Capitol Report from Senator Andrew Chesney

Pritzker’s Tax Hikes and Record Government Spending Pass General Assembly

On separate days last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed a Fiscal Year 2025 budget which sets yet another new record for government spending at just over $53 billion. The new budget, which guides spending as of July 1, 2024, represents an increase in state spending of nearly $13 billion, or 32%, since Governor Pritzker took office 5 ½ years ago. Zero Republicans in the Senate or House supported the irresponsible spending plan.

Following the vote, I issued this statement to the media:

“Once again, Governor Pritzker and his majority party have disregarded the significant fiscal challenges facing Illinois families by pushing through a budget that imposes approximately $1 billion in new taxes. These added financial burdens are more than working families can bear, exacerbating their already strained finances. This approach highlights a troubling disconnect between the Democrats’ policies and the everyday realities of Illinoisans who are struggling to make ends meet. With the Senate’s passage of this irresponsible budget, spending has increased an astounding $12.8 billion, or 32%, under Governor JB Pritzker.

“By prioritizing tax increases over sustainable financial solutions, the Pritzker administration shows a clear disregard for the economic well-being of the state’s residents. The Democrats’ continued reliance on increased taxation is not only unsustainable but also detrimental to the long-term financial health of Illinois. It’s time for a more balanced approach that respects the financial realities of all citizens and seeks to create a more prosperous future for everyone in our state.”

The alarming surge in government spending is fueled largely by temporary emergency COVID funds and unexpectedly high state revenue. Rather than using these temporary resources wisely, Pritzker and his legislative allies created new programs and increased permanent government spending. This includes an annual expenditure of approximately a billion dollars on programs for migrants and illegal immigrants, including top-tier healthcare. Senate Republicans cautioned repeatedly against using temporary dollars to fund permanent spending.

Instead of reducing government spending and reining in costs, the Governor and legislative Democrats chose to raise taxes to the tune of a billion dollars to fund the migrant crisis which sanctuary city status exacerbated. Meanwhile, the taxpayers of Illinois are the ones forced to foot the bill.

It is abundantly clear that the Governor does not view the people of Illinois his priority. He views them as his piggy bank.

Democrats’ “Grocery Tax Relief Bill” Punts Responsibility for Tax to Local Government

Municipalities across Illinois rely on funds received from Illinois’ 1% tax on groceries to help balance their local budgets and to pay for services such as police and fire protection, public works projects, and other local government operations. It is a regressive tax, however, and Senate Republicans have been trying to eliminate the tax for years. This year I was a co-sponsor ofSenate Bill 3725, which would eliminate the grocery tax and backfill municipalities’ lost funds with existing government dollars from a different fund.

Rather than supporting our Republican initiative and providing true tax relief to Illinoisans, Governor Pritzker and his Democrat allies pushed a bill (House Bill 3144) that simply reassigns the responsibility for this tax to local governments. They will claim they eliminated the tax when all they really did was force mayors and village presidents and their councils statewide into a position where they will either have to cut services or raise taxes at the local level.

Even worse, HB 3144 allows smaller community village boards and councils to bypass existing referendum requirements for taxation issues, and they will be able to impose a 1% tax on groceries by a simple vote of the board.

Senator Craig Wilcox to Host Traveling Office Hours in Fox Lake and Cary

With the spring legislative session now concluded, it’s time to bring back traveling office hours across the 32nd District. The first four scheduled events of the summer are set in the month of June in Fox Lake and Cary. At these events, I bring the services my office provides to my constituents’ hometowns. I am also offering both morning and late afternoon/early evening events to fit people’s schedules.

  • Tuesday, June 11 in Fox Lake: 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM, Fox Lake District Library, 255 E. Grand Ave.
  • Thursday, June 13 in Fox Lake: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Fox Lake District Library, 255 E. Grand Ave.
  • Tuesday, June 18 in Cary: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM, Cary Area Public Library, 1606 Three Oaks Road
  • Thursday, June 20 in Cary: 4:00 – 7:00 PM, Cary Area Public Library, 1606 Three Oaks Road

My staff members are experts in constituent services, so I would encourage anyone who is having issues with state agencies to stop by and receive assistance, This includes those having issues with unemployment, FOID cards and CCL licenses, professional licensing, and other issues. For additional information, please contact the Wilcox office at (815) 455-6330.

Judge Temporarily Blocks Unconstitutional Election Law

On May 22, a Springfield Circuit judge issued a temporary injunction blocking a controversial new election law rammed through the General Assembly by Democrat lawmakers earlier this month. Critics say this new law is designed to protect vulnerable incumbents and reduce voter choice at the ballot box.

Senate Bill 2412, signed into law by Governor Pritzker on May 3, would make significant changes to the rules for an election process that is already underway. Most notably, it would end the slating process currently taking place in districts throughout the state, eliminating challengers that entrenched incumbents could face in November.

The temporary injunction comes after a lawsuit was filed alleging violations of constitutional voting rights, preventing free and fair elections for the people of Illinois.

Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation earlier this month, noting that this proposal was a blatant power grab by Illinois Democrats looking to protect incumbents in the general election and would only further erode public trust in the electoral process.

I remain hopeful that this ruling is a step toward ensuring that the citizens of Illinois will be able to choose who represents them in Springfield. 

Senate Passes Legislation to Reform Prisoner Review Board

Amid ongoing controversy with the Illinois Prisoner Review Board (PRB), including a recent high-profile tragedy where a young boy was murdered by an offender just days after his release, the Senate passed legislation to reform the controversial body.

House Bill 681 includes a number of reforms to the PRB, incorporating several ideas suggested by Senate Republicans. The bill enhances protections for victims by ensuring they are notified when prisoners are up for release and by improving the process for filing impact statements. Additionally, the legislation establishes new qualification standards for board members, increases transparency and creates a task force to examine various issues related to the board.

The PRB urgently needs reforms to improve public safety, prioritize and protect victims, and ensure that their voices are heard throughout the process.

While the legislation cleared the Senate in a unanimous vote, the House failed to call the bill prior to adjournment.

Craig Wilcox

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