This past week was eventful in Springfield, with the Governor unveiling his new tax proposal to legislation moving through committees in the House of Representatives. Here is a recap of news you should know heading into another week of legislative session in Springfield.
District 65 Events
On Monday March 11th, I hosted a Meet & Greet at the Huntley Public Library. It was a great opportunity to meet with Huntley area residents and have the services and information my district office offers brought right to their backyard. It is my goal to be as available as I can to all areas of my district, and this was the first step. I look forward to hosting more of these types of events in the future to meet area residents and engage in great discussions on state issues!
Later this month I am hosting an Open House at my District Office in St. Charles. All citizens from Illinois’ 65th House District are invited to attend the event held on Saturday, March 30th, from 10:00am—12:00pm. The open house will be my District Office in St. Charles, located at 2325 Dean Street, Suite 800.
It is important to me that my constituents know that my office is open and accessible. I look forward to meeting residents from my district and learning about the issues that are important to them, as well as discussing the district services we can offer. District office staff members will be on hand to assist in addressing state related questions or concerns, particularly regarding interactions with state agencies.
Should you have any questions about upcoming events, I would encourage you to contact my district office by phone (630) 797-5530 or email email@example.com for more information.
Pritzker Tax Increase
Governor J.B. Pritzker recently unveiled his plan for an increase in the income tax in Illinois. Pritzker’s proposed rates would result in a $3.4 billion tax hike on Illinois families and businesses.
Specifically, the Governor’s proposal would move Illinois from a flat income tax rate of 4.95% to a graduated income tax with six tax brackets. Many families and small businesses would pay a state tax rate of 7.75%, with the highest rate at 7.95%, while only providing a negligible decrease, if any, to those at the lowest end. As many small business owners file their tax returns as individuals, Pritzker’s tax hike would hit Illinois small businesses especially hard.
I remain committed to my opposition to this tax proposal, and stood alongside my colleagues in Springfield to oppose the creation of such a tax through House Resolution 153.
Illinois already has some of the highest tax burdens not only in the Midwest, but nationwide. The House Resolution our caucus unanimously supported specifically notes the gross inadequacies of the Governor’s Plan, finding that while it may appear to provide equity, it actually punishes hardworking, middle-class families and small businesses that make up the majority of the tax base.
It is not fair to make the average Illinoisans pay for the shortcomings of a legislature that has created a tax-and-spend paradigm that is unsustainable.
This year I filed a number of bills focused on reforming the worker’s compensation system in Illinois. With the state having one of the highest costs for businesses, these bills are efforts to create a better business climate, while maintaining fair practices for workers.
Our state continues to lose population, with businesses and families seeking better working and living conditions. It is no secret that Illinois needs the right reforms to help ease the burdens that are hindering our growth and hurting our residents. I am choosing to start with workers’ compensation, and I believe this legislation will help evolve our system to create a better business climate for Illinois, which will keep those businesses and jobs here in our state. The cost of business has steadily increased, and these bills will help reduce that underlying cause, while still being fair to employees.
In addition to the workers’ compensation bills, I also filed legislation to save taxpayer dollars by merging the State Comptroller’s office and the Treasurer’s office with HJRCA23. Illinois is unique in having two separate offices for these positions, when so many other states have already combined them. This is a common sense effort to save money where we can. Consolidating these operations would help streamline government practices to increase efficiency and provide more transparency to our processes—while also doing right by our taxpayers.
I am also pursuing the following pieces of legislation including: HB881 which provides for equal pay for women, HB886, which would closes sex offender loopholes in current Illinois law to help protect children and prevent any form of sexual assault, and HB3364, a bill to help mitigate the state’s teacher shortage.
Get Involved: File a Witness Slip
While you can always contact my district office to express your opinions on legislation, you can also file a witness slip on a piece of legislation to make your support for legislation known to all members of the General Assembly. Witness slips are provided to members during committee hearings and it is one of the most effective ways to ensure your opinion is expressed to multiple lawmakers when legislation is being reviewed.
Here are instructions as to how to file a witness slip:
- Go to www.ilga.gov
- Scroll down the page and click on GA Dashboard (in red ink along the left side of the page)
- Click on the Register icon and fill in your information (registration is recommended but not required)
- Click on House, Committee Hearings, and then on the “Month” tab
- Click on the piece of paper icon to the right of the listed hearing
- Click on Create witness slip to the write of the bill sponsor’s name
- Fill out the form
- In the “subject matter” portion click “proponent” or “opponent”
- Under “Testimony” you should click “record of appearance.” You can also have your written comments supplied to all board members. This is optional. Interestingly, they do not accept emailed testimony. You may fax your written statement to 217-557-2165 or you may mail it to Illinois State House, Room 426, 401 S. Second Street, Springfield, IL 62706. Make sure that your written testimony is clearly marked at the top of the page: HB XXXX Testimony, Date, Time, and your name.
- Fill in verification code
- Click the box to accept the terms
- Click Submit
A “Frequently Asked Questions” document is available here for help with additional questions about the process.
Deputy Jacob Keltner
McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner, who was serving as an assistant U.S. Marshal, was killed in the line of duty last Thursday in Rockford. The tragic incident happened when a team of federal marshals was initiating the serving of an arrest warrant upon a suspect in multiple cases of armed robbery.
Following the fatal shooting, suspect Floyd Brown fled the scene. A lengthy car chase shifted the scene to a Central Illinois police standoff on Interstate 55 near Lincoln, and I-55 was closed off to traffic for several hours before the suspect was finally taken into custody. Brown is charged with first degree murder of an officer and is also facing federal charges because Keltner was assisting U.S. Marshals.
The Illinois House observed a moment of silence upon hearing an initial report of the tragic news on Thursday, March 7th. The State Capitol grounds include a monument and inscription in stone of the names of all of the police officers who have been killed or died on duty in Illinois.
My thoughts and prayers are with the Keltner Family, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Department, as well as the entire McHenry County Community. I have the utmost respect for all our police and first responders who are tasked with keeping our communities safe, and who do not hesitate to put themselves in danger to ensure the safety and well-being of others.
I hope that you have a safe month and ask that our entire community keep the Keltner Family, as well the men and women in the Sheriff’s Office, in their thoughts and prayers; and to always remember what our first responders do for all of us on a daily basis.
Dan Ugaste, State Representative, 65th District