McHenry, IL – In the news, Illinois’ minimum wage; protecting hard-earned taxpayer dollars; and a growing number of people are reaching out for help with their opioid addiction.
While the Senate scheduled a week for senators to be back in their respective districts, the Illinois House met for three days.
Minimum wage hike heads to Pritzker’s desk
One of the big issues the House considered was finishing the debate and vote on Senate Bill 1, which would increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2025. The Senate had already passed the measure Feb. 7. Like the Senate during the previous week, the House approved SB1 on a party-line vote. I voted against SB 1 because of the likely economic problems it will cause for taxpayers, small business owners and for the very people the proponents claim they want to help.
Proponents admitted during the House debate that there will be a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to perhaps a billion dollars over the six-year period, including increases in annual costs for state agencies, local school districts, colleges and universities, human service providers and hospitals.
Additionally, the last time Illinois raised the minimum wage was 2006. A year later, 50,000 jobs were lost, according to Illinois state labor statistics. It should also be mentioned that our surrounding states will have much lower minimum wages, thereby putting additional pressure on the profitability and competitiveness of our businesses compared to their counterparts across state lines.
After passing in the Illinois House, Senate Bill 1 is now on its way to Governor JB Pritzker’s desk. If signed by the Governor, which he previously promised to do, the state’s minimum wage would rise to $15 per hour over the next six years for adults, and to $13 per hour during the same period for those under 18.
Legislation filed to protect taxpayers during consolidation
During the week, I filed an important bill (Senate Bill 1567) with the Senate to protect taxpayers during local government consolidation. As you know, consolidation is a hot topic for debate in McHenry County. I believe voters have the right to choose the level of government they are comfortable with and how much of it they can afford. However, there must be protections for taxpayers to guarantee they are the primary beneficiaries of any smarter, smaller or more efficient government that consolidation brings.
Key provisions of SB 1567 include the following:
- Only taxpayers within the dissolving township boundaries are responsible for paying any debt transferred to the county. Protects other county taxpayers.
- Assets of the dissolved township or road district, especially if liquidated, must be used solely for the benefit of residents of the geographic area within the former boundaries of the township. Protects the taxpayers who previously paid the taxes allowing a township to acquire those assets.
- Ensures that counties or municipalities will receive Motor Fuel Tax dollars that were dedicated to a dissolving township based on lane miles. Protects local taxpayer dollars, as part of a dissolved township’s lane mile Motor Fuel Tax account from being redistributed state-wide.
The overall goal of government consolidation is to save taxpayers’ money, but it must be fair and equitable. Under my legislation, if a township decides to dissolve itself into the county, the taxpayer dollars paid by those township residents must be for their benefit. At the same time, the contractual obligations of the consolidating township – including its debt – is solely the responsibility of that township and should not become a burden put onto the people of the entire county.
Illinois’ Opioid Helpline reaches 10,000 calls
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) recently announced that the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances has received 10,000 calls. The confidential, 24-hour hotline is designed to help provide support for people dealing with substance abuse, or their families.
The number for the hotline is 1-833-2FINDHELP, and can also be accessed online at HelplineIL.org.
The program launched in December of 2017.