Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Blistering IDES audit report details massive failures by Pritzker Administration
A blistering report from the state’s Auditor General reveals major failures by the Pritzker Administration that led to rampant fraud in the state’s unemployment system during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the audit finding, which only covers part of the pandemic period, this week I joined my Senate Republican colleagues in calling for a full audit to get to the bottom of this ongoing mess.

Keep in mind, the report only covered the time period from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020, and because the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Program (PUA) did not launch until in May 2020, the audit covers less than two months of that program. The audit is therefore only a snapshot of the extent of the problems.

Despite this limited window into the PUA program, auditors noted numerous major failures by the Pritzker Administration’s Department of Employment Security (IDES), including the refusal to implement even basic safeguards to protect the integrity of the system, especially in regard to the PUA program. At one point in the report, auditors noted that eligibility for the PUA program couldn’t be audited because of the failure of the Administration to accurately document eligibility.

Some of the key findings by the auditors include:

  • The Pritzker Administration distributed up to $154,906,354 in PUA to ineligible claimants.[1] (finding #2, page 26)
  • The Pritzker Administration failed to validate the identities of 4,579 claimants before paying them $41,697,272. (finding #2, page 23)
  • The Pritzker Administration paid both Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and regular unemployment insurance benefits to 638 claimants, resulting in the claimants receiving benefits under both programs. (finding #2, page 23)
  • The Pritzker Administration paid benefits to 266 claimants that had birthdays the same day as or after the date of the claim submission. At least one claimant who received benefits is to be born in 2029. (finding #2, page 24)
  • The Pritzker Administration paid benefits to 35 claimants who were deceased. (finding #2, page 24)
  • The Pritzker Administration paid Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits to 63 claimants who were 90 years old or older. (finding #3, page 27)

 

The Auditor General’s findings can be found here.

As I mentioned, Senate Republican Caucus members filed a resolution ordering a full audit of the state’s unemployment system during the COVID-19 pandemic. The audit will make sure that the people of Illinois find out what went wrong, the financial impact, and what can be done to prevent a similar disaster from happening in the future.

 

Senators Wilcox, McConchie and DeWitte host successful joint town hall meeting in Crystal Lake
About 85 people came out last Tuesday evening for a joint town hall meeting I hosted at Crystal Lake City Hall with Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie (R- Hawthorn Woods) and Assistant Minority Leader Don DeWitte (R- St. Charles). All three of us cover portions of McHenry County.

After a brief PowerPoint presentation that outlined the successes and challenges of the most recent legislative session, we took questions for about an hour from the audience. After the event concluded, we stayed an additional half hour to have one-on-one conversations with constituents. It was a great evening.

Thank you to everyone who came out for this event, and as always, it is a pleasure to serve the people of McHenry and Lake Counties in the Illinois Senate. Click here to view the slides we used in our PowerPoint.

 

Senator Wilcox tours Schwartz Performance in Woodstock
This summer I am touring several businesses throughout the 32nd Senate District. I enjoy seeing the businesses that represent the economic engine of this region, and I especially enjoy the conversations I have with business owners and employees.

This week I toured Schwartz Performance in Woodstock. Business owner Jeff Schwartz (shown in the photo to the right) channeled his passion for cars and carved out an interesting niche for car enthusiasts. For the last 16 years, Schwartz Performance has manufactured automotive chassis for classic, specialty and custom vehicles and also builds one-off Resto-Mod vintage cars and trucks in ways that blend race-car performance with street-car reliability.

To learn more about this local business, visit: https://www.schwartzperformance.com.

 

Governor signs bill to decriminalize intentional transmission of HIV

Intentionally infecting someone with HIV will no longer specifically be a crime under Illinois law. This is after Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation into law that eliminates the crime of intentional transmission of HIV.

Under previous law, if someone had HIV and engaged in sexual activity with another individual without protection, donated their blood, or supplied drug paraphernalia to another person, they would have been guilty of a Class 2 felony that carried a potential penalty of 3 to 7 years in prison. To be charged with the crime, the individual had to have known that they were infected with HIV. I voted against the legislation and believe it is clearly a dangerous precedent to remove criminal penalties for someone who purposely infects someone with HIV.

 

Special-needs students to receive more education opportunities under new laws
This year I was happy to support legislation that provides special needs students with additional assistance in completing their education. Many special-needs students attend school at a different pace than their peers, with prior law allowing them to attend school up until the age of 22. For students who reached the age of 22 during the school year, they were forced to leave school on the day of their birthday. Not only did that law abruptly end their schooling, but the students also lost access to numerous special education services that were available through their schools.

House Bill 40 allows special-needs students to continue their education until the end of the school year in which they turn 22. The change will also enable students to celebrate the completion of school by graduating with their classmates.

To help special-needs students who were adversely impacted by school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic, House Bill 2748 allows them to remain eligible for education services through the end of the 2021-2022 school year, even if they turned 22 during the previous year.

Both bills passed the Illinois Senate unanimously and were signed into law last week.

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