Capitol Report from Senator Craig Wilcox

Wilcox Named Legislator of the Year by Illinois VFW

On Friday it was an absolute privilege to join veterans from across the state at the annual Illinois VFW convention in Springfield. During the event, I was honored and humbled to receive the Department of Illinois Outstanding Senate Legislator of the Year award for my legislative work on behalf of veterans.

Veterans’ issues are an important element of my legislative agenda every year, and I have worked collaboratively to champion and pass several bills that assist these brave men and women and ensure they receive the dignity and care they deserve when they return from duty.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars has roots that can be traced back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Many arrived home wounded or sick, and there was no medical care for them. They were left to care for themselves. 

Today the VFW of the United States is a nonprofit veterans service organization that fosters camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. Its mission is to ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.

Governor Signs $50.6 Billion Budget

Despite warnings that the state’s spending plan is likely unbalanced and sets Illinois up for an unstable future, Governor Pritzker signed the largest budget in state history last week.

While the Governor claimed to prioritize fiscal responsibility, Senate Republicans continue to question hidden spending throughout the budget, including hundreds of millions of dollars the state will likely be on the hook for under its free healthcare program for undocumented immigrants, which is the only one of its kind in the nation.

Senate Republicans also remain wary about how this plan will be sustainable in the years to come. The chart above shows how quickly spending has risen in recent years—$11.1 billion since Gov. Pritzker took office. It’s unlikely the state will be able to sustain this trend without leaving taxpayers vulnerable and at a time of economic instability.

Additionally, there are at least two items in the budget that don’t kick in until halfway through the fiscal year (Jan. 1, 2024) but will require a full year’s appropriation in the fiscal years to follow. These important initiatives include Medicaid rate increases for healthcare providers and wage increases for providers for the developmentally disabled. These costs will have to be doubled in the next fiscal year budget and thereafter; however, the Governor’s signed FY24 budget does not provide for that consideration.

In my view, this is another irresponsible budget. The Majority Party and the Governor had an opportunity to present a plan that was not only balanced and fiscally mindful but also prioritized care and other services for the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Instead, they prioritized non-citizen programs, 5% legislator pay raises (on top of the nearly 17% raise they gave themselves just six months ago), and $200 million in pork projects- only in districts where Democrats were elected.

Upcoming Events in the 32nd District

My summer/fall outreach events are getting underway. Please mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

  • Summer Reading Program: Underway, click here for more information.
  • June 30, Traveling Office Hours: 10:00 AM-1:00 PM at the Cary Library, 1606 Three Oaks Rd, Cary
  • July 17, Retail Roundtable: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM, location TBD (if you own a retail business in McHenry or Lake Counties and would like to attend, please contact Ryan at
  • August 16, Unclaimed Property Day: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM, Fox Lake Public Library, 255 E. Grand Ave., Fox Lake
  • September 19, Virtual FAFSA Information Meeting: 6:00 PM-7:00 PM, online, details coming soon
  • October 17, Senior Fair: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Grand Oaks Recreation Center, 1401 IL-176, Crystal Lake

Operation Dropbox a Huge Success!

Thank you to everyone who donated items to “Operation Dropbox” during the month of May. Due to your generosity, 5,466 pounds of donated goods from 28 drop box locations (including my legislative office in Woodstock) were collected. The donated items were delivered to Veterans Path to Hope, a Crystal Lake-based veterans’ charity.

Now in its fourth year, the Operation Dropbox campaign has steadily grown. Last year, the donations collected helped support more than 3,000 McHenry County veterans and their families.

To learn more about Veterans Path to Hope, visit

Sales Tax on Groceries to Be Reinstated July 1

This year I co-sponsored Senate Bill 1150, which would have made the state’s sales tax exemption on groceries permanent. It would have also exempted prescription drugs and other medical devices from state sales tax. That bill was blocked by Democrats that control the flow of bills, proving what Republicans have been saying all along- that the temporary relief measures put in place by Governor Pritzker and his allies were politically motivated, and nothing more than a tool used by Democrats to ingratiate themselves with voters moving into an election.

Illinoisans are still dealing with serious inflation at the grocery store, yet the majority party failed to permanently eliminate or even extend the state’s sales tax on groceries this legislative session. That means that beginning July 1, Illinoisans will again be paying more when they check out at the supermarket. On July 1, Illinoisans will also get hit with their second gas tax hike of the year.

Applications for Governor’s Hometown Awards Closing Soon

This Friday, applications will close for the Governor’s Hometown Awards. Hosted by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) with The Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, the Awards program was designed to give formal recognition to those who contributed to projects that improved their community’s quality of life. Interested townships, villages, cities, and counties can start the application online through June 16.

The application process is two-part, with a form submitted online first and a follow-up email containing additional information both submitted by 5:00 pm on Friday, June 16. The specifics to the application process can be found on the Serve Illinois website. Applicants should keep in mind that incomplete applications will not be considered.

Last year’s winner was the O’Fallon Police Department, which participated in a variety of events that raised money for Special Olympics Illinois. They were chosen from four finalists, all of which gave a 45-minute presentation on their contributions for the judges to grade and from which to pick the winner. This year will be the 15th Governor’s Hometown Awards Ceremony.

Craig Wilcox

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