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Silverstein works for four-year property tax freeze

silverstein 030117SPRINGFIELD- To provide relief to working families in Illinois, Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) plans to reform property taxes in Cook County and the contiguous collar counties of Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage and Will.

Silverstein’s plan calls for a four-year freeze of property taxes. In addition to saving money for taxpayers, his goal is to provide the legislature the time and incentive to institute a graduated income tax system and bring the entire taxation system into greater balance. The Senator will submit legislation this week to launch the plan.

“We have a regressive tax system, and skyrocketing property tax rates are surely playing a role in some of the flight of working families from Illinois,” Silverstein said. “I believe this plan would pause the process long enough for lawmakers to analyze and make changes to our state income tax rate for a more fair overall tax picture.

“Balancing the system with income tax reform could eliminate the need for property tax increases going forward. Taxpayers need a break, and our state’s highly regressive system causes burdens, usually on middle class and lower income families.”

Other facets of Silverstein’s property tax reform plan include giving the same exemptions senior citizens receive to individuals on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and to retired first responders who are eligible for property tax exemptions.

Recipients of SSI typically have limited income, and home ownership is threatened by rising property taxes. Adding those on SSI who are disabled would be a compassionate practice to match what is provided to those over 65.

First responders may retire earlier than age 65 due to the stress and physical demands of the job. These individuals who put their lives on the line as firefighters, police officers or EMTs have better odds of staying in their homes in the community if the state provides this tax relief and stability.

“We must get started on big steps to reform our taxation system and I believe this plan moves us in the right direction,” Silverstein said. “As a cosponsor of the joint resolution to amend the Constitution to allow a graduated income tax (SJRCA 1), I know we need a plan with several components to change our overall system to make it fairer while providing revenue for the services Illinoisans expect. I think the steps in this plan open the door to major change.”

The property tax freeze would not apply to school districts that meet financial hardship provisions. Those districts could suffer greater harm when they are already in financial distress.

The four-year freeze would provide the Legislature with time to implement a graduated income tax that would generate sufficient revenue to make up for the lost revenue from property taxes.

Silverstein will file legislation outlining his plan this week; he then anticipates it being assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee for its review.

Munoz proposal creates lottery game to benefit police memorials

munoz 020818SPRINGFIELD – A new scratch-off Illinois Lottery game will create more revenue to benefit police memorials if a measure led by Assistant Majority Leader Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) becomes law.

The legislation, Senate Bill 2337, was approved in the Senate Revenue Committee yesterday .

“Preserving the memory of fallen officers through memorials, scholarships and assistance to their families shows our gratitude for their service,” said Munoz, a former Chicago police officer. “The families of these brave officers deserve support as they continue to heal from their loss, and they deserve to know their loved one’s service isn’t forgotten.”

Tom Cullerton: Quincy staff is overworked and underappreciated by governor

vets staff 020818SPRINGFIELD - Staffing shortages and poor flow of information can be added to the list of mismanagement by the Rauner administration at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

The shortages came to light at a bipartisan Veterans Affairs Committee hearing convened by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) Wednesday morning.

Nette Smith, who works at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy and is the President of the AFSCME Quincy chapter, outlined the staffing concerns Wednesday, noting healthcare personnel are working “tremendous amounts of overtime” while more than 40 positions remain open at the home.

Castro urges the governor and his administration to take charge

castro 020718SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) continues to look for answers from state officials regarding a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that caused 13 deaths in the last three years at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

“I want to be part of a solution,” Castro said. “But that requires the Rauner administration – the people who are supposed to run state government – to come clean, be honest and actually put forth a plan to solve the problem.”

At the Wednesday Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, Castro focused on a 2016 engineering report that the Rauner administration commissioned to try to solve the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy home.

The plan included replacing the plumbing in select facilities, including those that house the veterans most susceptible to infection. That 2016 report was never acted upon by the Rauner administration. Its existence was not made public until the evening prior to the committee hearing.

Castro was stunned to learn of its existence and the administration’s failure to do anything with it even as the public health epidemic continued at the Quincy facility.

“Why did the Rauner administration sit on this report and do nothing?” Castro asked. “The governor and his administration failed our veterans and now they’re trying to paper over their failure with new reports and bureaucratic red tape. That’s unacceptable.”

The engineering firm is now being asked to expand the plumbing replacement to the entire campus, and Castro said it is long past time to act.

“If the governor would have taken charge of the situation, he could have solved the problem back in 2016,” said Castro.