This week Governor Rauner received approval to declare counties in the 110th district  Agricultural Disaster Areas due to crop losses caused by the recent rain and flooding.

Farmers who believe they may be eligible for assistance should contact their county Farm Service Agency office. Loan applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you have questions you should contact the state FSA office at 217.241.6600. For more information, click here.
While the state of Illinois languishes through the summer without a budget in place, State Representative Reggie Phillips said it’s unconscionable that Democrats in the General Assembly are preparing to give themselves a pay raise. Representative Phillips (R-Charleston) today said that if he and fellow House Republicans can’t stop the legislative pay raise outright, he will donate his to a local charity.

“We’re in the middle of the worst budget crisis in state history. We have more than $5 billion in unpaid bills and we can’t make payments to daycare providers, those that work with the disabled and others. Attorney General Madigan is going to court to try to stop pay for state employees while we don’t have a budget in place... and Speaker Madigan and the Democrats think they deserve a raise?! That’s almost beyond belief,” Phillips said.

Under state law, the Compensation Review Board regularly recommends cost of living adjustment pay increases for members of the General Assembly and other state elected officials. Those pay raises go into effect automatically unless the General Assembly passes legislation to specifically reject them.

House Republicans have introduced House Bill 4225 which will do just that. For weeks House Republicans have attempted repeatedly to adopt the bill to reject the pay raises, but have been blocked each time by the Speaker and House Democrats who refuse to allow the issue to even be debated.
The information below was put together by the Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to answer state employees' questions about pay and benefits while no state budget is in place.

FAQs for Budget Situation

We understand state employees have questions on how their benefits will be impacted as the state budget is no longer in place beginning July 1. The following Q&As were designed to help answer any questions you may have.

Employee Benefits

Q.  Will an employee's health, dental or life insurance be affected?
A.  No. Group insurance coverage during a budget situation will not be impacted. If paychecks are delayed, and as long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, insurance premiums will be taken accordingly. The missed payroll deductions will be taken once paychecks are issued.

Q.  What will happen to an employee's contributions to any flexible spending accounts (i.e., MCAP, DCAP) during the budget situation?
 Employees enrolled in MCAP will not be impacted. ConnectYourCare debit cards will continue to work. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, deductions should be taken accordingly. If MCAP deductions are missed, they must be made up when the budget situation is resolved.
 Employees enrolled in DCAP may be impacted as reimbursements are limited to the available account balance contained in their DCAP account. If the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, and once all payroll deductions are deposited into the DCAP account, reimbursements can be made for eligible expenses up to the available account balance.

Q.  What will happen to an employee's Commuter Savings Program benefit?
A.  Employees enrolled in the Commuter Savings Program will continue to receive the benefit under this program. Employees will owe any underpaid amount upon their return to payroll.

Workers' Compensation Program

Q.  Will an employee's Workers' Compensation benefits be affected?
A.  No. In the event of a budget situation, Temporary Total Disability (TTD), Permanent Total Disability (PTD) and survivor death benefit payments under the Workers' Compensation Act will continue through July. Work-related injuries should continue to be reported through the procedures in place today.

Deferred Compensation Program

Q. What will happen to an employee's Deferred Compensation contributions during the budget situation?
A.  As long as the employee continues to work and earn a paycheck, payroll deductions for Deferred Compensation should be taken accordingly. Deferred Compensation contributions can only be made through payroll deduction. The employee cannot deposit money directly to his or her fund to catch-up the contributions.

Q.  If an individual is currently receiving a distribution from their Deferred Compensation account, will that distribution continue during the budget situation?
A.  Yes. Current distributions and changes to distribution amounts will continue to be processed. To make any changes in distribution, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770.

Q.  Will hardship distributions/loans from an employee's Deferred Compensation account be available during the budget situation?
A.  A loan provision is available at any time and allows a participant to have one outstanding loan and borrow a minimum of $1,000 up to a maximum of $50,000 or 50% of their account balance over a five year period. The interest you pay goes back to your account along with the principal amount each month as you repay the loan through Automatic Clearing House (ACH) deductions from your bank. Employees would likely not qualify for a hardship distribution as they will be made whole of any missed payrolls when the budget situation ends.

Q.  How do I borrow from my Deferred Compensation account?
A.  To apply for a loan from your account over the phone, call T. Rowe Price at 1-888-457-5770 to speak to a Representative. There is a $75 processing fee and you will need to supply bank routing and account information for your checking/savings account numbers to set up the automatic ACH deduction. Participants are allowed one outstanding loan at a time. You may repay the full loan balance amount at any time through the same phone number at T. Rowe Price.

State Employee Compensation

Q. What options exist if certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees?
A. State employees will be paid for their work. If certain parties take action to temporarily block pay for state employees, there may be an opportunity for employees to get bridge loans from local financial institutions. Credit Union 1, for example, has already agreed to offer no-interest loans for qualifying members of the credit union should salary payments for state employees be delayed. To be eligible to receive 0% interest loans from Credit Union 1, participants must have been members on or before May 1, 2015. Employees who have become members of Credit Union 1 since May 1, 2015, can apply for a loan, subject to normal criteria, rates and terms.
Rep. Phillips working in the House. It's been a busy Spring!

