Hot Topic of the Week:
Report Finds $1.2 Million of Misused Funds for the Covering ALL KIDS Health Insurance Program
A recent Auditor General report on the “Covering ALL KIDS Health Insurance Program”, administered by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) shows issues with late filings, a misclassification of kids’ immigration status and allowing over-age persons to participate, which combined has cost taxpayers nearly $1.2 million on a program meant to provide healthcare for children of low- to middle-income families not covered by Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
The Auditor General’s report showed that during Fiscal Year 2019, only 48% of the scheduled redeterminations were completed on time and 25% of the redeterminations were not completed at all. It is no surprise then that the report identified 1,328 enrollees who were too old for the program from July 2018 through March 2020. If the agency is not examining whether recipients of the program are even eligible, taxpayer dollars are going to be spent on individuals who do not qualify.
While the cost to taxpayers pales in comparison to the ballooning cost of the program to provide Medicaid-like coverage to undocumented adults which I told you about last week, this is just another example of government mismanagement which persists from year to year. As noted in the auditor’s report, four of the five audit recommendations made this year were made in the 2018 audit and were not remedied by the agencies.
You can read the full story here.
Almost all news coverage following the end of the legislative session focuses on the bills that did pass the legislature and are expected to become law. However, many bills that most Illinoisans really care about rarely get the attention they deserve because they never made it to the floor and weren’t addressed by the General Assembly. These bills included anti-corruption reforms, legislation to combat the increase in crime, efforts to make Illinois more economically competitive and, maybe most frustratingly – there was no meaningful discussion about how to make Illinois more taxpayer friendly.
Each year, there are new reports naming Illinois as one of the highest taxed states in the nation. Yet, year after year, the majority party passes unbalanced budgets that ultimately result in future tax increases along with new mandates on local governments which in turn increase the pressure to raise property taxes. I’ve written before that the entire approach to taxes and spending in Illinois must change to make us more competitive with other states. This needs to start with changes to our tax code and guardrails must be put in place to rein in spending habits.
This week, I’m going to give you a look at some of the proposals House Republicans introduced as a package to bring down the tax burden for Illinois families that were never allowed to be brought up for a vote. Altogether, there were over 30 bills introduced by House Republicans that would have provided relief to Illinois taxpayers that were not even allowed to be debated in committee. These bills ranged from practical tax credits, increasing ethanol blends to bring down the cost of fuel, cutting regulation to bring down the cost of electrical bills, and cutting mandates to bring down the costs on small businesses. I’m going to give you a closer look at some of the bills in this package that I co-sponsored.
I’ve written to you previously about legislation I filed: House Bill 1073 and House Bill 1074. Both of these bills would provide meaningful property tax relief to seniors. Neither of these bills were allowed for a vote.
I also co-sponsored bills to reform and repeal the Illinois estate tax. Illinois is one of just a handful of states that still have a “death tax”, which is a graduated tax that goes up to 16% depending on the size of the estate. Very wealthy families are able to pay sophisticated tax attorneys who make plans for them to avoid this tax, but small business owners and farmers are often stuck paying this tax, and the heirs are forced to sell off part of the business or the farm to meet their tax obligations. Much of it is due to the fact that the threshold for this tax to apply is much lower than the federal threshold. To fix this, I co-sponsored House Bill 1459 which raises the threshold to the federal level, and House Bill 1582 that gets rid of the tax altogether.
Another way of providing taxpayers relief is to make sure they get the money that they are owed in a timely manner. House Bill 3169, which I co-sponsored, would require the State of Illinois to pay taxpayers their tax refunds in a timely manner. When taxpayers overpay on their taxes throughout the year, that money should be returned quickly rather than continuing to provide a no-interest loan to the government. Even this simple legislation was not allowed to be called for a vote.
These may seem like small changes, and some of them are. We need these changes and more. For now though, the majority party has made clear that even small changes to bring tax relief to Illinois families are not up for debate.
The Best 7 Hours of the Summer!
Last newsletter I told you about the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation’s “Barn Dance”. It is coming up this Saturday, July 15 at Emricson Park in Woodstock from 5:00 until midnight, and will be back under the big tent (and I do mean big!) Rain or shine, it’s a great event for a great cause. You can buy tickets here.
Trust me when I tell you that if you haven’t been to the Barn Dance, this is one event you don’t want to miss.
Fiesta Days celebrates 75 Years!
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of McHenry County’s Fiesta Days! This annual 11 days of fun for the whole family kicks off on July 13th. For more information, visit their website at https://mchenryfiestadays.com.
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