Sen. President Don Harmon

SPRINGFIELD – Building on a new era of fiscal responsibility, members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus advanced legislation Thursday to make major investments for workers, businesses and local economies with funding available through the American Rescue Plan.

“We are continuing our responsible use of federal dollars by providing $2.7 billion in tax relief to businesses and benefit protections for workers,” said Senate President Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat. “At the same time, our investments in college savings, health insurance and the retirement security of teachers, prison guards, state troopers and university workers will again demonstrate strength through stability for the hard working people of our great state.”

With efforts to solve both pandemic-related issues and long-standing fiscal problems, the proposal invests $2.7 billion in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and an additional $300 million to shore up retirement security funds.

“I’m proud of this unprecedented chance to catch up on some outstanding debts to continue improving our state’s credit standing,” said State Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora), chief sponsor of the measure. “Allotting $2.7 billion to the Unemployment Trust Fund, as well as substantial earmarks for group health insurance bills, the College Illinois Program and extra pension payments, is a big step to boost our fiscal standing. It also provides a sense of security for Illinois residents, including current and retired state workers and their families.”

“This General Assembly has made a firm commitment to paying down debt,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago). “By dedicating $2.7 billion to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, we are not only doubling down on that commitment, we are protecting employers from higher taxes and employees from benefit cuts.”

To offer support to working families across the state, the proposal also includes major investments into the group health insurance backlog and College Illinois program.

“This bill is the right thing to do for businesses, labor organizations and everyday Illinoisans,” said State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr. (D-Chicago), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I want people to know that if they need temporary help providing for their families, no matter the reason, Illinois has their back. Paying down debt, making additional pension payments and fully funding College Illinois is the fiscally responsible move that could lead to another credit upgrade.”

The federal government requires ARPA funds to be deposited to the U.S. Department of Labor by a series of deadlines with the first scheduled for April 1, 2022.

Senate Bill 2803 moves to the governor for final consideration.