In their budget response, the caucus’ new leadership also touted the mostly successful legislative agenda of the previous session, while providing a preview of some issues the caucus will take up this year. They also promised a continuation of the four-pillar agenda unveiled last year.
“Our state is in the midst of three crises,” Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, recently elected as the Black Caucus Senate Chair, said. “A crisis when it comes to public health, a crisis economically, a crisis when it comes to systemic racism in law enforcement… This budget fight ahead of us, on top of what we passed in terms of these pillars, is the beginning. Our communities need so much.”
New Black Caucus House Chair Rep. Kam Buckner, D-Chicago, praised the proposed budget, particularly that it does not call for an increase in the state’s flat tax while increasing funding for the Department of Children and Family Services. However, he had several indirect criticisms for Pritzker’s administration surrounding its handling of medical and recreational marijuana.
Recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois as part of the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. However, provisions of the legislation due to be completed in 2020 have not been fulfilled.
Severe delays resulted in the finalists for 75 social equity licenses not being announced until last September. That announcement resulted in massive backlash, much of it from the Black Caucus, over the perception that the process was not as equitable as promised and concerns about the third-party private auditing firm KPMG’s involvement in grading applications for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
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February 17, 2021 at 05:35PM