January 3, 2022
By Katie Clancy
This month, newly elected state legislators will be sworn in, but the Democratic Majority will remain in power. Although leaders like Speaker Chris Welch have shown an inclination to use this power to pass extreme policies, there are reasonable reforms that families should advocate for and should have bipartisan support.
Here are five common sense reforms that legislators and families should advocate for this legislative session:
- Eliminate the Grocery Tax
The grocery tax is currently suspended through June, but anyone who just went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving knows how expensive it is to buy even the most basic ingredients. Instead of reinstating this tax next year, legislators should move to eliminate the tax.
- End the Yearly Gas Tax Increases
A repeal or reduction of the 19-cent gas tax that Governor Pritzker and the General Assembly passed would be more beneficial, but we have to start somewhere. Pritzker and the democrats understand how much this tax hurts families, or at least that is the reason they gave for suspending it this year. Unless they act, families will receive two automatic increases next year. Families experienced record-breaking gas prices made worse by Illinois’ second-highest in the nation gas tax. The automatic yearly increases tied to inflation should be eliminated.
- Keep Cash Bail in Place
The Supreme Court halted the elimination of cash bail, which was supposed to go into effect on January 1, after a ruling from a lower court that found this provision in the SAFE-T Act unconstitutional. The elimination of cash bail will allow even violent criminals to escape detainment before their trial, regardless of their criminal history or history of not showing up for previous court dates. A full repeal of the ‘SAFE-T’ Act would restore public safety and empower law enforcement, but the elimination of cash bail presents the most pressing public safety issue.
- Expand and Make the Invest in Kids Act Permanent
The Invest in Kids Act provides low-income families with tax credit scholarships and empowers them to send their children to the school of their choice. Sadly, it will end next year. Thousands of families rely on this assistance, with thousands more waiting for the same opportunity. With low test scores at public schools across Illinois, kids deserve a better chance of succeeding and preparing for the future. This program uplifts families and gives low-income kids the same opportunities as families with higher incomes or who live in safer neighborhoods. Children who currently receive these scholarships should be able to keep them, and the program should expand to give more families the opportunity.
- Give Citizens the Right to Recall Corrupt Politicians
Illinoisans do not have the power to recall any elected official except the governor. Even there, it is nearly impossible because citizens need certification of the recall from members of both parties in each chamber. Consequently, leaving us “recall in name only.”
There have been calls to increase accountability and pass stronger ethics laws for years, but most of these strongly worded statements and press releases have fallen flat. It’s time to empower citizens with the right to recall elected officials who have broken the public’s trust.
These five legislative priorities have received bipartisan support in the past. With pressure applied from engaged citizens, there’s an opportunity for real change and an opportunity to improve the lives of Illinois families.
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