Unemployment trust fund; Another state trooper injured

Report gives more warnings about Illinois’ unemployment trust fund debt

The University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs has released a report examining the debt in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund. It highlighted a number of concerning problems in the way the state managed the fund both before and after the pandemic hit. Illinois’ unemployment insurance trust fund ran up a deficit of more than $4 billion, and did not pay it back before the deadline to avoid accumulating interest. Paying back the debt could now require either higher taxes on employer paychecks, lower benefits to unemployed workers, or both.

The report found that before the pandemic hit, Illinois distributed unemployment benefits without saving enough money to continue paying benefits in the event of a severe crisis. When that crisis hit in March 2020 and hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans lost their jobs due to the pandemic shutdowns, the state had to borrow billions from Washington D.C. in order to pay the additional claims. Illinois unemployment was higher during the pandemic than other states, and we recently learned that more than half of the unemployment funds paid out by the state may have gone to fraudulent actors rather than unemployed Illinoisans who needed the help.

The state budget which passed on a party-line vote back in the spring could have appropriated enough funds to pay down this deficit, but instead left a $1.8 billion hole which will have to be made up somehow. We should not raise taxes on jobs, nor should we cut unemployment benefits for those who need them. This report shows that Illinois has to do better.

Another state trooper injured in crash – please be careful!

A couple of weeks ago I told you about the 14th crash this year involving an Illinois State Police vehicle which was stopped to assist a motorist in distress. I am sorry to tell you that since then we have had a 15th and now a 16th crash involving a trooper who was stopped on the roadside. In the latest incident, a state trooper was injured and hospitalized when a squad car was hit on Route 45 in Kankakee County last weekend. The driver whom the trooper was assisting was also injured in the crash. The alleged drunk driver who struck the trooper’s vehicle has been charged.

A state law called “Scott’s Law” requires drivers to move over and slow down when a first-responder vehicle is on the side of the road with its emergency lights activated. These include such vehicles as police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and tow trucks. The law is named for a firefighter who was killed while responding to an accident in 2000.

Violating Scott’s Law can lead to significant fines and restrictions on driving privileges. A violation which causes an injury or death is a Class 4 felony which can carry a sentence of up to one to three years in prison. Please be careful on the roadways and keep our first responders safe.

Crescent City Cash Bash

The Crescent City Fire Department recently held their annual cash bash. They had a wonderful turnout and some excellent pork chops. I appreciate hearing the stories, family updates, concerns, questions and the conversations. There were a lot of good, hard-working people present to support the community. It was a well done event for a very good cause!  Thank you for your important service to the community.

Reminder about Gibson City Town Hall

My Gibson City town hall meeting is coming up on Tuesday night August 30 at the Moyer District Library at 618 S. Sangamon Avenue in Gibson City at 5:30 p.m. If you have a question or a comment about the recent legislative session, or need help with a state agency, I hope you will stop by.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $1,711,796,644 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $4.1 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.

Did You Know?

The famous 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates came about only after Abraham Lincoln followed the much more well-known Senator Stephen Douglas around the state for months offering rebuttals to Douglas’ speeches. After Douglas spoke Lincoln stood up and told the crowd to come back in a few hours to hear his response. Lincoln’s speeches came to be so popular that he started threatening to draw bigger crowds than Douglas, prompting the Senator to agree to debates in order to dispatch his challenger directly. The rest is history.

More news from around the state

ComEd to give back $38 million in wake of Madigan scandal, but critic says it falls short

Rules of the road for stopping for Illinois school buses

Illinois income and property tax rebate: are you eligible?

Illinois Pork Producers offering CDL scholarship program

Application period open for Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grants for parks

State Fire Marshal now taking applications for Small Equipment Grant Program