"A workers comp overhaul is the single most important piece of legislation we can pass this Session to improve the business climate. Our goal is to strike the appropriate balance between creating a competitive business environment and protecting the rights and safety of our workers in Illinois. This bill doesn't accomplish that goal. In fact, it tilts away from the fundamental balance underlying the workers comp system.

First, this proposal will lead to more litigation. That's not going to save money for Illinois' businesses. The potential cost of litigation before the workers compensation commission and the circuit court is not factored into the "savings" this bill purports to create. That will kill jobs, not create jobs.

Second, we seem to have forgotten why we have a workers comp system. It is designed to be a no-fault system that guarantees that a worker's health and livelihood is protected while capping the employer's liability. The effect of this legislation is that employers may deny claims based on preexisting conditions. A simple high school football injury that occurred 30 years ago could prevent an on the job injury from being addressed if this proposal were to become law. This change could bar injured workers from receiving any treatment or care for legitimate injuries created by the workplace.

I am pleased that Senator McCarter introduced a proposal to spur real debate, but this legislation is unbalanced. Any legislation that I support must be designed to control costs without sacrificing core protections for middle-class workers. This proposal fails that test.

Republican Leader Christine Radogno and I have already heard hours of testimony to help identify problems and potential fixes. The Governor is advancing a proposal that addresses many of the issues that we have discussed to this point. We will continue bipartisan discussions with all parties. I intend to work with Senator Kwame Raoul to advance a reform proposal that strikes the right balance for employers and employees when we return to session in May."

"The answer to improving education can be found in improving the quality of teachers leading our classrooms. With that firm belief, Senator Kimberly Lightford led a collaborative approach to education reform that married diverse interests with one goal - putting our students first.

Since the moment that I announced a Special Committee on Education Reform, Senator Lightford has labored in negotiations that put sacred cows such as tenure and teacher strikes on the table for scrutiny. The result is a new set of policies that will help promote the best teachers and improve the educational outcomes for students in Illinois.

I applaud all of the reform stakeholders for demonstrating that the process can work when we are willing to work together."

"The Governor’s address is just the beginning of the budget process for FY 12. As Governor Quinn outlined his priorities today, it was clear that we share similar goals that include making significant cuts and keeping our commitments to those who do business with the state. Now the hard work begins.

The Governor's estimated revenues in FY 12 are $1.45 billion less than his proposed spending. At first glance the governor’s budget appears to rely on debt restructuring that has not been secured. I am among those with questions about how the governor plans to use these dollars if they are approved. I urge the governor to provide the details needed to advance his proposal.

The state should honor its commitments and that the people and businesses who provided services on behalf of Illinois deserve to be paid. This massive backlog of old bills covers all areas of the state, Republican and Democrat alike. If Republicans have a secret solution, it's time to unveil it. If Republicans are willing to have a conversation that doesn’t start with "No," I'm ready to listen. "

Proposal advances to governor’s desk

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House overwhelmingly approved a measure to strengthen the legislature’s advice and consent role for reviewing government appointees. The legislation, sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, ends the practice of "acting appointees" serving for unlimited periods of time without confirmation of the Senate.

"This reform is not about punishing members of the Governor’s administration, it’s about restoring the institutional role of the Senate in the executive appointment process," said President Cullerton.

Currently, more than 500 appointees serve in their posts even though their terms expired. Under the existing law, appointees must be reviewed and approved by the Illinois Senate. However, it is not uncommon for high-level administrators to continue to serve without re-appointment or review. Senate Bill 1 clarifies that this practice in no longer acceptable.

The proposed law will require the Governor to submit new nominations for all existing salaried appointees who are currently working for the state even though their previous terms expired. If they are not re-nominated, they are immediately removed from their positions. Unpaid appointees serving beyond their terms are granted a 30-day window to have their nominations submitted to the Senate.