Howlett Senate FloorSPRINGFIELD – Throughout 2023, the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus passed hundreds of measures to serve and assist Illinoisans in all corners of the state.

Efforts focused on public safety, workers’ rights and becoming the most equitable and inclusive state in the nation.

Some of the most significant laws passed by the Illinois Senate Democrats include:

  • Becoming a safe haven (House Bill 4664): Protects health care professionals in Illinois from restrictive laws from other states
  • Tackling food deserts (Senate Bill 850): Requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide grants and other forms of financial assistance to grocery stores located in or to be located in a food desert
  • Supporting workers (Senate Bill 208): Requires all employers to provide their employees with a minimum of 40 hours of paid leave per year that can be used for any reason
  • Lowering the cost of EpiPens (House Bill 3639): Limits the cost of an EpiPens to a maximum of $60 per twin-pack
  • Providing insurance coverage for hearing aids (House Bill 2443): Requires insurance providers to cover hearing aids and related services for people of all ages
  • Addressing the teacher shortage (Senate Bill 2236): Removes the number of days for short-term substitute teachers to teach in the classroom – allowing them to spend more time in the classroom if needed
  • Combatting the opioid crisis (House Bill 1121): Increases access to fentanyl test strips to improve public health outcomes by potentially preventing fatal overdose
  • Educating on fentanyl (House Bill 3924): Requires all high school students enrolled in a state-required health course to learn about the dangers of fentanyl and fentanyl contamination
  • Addressing the teacher shortage (House 3801): Supports teachers in hard-to-staff schools by providing retention bonuses for two consecutive years

Illinois saw nine improved bond ratings in just over two years, thanks to the smart spending decisions made by Illinois Senate Democrats, which included the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The balanced budget makes transformative investments in early childhood and higher education, workforce development, and efforts to fight violence and poverty.

The Fiscal Year 2024 budget includes:

  • An additional $200 million pension payment, on top of the $500 million added in the previous two fiscal years
  • A total of $250 million toward a new program – SMART Start Illinois – a multi-year program to provide investments in early childhood education, preparing children to be lifelong learners
  • The commitment of $350 million in new funding toward the evidence-based funding model for K-12 education
  • An increase Monetary Award Program (MAP) funding by $100 million – for a total of $701 million toward grants for students to attend state colleges and universities
  • A $350 million total investment to HOME Illinois, a program targeting the prevention of homelessness, providing crisis response, expanding housing support and increasing job opportunities for the homeless
  • A $400 million investment to close major economic development deals and attract businesses and jobs to the state
  • Funds for electric vehicle rebates, household energy efficiency rebates and lead service line replacement

Members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus look forward to beginning this year’s session in Springfield on Jan. 16.