Senate Week in Review: Jan. 31 – Feb. 4, 2022

SPRINGFIELD – Severe winter weather conditions forced last-minute changes for the Governor’s annual State of the State and Budget Address to Illinois lawmakers on Feb. 2.

In other news, Senate Republicans unveiled a legislative package to support law enforcement as the state’s violent crime continues to skyrocket, as well as announcing several proposals to provide struggling Illinois families with much-needed tax relief for years to come.

‘Snowpocalypse’ forces relocation of State of the State and Budget Address

A massive winter storm swept across much of Illinois earlier this week, dumping more than a foot of snow in some parts of the state that resulted in dangerous road conditions. The so-called “snowpocalypse” arrived in the state Feb. 1, the day before Gov. JB Pritzker was to deliver his annual State of the State and Budget Address in-person to Illinois legislators at the State Capitol.

Due to extreme weather conditions forecast for central Illinois, which included a snowfall ranging from 10 inches to 26 inches with 30 m.p.h. winds, the Majority Party canceled session for the week and sent home lawmakers who had already traveled to Springfield. The cancellation of session cast some doubt on how the Governor would deliver his Address. Eventually, it was announced that the Address would still take place in-person but would be relocated to the Old State Capitol in Springfield.

During the Address, the Governor unveiled his budget proposal, which includes a $2.5 billion government expansion and short-term tax relief that expires after one year.

State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) said he has serious concerns about how the state will be able to afford the Governor’s permanent government expansion once the state runs out of federal stimulus money. Syverson said the people of Illinois deserve long-lasting tax relief, not election-year gimmick relief that the Governor proposed.

Senate Republican legislation supports enforcement, holds violent criminals accountable

Citing the urgent need for swift action to stem the ongoing spike in violent crime across the state, Senate Republicans unveiled an updated legislative package targeting violent crime and offering a critical lifeline to law enforcement efforts.

On Feb. 1, Senate Republicans announced their new legislative initiatives in the Capitol Rotunda in front of a police remembrance wall dedicated to honoring fallen police officers from the past year. This comes three months after Senate Republicans first held a press conference asking for help from across the aisle to address crime.

The legislative package includes a “Fund the Police Grant Act,” which would provide targeted grants to assist law enforcement, provide additional training, and purchase much-needed equipment, including body cameras.

Syverson said the state needs to provide greater support for the men and women tasked with protecting communities across the state, noting that police officers and sheriffs were leaving the law-enforcement profession in unprecedented numbers. Syverson noted that in many cases, officers leaving the profession have indicated it was due in large part to provisions of the so-called “SAFE-T Act,” an anti-police package rammed through by a partisan vote in the late-night hours of a lame-duck session in January 2021.

The Senate Republican legislative package also contains bills to keep violent offenders off the street, help stop the flow of illegal guns to criminals, take serious action against carjacking, provide mental health treatment to detainees, and repeal the dangerous bail provisions of the anti-police “SAFE-T Act.”

The Senate Republican initiatives have the support of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, and members of their organizations attended the Feb. 1 press conference.

Click to view the full text of the Senate Republican legislative package.

Senate Republicans announce tax relief plan for Illinoisans

Senate Republicans are seeking to deliver Illinois families much-needed tax relief through their recently announced package of tax reform proposals. These measures will provide the citizens of Illinois with permanent, substantive relief, instead of the temporary relief proposed by Gov. Pritzker during his Budget Address on Feb. 2.

As part of the proposed tax-relief package, Senate Republicans are calling for reforms that address the growing concerns of inflation and skyrocketing consumer prices. These changes include the elimination of the state’s 1 percent sales tax on food and prescription drugs.

Another section of the Senate Republicans’ tax proposal is aimed at addressing the climbing price of gas. It would lower the overall amount consumers pay at the pump, but also ensures that critical funding necessary for road improvements remains the same. This proposal includes lowering the 6.25 percent sales tax on gas/gasohol to 5.25 percent, while also increasing the Road Fund disbursement from 32 percent to 53 percent.

Additionally, the Senate Republicans’ proposed tax relief package would further help senior citizens by increasing the income tax exemption that they can receive on their Illinois income tax from $1,000 to $2,000.

Senate Republicans also address burdensome property taxes that have plagued the state for far too long, by calling for an increase in the state’s property tax income tax credit. Under this initiative, the tax credit would rise from 5 percent to 10 percent. The plan also allows voters who are subject to the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), the ability to go to referendum to lower their property taxes.

Syverson said Illinoisans want and deserve true tax relief, not short-term gimmicks. He said he hopes that the Governor and Senate Democrats seriously consider the Senate Republican proposals as lawmakers seek to make Illinois affordable for all Illinoisans.

Dave Syverson

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