Week in Review: June 9

Governor Signs $50 Billion Budget

Despite warnings that the state’s spending plan is likely unbalanced and sets Illinois up for an unstable future, the Gov. JB Pritzker proceeded to sign the over $50 billion budget this week—the largest in state history.

While the Governor claimed to prioritize fiscal responsibility, Senate Republicans continue to question hidden spending throughout the budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars the state will likely be on the hook for under its free healthcare program for undocumented immigrants, which is the only of its kind in the nation.

Senate Republicans also remain wary about how this plan will be sustainable in the years to come. With spending rapidly increasing year after year—$11 billion since Gov. Pritzker took office, it’s unlikely the state will be able to sustain this trend without leaving taxpayers vulnerable and at a time of economic instability.

Additionally, there are at least two items in the budget that don’t kick in until halfway through the fiscal year (Jan. 1, 2024) but will require a full-year’s appropriation in the fiscal years to follow. These important initiatives include Medicaid rate increases for healthcare providers and wage increases for providers for the developmentally disabled. These costs will have to be doubled in the next fiscal year budget and thereafter; however, the Governor’s signed FY24 budget does not provide for that consideration.

Senator Bennett says this budget is far from responsible. The Majority Party and the Governor had an opportunity to present a plan that is not only balanced and fiscally mindful, but also better considers the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Sales Tax on Groceries to Be Reinstated July 1

The Majority Party and the Governor failed to permanently eliminate or even extend the state’s sales tax on groceries this legislative session. That means that beginning July 1, Illinoisans will again be paying more when they check out at the supermarket.

The short-term suspension of the one percent sales tax took effect last summer as part of a series of temporary relief measures ahead of a major election. Senate Republicans advocated for permanent relief for the residents of Illinois but instead were only provided election-year gimmicks, said Senator Bennett

July’s tax increase comes despite Senate Republican attempts again this year to provide long-term relief in Senate Bill 1150, which would have made Illinois the 38th state to permanently do away with the state grocery tax. It would have also exempted prescription drugs and other medical devices from state sales tax.

Senator Bennett says he is disappointed by the lack of action this spring session as families are still hurting from the effects of high inflation.

Applications for Governor’s Hometown Awards Closing Soon

Next week, applications will close for the Governor’s Hometown Awards. Hosted by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) with The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, the Awards program was designed to give formal recognition to those who contributed to projects that improved their community’s quality of life. Interested townships, villages, cities, and counties can start the application online through June 16.

The application process is two-part, with a form submitted online first and a follow-up email containing additional information both submitted by 5:00 pm on Friday, June 16. The specifics to the application process can be found on the Serve Illinois’ website. Applicants should keep in mind that incomplete applications will not be considered.

Last year’s winner was the O’Fallon Police Department, which participated in a variety of events that raised money for Special Olympics Illinois. They were chosen from four finalists, all of which gave a 45-minute presentation on their contributions for the judges to grade and from which to pick the winner. This year will be the 15th Governor’s Hometown Awards Ceremony.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $718,188,714.76 to  state vendors, including 12,542 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 a little less than $2 billion.

Did you know?

The Gridley Telephone Museum, in Gridley, IL, contains an amazing display of memorabilia that reflects the evolution of communication services in rural Illinois. Construction began in 2000 and was completed in 2001. All of the telephones, records, equipment, and other artifacts were moved into the new building. Many hours of arranging, assembling and careful placement of all of these things has now been completed and the Gridley Telephone Museum is a reality! It officially opened on July 15, 2002. It is housed in a beautiful building, which was designed by Gary Hocker, a local architect. Mr. Hocker also designed many of the displays and the cases housing the historical items and articles. The building contains the historic telephone collection of Rogers Kaufman. This collection includes working models of many of the nation’s early phones, a fully-functioning “hands on” switchboard, and a rich array of artifacts that will appeal to tourists of all ages. It is located on Center Street, adjacent to the Gridley Public Library, in downtown Gridley.

Click here to learn more!

This Week in the 53rd District:

Tom Bennett

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: