Update from Senator Bennett: April 21

Chicago Mayor-Elect Johnson Delivers Speech to General Assembly On April 19, the Mayor-elect of Chicago gave an address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly to tout his plans for the City. In his speech, Mayor-elect Johnson made a lot of promises for programs that will likely be funded by businesses and could lead to the continued exodus of employers that Chicago has seen recently. While no specific mention was made by Johnson on April 19, he has proposed a series of tax increases in recent months. Those proposals would be a direct hit to job-creators that not only employ thousands in the City but also the greater Chicagoland area. One such proposal would implement a hotel tax, which would stifle tourism and make it less attractive for visitors and major trade shows. Instead of more tax-and-spend polices, Senate Republicans were hoping to hear the Mayor-elect present real, concrete plans and solutions to the crime problem facing Chicago. Rather than announcing how he intends to hold criminals accountable, Johnson glossed over the major issue that continues to receive negative national headlines. “Chicago is an important economic engine for the state of Illinois. We need the city to be safe and economically viable. However, what the mayor is pushing for is just more of the same broken ideas that have been hurting Chicago and all of Illinois for decades,” said Senator Bennett. “Right now, many residents of Chicago are scared when they leave their homes, and tourists are afraid to visit. Like much of Illinois, high taxes and fees are pushing businesses and jobs to other states. Going soft on crime won’t fix the situation, and neither will raising taxes even more.” “Mayor-Elect Johnson needs to get serious about working to address the challenges that face Chicago, he needs a plan to hold criminals accountable and keep people safe, and he needs to find a way to put together a budget that doesn’t take even more money out of families’ pockets,” concluded Bennett.
DCFS Faces Questions During Appropriations Hearing This week, legislators, including Senator Bennett, had a chance to question DCFS officials on the Department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 during a Senate Appropriations committee hearing. DCFS funding has increased over the past few years, culminating in an increase of $767 million since Fiscal Year 2018. Despite this increase and the recent request during this week’s hearing for even more money, the number of child deaths under the agency’s radar has only increased in recent years. From Fiscal Years 2015 to 2018, an average of 100.5 children died per year, while from Fiscal Years 2018 to 2022, that number increased to 129.5 children. In 2022 alone, there were 171 deaths of children who met the criteria for an investigation by DCFS. Although funding has increased, DCFS has still failed to improve their quality of care for these vulnerable children. Instead, the issue has only worsened over time. And this is not the only issue that DCFS has faced. In the past few years, the Director of DCFS has faced multiple contempt of court charges over child placements and the agency has been accused of mishandling numerous cases. Senator says these trends are unacceptable, and that the Governor’s administration needs to conduct a top to bottom overhaul of the agency so that vulnerable children receive the protection that they deserve..
Dollar Pipeline
How much do we owe? As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,210,345,746 to state vendors, including 17,197 pending 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 slightly more than $2 billion.
Alzheimer's Week of Action
Did You Know? During the spring legislative session, numerous organizations and groups visit the Capitol complex to meet with legislators and lobby for new laws, changes to existing laws, or funding for specific causes. On Wednesday, the Illinois Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association held their annual day of action in Springfield. Volunteers, including friends and family members of those suffering from Alzheimer’s, visited with lawmakers, hoping to raise awareness of the disease, and lobbying to pass legislation. Senate Bill 216, which was a focal point for advocates this year, has now passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation requires guardianship training programs to include content regarding Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and loss of other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s typically begins 20 years or more before memory loss or other symptoms develop. An estimated 6.7 million Americans age 65 and older, or roughly 1 in 9 people in that age group, are living with Alzheimer’s dementia. The disease isn’t limited just to senior citizens. The association estimates that 200,000 Americans aged 30-64 have younger-onset dementia. While there is no cure for the disease, there are options for treatment. For more information, visit: https://www.alz.org/
This Week in the 53rd District
Tom Bennett

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