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Harris: Time for contingency plans, tough decisions

harris 030917SPRINGFIELD — After two years of holding the Illinois budget hostage for political gain, Gov. Bruce Rauner now is faced with cutting an astounding $5 billion worth of state programs and services to balance the budget he presented to taxpayers last month.

“We live in the real world where we have to be realistic. We need to think about contingency plans and moving forward,” said Senator Napoleon Harris III, a Harvey Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee. “From day one I have said we must work together to fix these issues. It’s going to take tough decisions by all to get this done.”

Gov. Rauner has proposed a budget that is unbalanced by nearly $5 billion – a figure that was reinforced this week when the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accounting released an analysis that suggests the state’s revenues are $329 million lower than the governor’s February budget estimate, pushing his budget proposal further into the red.

Yet during a series of Senate committee hearing this week, agency directors under the Rauner administration were unable or unwilling to identify cuts to personnel or programs that could enable the governor to bridge the gap. That includes representatives of the Illinois Department of Natural of Resources and the Illinois Department of Agriculture, both of whom appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“We posed a simple question to these agencies: Where in your agency’s budget can you cut to help fill this $5 billion hole in the governor’s proposed statewide budget?” Harris said. “They were stonewalling, or they’ve never given it a thought. Either way, it’s a problem for the people of Illinois who deserve answers.”

Harris: Our veterans deserve access to services available to them

harris 053116SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) supported legislation signed by the governor this morning that ensures veterans who are eligible for the status of veterans for Illinois identification cards have access to them.

The Secretary of State began issuing ID cards with a veteran designation in 2015. Senate Bill 2173 expands the program to include National Guard members who have not been called to active duty. Furthermore, it clarifies that the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs will certify and verify the status of veterans for the ID cards.

Harris released the following statement regarding the new law:

“These identifications give veterans an easy way to prove their status and be able to receive all of the services they have earned and are rightfully eligible for. We need to continue providing our veterans with tools that make their lives easier as a gesture of gratitude for their service.”

Harris legislation to bring investment to Oak Forest signed into law

harris 051116SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Napoleon Harris III (D-Harvey) led a measure that was signed into law Friday that would extend tax increment financing for the City of Oak Forest until 2037. Currently, the TIF is set to expire in 2025.

“Oak Forest is a prime example of a product of the recession. They were hit hard and are still recovering,” Harris said. “They just need a little push. That is why I sponsored this measure to help them revitalize their economy, continue their development projects and keep them going in the right direction.”

TIF districts are important for cities and towns going through economic trouble. They help attract private investment and bring new businesses to help with economic expansion.

“As a small business owner myself, I know first-hand the impact they can bring on revitalizing local economies,” Harris added. “We need to make sure economic growth and expansion continues. “

House Bill 4423 goes into effect immediately.

Senate passes P-12 funding package, Harris responds

harris 040516HARVEY - State Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Harvey, issued the following statement Wednesday  morning after voting in favor of a comprehensive P-12 funding package that passed the Illinois Senate 37-19.

“Our schools have waited in uncertainty for too long, wondering whether or not they would be able to open their doors this fall,” Harris said. “We approved this plan to fulfill our duty to Illinois students and to take the first step in compromising with the governor on a budget.

“It is unfortunate that the Senate did not approve funding for human services and universities last night, but this fight is not over. I’m determined to return and debate in favor of full funding for these essential services that support our most promising students and protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

Sen. Napoleon B. Harris III

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Majority Caucus Whip
15th Legislative District

Committee assignments: Commerce and Economic Development; Executive; Human Services; Insurance (Chairperson); Telecommunications & InfoTechnology (Vice-Chairperson); Supplier Diversity, Special Com. On; Pension Investments Special Com. On..

Biography: Entrepreneur and legislator; from Dixmoor; B.A. in Communications, Northwestern University; Postgraduate certificate, Northwestern Kellogg School of Business Management; former NFL linebacker; married (wife, Nicole); three children (sons, Napoleon Harris IV, Noah & daughter, Nahla).

Associated Representatives:
William Davis
Thaddeus Jones