Update from Senator Bennett: April 30

Bennett Files Legislation Calling for Long-Term Plan for Pontiac Correctional Center Following the recent closure of numerous buildings at the Pontiac Correctional Center, along with local concerns over the site’s future, State Senator Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) has filed legislation calling for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to provide a long-term plan for the facility. “The Pontiac Correctional Center is an economic anchor for Livingston County and an important part of our state’s corrections system,” said Bennett. “We need to understand what the administration plans for the facility, so that the local community can prepare for any potential major changes and the ripples they could cause for the surrounding area. We also want to ensure that the administration is utilizing the facility in the best way to help the overall corrections system.” Senate Resolution 215, filed by Bennett, calls on the Illinois Department of Corrections to release a long-term plan for the Pontiac Correctional Center (PCC), including: Plans for physical facilities/buildings, including maintenance needs and any planned repair projects, as well as any planned building closures.Planned staffing levels.Planned population levels for the individuals in custody.An analysis of how the PCC fits into the state corrections system. Bennett noted that there has been significant concern in the Livingston County community over the future of the facility due to previous IDOC plans and partial closures. In 2008, IDOC officials announced plans to close the entire facility by the end of that year. In early 2009, those plans were cancelled. In early 2022, following the sudden transfer of inmates of PCC, along with a leak of internal planning documents to news media (that included a significant downsizing proposal), IDOC announced plans to close the facility’s medium security unit and reduce capacity from 1,740 beds to 642 beds. Additionally, there have been reports of several attacks on corrections officers by inmates in recent months. “The Pontiac Correctional Center is a vital component of our corrections system,” said Bennett. “We need to protect this vital asset for the future of the community and the state.”
Dollars Sheet
Undocumented Healthcare Program Breaks Budget A recent news article has reported on a glaring budget liability heading into the new fiscal year as a program that provides free healthcare for undocumented immigrants has ballooned out of control to the tune of $1 billion. In 2020, Illinois implemented the Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Seniors, a program that gave Medicaid-type coverage for noncitizens 65 years or older. Since then, the program has expanded to include those 42 and older. In its first fiscal year, the program exceeded its entire year’s appropriation within the first month of implementation. This trend has only increased. Currently, FY23 spending is estimated to be $567.6 million, over three times the budgeted amount of $150 million. The disparity between budgeted and actual spending is expected to continue as the state is now projecting a total cost next fiscal year of $990 million, leaving a program deficit of $770 million.  Illinois taxpayers are completely on the hook for this program as there is no matching federal funding like there is for Medicaid, since it covers noncitizens. Senator Bennett criticized the administration for the program and the cost overruns. He notes that the  state has failed some of its most vulnerable citizens, such as largely underfunding services to the developmentally disabled by over half a billion dollars over three years.
Senate Republicans Put Crime Victims First in Legislative Push Recent public policy has too often prioritized criminals rather than focusing on bringing justice to the victims.  Senate Republicans are pushing several proposals aimed at reducing fentanyl deaths and protecting victims of domestic abuse, drunk driving, and childcare center threats. The legislation includes: Senate Bill 73: Increases the charge of unlawfully selling or dispensing any drug containing fentanyl to a Class X felony that would face no less than 9 to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. House Bill 3203: Expands the availability of fentanyl test strips by allowing them to be sold over the counter and enables county health departments to provide them for free. Senate Bill 1086: Changes cause of death from fentanyl overdose to fentanyl poisoning to reduce the stigma surrounding fentanyl deaths. Senate Bill 1976: Creates the charge of Domestic Assault, making it easier for police officers to go after domestic offenders who knowingly place any household member in fear of serious harm. It also ensures that defendants released from custody ahead of trial will be ordered to refrain from contacting their victims or entering their residences for a minimum of 72 hours. Senate Bill 1974: Increases a Domestic Battery charge to Aggravated Domestic Battery when the act of violence is committed against someone 60 years or older. Senate Bill 1968: Puts daycares in line with schools by making it a felony to threaten a childcare institution or daycare center building or threaten violence, death, or bodily harm directed against someone at one of these facilities.
Senator Bennett to Host Online Back to Business Grant Webinar Applications are currently openon the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website for the Back to Business (B2B) program. Through this program, the state of Illinois is offering $175 million in recovery grants for businesses in three select categories that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. Restaurants, hotels, and creative arts organizations are all able to submit applications from now until May 10. In total, $75 million will be available for the hotel grants, while $50 million will be available for restaurants and creative arts organizations respectively. Grants are wide ranging, from $5,000 to $50,000 for restaurants, up to $1,500 per room for hotels, and $5,000 to $250,000 for creative arts organizations. More information about the program and the exact requirements to apply for the grants can be found on the DCEO’s website.  To assist business owners with the application process and to answer questions regarding qualifications, Senator Bennett is partnering with DCEO to host a Back to Business online webinar on Wednesday, May 3 from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Representatives from DCEO will be on hand to provide information and to guide business owners through the application process. To participate in the webinar, registration is required. Please email your name, as well as your business name, address, and phone number to RSVP@sgop.ilga.gov. Upon RSVP, participants will receive a link to the online webinar.
Dollar Pipeline
How much do we owe? As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $537,431,219 to state vendors, including 7,884 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 approximately $2 billion.
Did You Know? There is a good chance that you are reading this newsletter on a smartphone or tablet right now. As computer technology has continued to advance, modern mobile electronic devices are able to put a massive amount of processing power inside something that easily fits in your pocket or purse. A modern Apple or Android smartphone has more than 1 million times the memory of the Apollo 11 guidance computer that helped land astronauts on the moon. Those same phones have roughly 100,000 times the processing power of that same guidance system. Much of this is owed to the work of numerous engineers and scientists who pioneered low-power, high performance processing technology. One of the key figures in that field was Dan Dobberpuhl. As part of a career in the semiconductor industry, he evnutally founded SiByte, where he led the development of the first multi-core system on a chip (SOC) processor, the SB1250. Later, he founded P.A. Semi, a company which developed the low-power, high performance PWRficient family of processors. That company was eventually purchased by Apple in 2008. The technology developed at P.A. Semi underpins the SOC processors used in Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Dobberpuhl was born and raised in Streator, Illinois, and earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This Week in the 53rd District
Tom Bennett

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