Update from Senator Bennett: May 27

Unbalanced, Partisan Budget Passes Late in the evening (just before midnight) on May 25th, the Illinois Senate passed a budget for the coming year, which was then passed by the Illinois House early Saturday morning (just after midnight). Following what has unfortunately become the norm in recent years, the final budget was filed the same evening it passed the Senate, with little time to truly analyze the more than 3,000-page document. Despite the short turnaround for studying the document, Senator Bennett said it was clear that final budget did not match the priorities that would best serve the people of Illinois. Senator Bennett and his colleagues in the Senate Republican Caucus had advocated for several important proposals, including finally offering proper funding for services for the state’s developmentally disabled community (many of the most vulnerable citizens of the state), rebates for downstate families facing high utility costs, continuing a scholarship program which helps children in failing school districts to attend better performing schools, encouraging business and job growth by eliminating the much-criticized franchise tax, and helping to protect family farms for future generations. Majority party Democrats chose different priorities in the final budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars for pork projects for Democratic districts, half a billion dollars to provide free top-tier healthcare to undocumented immigrants, and another half a billion dollars for a slush fund for the Governor to offer to businesses that align with his political agenda. The budget also spends more than the state is forecast to take in, through numerous gimmicks and other tricks crafted by Democratic budgeteers. Senator Bennett said that he felt the budget was a failed opportunity to help the people of the state. He voted “no.”
Firefighter Tax Credit Moves Forward The final days of session did feature some bright spots, however, including the adoption of a $500 tax credit for volunteer firefighters. For several years, Bennett has sponsored legislation to establish the credit, citing the need to help people who give their own time to save lives. He noted that volunteer firefighters donate large amounts of time not only to fight fires, but also to train, and often incur significant costs for training and gear. The proposal moved forward as part of a larger, bipartisan legislative package and was approved by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.
Dollar Pipeline
How much do we owe? As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $653,795,906 to state vendors, including 12,450 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.
Gina Miles
Did You Know? The 53rd Senate District might be a fertile ground for talent, from scientists to business leaders. The area can now lay claim to another bragging point, as the 23rd Season of the Voice was won by Paxton-born Gina Miles. Earlier this week, Miles locked-up the talent competition with her rendition of “New York State of Mind.” The 19-year-old was coached by Niall Horan, beating out the Blake Shelton-coached Grace West in the finale. At the age of 18, Miles moved from Paxton to live with her aunt in Sacramento, so that she could pursue her music career full time. It looks like she is on well on her way to success in the industry after this important win.
This Week in the 53rd District
Tom Bennett

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