Governor Proposes $3 Billion Spending Increase During Budget Address
On Feb. 15, Gov. JB Pritzker proposed his fifth budget to the Illinois General Assembly during his annual Budget and State of the State Address. While he painted an idealistic image of Illinois’ fiscal outlook, he also failed to address the looming realities the Illinois economy is likely to see.
The plan laid out by the Governor increases permanent state spending by $3 billion, despite expert warnings of decreased revenue likely to be brought on by a recession. In the last few years, Illinois has benefited from a massive influx of federal dollars and increased revenues due to COVID-19 relief programs and inflation. Those federal programs are coming to an end, however.
“The reckless spending and partisan pork projects of the last few years have to come to an end. The people of Illinois deserve something better than another partisan plan drawn up behind closed doors during the late hours of the night,” said Senator Bennett. “State spending is at historic levels, yet we still keep hearing about crisis after crisis within state agencies, especially those that are charged with caring for our most vulnerable citizens, including a director repeatedly being found to be in contempt of court.” “This broken process has to end. The taxpayers deserve an open and transparent process that prioritizes spending where it is needed most, and that shows discipline with their money.”
Republican Legislators Seek Relief for Families on Power Bills
At the Capitol on Feb. 14, several downstate Republican legislators joined together calling for action to address the rising cost of energy, which has and will continue to impact families and businesses across the state. The lawmakers stood together a day before the Governor gave his Budget and State of the State Address in an effort to remind the Governor that short-term and long-term relief for struggling Illinois families should be one of the top budget priorities this year.
Over the past year, power bills have almost doubled for some families. As a result, GOP lawmakers have proposed a number of bills and solutions that would provide direct relief to impacted Illinoisans, supply more energy immediately to the grid, and address the long-term supply and demand issues that impact consumer costs and reliability.
Senator Bennett is supporting the following package of bills to address these issues:
- Senate Bill 2200: Provides much-needed relief for Ameren residential and commercial customers, who were subject to increased rates last summer. Allocates $200 million (about $170 per customer) in rebates to affected consumers that would be broken up into monthly bill credits likely occurring from April through October. The Legislature approved an Ameren rate relief package during last month’s lame-duck session, but the money was never appropriated.
- Senate Bill 1548: Cuts burdensome regulatory “red tape” at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which has prevented new power plants from coming online in a timely manner.
- Senate Bill 1547: Creates the Power Grid Task Force requiring the General Assembly to look at the impacts that energy policies are having on Illinois’ ability to produce the required amount of energy to meet Illinois’ needs.
In addition to supporting legislative action, Senator Bennett says he is also encouraging the Governor to take executive action to immediately increase the power supply on the grid while also revising permit procedures to expedite the development of new natural gas plants. Right now, there are more than 2,000 megawatts of clean, gas-generated power that can be instantly added to the energy supply.
The U.S. Celebrates American Heart Month!
February is American Heart Month, a designated period where the U.S. strives to address the number one killer of Americans – heart disease. This month has been declared by the president for the past 59 years, and this year the focus will be on the importance of CPR. More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital and 70 percent of those occur at home. Meanwhile, performing CPR can double or triple the chance of survival for a person in cardiac arrest.
This year, the American Heart Association has issued a nationwide challenge for every household to have at least one person know how to perform CPR. A simplified version called Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective in the first few minutes of treatment, and has only two steps. This simplified version stresses that the most important part of CPR is to keep the heart beating through chest compressions at approximately 100 beats per minute. The American Heart Association has a list of CPR classes at www.Heart.org/CPR.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $2,724,933,079 in unpaid bills to state vendors, including 18,872 ending vouchers. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $139 billion. At the same time last year, the state’s accounts payable stood at just over $3 billion.
Did You Know?
The Beckman Institute is an interdisciplinary unit of the University of Illinois. Current research at the world-class facility is focused in three areas, molecular science and engineering, integrative imaging, and intelligent systems. Institute efforts have led to breakthroughs in cancer treatments, advancements in robotics, the development of intelligent hearing aids, and numerous patents for new discoveries. The institute is named for Arnold Beckman, a U of I alumnus, who developed the pH meter and the DU spectrophotometer, as well as funding the first silicon transistor company in California, which would eventually give rise to the regional nickname “Silicon Valley.” Beckman was born in Cullom, Illinois, a small community in the 53rd Senate District.
This Week in the 53rd District
While the legislature was in session this week, Senator Bennett still managed to find time to visit with people throughout the 53rd District. Find out more about his travels during the week at his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/sentombennett.