Update from Senator Bennett: Nov. 10

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Senate Republicans Push for Extension of Invest in Kids Act

The Senate Republican Caucus proudly continued their efforts to support the nearly 10,000 children whose lives have been forever changed by the Invest in Kids Scholarship Program. Hundreds of students and their families rallied at the Capitol during the veto session, pleading with lawmakers to keep the low-income scholarship program alive.

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans held a press conference calling on the Governor and his legislative allies to help save the Invest in Kids Scholarship program. They noted that instead of being focused on Illinois, the Governor was out of state in Florida trying to increase his national profile by weighing in on federal issues.

Since the inception of the Invest in Kids program in 2017, more than $308 million in private donations have been made to a tax credit scholarship fund that has provided more than 38,000 scholarships to help low-income K-12 students in struggling schools optimize their chances for academic success by attending a school of their choice.

Because Gov. Pritzker refused to address the issue and no action was taken during Veto Session, the Invest in Kids program is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2024, potentially forcing students to leave their current schools in the middle of the school year.

Senator Bennett says it is unacceptable that Democratic leaders abandoned families across the state to save the vital program. He says that despite the setback, Senate Republicans will continue their fight for the program during next year’s spring session.

Lawmakers Pass Bill Paving Way for Next Generation of Nuclear Reactors 

State lawmakers took an important step toward creating a stronger and more reliable power supply for Illinois by passing legislation end the moratorium on new nuclear reactor construction.  

House Bill 2473 lifts the ban on next generation nuclear reactors less than 300 MW beginning Jan. 1, 2026, allowing for the construction and development of next-generation Small Modular Reactors (SMRs). The Illinois Emergency Management Agency Office of Homeland Security will be directed to establish rules for reactor decommissioning, environmental monitoring, and emergency preparedness by Jan. 1, 2026. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will provide consultation.  

House Bill 2473 also authorizes the Governor to commission a brand-new study to research the state’s role in guiding the development of new nuclear technology and makes conforming statutory changes, including updating references to IEMA-OHS in preexisting Illinois law. 

Passed by the Senate with a 44-7 vote and by the House of Representatives with a 98-8 vote, House Bill 2473 will be sent to the Governor’s desk for consideration.  

Senate Extends Law to Hold Repeat Gun Offenders: House Refuses to Take Action

Senator Bennett voted on Nov. 8 to extend a criminal penalty enhancement designed to keep more felons convicted of gun crimes behind bars and off the streets. House Bill 1440 was passed in the Senate by a 41-12 vote, but it appears to have stalled in the House of Representatives, which means the criminal penalty enhancement will sunset at the end of this year

The statute was originally passed at the request of law enforcement to help them keep violent repeat offenders and gang members behind bars.

Senator Bennett says that the partisan games used to kill the statute will make the state less safe, by allowing violent gun criminals to be back on the streets sooner.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,681,624,699.07 to  state vendors, including 17,844 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?

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. Here are a few facts you may not have known about today.

  • Veterans Day originated on Nov 11, 1919, to commemorate the first anniversary of the end of WW1.
  • Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day.”
  • Veterans Day became a national holiday in 1938.
  • It is Veterans Day, not Veteran’s Day.

Tomorrow, we gather to pay tribute to the brave men and women who have selflessly served our country, defending our values. Veterans Day is a time to express our deepest gratitude for their unwavering commitment and sacrifice.

This Week in the 53rd District

State Senator Tom Bennett – Working full-time to represent you

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