Senate Week in Review: June 3-7, 2024

Governor Signs Record-Spending Budget with Billion-Dollar Tax Hike

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s government spending plan, which relies on $1 billion in tax increases, officially became the largest budget in state history when he signed it into law on June 5.

Despite bipartisan opposition, the controversial budget sets a new high-water mark for government spending, surpassing $53 billion. This eye-popping total represents a surge of almost $13 billion, or 32 percent since Pritzker took office.

This significant increase in government spending during Pritzker’s tenure has been fueled by one-time COVID-19 relief funds and unexpectedly high state revenues. Despite warnings from Senate Republican lawmakers to exercise caution with these temporary funds, Pritzker and his allies in the Legislature created new programs and permanently increased government spending.

Now that the federal money has run out, the Governor is raising taxes by almost $1 billion to fill the gap and fund around $1 billion in yearly spending on programs for non-citizens, including top-tier healthcare.

While non-citizen spending continues to skyrocket, the new budget falls short for Illinoisans with developmental disabilities, K-12 and college students, and taxpayers who bear the brunt of the costs.

State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) argued that a budget is a statement of priorities, and while the Governor’s FY25 budget is the largest in state history, it clearly doesn’t prioritize the people of Illinois.

Controversial Election Law Ruled Unconstitutional

A controversial new law that would drastically change the state’s election laws and reduce competition at the ballot box was ruled unconstitutional by a Sangamon County judge on June 5.

Senate Bill 2412, which was signed into law by Gov. Pritzker in May, would make significant changes to the rules for an election process that is already well under way. Most notably, it would have ended the slating process currently taking place in districts throughout the state, effectively sidelining potential challengers to entrenched incumbents in November.

Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation when it came before the General Assembly in May, arguing that it was a blatant power grab by Illinois Democrat leaders intended to prioritize their control over the electoral process at the expense of Illinoisans’ rights to fair and open elections.

Lawmakers Call Out State Treasurer for Politicized Investing

Senate Republican lawmakers say the State Treasurer’s Office is politicizing the management of nearly $60 billion in state investments.

Tracy said it’s the Treasurer’s duty to protect the state’s investment portfolio and implement savings programs to help Illinois residents create a better future for themselves and their families. However, questions have been raised about the Treasurer putting his political agenda before his fiduciary responsibility.

The Treasurer is a leading advocate of the highly controversial and politically motivated Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment philosophy. ESG has become a subjective and amorphous criterion linked to a controversial political agenda. Due to its inherently political nature, ESG has fallen out of favor, leading many major investment firms to abandon this approach and focus on maximizing investment returns.

Legislation Allowing Sheriffs to Serve on Local 9-1-1 Boards Passes General Assembly

Legislation to amend the Emergency Telephone System Act to explicitly include sheriffs as eligible members on local 9-1-1 boards recently passed the General Assembly. The hope is to recognize the role sheriffs play in ensuring the safety and well-being of our communities.

House Bill 5128 addresses a longstanding issue by formally allowing sheriffs to serve on local 9-1-1 boards. These boards are deeply involved in planning, implementing, and maintaining the 9-1-1 systems. They are responsible for receiving and managing 9-1-1 surcharge funds, authorizing disbursements, and hiring necessary staff to support system operations and upgrades.

Tracy noted that including sheriffs on these boards will ensure that their expertise and insights as law enforcement officers are integrated into decision-making that directly impacts emergency response services.

The legislation passed the Senate on May 16 and will now advance to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Jil Tracy

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