City Club of Chicago: The Current State of the Illinois Budget

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Amanda Vinicky, Patti Bellock, Daniel Biss, Andy Manar and David McSweeney during the Current State of the Illinois Budget panel at the City Club of Chicago, May 9, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

May 9, 2016

Moderated by Amanda Vinicky – Featuring Hon. Patti Bellock, Hon. Daniel Biss, Hon. Andy Manar, and Hon. David McSweeney

State Representative Patti Bellock is currently serving her eighth term in the Illinois General Assembly. Appointed Deputy Minority Leader in October 2013, her assignments include serving as Chief Budget Negotiator for the House Republicans, Minority Spokeswoman on the Human Services Appropriations Committee and a member of the Mass Transit and Labor and Commerce Committees. For many years she has been a community activist in education, juvenile justice, healthcare, developmental disabilities and mental health issues. She is also an advocate of tougher laws on domestic violence, terrorism, drug trafficking and sexual predators on the internet.

Her landmark legislation, the Smart Act reforming the Illinois Medicaid system and bills requiring mental health parity, MRSA infection control, improving the Amber Alert system and strengthening child support in Illinois have been recognized on a national level. Bellock has received state and national awards for her role in numerous community projects and serves on several local boards for groups addressing the issues of Taxes, Substance Abuse, Alzheimer’s, Autism, Human Services, Mental Health, Multiple Sclerosis, Violence Prevention and the Arts. She was appointed to the National Health Care Committee of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) in Washington D.C. She is presently serving as the Midwest Director for the national group, Women in Government and she chaired the Conference of Women Legislators in Springfield, a bi-partisan group of all women legislators.

A native of River Forest, Mrs. Bellock graduated from Saint Norbert College, where she received a bachelor’s degree in History and American Government. She taught school in both Fairbanks, Alaska, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and served as vice president of a sports investment firm in the private sector. She and her family have lived in Hinsdale, Illinois for 40 years.

Daniel Biss, a former mathematics professor at the University of Chicago, represented the 17th District in the Illinois House before his election in 2012 to the state Senate.

Biss has passed legislation on issues including environmental policy, economic growth, political reform, consumer protection, and civil rights. With his common-sense approach, Biss emerged as a leader on fiscal matters and has remained at the forefront of efforts to address public pension debt in a way that will increase fiscal stability and honor the commitments made to workers. He has also championed groundbreaking legislation giving private sector workers access to retirement savings accounts through their workplace, making Illinois the first state in the country to enact such a program and earning Biss national renown as a leader in a growing movement to bring retirement security to private sector workers and rebuild the middle class.

Biss has earned broad acclaim for his public service, including the 2016 Richard J Phelan Profile in Courage Award from Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, the 2014 Community Investment Award from the Woodstock Institute, and his inclusion in the Crain’s Chicago Business’s “40 Under 40” class of 2014.

Biss grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, and moved to Chicago after completing a Bachelor of Arts at Harvard University and a Ph.D. in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in Evanston with his wife Karin and their two sons, Elliot and Theodore.

Born and raised in Macoupin County, State Senator Andy Manar and his wife, Trista, reside three blocks from where he grew up in Bunker Hill. Together they have three children: Abbie, Will and Ben. Manar holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and belongs to numerous civic and charitable organizations.

Before becoming a member in the General Assembly, Manar served as a Bunker Hill city councilman, mayor of Bunker Hill and eventually Macoupin County Board chairman. He was encouraged and inspired to enter public service by his mentor the late Senator Vince Demuzio. While serving his community at the local level, Manar advocated fiscal responsibility, efficient government, bipartisan cooperation, increased communication between taxpayers and elected officials and made job creation one of his top priorities.

Manar also served as Chief of Staff for Senate President John Cullerton from 2009-2012.

As the current State Senator representing the 48th District in the General Assembly, Manar has been a leading voice to overhaul our state’s outdated school funding formula, sponsoring legislation to make sure every child has access to a quality education. He also reformed the state’s lead economic development agency to make it more accountable.

The 48th District includes Springfield, Decatur, and rural communities in Macoupin, Montgomery, Madison and Christian Counties.

State Representative David McSweeney proudly serves the residents of the 52nd Illinois House District in the General Assembly. David capitalizes on his educational background, business experience, work ethic, and commitment to the community with a strong focus on fiscal responsibility and constituent service.

David has deep roots in the north Chicago suburbs. He was born in Park Ridge, and grew up in Long Grove and Barrington. He attended Barrington High School.

As a college student, David completed an accelerated BA/MBA program and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Duke University in 1987. He continued his education and earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Duke Fuqua School of Business in 1988.

David McSweeney met his wife, Margaret, in New York City. As newlyweds in New York City, David and Margaret tutored at risk students in Harlem. The couple moved to Illinois, and started their family. David and Margaret are the proud parents of two daughters.

The community is another priority for the McSweeney family. They are members of the Lutheran Church of the Atonement. Margaret serves on Leadership Advisory Board for W.I.N.G.S. (Women in Need Growing Stronger), an organization that helps homeless women and their children get a new start in life.

David has been a successful businessman. He has worked as an investment banker, financial consultant and currently as an investment specialist.

Amanda Vinicky is Statehouse Bureau Chief for the Illinois Public Radio network and WUIS, Springfield’s NPR affiliate. She follows the machinations of the General Assembly from the state capitol (feel free to drop by her office in the statehouse basement with story ideas and tips), though she’s also often in Chicago, checking out what politicians are doing to ensure the “Windy City” nickname remains on point.

She finds pretty much everything interesting, as is evidenced by her broadcast portfolio – from stories on healthy state fair food (which garnered a first place award from the Illinois Associated Press) to electric deregulation (that grabbed top honors from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors), and Illinois pensions, to name a few. Career highlights include covering the historic impeachment and removal from office of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, shadowing Illinois’ delegation at presidential conventions, and visiting Arenzville’s burgoo (if you don’t know what that is, Google her story and take a listen).

Amanda has long been focused on journalism and government; she has degrees in political science and journalism from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and got her master’s from the University of Illinois Springfield’s Public Affairs Reporting program. Amanda is a frequent guest on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” and is a regular panelist for WUIS’ own “State Week in Review.” She is a co-host of WSEC-TV’s “Capitol View.”

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