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May Highlights Fiscal Responsibility, Medicaid Reform in Final Spring Session

On Thursday, State Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) concluded her final spring legislative session where she helped pass sweeping Medicaid reforms, worked to pass a balanced budget, fought for pension reforms and helped end the abuse of disability placards.

“For the second year in a row, the General Assembly took crucial steps towards improving the financial situation in Illinois,” May said. “Although there is still work to be done, the legislature was able to address several issues while reducing wasteful spending in state government and improve Illinois’ Medicaid liability. It was a very productive session, the toughest ever.”

In the final hours of the spring session, May helped shape major pension reforms, voting twice in committee to ensure the public pension systems will be sustainable. May worked diligently with legislative leaders, the governor and the unions representing public employees to find a collaborative effort to solve a serious financial crisis which has left our state with a huge unfunded liability.

“If we are to preserve the solvency of our pension systems and the State’s financial health, we must act now,” said May. “We must make sure that benefits are available to retirees, while protecting the solvency of the State of Illinois. For each day we fail to act, the pension systems fall deeper into debt and continuing to delay only compounds the problem. We must pass legislation that will help to rein in skyrocketing pension costs while preserving the system for those who rely on it for their retirement.”

May also took action to reform Illinois’ Medicaid program by backing landmark reforms which save taxpayers $1.6 billion. These savings come as a result of months of deliberations and negotiations between Democratic and Republican legislators, hospitals, providers, health care organizations, advocates and other key stakeholders. As part of the Medicaid reforms, an increase in the tax on cigarettes will bring $800 million in new revenue to help protect the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

The state will now conduct a full review of ongoing eligibility in the Medicaid program to better ensure that people do not remain on Medicaid rolls when they are no longer eligible. Currently, Illinois has allowed out-of-state residents and those who don’t qualify for Medicaid services to receive benefits that cost every other taxpayer in Illinois. Canceling the cases of those with out-of-state addresses, those with incomes over the Medicaid income standard, and those who are deceased is expected to save $350 million alone.

“Difficult decisions had to be made to save the system for those who truly rely on it,” May said. “I have a responsibility to Illinois taxpayers to ensure our programs and services run efficiently while providing residents vital services. As our economy continues to rebound, it is essential for us to continue practicing fiscal restraint and rein in state spending.”

Earlier this spring, May backed House Resolution 706 and House Joint Resolution 69 which set a realistic revenue estimate for crafting a budget. These estimates resulted in a budget proposal based on significantly lower revenue estimates than the Senate and Governor’s offices used. May worked with colleagues, interest groups, unions and other interested partied to craft a budget that cut spending in multiple areas while also ensuring vital programs remain intact.

After careful negotiation, May was able to pass legislation ending the abuse of disability placards and create strict new guidelines. The measure provides that people with disability license plates and placards will no longer be exempt from the payment of parking meter fees and the Illinois Secretary of State will provide a separate and distinct parking decal for those with disabilities to help clearly designate who is exempt from the payment of parking meter fees. This problem was brought to May by a retired Chicago Police Officer with a disabled child and May acted quickly to end to stop those cheating the system. May’s other bills on the Governor’s desk include those to provide health care cooperatives for small business, test for radon in day care centers, promote energy efficiency and net metering for small businesses, promote recycling, and save state funds by requiring direct deposit of state checks for small amounts.

As her final spring session adjourns, May will return to the district to continue her efforts to hear directly from local residents, organizations and local elected leaders. May has pledged to continue to work hard for the people of the 58th district for the remainder of her final term.

“I promised the people of my district I would stand up for their interests and I plan to do so up until my replacement is sworn in,” said May. “It has the been an honor and privilege to serve my constituents and I look forward to spending my final summer in office attending local events and thanking citizens for their support, ideas and thoughts throughout my term in office.”

For more information on this or any of Rep. May’s legislation, contact her constituent services office at (847) 433-9100 or by e-mail at karen@repkarenmay.org.

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