These have certainly been difficult times for us all. People are hurting and everyone has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and by the government's actions in response. As your state representative I have been working overtime talking with the people of our area and finding answers to your questions about how we are going to get through this emergency.
Moving forward, the legislature is going to have serious challenges to address. We will need to be involved in the re-opening process, as government by executive order can only accomplish so much for so long.
Our first priority upon returning to session should be to pass a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, one which funds our important priorities and makes sure our health care sector has the support it needs from state government to continue meeting this challenge.
But there are other things we need to do to get the state's economy safely moving again. Health and safety must be our paramount concern, but we must get people back to work as soon as we can.
I have been working with other legislators from our area and around the state to come up with some solutions which we need to act upon. These include enacting a plan to re-open businesses with proper social distancing and other safety measures, creating a business loan program and temporarily deferring collection of sales and payroll taxes to give Illinois businesses access to capital so they can keep their doors open. We should protect homeowners who have lost their jobs and now face the prospect of losing their homes. We can do this through temporarily stopping late fees on property tax collections and also stopping tax sales during the emergency. This action should be a precursor to real, lasting property tax reform which is long overdue.
We can endure this crisis, help those who have been harmed by the outbreak and its economic consequences, protect our small businesses, and make our state stronger. We can do it if we are willing to work together.
I encourage you to visit my website at repbennett.com to sign up to receive e-mail updates with the latest news about the outbreak in Illinois. These updates are usually weekly, but in the present emergency I have been sending them out daily. You will find helpful information about staying safe from the virus, how to find medical help, and also information about assistance for those who have lost their jobs and those who are struggling to stay in business.
If you need assistance from state government, please contact my office in Watseka at (815) 432-0106 or Pontiac at (815) 844-9179. We will continue this critical fight for you, our district and the entire state. Please be safe and hang in there!
Rep. Thomas Bennett