2022 Spring Session Recap
The Spring Legislative Session has come to an end and I want to share with you some highlights of the work we did in Springfield. My team and I worked hard to pass several important pieces of legislation to promote cultural and economic development, support families impacted by incarceration, expand healthcare access, and aid Ukrainian refugees. We also worked hard to pass a responsible budget that makes critical investments into violence reduction, education, housing, and providing relief for working families. Read on for more details on all we accomplished.
Budget: A Responsible Budget That Invests in Working Families
Working families are the backbone of our economy. I understand that it is critical for our state budget to invest in supporting families as we move towards recovery from the pandemic. This is why this spring I advocated for a budget proposal that protects vital state programs and services, provides relief to working families, expands community-based violence prevention, and invests in preserving and developing affordable housing. We made significant progress in a lot of these areas and I will share a few highlights below.
Our budget invests in working families:
We are fully funding the Governor’s $1B Illinois Family Relief Plan, which includes:
Suspending the grocery tax for a year, saving consumers $400 million
Freezing the gas tax for 6 months-saving consumers $70 million
Doubling the property tax rebate to save up to $300 per household
We are permanently expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit in Illinois. Almost one million people who are currently excluded from the refund, including childless workers aged 18-24 and over age 65, as well as immigrants who file taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), are now eligible to receive this refundable tax credit. We have also increased the benefit from 18% to 20% for those already eligible. This means even the 3.6 million people that currently receive the credit will receive a boost. This extremely effective program provides tax relief for low-income Illinoisans and I was proud to support its expansion.
The budget also provided for one-time direct checks for $50 and $100 for each of their children to all eligible tax filers.
Our budget invests in education:
We are fully funding a $350M increase for evidenced-based education funding. All of our children—regardless of their socioeconomic background—deserve a high-quality public education. We are making investments to create educational opportunities our students need to uplift their communities.
We will also be doubling the tax credit for teachers purchasing classroom materials. Investments in Illinois kids are investments in the future, but the hard-working teachers in our communities should not be paying for those investments out of their own pockets. There will also be a sales tax holiday on school supplies for all consumers.
Our budget invests in housing:
We are setting aside an additional $150 million in ARPA funding for the Illinois House Development Authority to provide grants, forgivable loans, and other expenses associated with affordable housing development programs. Our goal is for these resources to include support for permanent supportive housing, transitional housing for returning residents, and loan programs for homeowners. Many people across our state are still impacted by housing instability and insecurity. These investments will be critical in stabilizing housing for thousands of Illinois residents.
Our budget invests in violence prevention:
We are appropriating $48 million for local safety councils, youth summer jobs programs, YouthBuild Illinois, Teen REACH, Youth Redeploy Illinois, Parents Too Soon, and other comprehensive community-based youth services. These services are intended to target youth most at risk of becoming perpetrators or victims of crimes
Our budget takes care of our bill backlog.
While my preference is that we always budget to meet people’s immediate needs, clearing this bill backlog will ensure that future budgets are not burdened by debt and can continue to make investments in our communities. Specifically, we are:
Paying down all COVID-19-related borrowing
Eliminating $900M in delayed health insurance bills
Investing $500M in pension stabilization
Infusing $1B into the state’s once-depleted Rainy Day Fund
HB4343: Medicaid Expansion
Over the last three years, I have sponsored legislation to make sure that some of the most vulnerable members of our community have access to the healthcare they need regardless of their immigration status. Our efforts led to Illinois becoming the first state in the nation to offer Medicaid-like coverage first to seniors 65 and older in 2020 and to those 55 and older in 2021. I am proud to share that we continued this expansion by passing HB4343 which expands coverage under this program to low-income people who are 42 years old and over, regardless of their immigration status. It has been my honor to champion this historic expansion in partnership with the Healthy Illinois coalition. This bill passed both chambers and it is on its way to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
HB5581: Designating the Milwaukee Avenue Polish Heritage Corridor
My legislation to designate the Milwaukee Avenue Polish Heritage Corridor has passed both the House and Senate and is on its way to Governor Pritzker’s desk. This designation will honor the rich cultural heritage and legacy of Chicago's Polish-American Communities. This legislation builds on work that I have been doing to help local communities honor and promote their unique and distinctive cultural heritage through State Designated Cultural Districts.
Milwaukee Avenue is a historic state route that has been a beacon of economic and community development for Polish Americans and Polish immigrants. Designating the Milwaukee Avenue Polish Heritage Corridor at the core of this state route will ensure that we celebrate, invest in, and promote this important legacy and the Polish-American community for years to come.
HB5525: Supporting Children and Families Impacted by Incarceration
Illinois will be creating a Commission on Children of Incarcerated Parents thanks to my legislation which passed both chambers this spring. This bill continues work that we started 3 years ago to better support children and families who have been impacted by parental incarceration.
The commission will be tasked with convening relevant stakeholders to determine the best approaches to implement the recommendations made by the Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents. The commission will focus on a wide range of issues including developing strategies for better coordination of services between state agencies, revising policies when law enforcement interact with children, reviewing training standards, and improving conditions for visitation. I am thankful for the partnership of the Women’s Justice Institute and Cabrini Green Legal Aid on this important work.
HB1293: Support for Ukrainian Refugee & Russian Divestment
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I have worked to stand in support and solidarity with the people of Ukraine. The House of Representatives took action on two important initiatives this Spring. First, I sponsored HJR72 which was unanimously approved. The resolution condemns Russia’s war in Ukraine, states our support for the Ukrainian people, and affirms our support for President Biden’s sanctions.
We also passed HB1293, which I chief co-sponsored that will ensure that our state sends a firm message of rebuke to Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs supporting his war in Ukraine. The bill does a few important things:
Ensures that the state of Illinois will divest state funds from Russian and Belarusian corporations and securities
Creates a task force to ensure that Russian oligarchs are not abusing our real estate system to launder money for their war
Give the Department of Human Services emergency rule-making power so that we are prepared for a refugee crisis arising from this conflict.
Further secures election integrity by investigating Russian interference in the 2016 and 2020 elections, and preparing to prevent foreign interference in the future
This bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support and is currently pending future action by the Senate.