Update from Senator Bennett: June 3rd

Pritzker’s Tax Hikes and Record Government Spending Pass General Assembly

Last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed Governor JB Pritzker’s bloated budget and nearly a billion dollars in new taxes to fund the migrant crisis he created. Pritzker’s budget sets a new record for government spending at just over $53 billion – an increase of nearly $13 billion, or 32%, since the Governor took office.

The alarming surge in government spending was primarily fueled by temporary emergency COVID funds and unexpectedly high state revenue. Rather than using these resources wisely, Pritzker and his legislative allies created new programs and increased permanent government spending. This includes an annual expenditure of approximately a billion dollars on programs for non-citizens, including top-tier healthcare. Senate Republicans have cautioned against using temporary dollars to fund permanent spending.

Instead of reducing government spending and reining in costs, the Governor is raising taxes to the tune of a billion dollars to fund the migrant crisis he created. Meanwhile, the budget shortchanges members of the developmentally disabled community, K-12 and college students, along with the taxpayers forced to foot the bill.

Senator Bennett said the Governor needs to make the people of Illinois his priority and stop treating them like a piggy bank to fund his political agenda.

Senate Passes Legislation to Reform Prisoner Review Board

Amid ongoing controversy with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB), including a recent high-profile tragedy where a young boy was murdered by an offender just days after his release, the Senate passed legislation to reform the controversial body.

House Bill 681 includes a number of reforms to the PRB, incorporating ideas previously suggested by Senate Republicans. The bill enhances protections for victims by ensuring they are notified when prisoners are up for release and by improving the process for filing impact statements. Additionally, the legislation establishes new qualification standards for board members, increases transparency and creates a task force to examine various issues related to the board.

Senator Bennett emphasized that the PRB urgently needs reforms to improve public safety, prioritize and protect victims, and ensure that their voices are heard throughout the process.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Unconstitutional Election Law

On May 22, a Springfield Circuit judge issued a temporary injunction blocking a controversial new election law rammed through the General Assembly by Democrat lawmakers earlier this month. Critics say this new law is designed to protect vulnerable incumbents and reduce voter choice at the ballot box.

Senate Bill 2412, signed into law by Governor Pritzker on May 3, would make significant changes to the rules for an election process that is already underway. Most notably, it would end the slating process currently taking place in districts throughout the state, eliminating challengers that entrenched incumbents could face in November.

The temporary injunction comes after a lawsuit was filed alleging violations of constitutional voting rights, preventing free and fair elections for the people of Illinois.

Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation earlier this month, noting that this proposal was a blatant power grab by Illinois Democrats looking to protect incumbents in the general election and would only further erode public trust in the electoral process.

Senator Bennett remains hopeful that this ruling is a step toward ensuring that the citizens of Illinois will be able to choose who represents them in Springfield. 

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $468,486,252.81 to  state vendors, including 15,745 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?

The Senate’s annual Memorial Day Wall of Remembrance is now on display in the Illinois State Capitol Rotunda.

Presented every year by the Senate Republican Caucus, the Wall of Remembrance features a moving display of photos and stories of men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. military.

Illinoisans are encouraged to visit the display to share their own stories and memories of loved ones and friends who have fallen in the line of duty, or to simply express gratitude, by filling out notes to post on the Wall. The display is open to the public from May 23 to June 7 during regular Capitol business hours.

Additionally, individuals unable to visit the Capitol can view the display here.

This Week in the 53rd District

Tom Bennett

Want to stay up to date with your Senator?

Sign up for the District E-Newsletter below: