The Majority Report 04/01/19 - Lawmakers lay out choices for taxpayers


Lawmakers lay out choices for taxpayers

Sens. Toi Hutchinson and Don Harmon

Lawmakers in the Senate and House on Thursday presented a series of options facing Illinois taxpayers as the state continues to dig out from an economic downturn and four years of turmoil under the previous governor.

“Taxpayers have three choices. They can say they’re OK with slashing funding for schools, universities and senior services, which would raise property taxes. They can say they’re OK with a 20 percent tax increase for every Illinoisan. Or we can update our income tax structure so that the wealthiest 3 percent of Illinoisans pay more,” said State Senator Toi Hutchinson, chair of the Senate Revenue Committee and a Chicago Heights Democrat. “I think it’s crystal clear that a fair, modern tax system is the direction we should go.”

Hutchinson was among the lawmakers who gathered Thursday at the Capitol to lay out the options for taxpayers and discuss the merits of a fair tax system in Illinois. Joining her were State Senators Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), and State Representatives Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) and Arthur Turner (D-Chicago).

Harmon, who is the sponsor of legislation to amend the Constitution to allow for a fair tax, said he expects lawmakers will introduce legislation this spring that sets specific tax structure rates.

“Opponents of a fair tax are working to protect their wealthy donors at the expense of the middle class by keeping our current, unfair tax system in place,” he said. “Implementing a modern, fair tax will benefit the majority of Illinoisans, not the few who make the most.” Continue reading.

Video: Harmon discusses the fair tax


Van Pelt continues seeking answers to DNA backlog

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

State Senator Patricia Van Pelt continues to seek answers and solutions to the state crime lab’s backlog of DNA from nearly 700 murder cases.

She led a hearing of the Senate Public Health and Criminal Law Committee last week to gather more information.

“The backlog in murder DNA processing at the state crime lab is unacceptable,” Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said. “Technology exists to test DNA in under two hours, yet DNA from nearly 700 murder cases from the past few years is still backlogged. Law enforcement needs to be taking advantage of this technology. There are 700 families waiting for answers. They deserve closure.”

The committee heard from family members of victims who have been impacted by the backlog; representatives from the Illinois State Police; representatives from ANDE, a Colorado-based rapid DNA processing firm; and a representative from the Murder Accountability Project, a non-profit organization that tracks unsolved homicides.

“When I first learned about this last year, I promised to do whatever it takes to end this backlog and make sure families of murder victims get justice,” Van Pelt said. “I will continue doing everything I can to hold the state police accountable and make sure they end this backlog in a transparent and timely manner.” Continue reading.

Video: Van Pelt discusses the state’s DNA evidence backlog


Bennett’s ag teacher training plan sails through Senate

Sen. Scott Bennett

State Senator Scott Bennett passed legislation to create a hands-on agriculture teacher training program in Illinois high schools.

Senate Bill 1498 would require the Illinois State Board of Education to develop an Agricultural Education Pre-Service Training Program to prepare high school students for studying to become farm sciences teachers.

“The importance of agricultural education spreads further than the classroom,” said Bennett, a Champaign Democrat who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee. “This program would help students develop problem-solving skills and agricultural literacy they’ll need in order to teach the next generation of farmers how to produce the food we eat, the fuel we use and the fiber in our clothes.” Continue reading.




Fine celebrates women in public office

Sens. Suzy Glowiak, Ann Gillespie, Laura Fine, Julie Morrison, Iris Y. Martinez, Laura Murphy and Heather Steans

To honor women in public office, State Senator Laura Fine passed a resolution declaring March 28, 2019, as Celebrating Women in Public Office Day in Illinois.

“Elected women in our state have spearheaded some of the most groundbreaking legislation in Illinois,” Fine (D-Glenview) said. “I think it’s important that we recognize the hard work and achievements of women in public office everywhere.”

Senate Resolution 271 supports the success of women in public office and encourages the people of Illinois to support women in public office. There are currently 64 women in the Illinois General Assembly, which is 36 percent of the body’s membership. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, this puts Illinois 11th in the United States in terms of women officeholders in the state legislature.

The resolution passed the Senate unanimously and is therefore officially adopted. Continue reading.



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