Senate Republicans Stand Firm Against Progressive Tax Hike
On January 25, State Senator Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport) stood with his Senate Republican colleagues as they announced the filing of Senate Resolution 27, which calls on the Illinois Senate to reject any progressive income tax measure that is introduced in the 103rd General Assembly.
In 2020, voters from 101 of Illinois’ 102 counties soundly rejected an attempt to do away with Illinois’ flat income tax system through a constitutional amendment that favored a progressive tax system. In that election, the “Fair Tax” Amendment fell more than 360,000 votes short of a simple majority that was needed of all votes cast in that election, and more than 760,000 votes short of a three-fifths majority that was needed of those voting on the question.
Senator Chesney said he will fight vehemently against any attempt to enact a progressive income tax. Senate Resolution 27 was read into the official Senate record on January 25, and now awaits assignment to a Senate committee.
Nominations for Senior Hall of Fame
The Illinois Department on Aging is accepting nominations for 2023 inductees to the Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame. This honor is open to adults ages 65 or older who excel in the categories of community service, education, performance and/or graphic arts, and the labor force. Each year, four people are added who have contributed greatly to these fields. The nominations are open until June 1, and anyone can nominate a candidate. Additional information on the process, the online nomination form, and a printable version of the nomination form is available on IDoA’s website.
The process to nominate someone for the Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame is relatively easy. Nominators must submit an application with answers to five questions that detail the nominee’s contributions and provide a photo of the nominee. The pool of nominations will then be reduced to a list of 44 people. From this list, a panel of judges will select the final four to be added to the Hall of Fame. Generally, one person is chosen to represent each individual field, although occasionally more than four people are selected.
Governor Making Changes in State Agencies
On January 23, the Governor officially announced several selections for his administration’s agency directors. Five appointments will be new to their position. As of now, the only appointment confirmed by the Senate is Natalie Finnie, the new Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Finnie will be moving to this position from her previous role as Deputy Director, having served in that position since August 2021. Before she joined the DNR, Finnie was a State Representative.
The four positions not yet approved by the Senate are Raven DeVaughn as Director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), Kristin Richards as the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Ray Marchiori as the Temporary Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), and Brandon Ragle as the Temporary Secretary of the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). DeVaughn is moving to this position from a current role of Assistant Director at the same agency. Richards is moving to her new position from her role as another agency’s Director. Meanwhile, both Marchiori and Ragle are advancing within the same department, much like Finnie and DeVaughn.
The Governor was recently asked by reporters about whether he would reappoint Marc Smith, the embattled head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). In response, Pritzker said he planned to reappoint him, despite controversies surrounding the department, including the fact that courts have held Director Smith in contempt eight times for issues with placement of children.
Planned SNAP Reduction Scheduled for March
Under direction from the federal government, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) will be returning SNAP benefits to pre-pandemic levels. Since April 2020, an emergency SNAP allotment was added to the regular monthly benefits to address the worsening food insecurity challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. DHS recently announced that the extra benefits will be ending in February and will no longer be applied officially by March 1.
The estimates right now are that this return will result in a decrease of the monthly benefits of between $95 to $255 per household. In an effort to try to reduce strain on households, DHS has put together a resource page for constituents who may need assistance in managing this reduction in funds. Furthermore, DHS has said the Department will be working closely with various communities and organizations to develop additional support and resources for families struggling with this reduction.