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Update from the Capitol 3/1/2019

Friday, March 01, 2019 - Posted 11:12:55 AM by Rep. Tom Bennett

As always, you can contact me via webform at, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka). Thank you for the honor of serving as our district's representative in Springfield.

Resolution filed in opposition to graduated income tax

On Wednesday I joined with all of my House Republican colleagues in sponsoring House Resolution 153, which expresses opposition to any effort to institute an unfair, graduated income tax in Illinois. This proposed overhaul of the state's tax system will result in an unfair tax on middle-class families and small businesses. It is a blank check to those who control state government to pick and choose which rates they will set on which Illinoisans.

Last year, a member of the General Assembly introduced a bill which would have enacted a graduated income tax. It gave us a peek at what this new tax structure could look like. According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, 77% of Illinoisans would see an increase in their income tax liability, amounting to $5.2 billion in new taxes. This is bad policy that will put more of a burden on the middle class and further discourage economic prosperity.

A few weeks ago I told you about a nonpartisan study which found that Illinois already has one of the highest tax burdens in the country. There is nothing fair about making everyday Illinoisans pick up even more of the tab for an out-of-control state government pursuing increasingly reckless and unsustainable tax-and-spend policies. This unfair tax will hurt the middle class families and small businesses which drive our economy. It will be yet another factor in pushing families and jobs out of the state.

We need to be promoting policies that will attract jobs to Illinois, not drive them away. I remain committed to working with the Governor to improve the lives of Illinoisans all across our state. The progressive income tax is not the answer. We have more to do.

New agency directors being appointed

Since taking office in mid-January, Governor Pritzker has been appointing members of his cabinet, including new directors for state agencies. Each of these appointments must be confirmed by the Senate, but many of the individuals appointed to these posts are already on the job in an "Acting Director" capacity.

This week Governor Pritzker appointed Dr. Carmen Ayala to be the new State Superintendent of Education. Dr. Ayala taught school in Chicago and Aurora, and most recently served as Superintendent of the Berwyn North School District. The new director of the Department of Transportation will be Omer Osman, an engineer with 29 years of experience with the Department. Some other appointments include Alicia Tate-Nadeau as state director of homeland security and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, former St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly to run the Illinois State Police and Dr. Ngozi Ezike as head of the Department of Public Health.

Several former legislators are also among the new directors. Former Senator John Sullivan from western Illinois will be the new director of the Department of Agriculture. Linda Chapa LaVia of Aurora, a former state representative and Army officer, will head the Department of Veterans Affairs, and former Republican state representative David Harris of Arlington Heights is the Governor's pick to lead the Department of Revenue. The full list of the Governor's appointees can be found on his website.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $7,937,120,809 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $8.9 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be approximately $130 billion.

Visit with Crescent City 4-H

I was glad to be at the Barnbangers 4-H Meeting in Crescent City a short time ago. This is a great group of young adults. I appreciated the opportunity to talk about state government and to provide a Springfield update.

4-H teaches accountability and responsibility for our future leaders. I firmly believe that we would not have some of the problems we have today if we had more youth in 4-H. Keep up the good work!

Another warning on Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is an incurable disease which causes a deer's brain and nerves to break down, and eventually leads to death. The disease has been reported in deer and other animals in nearly half of the 50 states, including Illinois. So far, 17 Illinois counties have reported detecting the disease. In our area, the disease has been reported in Livingston County, as well as several counties to our north including Kankakee, Grundy and LaSalle.

CWD occurs in many different woodland animals, including deer, elk and moose. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has not found any cases of the disease being spread to humans, it does urge all hunters to have their deer meat tested for CWD before consuming it. More information about CWD is available from the CDC.

Deadline approaching for State Police cadet class applications

Anyone interested in applying to become an Illinois state trooper has until April 30 to submit an application to the Illinois State Police Merit Board. The next cadet class will begin in October. To find out the requirements for cadets and to apply, visit

Did You Know?

March 4 marks the 150th anniversary of Illinoisan Ulysses S. Grant's inauguration as the 18th President of the United States. Grant commanded Union armies in the western theater of the Civil War before being promoted to command of the entire Army in 1864. He was elected to the first of his two terms in the Presidency a month before Illinois' 50th birthday in 1868, becoming the second Illinoisan in the first 50 years of our statehood to reach the White House.