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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.

Silverstein files measure to regulate social media political ads

silverstein 030117SPRINGFIELD –Political ads on social media platforms would be regulated to disclose their sources and funders if a new measure sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago) becomes law.

Senate Bill 2251 was filed this week and would extend the same requirements for disclosure regarding print, TV and radio advertising to social media political ads.

“Social media is immediate and far-reaching,” Silverstein said. “Just because it is new media doesn’t mean it shouldn’t fall under the same requirements for existing media in terms of disclosing who funded, prepared and distributed the material. Voters deserve to know what organizations are behind all political ads.”

Attention to online political ads has grown in recent months after Facebook admitted that accounts connected to Russia purchased politically contentious ads ahead of the 2016 presidential election. An estimated $100,000 purchase targeted audiences in swing states with no disclosure about the sources of those ads.

“A recent Facebook ad falsely attacked an Illinois Senate colleague with no clear means of pursuing the source,” Silverstein said. “The laws must apply to online ads as they do everywhere else to keep our elections fair.”

Senate Bill 2251 awaits assignment to a Senate committee before moving to the full chamber for consideration.

Senate overrides veto, protects workers' rights

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SPRINGFIELD –Today the Illinois Senate voted 42-13 to protect workers’ rights and override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1905, sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago). The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act blocks Gov. Rauner’s campaign to engage municipalities in creating right-to-work areas in support of moves to boost corporate profits at the expense of workers.

Sen. Silverstein released the following statement: "Illinois’ future success depends on its support of the middle class. Workers and employers should not be restricted from bargaining collectively as they continue building our economy, and local governments have no place enforcing a rule that constrains this freedom.

"The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act upholds the rights of hard working Illinoisans to expect good wages, benefits and working conditions in exchange for their labors. This veto rejects restrictions of those rights and rejects the governor’s continuing efforts to undermine organized labor in a state that relies on it to operate and extend our economy and our future. In spite of efforts by the governor and his pro-corporate profit supporters to squelch these rights, we will not grow our economy by taking part in a race to the bottom in wages earned by Illinois families."

Senate Bill 1905 passed both houses initially in July with bipartisan support, and was vetoed by the governor on September 29. It now goes to the House for their consideration.

Other Democratic senators spoke in support of the veto override:

Senator Cristina Castro (Elgin): “I am happy to see that my colleagues helped protect the people of Illinois by working together to defeat Governor Rauner’s corporate agenda. We can’t let companies profit at the expense of our workers.”

Senator Scott Bennett (Champaign): “Right-to-work is an inaccurate name for a policy designed to take away rights from hardworking families. This law will help tilt the balance away from big corporations and boardroom executives that work to rig the system at the expense of working families.”

Senator Tom Cullerton (Villa Park): “Illinois businesses will only thrive if we treat workers with the dignity and respect they deserve. Governor Rauner’s harmful boardroom tactics benefit his friends at the expense of Illinois residents. Rauner’s extreme anti-worker agenda has no place in Illinois.”

Senator Bill Haine (Alton): “The facts are clear: right-to-work policies do nothing but reduce workers’ wages and make workplaces more dangerous. The governor’s veto was yet another attempt to decrease wages for working families and ensure higher profits for his wealthy friends.”

Senator Terry Link (Vernon Hills): “At a time when workers’ rights are under constant attack, it is important that we protect the rights of Illinoisans by ensuring that local governments can’t take away those rights. Dismantling collective bargaining rights would lead to lower wages and a loss of benefits for Illinois workers, and I refuse to let that happen.”

Senator Laura Murphy (Des Plaines): "Since taking office, the governor has attempted to roll back employees’ rights and weaken the unions on the backs of which this state was built. All employees benefit from collective bargaining, even those that do not participate in organized labor. I hope this vote sends a strong message to the governor that I will not support his attack on the middle class.”

Senator Iris Y. Martinez (Chicago): “Once again, the governor showed that he cares more about big businesses than the citizens of Illinois. Right-to-work laws lower wages, something that would disproportionately harm lower-income Illinoisans. I am glad the Senate stood up to the governor today and protected the hard-working men and women of our state.”

Senator Bill Cunningham (Chicago): “Right-to-work is wrong for Illinois. Right-to-work and other anti-union measures are designed to do nothing more than lower workers’ wages to pad corporate profits.”

Senator Don Harmon (Oak Park): “This issue has been litigated several times already, and we have our answer – only the state, not local governments, can create right-to-work laws. The governor’s veto was nothing more than a continuation of his radical anti-union agenda. Today’s override will ensure that workers across the state retain the fair representation they deserve.”

Senator Kwame Raoul (Chicago): “The governor likes to claim that he’s pro-business, but he supports measures that are anything but. Everyone loses when right-to-work laws are in place. We cannot improve the business climate of Illinois if we implement laws that lower wages and strip away workers’ rights.”

 

 

Silverstein strengthens powdered alcohol ban with possession penalties

silverstein 030117SPRINGFIELD – In 2015, State Senator Ira Silverstein (D–Chicago) sponsored legislation to ban dangerous powdered alcohol and set fines for its sale and purchase. Senate Bill 67 passed, was signed into law (Public Act 99-0051) and took effect on January 1, 2016. More than 30 other states have passed similar laws.

Now, Senator Silverstein is seeking a tougher position: Senate Bill 121 would ban possession of powdered alcohol statewide and sets penalties for possession. A person found guilty of possession would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense.

Any crystal substance of powder containing alcohol is considered “powdered alcohol.” The powder may be dissolved in liquid such as mixers or juice or it could be sprinkled on food. It can be eaten or snorted without mixing and could be sold in small packets or capsules.

“Along with our law and those of more than 30 other states, several municipalities have banned sale and possession of powdered alcohol,” Silverstein said. “If another state does choose to allow its sale, it could easily be brought into Illinois. The risk of alcohol poisoning and this product’s easily concealable form are just two reasons possessing this type of alcohol must be prevented.”

Senate Bill 191 was approved by the Senate Criminal Law Committee Tuesday; it will be considered by the full Senate soon.

 

Senator Ira I. Silverstein

Majority Caucus Chair Ira I. Silverstein

8th District

Years served:
1999 - Present

Committee assignments: Executive (Vice Chairperson); Executive Appointments; Financial Institutions; Gaming; Judiciary; Revenue.

Biography: Attorney; Degrees from Loyola University in 1982 and John Marshall Law School in 1985; past President of the Northtown Community Council; board member of the Korean Senior Center; member of the Greek Pan-Hellenic Laconian organization; Director of the Bernard Horwich JCC; married (wife, Debra), has four children.