SPRINGFIELD — After weeks of listening to predictions of doom and gloom from top state officials, Democrats in the Illinois House are poised to roll out a spending plan that relies on an extension of the temporary income tax.

Rather than imposing tough cuts on schools, prisons, universities and social services, the spending plan would mirror a budget proposed by Gov. Pat Quinn that adds more cash for schools, universities and social service programs, said state Rep. Greg Harris, a Chicago Democrat who chairs a House appropriations committee.

The majority party could schedule a vote on the budget blueprint as early as Thursday, with an eye on asking lawmakers to extend the temporary income tax at a later date.

Specific details about the plan still were being drafted Tuesday. State Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, said GOP lawmakers have been largely locked out of the talks over the final version because Republicans oppose making the 2011 tax increase permanent.

To read Kurt Erickson's full article, click here. 

The article is also featured in the Herald-Review, The Southern and the Pantagraph.
Southeastern Illinois College (SIC) hosted a Legislative Breakfast on April 22 in cooperation with Shawnee Community College (SCC) to bring awareness of top educational issues and how they affect community colleges to local legislators.

Pictured are (front row, l-r) Dr. Tim Bellamy, SCC President; Kappy Scates from Sen. Dick Durbin’s office; and Dr. Jonah Rice, SIC President.  Back row includes (l-r) Sen. Dale Righter; Dr. Pat York, SIC Board Chair; Jim Ellis, SIC Board; John Hansen of Rep. John Shimkus’ office; and Rep. David Reis.

Rep. David Reis of the 109th district and Sen. Dale Righter of the 55th district were on hand to respond to current state legislative issues and took questions regarding their stands on related topics.  Reis expressed particular interest in the fight for economic development in the region.  He encouraged the colleges by saying, “Community colleges can turn on a dime,” to bring appropriate curriculum to the workforce and prepare students for new industry work such as oil and gas.

Righter agreed with this statement and discussed fiscal matters of the State, particularly the status of budget talks in Springfield and the economic challenges Illinois continues to face.

Kappy Scates represented U.S. Senator Dick Durbin's office and expressed the Senator's concern with for-profit colleges.  Many studies suggest for-profit colleges use lots of taxpayer dollars yet leave students with massive debt.

John Hansen from U.S. Representative John Shimkus' office also was present at the meeting and expressed the Congressman's interest in the need for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) education.
From left to right: Rep. Reis, Sadie Marks, Ellie Marks, Clay Marks and foreign exchange student Karina Schleuning of Germany.