“When I’m actually in the district,” Hammond said, referring to her Macomb office, “one-on-one, either having meetings with constituents or just having coffee, that is the meaningful part for me.”

As she explained, representing 108,000 people keeps a state rep busy, but the constituents are the ones she calls “the real people,” those who rely on her as way to voice themselves.

To read more of Antwon R. Martin's Galesburg Register-Mail series on a day in the life of Knox County's state legislators, click here and here.
State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) today voted against a state budget which violates the Illinois Constitution’s balanced budget requirement.

“The state Constitution requires that any state budget be balanced; that it cannot spend more money than the state takes in,” Hammond said. “The reckless budget rammed through the House today is out of balance by close to three billion dollars.”

The spending figures in the budget are based on the enactment of a tax increase which has not been passed by the House or Senate. Republicans claim that the out-of-balance budget was passed in order to force members to vote for the tax increase.

“It is bad enough that the House would pass a bill knowing it is unconstitutional. It is even worse that it is being done deliberately in order to create a situation where members have to choose between raising taxes and violating the Constitution. The residents of Illinois deserve better than this,” Hammond said.

The budget bills, which passed with all Republicans voting no, spend $37.3 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Under the budget resolution adopted by the House earlier this year, Illinois expects to have just under $34.5 billion in revenue for the year, or $2.8 billion less than the House voted to spend today.

For comparison, Hammond noted that the Fiscal Year 2006 budget spent only $23.9 billion.

“No serious person can look at the increase between that year and this year and say with a straight face that we are being responsible with taxpayer money,” she said.

The budget now goes to the Senate for consideration.
State Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb) gave the following response this afternoon to Governor Pat Quinn’s budget address.

“The legislature has known for three years that the statute that increased the tax rates would expire at the end of 2014, but did very little to prepare for it. Now, we are seeing the consequences of that decision. When some members of the General Assembly voted in favor of the 2011 tax hike, they did so with the promise that it would only be a temporary measure to pay down our bills. While we have paid off a portion of our bills and reduced the payment cycle, we still owe billions of dollars in debt. Regardless, the promise to taxpayers should be kept. I opposed raising taxes then, and I oppose extending that tax increase,” Hammond said.

“Our top priority needs to be expanding our tax base, improving our business climate and creating jobs,” she continued. “While our revenues have increased over the past decade, so has our spending. We need to focus our attention on reforming programs and finding ways we can be more prudent and efficient with taxpayer money.”

Click "Here" to listen to comments from Representative Hammond on the Governor's address.

The House is in session the remainder of this week and most of the next two weeks. The spring session is scheduled to adjourn on May 31. See more from Rep. Hammond here.