Illinois State Senator Tom Bennett: Valentines for Seniors Program


Senator Bennett is asking for your help to brighten the day of senior citizens across the 53rd Senate District.“My hope is to make sure that no one feels forgotten on Valentine’s Day, especially those who are living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities,” said Bennett. “I need your help. A few minutes of your time can make a big difference.”To help with this goal, Bennett is asking students, scout groups, churches, and other groups to consider creating homemade cards that will be delivered to nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, and other long-term care facilities throughout the 53rd Senate District.Cards be mailed or dropped off from now until February 7th at Bennett’s district office, which is located at 1715 N. Division St., Morris, Il. 60450. There will be a drop box inside the office during normal business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be a small mailbox outside where cards can be dropped afterhours.For questions, please contact [email protected].
Bennett Sponsors Legislation Aimed at Stopping Tax HikeWhile the new General Assembly has barely gotten started, Democratic lawmakers are already discussing plans aimed at creating various progressive tax schemes. Senator Bennett is sponsoring a resolution flatly rejecting any attempts to raise taxes through a progressive income tax.“The voters of Illinois already rejected a progressive tax scheme in 2020,” said Bennett. “The Governor and his allies need to focus on responsible budgeting, making state government live within its means, just like the families of Illinois do with their own finances.”In 2020, Democratic lawmakers, led by Governor Pritzker, muscled through a progressive tax proposal which placed a question on the ballot to decide the issue. Voters rejected the question and the proposal failed.Just a couple of weeks into 2023, Democratic lawmakers have already begun discussing graduated tax legislation and other ideas such as so-called “wealth” taxes.On January 25th, Bennett joined with a large number of other lawmakers at a press conference in the State Capitol to call attention to the issue. They unveiled their legislation, which rejects any further attempts to raise taxes by amending the constitution to institute a progressive income tax.
Senior Hall of Fame
Nominations for Senior Hall of FameThe Illinois Department on Aging is accepting nominations for 2023 inductees to the Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame. This honor is open to adults ages 65 or older who excel in the categories of community service, education, performance and/or graphic arts, and the labor force. Each year, four people are added who have contributed greatly to these fields. The nominations are open until June 1, and anyone can nominate a candidate. Additional information on the process, the online nomination form, and a printable version of the nomination form is available on IDoA’s website.The process to nominate someone for the Senior Illinoisan Hall of Fame is relatively easy. Nominators must submit an application with five questions that detail the nominee’s contributions and provide a photo of the nominee. The pool of nominations will then be reduced to a list of 44 people. From this list, a panel of judges will select the final four to be added to the Hall of Fame. Generally, one person is chosen to represent each individual field, although occasionally more than four people are selected.
Governor's Office
Governor Making Changes in State AgenciesOn Jan. 23, the Governor officially announced several selections for his administration’s agency directors. Five appointments will be new to their position. As of now, the only appointment confirmed by the Senate is Natalie Finnie, the new Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Finnie will be moving to this position from her previous role as Deputy Director, having served in that position since August 2021. Before she joined the DNR, Finnie was a State Representative.The four positions not yet approved by the Senate are Raven DeVaughn as Director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS), Kristin Richards as the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Ray Marchiori as the Temporary Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), and Brandon Ragle as the Temporary Secretary of the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). DeVaughn is moving to this position from a current role of Assistant Director at the same agency. Richards is moving to her new position from her role as another agency’s Director. Meanwhile, both Marchiori and Ragle are advancing within the same department, much like Finnie and DeVaughn.The Governor was recently asked by reporters about whether he would reappoint Marc Smith, the embattled head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). In response, Pritzker said he planned to reappoint him, despite controversies surrounding the department, including the fact that courts have held Director Smith in contempt at least eight times for issues with placement of children.
Planned SNAP Reduction Scheduled for MarchUnder direction from the federal government, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) will be returning SNAP benefits to pre-pandemic levels. Since April 2020, an emergency SNAP allotment was added to the regular monthly benefits to address the worsening food insecurity challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. DHS recently announced that the extra benefits will be ending in February and will no longer be applied officially by March 1.The estimates right now are that this return will result in a decrease of the monthly benefits of between $95 to $255 per household. In an effort to try to reduce strain on households, DHS has put together a resource page for constituents who may need assistance in managing this reduction in funds. Furthermore, DHS has said the Department will be working closely with various communities and organizations to develop additional support and resources for families struggling with this reduction.
Dollar Pipeline
How much do we owe?As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,400,451,617 in unpaid bills to state vendors. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $139 billion.
Did You Know?This week saw some cold temperatures throughout Illinois, but it could always be even colder. The lowest recorded temperature in Illinois history occurred on January 22, 1930, in Mt. Carroll. On that day, the ambient temperature (not including the wind chill) dropped to -35 degrees Fahrenheit.
This Week in the 53rd Senate DistrictIt’s been a busy week! Senator Bennett’s new office is up and running in Morris. If you need assistance with any state government issue, you can call the Morris office at 815-432-0106, or the Pontiac office can be reached at 815-844-9179.