Week in Review: March 25

New Legislation Aimed at Helping Struggling Families

New financial help could soon be available for parents thanks to legislation Senator Bennett is co-sponsoring designed to provide financial relief to families with children enrolled in daycare and pre-K programs.

Senate Bill 2717 would allow parents or guardians of one or more children between the ages of 3 and 5 who attend an eligible preschool program in Illinois to qualify for a tax credit equal to 100 percent of the expenses they incur to send their children to that preschool program, up to $1,500 per child.

Senate Bill 3104, which would give parents a state tax credit for each qualifying child on their income taxes to help provide financial relief for those paying for childcare services. Under the proposal, qualifying families would receive a state tax credit equal to 25 percent of the current federal childcare tax credit for each child.

As the spring legislative session continues, Senate Republicans hope to see bipartisan progress on these critical issues to improve the lives of people of all ages and in all stages of life who call Illinois home.

Senator Bennett says it is important to support growing families and help provide children and their parents with the best opportunities possible.

Legislators Critical of Two Correctional Facilities Closing

The Governor recently announced his plan to close and rebuild Stateville Correctional Center in Will County and Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln, leaving many unanswered questions about what will happen to the current employees, inmates, and the local communities.

In February, the Governor proposed $900 million for maintenance and modernization of Department of Corrections facilities within his proposed FY25 budget. In the joint prison closure announcement from the Governor and the Illinois Department of Corrections, it became clear that the money was meant to be used to demolish and rebuild Logan and Stateville.

Currently, the Governor is planning to rebuild Stateville at the same location as the current facility, but his administration has released no details or commitments on the location of the new Logan Correctional Center.

Senator Bennett has expressed concerns about what would happen to the more than 500 direct jobs, hundreds more indirect jobs, and economic benefits that Logan Correctional Center provides. While they recognized a need for repairs, they rightly pointed out that the facilities’ current state of disrepair exists because of administrative neglect and misplaced priorities.

Meanwhile, the local union representing the two facilities came out against the plan citing fears that even temporary closures of the centers would “disrupt and potentially destabilize the prison system, while bringing upheaval to the lives of affected employees and individuals in custody.”

Senator Bennett is working on a resolution for the Pontiac Correctional Facility to help avoid a shutdown there.

In accordance with the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability process, construction of new facilities will not commence until all requirements of the State Facilities Closure Act are met. More information about that process, including a timeline, can be found here.

Illinois Spring Trout Fishing Season Starts April 6

Anglers in Illinois who are looking to land a big trout won’t have to wait much longer. April 6 will mark the start of the 2024 Illinois spring trout fishing season. During the season, Illinoisans will be able to keep a maximum of five trout per day. For those who don’t care about hanging on to their trout, the catch-and-release season will begin on March 23.

The Illinois Catchable Trout Program is funded by the sale of inland trout stamps. Each year through the program the Illinois Department of Natural Resources puts 80,000-rainbow trout into bodies of water in the spring and fall.

Those interested in fishing for trout in Illinois waters will need to have an inland trout stamp and a fishing license. Exceptions to this rule are in place for Illinois residents on leave from active duty in the military, individuals who are blind, persons with disabilities, and those younger than 16. Trout stamps and fishing licenses can be purchased at https://www.exploremoreil.com/ .

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,105,658,792.55 to  state vendors, including 18,654 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?

Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

To raise awareness for the challenges people with disabilities face, March has been designated as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.

Intellectual disabilities (ID) or developmental disabilities (DD) affect a family member in one out of 10 families. Intellectual, neurological, and physical impairments, vision and hearing loss are all examples of the wide range of conditions encompassed by the term developmental disability.

Access to disability services and resources are given to people after they are assessed by local agencies and the Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD). The largest area of support for these residents comes from the DDD and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS).

Around 32,00 residents are supported by IDHS and DDD, but due to inadequacies in services and funding, the state currently has almost 16,000 individuals on a waiting list for the services these organizations provide.

These issues have grown considerably more apparent after a Guidehouse report revealed that the state has underfunded the DD community by half a billion dollars over the last five years. Meanwhile, the Governor’s recent budget proposal once again fails to meet recommended funding levels, but prioritizes a billion dollars for non-citizen programs.

This Week in the 53rd District

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

Tom Bennett

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