Inflation relief proposal; conservation task force

House Republicans propose inflation relief tax credit

If you have been to the grocery store lately you have seen the effect that inflation is having on our wallets. A year ago the average family of four paid between $880 and $1100 a month for groceries. Today those costs are more than 5% higher, which translates to an additional $570 to $712 a year for the same amount of groceries. Other costs have gone up more: eggs by 11.6%, chicken by 8.8% and the cost of baby food has increased by 7.9% compared to a year ago.

Now we hear that home heating costs may rise by more than 50% this winter. Last month inflation went up by 6.2%, after rising for several months before. It shows no sign of slowing down. This inflation harms us all, but especially lower-income households and senior citizens on fixed incomes.

The Governor’s office claims that our budget is balanced and recently claimed that the state would actually receive an additional $1.7 billion in tax revenue above what was originally projected for this fiscal year. If those statements are true, then House Republicans are proposing that state government use that windfall to put some money back in the pockets of Illinoisans to help meet these high costs.

We propose a one-time, limited tax credit of $200 for single tax filers making less than $75,000 and $400 for joint filers making up to $150,000. We believe that taxpayers would rather have an extra $200 in their pocket than continue to give it to free-spending politicians in Springfield. At the state level we cannot change the national conditions which are driving costs up, but we can at least take a step to help Illinoisans cope with their costs. We need to move on this proposal as soon as the legislature reconvenes.

30 by 30 Conservation Task Force coming together

Earlier this year I was proud to pass legislation conceived by students at Pontiac Township High School which would start the state on a path toward conserving 30% of our natural land by the year 2030. The legislation creates a task force to study ways in which more of our natural resources will be conserved over the coming years. The task force is made up of legislators, and appointees from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Transportation and Natural Resources, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, teachers, students and agriculture professionals.

I was honored to be appointed to this task force, which will begin its work in the coming weeks. We will collect information and present our report to the Governor and the General Assembly by July 1. The desired result is for the report to lead to legislation which will make our 30-by-30 goal a reality.

State will no longer send unemployment benefits via debit card

Starting December 27 the Illinois Department of Employment Security will no longer send unemployment cards to state-issued debit cards, switching to paper checks instead. The change comes after the state’s vendor, Key Bank, decided to stop providing debit cards for the benefits. Those who receive their unemployment benefits via direct deposit will not be affected. Anyone wishing to switch to direct deposit need to first create an ILogin account, which they can do by visiting ides.illinois.gov/payment.

Telephone town hall with State Police director

I will be hosting a telephone town hall meeting Thursday night December 9 at 6 p.m. with my special guest Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. We will be discussing a variety of topics, including the wide range of duties of the State Police, FOID card processing and what motorists need to know when they are out on the highways this holiday season. Listen for our call around 6 p.m. on Thursday to invite you to participate. I hope you are able to join us.

Talking turkey

The Gibson Area Food Pantry was open over the weekend for drive-thru service. I was glad to help out for a while on Saturday. Usually the food pantry serves around 80 families, but this year they served over 100 turkeys prior to Thanksgiving.

Rick Ertel and the team of volunteers do an amazing job every year, and this year was no exception. They also got a wonderful level of support from the community in providing supplies. They provide an important service to our community. Well done!

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,168,952,438 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.9 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

Illinois American Water encouraging customers to prepare for cold weather

The 309 area code is running out of numbers. Get ready to start dialing this new one

No holiday lights will adorn Capitol again this year

Oral arguments on state legislative district maps start December 7

Illinois EMA urges winter prep for car and home

January 7 set as deadline to apply for Conservation Stewardship Program