The Morrison Memo: December 4, 2017

Cook County Soda Pop Tax Repeal Takes Effect
When members of the Cook County Board implemented a one cent per ounce tax on sweetened beverages, the pushback from taxpayers was immediate. Widespread public opposition through grassroots efforts led members of the Cook County Board to repeal the unpopular tax just a few months after approving it. Sweetened beverages were sold for the first time without the tax on Friday, December 1. Despite the repeal of the soda pop tax, residents of Cook County continue to pay some of the highest taxes in the United States. I was vocal with my opposition to the tax, and during the grassroots effort to repeal it I collected nearly 300 signatures on an online petition.
Lawsuit Filed to Halt Implementation of House Bill 40
Several Illinois lawmakers joined nearly a dozen pro-life organizations and the Diocese of Springfield in filing suit on Thursday to stop a bill that would allow for taxpayer funding of elective abortions in Illinois.

The complaint was filed in Sangamon County Circuit Court in Springfield and makes two claims against the controversial bill. Plaintiffs believe that because there was no revenue stream attached to the legislation, money does not exist in the budget to cover the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 abortions per year that would result from the implementation of the bill. With no revenue to support the up to $30 million cost, their argument is that the bill violates Illinois’ Constitutional balanced budget requirement. Secondly, those bringing the suit argue that the January 1, 2018 effective date must be pushed to June 1, because the bill did not pass out of the Senate until the end of September, months after the May 31 cut-off date for bills to take effect on January 1.

Rep. Morrison Earns Perfect Score on Tax Survey by Taxpayers United of America

I recently learned that during the 99th General Assembly I earned a perfect score on the Illinois Tax Survey compiled by Taxpayers United of America. The score is based on votes I took during the 99th General Assembly on bills that influence taxes. Thirty-two members of the Illinois House were recognized with a “passing” score of 70% or above on the tax survey, but only three of us earned perfect scores. State Representatives Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) and Peter Breen (R-Lombard) also received perfect scores.
For the Taxpayers United tax survey, lawmakers were scored on their votes on ten different bills during the 99th General Assembly. You can read more about it here.
Illinois Notched 40,400 STEM Graduates in 2016

The Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, utilizing data from LinkedIn, tracks Illinois higher education graduation choices and numbers. In the Fall 2017 “Talent Index” report, the Coalition reports a record number of Illinois higher education graduates in fields relating to high-tech economic growth.

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) study fields are often treated as proxies for the ability of a recent graduate of higher education to contribute to the evolving high-tech economy. The 40,400 STEM degrees awarded in Illinois in 2016 represent 31.8% of all Illinois graduates, which compares favorably with the parallel ratio of 28.3% posted by U.S. 2016 graduates as a national group. Illinois’ numbers indicate that Prairie State institutions of higher education are outpacing the higher education infrastructure of the U.S. as a whole in the encouragement of growth-oriented educational pathways.

Within this overall STEM graduation population, 3,300 degrees were awarded in computer science. This record number of Illinois computer science degrees made Illinois second only to California in the number of degrees awarded. Illinois institutions of higher education awarded 4.4% of total U.S. degrees awarded in 2016, but 9.9% of total U.S. computer science degrees.

Illinois Begins Bicentennial Countdown

The twelve-month period to observe Illinois’ 200th birthday as a state officially began over the weekend on December 3 when Illinois turned 199. The Illinois Bicentennial Commission is coordinating a program of events in locations throughout Illinois to celebrate the milestone. More events are expected to be added as Illinois approaches the actual birthday on December 3, 2018. This birthday commemorates passage by Congress of the law that admitted Illinois to the Union as the 21st state. Illinois was one of the states planned by President Thomas Jefferson as his proposal for the future of what had been the frontier “Northwest Territory.” By 1818 Jefferson had left office, but his friend and successor President James Monroe led the actual admission of Illinois into the national union of states. The bicentennial logo was developed by my friend, owner of a Schaumburg design firm, Ben Olsen.