Stressing the need for Illinois families to seize the opportunity for change, State Representative
Reggie Phillips today joined other House Republican freshman legislators saying it’s time for term limits.

“Chicago legislators who control the General Assembly – House Speaker Mike Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton – have been in Springfield for a combined 80 years. Their rule has left our state and our economy in shambles, but it’s clear they are going to continue to fight to maintain their control no matter what the cost to our families and our communities,” Representative Phillips said. “Voters statewide deserve the opportunity to say ‘enough is enough’. It’s time to bring real, positive change to the General Assembly.”

An initiative to put a binding term limits referendum on the 2014 General Election ballot was denied by a three-judge Illinois Appellate Court last August, leaving legislative action as the best alternative. With three separate joint constitutional amendments filed, House Republicans point to the onset of gridlock so early into the new Governor’s first term along with the increasingly draconian House rules as evidence that term limits need immediate consideration. 
As part of his ongoing commitment to contribute a portion of his state salary to benefit local organizations, Representative Phillips recently presented Mattoon Area Family YMCA staff with a $1,500 contribution.
Photo credit: Journal Gazette/Times Courier

As tensions in the Middle East continue to escalate, State Representative Reggie Phillips this week led his House colleagues in reaffirming our solidarity with our friends and allies in the Nation of Israel. Phillips’s “Stand with Israel” resolution (HR173) was adopted unanimously Tuesday by the Illinois House.

“Violence and terror caused by ISIS and the serious nuclear threat posed by Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East make it more important today than ever before that we stand firm with our friends in Israel,” Phillips said. “Terrorists have targeted both our nations for attack because we stand for personal freedoms and opportunity – all of the things they despise.”

Phillips’s “Stand with Israel” resolution reaffirms Illinois’ friendship with and support for the people of Israel, our strongest allies in the Middle East region.

“The current administration in Washington may waiver and send mixed messages, but today the Illinois House today sent a clear message that we will continue to stand with Israel against threats to our nations and our shared values,” Phillips said.

State Representative Reggie Phillips Monday won unanimous House approval of an environmentally-friendly initiative to ensure used and waste tire storage facilities in our communities are run in a safe and responsible manner. House Bill 3819 is backed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). It ensures that prior to issuing a waste tire storage permit; the IEPA will determine whether the prospective owners/operators have a history of responsible management for such facilities.
“This is a public safety issue for our communities,” Representative Phillips explained. “Large scrap tire storage facilities, if not responsibly managed, are not only an eyesore, they can be a serious source of pollution. They can also shelter vermin and be very dangerous places for children who are attracted to the opportunity to climb and play among the tires,” Representative Phillips said. “The legislation we advanced this week simply helps ensure that those applying to operate large scrap tire storage and processing facilities have experience and a good track record with this type of business.”
Specifically, House bill 3819 directs the IEPA to evaluate applicants’ prior environmental management experience before issuing a used or waste tire storage permit. The agency may deny a permit to anyone who has been convicted of a felony or certain other crimes, has a history of violating environmental laws, or has shown incompetence or carelessness handling, storing or transporting waste tires or other regulated materials.
Having passed the House on unanimous vote, Phillips’ House Bill 3819 now advances to the Senate for concurrence.
On the morning of April 15, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln died from a gunshot wound he
sustained the night before at the hands of assassin John Wilkes Booth.

Today, Rep. Phillips remembered the former Illinois Representative, and one of our greatest Presidents, at Lincoln's statue at the Illinois Capitol in Springfield.
Rep. Phillips Thursday discussed his Stand With Israel resolution with Israeli Consul General Roey Gilad. Gilad addressed the House on the recent Israeli elections and the importance of a continued strong partnership between Israel and Illinois.

Rep. Phillips presents House Bill 3973 to the House Higher Education Committee
To help Illinois universities weather the ongoing state financial crisis, State Representative Reggie Phillips today advanced legislation in the Illinois House that would ensure that state funding is not spent on speaking fees and other expenses for commencement speakers. Representative Phillips (R-Charleston) stressed that with limited state funds available, universities should make sure all dollars provided directly benefit students’ education.

Former Governor Quinn left us with a tremendous budget mess to clean up. If we don’t act quickly,
we won’t be able to make payroll at our prisons, low income working families will lose their child care assistance, and money for services for the developmentally disabled will run out. We cannot allow that to happen.
Granting emergency budget authority to the Governor is not without precedent; and knowing that Governor Rauner is committed to holding the line on spending, I believe it’s the right thing to do in this situation. It’s regrettable however that the deal did not also include a 2.5% cut for the General Assembly and constitutional office holders.”
In the midst of growing turmoil in the Middle East, State Representative Reggie Phillips took to the Illinois House floor today encouraging his colleagues to reaffirm our solidarity with the Nation of Israel. Phillips (R-Charleston) urged swift House consideration and approval of his “Stand with Israel” resolution, House Resolution 173.

