Illinois to enter bridge phase of re-opening today
Illinois is taking one more step toward a full re-opening today as we move into the ‘Bridge to Phase 5’ stage of the Restore Illinois plan. This intermediate step was announced earlier this year as vaccinations began ramping up and it appeared that it would be possible to raise some capacity limits just short of a full reopening. At this rate, we could see the long-awaited full reopening of the state in about a month.
Many facilities which are currently open at 50% capacity will be able to increase to 60%. Capacity limits on outdoor events like festivals and farmers markets are going up also. Museums and zoos had been limited to 25% capacity, but they will now be open for up to 60% capacity. Conferences and conventions were previously capped based on the size of the venue, but they will now be able to admit up to 1000 people or 60 percent of the event venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller.
You can read more details on the bridge phase here. If we are able to stay on this course, the state could enter Phase 5 and fully reopen on June 11.
Vaccinations pass important milestone
This week the 10 millionth vaccine dose was administered in Illinois. With more than 13 million residents, and many people receiving a two-dose vaccine, it will take more than 26 million total doses to vaccinate the entire population. Still, reaching 10 million in just a few months is an important milestone. In all, just over 4.5 million, or more than 35% of the state’s residents, are considered fully vaccinated.
From a high of more than 125,000 vaccinations administered per day, the state is now averaging around 75,000 every day. Continued vaccinations are important to protecting everyone in the state from the illness, as well as to getting us to the point of being able to fully re-open. There are more than 1000 sites in the state which have the vaccine, including locations in all five counties of our district. If you have not already done so, please visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or contact your local health department to find out how to get vaccinated.
Governor’s budget proposal threatens Invest in Kids scholarship program
A few years ago Illinois enacted the Invest in Kids scholarship program to allow individuals and businesses to get a 75% tax credit for donating to qualified organizations which provide scholarships to private schools in Illinois. The program has proved to be popular, but is threatened by a proposal in the Pritzker administration’s 2022 budget which would sharply reduce the amount of the tax credits used to fund the scholarships. It could put the future of the entire program at risk. This is one of the many issues we will be facing in the last couple of weeks of session as we seek to enact a balanced budget by the May 31 adjournment deadline.
Visit to Prairie Central
I had a nice visit on Monday with the students and teachers at Prairie Central Upper Elementary School in Forrest. My thanks to Principal Keri Jancek for the tour of the school and for the chance to visit with students and discuss state government. They have a great group of students and faculty, and the kids asked some important questions.
How much do we owe?
As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,089,408,846 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.5 billion. 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 $141 billion.
More news from around the state
To get all the latest news and information from every Illinois state agency, visit the state’s newsfeed website at https://www2.illinois.gov/news. There you will find the latest press releases from state agencies. If you want to receive updates only from the agencies you select, you can sign up to receive state agency news alerts by going to https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/gov/pages/communicationsoptin.aspx and signing up for e-mail news updates.