their feet. In just six years, we’ve seen a migration loss of more than 540,000 residents. They’re leaving for jobs, higher wages and lower costs of living.
If we had the right policies – if we’d made changes to fix our broken system – if we had just grown our economy at the national average, since 2000, we’d have 650,000 more jobs than we have today…" – Governor Bruce Rauner

“The Governor effectively identified what has been ailing Illinois; and a path forward we can commit to together as Democrats and Republicans to achieve a balanced budget,” Representative Sosnowski said. “Before we can come together to end the current budget impasse, we have to be honest with ourselves and with each other on the realities that have led us to this point, and the options that exist to move Illinois forward in a responsible way.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORD Illinois suffers from chronic structural inefficiencies that contribute to the destabilization of the state budget, siphoning scarce resources away from vital services meant to ensure a safety net for Illinois families. In an effort to reshape some the state’s basic priorities in a forward-thinking way, State Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has introduced common-sense solutions by crafting a good governance legislative package that improves government transparency, efficiency and accountability.

“Restoring faith in state government and opportunity and growth to our economy begins with making common-sense reforms to the shortcomings in current law that allow for waste, fraud and abuse,” said Rep. Sosnowski. “This package serves as a step towards moving Illinois forward by setting priorities to make state government more accountable and effective.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELD With Illinois’ unfunded pension liability reaching an estimated $129.8 billion in November 2016 according to a report by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has introduced a package of six new bills in the Illinois House of Representatives to make common-sense, constitutional reforms to Illinois’ pension systems. 

“Inaction is not an option,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “Public employees, current retirees and taxpayers alike deserve a pension system that is in a stable financial condition, reliable for those who depend upon it now and sustainable for those are planning for retirement in the future. I have introduced this package as an opportunity to renew good-faith negotiations on ways Democrats and Republicans can work together to achieve pension reform that is constitutional, cost-saving, and constructive.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) has been re-appointed to serve on the Legislative Audit Commission, the panel responsible for the oversight of the stewardship of public funds and monitoring action to correct weaknesses disclosed by the audits of state agencies.

The Commission’s work has taken on particular importance during the ongoing federal and state investigations of Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino into his alleged campaign spending irregularities, which continues to cast public doubt on the integrity of the Office of Auditor General.  The Legislative Audit Commission reviews all audits conducted by the Auditor General. 

The Legislative Audit Commission is comprised of 12 legislators appointed by the General Assembly leadership with an equal number of Democrats and Republicans from both the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. 

“Ensuring the integrity of how public funds are spent is one of the most basic responsibilities of state government,” Rep. Sosnowski said. “I am honored to accept this appointment to serve as a taxpayer watchdog on the Legislative Audit Commission.”
Rep. Joe Sosnowski
ROCKFORDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) issued the following statement today in response to the court motion filed by Attorney General Lisa Madigan late Thursday seeking to block state employees from getting paid:

“Why AG Madigan would use state workers as pawns is absolutely terrible and does little to help the impasse. She should give her father some advice and tell him to put Illinoisans first by negotiating so that we can have real reforms that grow Illinois.  His 45 years in office have not been productive for our state,” Representative Sosnowski said. 

For questions or more information, please contact Representative Sosnowski’s office at (815) 547-3436.

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Veterans Memorial Hall, Rockford
ROCKFORDState Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) is offering a new online resource for northern Illinois veterans and their families to learn about the full range of state benefits and services they may be eligible for. Representative Sosnowski’s comprehensive “Illinois Veterans’ Benefits” brochure is available to view or download HERE. Constituents who do not have access to the internet may request a copy of the brochure be mailed to them by calling Representative Sosnowski’s office at (815) 547-3436. 

"One of my most important priorities is ensuring that our veterans have access to all the benefits they have earned in service to our country,” said Representative Sosnowski said. “Many veterans are not aware that some of these benefits are available to them, particularly with regard to employment, educational opportunities, and veterans’ homebuyer assistance. I hope that everyone who has a friend or loved one that has served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces will help us reach as many veterans as possible throughout the Rockford area with this informational brochure.”
SPRINGFIELDGovernor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual State of the State Address to a joint session of the General Assembly in Springfield today, citing the challenges and opportunities facing Illinois as the state continues to grapple with a budget impasse that has now extended beyond 18 months. 
Rep. Joe Sosnowski

“The Governor again highlighted his willingness to compromise to help make Illinois an economic engine in the Midwest,” said Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford). “The State Senate in a bipartisan effort is working toward compromise, and while we can agree or disagree with the various proposals coming out of those negotiations,  the House leadership led by the Speaker who has been in office for 45 years, is showing no willingness to follow their lead and move Illinois forward. It’s a shame.”

The Governor is scheduled to submit his budget plan to the General Assembly during his forthcoming Budget Address at the Capitol on February 15, 2017. 

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Rep. Joe Sosnowski
SPRINGFIELDThe Illinois House of Representatives voted to adopt House Resolution 46 today, a set of rules to govern the procedures of the Illinois House of Representatives for the next two years. Introduced and sponsored by Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), a top lieutenant of House Speaker Michael Madigan, the resolution was adopted by a vote of 63-53. Two Democrats voted in opposition with all 51 Republicans.

"If you are seeking fairness and democracy in government don't look at what the Springfield majority did as they adopted archaic rules that don't allow issues to come for a vote if only one member says no,” said Representative Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford).

Representative Sosnowski co-sponsored an alternative proposal, House Resolution 47, a bill to reform the House Rules in order to make the legislative process more open and transparent and decentralize the concentration of power in the Speaker of House. Sosnowski’s bill, HR 47, was denied consideration or a vote despite having a total of 51 sponsors.

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