Update from Senator Bennett: Nov. 3

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Republican Senators Encouraging Pritzker to ‘Think Illinois’

Senate Republican Caucus members are calling for Gov. JB Pritzker to focus on managing his administration here in Illinois, instead of traveling the country trying to increase his national profile. Members joined a press conference on Nov. 1 to highlight the ongoing concerns regarding the Pritzker Administration’s continued mismanagement and failures within multiple state agencies. The call is in response to the national media tour Gov. Pritzker has been conducting to promote “Think Big America” a new national political organization he started to support policies in other states.

Republican Senators are calling on the Governor to refocus his attention on the job he was elected to do here in Illinois.

During his time in office, his administration has been embattled in a multitude of agency failures including:

  • Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) – Recent investigative news reports highlighted several high-profile resignations/terminations at the agency, along with egregiously high taxpayer funded salaries including one assistant who was being paid up to $60,000 – PER MONTH.
  • Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) – Long delays in license renewals are negatively impacting many skilled professionals throughout the state including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, social workers, other healthcare workers, and business owners.  
  • Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) – Continued long-running issues of mismanagement and neglect for Illinois’ most vulnerable children continue to plague the agency whose director recently announced his resignation following being found in contempt of court numerous times.
  • Illinois Department of Human Services– Despite analyses showing that the agency’s Health Benefits for Immigrant Adults and Seniors program that provides free healthcare to undocumented adult immigrants would likely top $1 billion, Gov. Pritzker insisted he could keep the program within its $550 was budget. Despite being given the tools he said he needed to rein in spending, the agency is projecting the cost to exceed its budget by more than 50% to more than $800 million.
  • Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) – A recent audit called for by Senate Republicans showed Pritzker’s IDES made more than $5 billion in improper payments during the pandemic while many Illinoisans were still struggling to the get the benefits they were rightfully owed. Even more concerning, evidence shows the Pritzker Administration intentionally instructed employees to ignore red flags of fraud and other guidelines suggested by the federal government.

These are just some of the major problems facing Illinois taxpayers that must be addressed. Senate Republicans will continue to call on Gov. Pritzker to take a break from chasing the national spotlight and take significant action to reform the Illinois agencies that have been flailing under his sole control.

On Nov. 7, the Legislative Audit Commission (LAC) will hold a hearing to review the most recent scathing audit covering IDES and the Administration’s handling of the state’s unemployment system during the pandemic. That audit was the result of a resolution filed by Senate Republicans.

At the LAC hearings, Republicans will be filing a resolution to perform a similar audit covering the staffing issues that have recently come to light at IEMA. They will also be filing legislation in the full Senate calling for a similar audit.

According to Senator Bennett, while state legislators were in session last week working on solutions for the people of Illinois, the Governor was out in Washington D.C. weighing in on foreign policy and national politics. Senator Bennett and his fellow state Republican legislators are encouraging Gov. Pritzker to alter his focus and to Think Illinois

Illinois State Police Hold Hearings on Gun Ban Rule

Illinois State Police (ISP) officials have begun holding hearings over a confusing and controversial aspect of the state’s new “Assault Weapon” ban.

The new law bans the possession of many different makes and models of firearms and firearm attachments, but it allows current owners to keep them if they were purchased before Jan. 23, 2023, and if the owners fill out an endorsement affidavit.

To implement the affidavit requirement, ISP filed an emergency rule to be reviewed by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).  Lawmakers on JCAR reached an agreement with the agency to conduct hearings on the proposal before implementation.

The first hearing was held in Springfield on Nov. 2, and the second was in Chicago the following day. The final hearing will be held in Caseyville on Nov. 6.

Numerous individuals submitted comments and questions at the hearings, with much of the focus on conflicting and confusing language within the law itself regarding what specific models of firearms and accessories are affected. Many of them were not given answers at the hearing by ISP officials but were instead asked to submit their questions in writing and were promised answers at a later point.

Senator Bennett says the confusion over the new rule is another reason that ban shouldn’t have been passed in the first place. As a supporter of the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, he/she voted against the ban. Senator Bennett is hopeful that the ban will be ruled unconstitutional by federal courts, where several court lawsuits are still pending.

Veto Session Continues

Next week, state legislators will gather once more in Springfield for the last three days of the annual fall Veto Session. Last week the Veto Session concluded without substantial action on the vetoed bills. Instead, the Illinois Senate chose to address alternative measures, which are now heading to the House of Representatives for further consideration. With much left on the legislative agenda for the people of Illinois, lawmakers are gearing up for the final stretch of the Veto Session, beginning on Nov. 7.

Senate Republicans are focused on using the last week of the Veto Session to continue to try to save the Invest in Kids scholarship program, which provides tax credits for donations to scholarships given to low-income families to allow them to send their children to a school of their choice. Additionally, the senators are pushing for a legislative solution to the Governor’s veto of a bill that would have ended the moratorium on nuclear power plant construction.

Did You Know?

Last year in Illinois, deer-related accidents claimed four lives, injured more than 629 individuals, and led to 14,529 reported crashes.

In November, Illinois roads can become particularly hazardous due to increasing numbers of deer during the peak of the animals’ autumn breeding season, typically leading to an increase in the number of deer-related accidents. Warning signs mark known deer crossing areas, reminding drivers to exercise extreme caution.

Motorists are advised against the instinct to swerve upon encountering a deer; instead, experts emphasize the importance of braking hard, driving straight, and gripping the steering wheel to absorb the impact. This approach not only increases the chances of survival but also reduces the risk of losing control or colliding with other vehicles, emphasizing the critical need for stability and vigilance on the roads.

If you hit a deer, pull over. Turn on your car’s hazard lights and call 9-1-1. Do not approach the injured deer. For information on how to claim a deer involved in a crash, or to report possession of a deer killed in a crash, go to the IDNR website.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,342,605,587.99 to  state vendors, including 16,043 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.

This Week in the 53rd District

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