Update from Senator Bennett: April 22

Senate Republicans Highlight Major Issues with Likely-Unconstitutional University Funding Plan  

Members of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus are calling attention to serious issues with a proposed funding formula for the state’s higher education system. Senator Bennett along with a few other Senators held a press conference on April 18 to inform the public about the changes that could be coming to university funding. 

During the press conference, Republican lawmakers pointed to elements of the formula that base the amount of funding to state universities on a student’s race. The formula would fund higher education institutions on a per-student basis, with tiers of $2,000, $4,000, $6,000, and $8,000, based on multiple factors, including race.  

They noted that under the recent Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard ruling, basing funding levels on race is likely unconstitutional. Additionally, that type of plan would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, jeopardizing any and all federal funding for the schools. The Senators pointed to the University of Illinois, which received more than $750 million in funding in 2023, as an example of what could be at stake.

Republican lawmakers also raised concerns that the formula does not consider the cost of operating medical schools, graduate programs or necessary deferred maintenance.

The proposed funding formula has been attributed to the Illinois Commission on Equitable Public University Funding. However, two of the Senators at the press conference who are members of the Commission noted that neither the formula or the report in which it was contained were ever voted on by the full Commission and did not represent the consensus of the members.  Senator Bennett is hoping to draw attention to the proposed formula and ensure proper vetting before it can become law. He noted the need for a stable, equitable, and reasonable formula for funding higher education, but believe the process of developing a formula needs to be transparent. 

Hundreds rally in support of Second Amendment at Statehouse 

The streets of Springfield were filled with hundreds of supporters of the Second Amendment on April 18 as Illinois Gun Owner Lobby Day (IGOLD) took center stage. 

This annual event brings together gun owners, Second Amendment advocates, and lawmakers in a collective effort to uphold constitutional rights and safeguard the interests of law-abiding gun owners. 

The group began their day in downtown Springfield, hosting a rally at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center. They then marched a half-mile to the Capitol, heard from various speakers, and met with their local lawmakers to discuss legislative issues related to the Second Amendment.  Senator Bennett said that this event is more important than ever considering the recent years of attempts to erode law-abiding constitutional rights by the Majority Party. 

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,589,211,473.76 to  state vendors, including 15,510 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?

2024 ‘Coolest’ Thing Made in Illinois Announced

A mining truck manufactured by Komatsu recently emerged as the winner of the 2024 Makers Madness contest, earning the title of “the coolest thing made in Illinois.” 

Beating out more than 200 other entries for the coveted title, the Peoria-made truck, was crowned through the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s fifth annual contest. The truck has a hauling capacity of up to 400 tons, boasts cutting-edge features such as new innovations in suspension transmission, electric drive technology, and autonomous operation.  Three other finalists were also recognized at the ceremony, including Mullen’s Imitation French Dressing, The MQ-25 Stingray Drone Refueler, and Enviro Buildings’ Mod Box. 

This Week in the 53rd District

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