Highlighting Teachers, PRB Tragedy, IL has Highest Tax Burden (Again)

Senator Craig Wilcox Launches Inaugural “My Inspirational Teacher” Essay Contest

To celebrate area teachers during Illinois’ Teacher Appreciation Week May 6-10, I am hosting my first annual My Inspirational Teacher Essay Contest for Middle School/Junior High School students in the 32nd Senate District. The contest offers students an opportunity to showcase their favorite teacher’s talents and explain how that teacher has made a special difference in their lives. Specifically, students are invited to write a 250-500-word essay about the one teacher who has been the most inspirational to them in their educational journey thus far.

Personally, I will always remember Mr. Hunt, my 4th grade teacher, who found a proclivity for math in myself and other students, and challenged us daily, well beyond the math curriculum for 4th grade. That ‘challenge’ set by Mr. Hunt drove a desire to excel which he fostered all year long.  I am confident that Mr. Hunts’ desire to teach, innovate, and challenge his students brought out the best in all of us.

When writing the essays, students should relay how a teacher’s specific actions made a positive impact, and also outline the results of exactly how the teacher changed them as they continued through school. Each entry must include the child’s name, school, and grade level, and the teacher’s name, school, and the subject taught. A panel of education leaders will read and evaluate the essays, and will consider persuasiveness, correct spelling and grammar, and adherence to contest instructions.

There will be several winning essays, and the grand prize-winning essay will be posted on Senator Wilcox’s website (SenatorWilcox.com). Excerpts from all winning essays will be displayed for a week in the State Capitol rotunda in Springfield.

Eligible Participants: Middle School/Junior High School Students
Theme: How My Teacher Inspires Me
Entry Deadline: April 30, 2024
Announcement of Winners: Winners will be notified by email

The 32nd Senate District includes all or portions of the following communities: Antioch, Bull Valley, Cary, Crystal Lake, Fox Lake, Island Lake, Johnsburg, Lake Villa, Lakemoor, Lakewood, Lindenhurst, McCullom Lake, McHenry, Oakwood Hills, Port Barrington, Prairie Grove, Richmond, Ringwood, Round Lake Beach, Spring Grove, Trout Valley, Volo, Woodstock, and Wonder Lake.

For additional information about this essay contest, please contact Abby at aoliver@sgop.ilga.gov, or at 248-930-8294.

Legislation Proposed to Keep At-Risk Veteran Homes Affordable

Senate Republicans recently introduced legislation to put an end to expensive charging station mandates that have made it significantly more expensive to provide housing options for homeless veterans. I am a proud co-sponsor of this bill.

The 2023 Electric Vehicle Charging Act requires all new affordable housing developments to include EV-capable parking spaces. Organizations working to build affordable housing units for homeless veterans have said that this requirement will make their efforts drastically more expensive.

Senate Bill 2597, removes this costly burden and stipulates that the provision under the Act would not apply to tiny homes designated for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, provided these homes were funded and constructed by qualified non-profit organizations.

Senate Bill 2597 unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee and now awaits a vote in the full Senate.

Prisoner Review Board Decision Leads to Tragedy

Two members of Governor JB Pritzker’s Prisoner Review Board (PRB) have resigned after a man released by the board killed an 11-year-old boy and critically wounded the boy’s pregnant mother.

Crosetti Brand is accused of stabbing a former girlfriend and killing her son as the boy attempted to defend his mother from a brutal attack just a day after being released by Pritzker’s PRB. In February, while on parole, Brand sent the woman messages threatening to kill her and went to her home. This violation of his parole landed him back in the state’s custody while the PRB could consider whether he should remain in prison. 

Despite the threats, the boy’s mother seeking an order of protection, and Brand’s history of domestic abuse, the board voted to release him. On March 25th, Governor Pritzker announced that two of the members of the scandal-plagued board were resigning. Sadly, this case is just the latest in a string of controversial decisions made by the PRB, which has released numerous convicted murderers and violent offenders on the Governor’s watch.

Pritzker has made several high-profile, controversial appointments to the PRB, including a convicted double murderer. While the Illinois Senate must confirm appointments to the board, the Governor had repeatedly circumvented the process by making controversial appointments and then rescinding the nominations just before the time they can serve unconfirmed expires, only to immediately reappoint them. In doing so, his nominees avoid public scrutiny and collect a paycheck serving on the board despite not being confirmed. 

Senate Republicans have repeatedly exposed the PRB’s issues, eventually creating enough public pressure for the Governor to change course and seek Senate confirmation of his appointees. Despite that progress, serious issues remain. The continued need for reform is clear.

Illinois Supreme Court Asked to Review Law Limiting Courts Where Challenges to State Law Can be Heard

A controversial new state law requiring that challenges to state laws and actions can only be filed in Cook or Sangamon counties has come under new scrutiny. Now, the Illinois Supreme Court is being asked to consider whether it is constitutional.

House Bill 3062, passed last June, states that Cook and Sangamon counties are the only places in the state where challenges to a state law’s constitutionality can be submitted.

Recently, Piasa Armory LLC, a gun store in Madison County, challenged the constitutionality of the Firearm Industry Responsibility Act. In March, the state sought to transfer the case to Sangamon or Cook County. However, a Madison County Circuit Court Judge ruled HB 3062 unconstitutional due to severe inconvenience to the plaintiff.

The Attorney General’s office filed an appeal to this ruling directly to the state Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has not yet issued a schedule for hearing the case.

I voted against HB3062 in the Senate, noting that it creates an unnecessary burden on people seeking help through the courts and because the concept is likely unconstitutional.

Illinois Has Highest Tax Burden in U.S.

A new study has named Illinois the least tax-friendly state in the nation, underscoring Senate Republican calls to address the escalating tax burden residents face. 

This title was given to Illinois by the finance website MoneyGeek in its latest analysis of how tax-friendly each state is to its residents. The report, which gave Illinois an “F” grade for its tax burden, noted that taxes account for an astonishing 13% of Illinois household income. 

Unsurprisingly, high property taxes were a major factor in Illinois’ dead-last ranking. The high effective tax rate in the state is another reason for Illinois’ tax unfriendly status, with Illinois coming in as the 2nd highest in the country in this category.

I have long called for much-needed tax relief for Illinois residents, and believe this report underscores the need for state government to prioritize its citizens and address the financial strain on working families.  

Craig Wilcox

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