Week-in-Review: Feb. 24-28

State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) continued his calls for a balanced budget during the week, seeking to ensure that K-12 education funding is not held hostage by a costly income tax.  

In other news, Senate Republicans are asking questions following concerns raised this week by the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association about a recent policy change within the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Meanwhile, Sen. Syverson was recognized for his pro-manufacturing voting record, and new legislation to regionalize the minimum wage was introduced.

Education funding held hostage

During the week, Sen. Syverson continued to raise concerns about a component of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget that puts K-12 funding at risk unless the Governor’s tax hike is approved.

Since the new school-funding formula was enacted in 2018, Illinois has increased school funding by at least $350 million every year – as required by state law. However, if Gov. Pritzker’s costly tax increase is not approved by voters this fall, the formula will be underfunded by $150 million.

Senate Republicans argue that lawmakers should be working toward a balanced budget that funds the state’s priorities, such as K-12 funding, without this priority being tied to a costly tax increase.

DOC policy change comes under scrutiny

During the week, members of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association sounded the alarm about a recent policy change in which non-citizen felons are being released from prison back into Illinois communities following their prison sentences without federal immigration authorities being notified. 

Previously, policy required the Department of Corrections to coordinate with ICE to transfer felons with this designation to Pontiac where they would begin the deportation process instead of releasing them into our communities.  

In light of the Sheriffs’ Association’s concerns and noting the potential dangers to public safety, Senate Republicans are calling upon the Illinois Department of Corrections to answer the following questions:

Why was this policy changed?
Whose decision was it to change this policy?
Why weren’t lawmakers informed?

Republicans lawmakers have called upon the Senate President and the Chairman of the Senate Criminal Law Committee to call a special hearing on this matter.  

Senate Republican support for manufacturing gets high marks

Several Senate Republican lawmakers have been recognized for their support of Illinois job creators in the 2019 Legislative Scorecard released by the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA).

The annual scorecard recognizes how lawmakers in the General Assembly voted on bills important to the state’s manufacturers.

Sen. Syverson was proud to be one of only four state legislators with an 100 percent voting record or higher on the 2019 Legislative Scorecard.

Manufacturing is one of Illinois’ leading industries and plays a critical role in the success of our state’s economy, employing ten percent of the workforce. Senate Republicans argue that lawmakers should be working harder to advocate on behalf of Illinois’ job-creators, striving to not only retain current manufacturers but also do more to attract new businesses to the state.

New legislation filed to regionalize minimum wage

Recently-filed legislation to regionalize the minimum wage increase would provide some relief to Illinois’ job creators.

Senate Bill 3396 would provide for minimum wages based upon a percentage of the otherwise required minimum wage, depending upon the region of the State. The legislation establishes six regions for purposes of determining the minimum wage.

Under the legislation, specified units of local government would be allowed to opt-out of the state-mandated minimum wage rates and opt-into a regionally adjusted minimum wage, which will be statutorily-authorized and statutorily-approved. It provides a sliding scale type of rate – so areas with historically-low unemployment or higher costs of living must keep rates closer to the state-mandated hourly rate. 

The first wave of minimum wage increases took effect on Jan. 1, increasing the wage from $8.25 an hour to $9.25 an hour.

Dave Syverson

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