Senate Week in Review: May 27-31, 2024

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

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois General Assembly passed Governor JB Pritzker’s bloated budget and nearly a billion dollars in new taxes this week to fund the migrant crisis he created.

Pritzker’s budget sets a record for government spending at just over $53 billion – an increase of nearly $13 billion, or 32%, since the Governor took office.

State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Cherry Valley) said he did not support the record spending plan or the $1 billion in tax increases. 

The alarming surge in government spending was primarily fueled by one-time emergency COVID-19 funds and unexpectedly high state revenues. 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 individuals with developmental disabilities, K-12 and college students, along with the taxpayers forced to foot the bill.

Senator Syverson said as a result of the Governor using one-time COVID-19 money for base spending this year, it puts Illinois on the path of a multi-billion-dollar budget shortfall next year. He noted the ruling party is well aware of the financial cliff Illinois is heading toward. 

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 has passed legislation to reform the controversial body.

House Bill 681 includes several 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 Syverson 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

A Springfield Circuit judge issued a temporary injunction May 22 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 under way. 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 Democrat leaders looking to protect incumbents in the general election and would only further erode public trust in the electoral process.

Senator Syverson 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.   

Dave Syverson

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