Cash Bail, Unemployment Fraud, Beardstown Town Hall, and More

Elimination of Cash Bail Officially Takes Effect in September

By a vote of 5-2 the Illinois Supreme Court has sided with legislative Democrats supporting the elimination of cash bail for violent offenders in Illinois. This disastrous policy will officially go into effect in September, but since it’s original passage in January, this cornerstone of the so-called SAFE-T Act has already been fueling the dramatic rise in crime in Chicago, and all across Illinois.

You can read more about the  Supreme Court ruling on the elimination of cash bail, it’s impact on our communities, and public safety fixes House Republicans have been working on here.

Audit Confirms Billons in Pandemic Unemployment Fraud

A recent audit of pandemic-period unemployment programs under the control of the Department of Employment Security has revealed widespread fraud and mishandling of billions of taxpayer dollars.

The audit revealed that the State paid out more than $5 billion in fraudulent or excessive unemployment claims for two years in the Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Employment Assistance programs. What’s worse is that the $5 billion is just an estimate and will likely grow as auditors are still trying to account for all the fraudulent payments.

Throughout the pandemic and economic shutdown, families here and across the state struggled to make contact with anyone at IDES to help them with legitimate unemployment claims. IDES offices were closed, no one was available by phone, and the IDES online process was a complete disaster. Hardworking families put on the unemployment line by Governor Pritzker’s shutdown had to wait months to even begin their unemployment claims.

You can read the audit report summary and key findings here.

AFSCME Contract Ratified

This week it was reported that members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ratified its pending contract with the State of Illinois. The contract includes cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) totaling 17.95% over the course of the four-year contract along with a $1,200 stipend upon ratification. The deal also includes efforts to improve workplace safety and expanded parental leave. 

What is the impact on the state budget? That’s still unclear. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget has indicated that there was funding included for some of the larger state agencies including Corrections, Dept of Children and Family Services, and Illinois State Police to name a few, but the degree to which the costs are covered in the budget is uncertain.

Big Changes Coming to Some Drivers Services Facilities

Starting September 1st, 44 driver services facilities around the state will require appointments for some services under a new program being implemented by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. Click below to see if your nearest facility will be impacted.

See You in Beardstown

Senator Jil Tracy and I are excited about our Town Hall in Beardstown coming up on August 8th. We will discuss the budget, the elimination of cash bail, and any other state issues or concerns you want to talk about. Please join us at the Elks Club on the 8th!

Keep Cool

In the extreme heat, please take steps to stay safe.