Update From Senator Bennett: March 4

Report says Illinois is One of the Top Destinations for Migrants

A recent Bloomberg News report points to the massive influx of migrants who are heading to Illinois once they enter the United States. The article examined the addresses provided by migrants for immigration court cases. According to the report’s metrics, there was an increase of 821 percent in the number of migrants listing an Illinois address from just 2021 to 2023.

Governor JB Pritzker has made it a major priority of his administration to provide services for migrants, stating that he wanted to make Illinois the Most Welcoming State in the Nation for non-citizens. Illinois is one of just two states providing free healthcare for non-citizens, along with numerous other taxpayer-funded services. When Pritzker took office, spending on non-citizen programs was just a few million dollars per year, but that has ballooned to roughly $1 billion per year over the last two years.

Last week, the Governor presented his annual budget proposal, including $1 billionin tax increases on families and businesses.

Senator Bennett says it’s no coincidence that the Governor’s tax hike proposals so closely match up with the amount his administration has been spending on migrant services. He says that the Governor needs to focus on programs helping Illinois citizens, instead of using the taxpayers to fund his myriad of programs for migrants.

Tax Season Means Increase in Scammer Activity

According to a recent warning from the Illinois Comptroller’s Office, Illinois residents may find themselves under attack from scammers this tax season. In particular, the Comptroller’s Office is warning Illinoisans to be vigilant when it comes to phone calls, emails, and letters that are supposedly from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

These scammers will impersonate the IRS in order to demand payments via wire transfers or gift cards, and threaten jail or deportation if their demands are not met.

Additionally, some scammers will send an email that will look like it’s from the IRS and infest users’ computers with a malware virus if they click on any links.

It is important to remember that the IRS will not email, text, or call if residents owe money. Instead, they will receive a bill in the mail, but wire transfers or gift cards will not be an acceptable form of payment. Some tips to help identify fake IRS scam letters, include looking for irregular fonts, and bad grammar.

Another common scam targets college faculty and students by sending out emails that end in .edu that request they complete a form with their personal information in order for the scammer to fake unemployment claims in their name.

If taxpayers receive a 1099-G form, which is meant for unemployment claims, despite not filing for unemployment benefits, they should immediately report it to the Illinois Department of Employment Services at ides.illinois.gov

The final tax season scam that the Comptroller’s Office is warning Illinoisans to be wary of involves the unclaimed tax refund. Under this ploy, scammers will use the allure of easy money as a means to steal personal information.

Illinois residents can track the status of their state tax refunds at myrefund.illinoiscomptroller.gov and are encouraged to report all unsolicited letters, emails, or texts from IRS impersonators to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.

Illinois’ Unemployment Rate Remains the Nation’s 3rd-highest

In his Budget Address, Gov. Pritzker spoke about how a few industries were able to create jobs for Illinois residents while conveniently failing to mention the ongoing unemployment surge during his tenure.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois has the third worst unemployment rate in the country with almost 5 percent of the state’s workforce being unemployed. Meanwhile, the national average for unemployment is 3.7 percent as of December 2023.

Illinois ranks 42nd in the nation in non-farm jobs, with a gain of just 57,800 positions in 2023. Health services, federal government, and private education were the largest areas of increased employment last year. Leading the state in loss jobs, 25,900 jobs were loss in the business and professional sector last year.

The continued loss of residents from the state has had a heavy impact on job recovery since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the U.S. Census Bureau reported 32,826 residents left the state. This marks the 10th straight year of the state losing residents. Overall, the number of Illinois residents unemployed increased last year by 16,500.

Senator Bennett says to decrease the state’s unemployment rate, Illinois needs put in place policies that provides relief to employers and employees and incentivizes economic development. 

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,110,651,657.27 to  state vendors, including 16,315 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?Anchor

Illinois Winters Brings Prime Eagle Watching

During the winter season, the iconic symbol of America, the bald eagle, is known to call Illinois its home, marking primetime eagle spotting.

The frozen waters of more northern states typically drive the eagle to head further south, but not very far. In fact, Alaska is the only state that has more eagles in the winter than Illinois.

Illinois has more than 3,100 bald eagles that choose the state as their location to spend the winter. The eagles arrive in Illinois in December and typically stay until March. The state is particularly attractive to them because of open, not always frozen, water during the winter months.

To find eagles more accurately, download the application eBird on a cell phone or visit ebird.org for information on all local eagle sightings. Visit https://eagles.illinois.gov/ for more information.

This Week in the 53rd District

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

Tom Bennett

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: