CHICAGO HEIGHTS, IL — As we head into the warmer spring weather of April, I am excited to tell you about how we are working on actual legislation in Springfield. We are still very mindful of the pandemic and taking all proper precautions, but we are able to work together at the Capitol for the first time in nearly a year and move important issues forward.
In 2019, before I joined the State Senate, legislators and Gov. Pritzker approved a major construction program. Rebuild Illinois allows us to make long-overdue repairs to our roads and bridges, and provides funds for areas all over the state to help maintain schools, hospitals and many more critical infrastructure projects.
I’m in favor of having ongoing construction to support our economy, our working families and our businesses. But I also believe it’s important that we pay for these programs responsibly.
Vehicle registration fees were increased modestly for most vehicles to help pay for the capital program. But for vehicle owners who have small trailers of 3,000 pounds or less, the fee skyrocketed from $18 to $118.
I checked with the secretary of state’s office, and they report many Illinoisans are simply not paying this much higher fee to register their trailers. I’ve also heard comments from friends and neighbors: Why would I pay $100 more when I can go without the sticker and take a chance of never getting a ticket?
I am working on Senate Bill 1660 in Springfield to remedy the problem. Instead of charging the $118 fee every year for a renewal, we would make it a one-time charge for a permanent trailer plate.
We are still working through details, including the potential revenue hit to the construction program from this change. But I am committed to a more reasonable path here that ensures people are registering their trailers without making them pay so much more to do so.
I am also working on Senate Bill 1989 to try to help address the state’s teacher shortage crisis.
For several years, the number of qualified teachers available to fill our classrooms has been on the decline. A new report from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS) shows that the vast majority of school districts outside Chicagoland are finding it harder and harder to find teachers – and the COVID-19 pandemic is only making the problem worse.
My legislation acknowledges that until we get more young people into the pipeline to become the next generation of teachers, we’ll need to rely on our experienced educators for help. Many retired teachers are willing to pitch in as substitutes, but do not want to jeopardize their hard-earned retirement status to come back to class.
SB 1989 would extend a provision set to expire this summer that allows retired teachers to return to work for up to 120 days each school year without putting their pension benefits at risk. It’s the least we can do to give our local schools the support they need during this crisis.
I will have more updates on legislation as the spring session continues through May.
I am encouraged by the progress we are seeing in fighting the COVID-19 virus and returning to some sense of normalcy. Join me in following social distancing guidelines, and please take advantage of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible. I urge you to contact me anytime I can help at 708-756-0882 or http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/. I will continue to share the latest news on my website and on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senPatrickjoyce40/.
Sen. Patrick Joyce
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District
via Chicago Heights Patch https://ift.tt/2aATivq
March 29, 2021 at 01:45PM