“We are all aware of the dangerous events unfolding in the Middle East. Iran’s push for nuclear weapons capability and the terror being spread by the rise of ISIS in parts of Iraq and Syria in particular pose a very real and immediate threat to us, and to our friends and allies in Israel. Make no mistake, extremists in the region want Israel, and the United States as well, wiped off the map because we stand firm for freedom and opportunity. We must continue to make that stand together,” Phillips said.

Phillips’s “Stand with Israel” resolution encourages the Illinois House to reaffirm its friendship with and support for the people of Israel, our strongest allies in the Middle East region. The resolution is currently in the House Rules Committee awaiting reassignment to a standing committee for debate.

“For the past several years President Obama and the Democrats in Washington have unfortunately been sending mixed messages to Israel about the United States’ commitment to defending our mutual interests. With passage of House Resolution 173 we can send a very clear message that the State of Illinois stands with our friends in Israel,” Rep. Phillips said.
“The first step to solving any problem is a thorough, honest assessment of the situation; and we got
that today in Governor Rauner’s first State of the State address.

I couldn’t agree more with the Governor that to turn Illinois around we must focus on expanding job opportunities for our families and easing their property tax burden. And, as he said, it will be about empowering working families and employers who create jobs. A great place to start is by enacting real workers compensation reform that will help make us competitive again with our neighboring states.

We also agree on the need to downsize government, starting with combining the State Treasurer and Comptroller’s office to save $12 million annually. Finally, we’re headed in the right direction.” 

                                          -State Representative Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston)
State Representative Reggie Phillips has secured positions on key House Committees that will tackle issues crucial to our local communities including job creation and funding for higher education.

In his first term in the Illinois House, Representative Phillips (R-Charleston) garnered a coveted spot on the House Labor and Commerce Committee, which reviews many initiatives focused on creating jobs as well as issues concerning labor union rights and restrictions. Representative Phillips said his experience as a small businessman who employs several hundred workers make this committee assignment a perfect fit.

“There’s no doubt that the best way to grow our economy is to create jobs. To do that, we need to be able to compete once again with our more jobs-friendly neighbors,” Representative Phillips said. “I know first-hand which policies help or hinder those who want to do business here and create jobs for our families. I am very pleased that the new administration is prepared to take a different, more jobs-friendly approach to governing, and I’m ready to get down to work with them to bring good jobs back to our communities.”

Representative Phillips said he is also looking forward to his work on the House Appropriations-Higher Education Committee which gets a first review of legislation regarding funding for Illinois Colleges and Universities. “Eastern Illinois University and our local community colleges are cornerstones of our communities, and they’re also powerful economic engines that provide jobs and revenues. This assignment gives our district greater input throughout the process on issues that impact their funding,” Representative Phillips said.

During the 99th General Assembly Representative Phillips will also serve on the House Transportation-Regulation, Roads and Bridges Committee, the House Counties and Townships Committee, the House Environment Committee, and the House Special Committee on Healthcare Disparities.
State Representative Reggie Phillips today announced that he will refuse state pension and insurance benefits associated with his new position as State Representative. Phillips (R-Charleston) stressed that previous administrations have left Illinois with one of the worst funded state pension systems in the nation, and he is focused on seeking solutions.

“It’s just common sense that it’s bad policy to add-on more financial obligations when you can’t meet those you already have,” said Phillips. “I was sent to Springfield to work on solutions to our financial mess. I won’t put more stress on our already underfunded pension systems, or add to our insurance costs.”

Currently, legislators who participate in the pension program contribute 11.5 percent of their annual salary to the General Assembly Retirement System (GARS). A legislator’s base annual salary is $67,836. Members with committee chairmanships and/or leadership positions earn more.

Under pension reform legislation enacted in 2010 that applies to new members who have entered the General Assembly since 2011, legislators can retire at age 67 with a minimum of eight years of service (or at age 62 with reduced benefits) and earn up to 60 percent of their final average salary after 20 years of service. Legislators who took office prior to 2011 remain eligible to retire at age 62 with a minimum four years of service (or age 55 with a minimum eight years of service) and earn the maximum 85 percent of their final average salary after 20 years, with annual cost-of-living adjustments.

Representative Phillips’s decision is final and irrevocable; as administrative rules within the state pension system do not allow him to ever opt back in.
The 110th District has a new State Representative. Before family and friends, Reggie Phillips (R-Charleston) took the oath of office to represent the district in the new 99th General Assembly. All 118 house members were sworn in at noon at Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois at Springfield. The new 99th General Assembly will serve until January 2017.

“It’s a great privilege to represent our local communities in the House, and it’s also a great responsibility. We’re facing fiscal and economic challenges that are serious, but not insurmountable. I’m looking forward to working with the new Rauner administration and my new colleagues in the General Assembly to restore some common sense to our budget process, help create jobs and build strong communities. This can truly be a new beginning for Illinois,” Phillips said.

Representative Philips is a native of Central Illinois and is an Eastern Illinois University Alumnus. He and his wife Martha reside in Charleston where they own and operate a residential and commercial building business that employs approximately 400 local residents.

Representative Phillips encouraged residents of the 110th district to contact him with questions or concerns as the session moves forward. Representative Phillips’s district office can be contacted at 217-348-1110 or 217-690-5781.  Residents may also visit his legislative website at