When is a Tax Increase Called a Tax Cut? When the Governor Says So!

Last week I focused on process – the mess that the Democrats created and then rigged to pass their tax increase. This week I’ll talk a little more about what happened and didn’t happen at the Capitol during the recent session. The two issues that I’ve focused most of my legislative time working on have been fixing our broken child welfare system and our debt-ridden pension system. Today, I’ll give you an update on some of the progress that was made this year on child welfare. I’ll also give you an early scoop on some messages you may see hitting your TV this fall and why you may end up paying even more for groceries. And for something completely different, there are fun things to do in the summer. 

Hot Topic of the Week: Will We Now Pay More for Groceries? 

In his State of the State speech in February, Governor Pritzker proposed getting rid of the 1% sales tax on groceries. With inflation having driven up food prices 25% since 2020, repealing this tax was a popular proposal among Illinois families and one which didn’t cost the state a dime.  

Here’s why: the current Illinois grocery tax of 1% is set by the State but those tax dollars go to local governments. When Governor Pritzker proposed getting rid of the grocery tax, local government officials were furious because after cutting the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF) and the Personal Property Replacement Tax (PPRT) reimbursement, this blatantly political gimmick was one more effort by the Governor to strangle the budgets of local governments because he’d be able to say he “cut taxes” without having to cut any spending or make up the difference. 

I wonder if the Governor’s people asked voters what they thought of a policy that would increase their grocery tax? I don’t need a public opinion poll to know that idea would be terribly unpopular. At a time when families are paying more for groceries than ever before, how could any politician consider increasing taxes on groceries? But they found a way. 

In an effort to keep its campaign message of cutting grocery taxes alive, the Pritzker administration worked out a deal with local governments. The statewide grocery tax would be eliminated but local governments (including non “home-rule” communities) would be able to enact their own grocery tax without a voter referendum. In addition, non home-rule communities would be able to enact an additional 1% sales tax, not only on groceries but on all otherwise taxable sales, again without going to referendum.  

The bill to “Eliminate the Grocery Tax” passed overwhelmingly and I’m sure there are plenty of people ready to run ads across the state talking about how they “cut taxes on groceries.”

Only in Springfield can a “tax cut” law in reality mean a 200% increase in that same tax. People are so tired of this political double-speak. That’s why I voted “No”. You deserve real relief from price increases – this new law does the opposite. 

Progress on Child Welfare 

There is still a lot of work to be done if we’re to reform our child welfare system, but we were able to make some meaningful progress this Spring. We held many committee hearings to better understand the issues and try to find answers on how to provide help to families on the edge of entering the child welfare system. DCFS now has a new director. This doesn’t guarantee that there will be broad changes that are needed, but so far, I’m hopeful that this marks a turning point for the agency. I’ve written to you about most of the work, but here is a quick summary of the bills we passed this session: 

  • House Bill 439 will help children within DCFS receive the in-state care that they need. 
  • House Bill 780 creates the “Grandparents raising Grandchildren” program to provide Grandparents with the tools and resources they need to care for their grandchildren. 
  • House Bill 2618 strengthens background check requirements for transportation providers who come into contact with children in the child welfare system. 
  • Senate Bill 375 makes some meaningful changes to DCFS that will require them to better serve families and children. It provides oversight, high standards, and child-centered care. 

Last week I attended a workshop offered by the Council of State Governments and the Annie E. Casey Foundation where legislators from around the Midwest exchanged ideas on how to increase the chances of children not having to enter the child welfare system in the first place. I came away with a few ideas that might work here in Illinois which I’ll tell you about in the coming weeks.

Preview of Coming Attractions: A Primer on Pensions 

During the recent session there was a lot of action on pensions. While we didn’t figure out where to come up with $130-some billion necessary to pay off our unfunded pension liability, we did make some changes to bring some stability to our police and fire pensions, which is a start.

There’s too much to unpack on the overall pension problem for this week’s newsletter, so I’m going to devote the entirety of my next Reick Report to what we accomplished this year, the problems still facing us and some suggestions that have been made as to how to solve them. But to give you a glimpse of what we’re up against, I’d like you to take a look at this chart. I’ll have a lot more to talk about next week.

Capitol Crimes Podcast- The Dangers of Fentanyl

In the latest episode of Capitol Crimes, learn about how Illinois is addressing the Fentanyl problem that’s plaguing our state and the nation. Here’s a snapshot: 

     “Illicit fentanyl is being distributed across the country including here in Illinois. Sold on the illegal drug market, Fentanyl is often mixed with other illicit drugs to increase its potency. It is sold as powders and nasal sprays, and increasingly pressed into pills made to look like legitimate prescription opioids or rainbow-colored tablets that look like candy.

     The tragic reality:  A very small dose of Fentanyl can be lethal. Just two milligrams of fentanyl can be lethal depending on a person’s body size, tolerance and past usage.

     According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdoses and poisoning are the third leading cause of death in kids and adolescents aged 19 and younger. In 2022, the US Drug Enforcement Administration seized over 50 million fake prescription pills and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl. They found 42% of illegal pills tested for fentanyl contained at least 2 mg of fentanyl, considered a potentially lethal dose.

     It is not just illegal drug users who have succumbed to a Fentanyl overdose. Too many children have been exposed to fentanyl, some in their parents’ homes and in one horrific case in their daycare. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. It only takes the smallest amount to poison or kill a young child.”

Listen to the entire podcast by clicking here

A Free Museum Pass for some Family Summer Fun

With kids out of school and summer heating up, plan a trip to Chicago with your family and visit one or more of the city’s great museums with our free family pass. 

The pass is provided by the Museums in the Park Organization. Only one group of up to four (4) can reserve the pass at a time and must be picked up from and brought back to my District office. Constituents need to call for an appointment to come to the District office to pick up the pass before visiting the museums.   

It is strongly recommended that families utilizing the card contact the museum(s) they plan to visit to learn if pre-registration is required to visit. 

Please contact my office at (815) 880-5340 and provide your name and address along with the dates you are requesting (can be used for up to 3 days in row) to reserve the Constituent Education Resource Card for your use. 

Happenings Around McHenry County: 

The Best 7 Hours of the Summer!

For many here in McHenry County, nothing says “Summer” like the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation’s “Barn Dance”.

The GCCF is a purely volunteer organization. This year they are hoping to break the $10 million total raised in their 24-year history. All of this money goes to raise cancer awareness, help provide cancer care to local residents and fund cancer research.  

The centerpiece of its fundraising effort is the Barn Dance, an event that provides food, fun and great entertainment, along with raffles and auctions, all for the purpose of celebrating cancer survivors, increasing cancer awareness and providing resources to continue the fight.

This year’s event will take place on July 20th 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. 

Stay Up to Date:

Like what you see? Please share this update with your friends and family. If someone forwarded this e-mail to you, please sign up for my newsletter or send me a message by clicking here: https://www.ilhousegop.org/contactreick. With this weekly Reick Report, I aim to give you a quick and easily digestible update on what is happening at the State Capitol, the top issues in our local area, and how you can get engaged.