In his second Budget Address to lawmakers, Governor J.B. Pritzker unveiled a proposal that seeks $1.6 billion in new spending and makes some funding for priorities like education, health care and public safety contingent on the approval of his tax increase.
In other action, legislation has been filed that would change a process that too often leaves citizens waiting for medical treatment due to insurance coverage requirements. Other bills recently filed include a proposal to exempt overtime wages from the income tax, and a measure that would recognize recipients of the Air Force Combat Action Medal.
Governor says new spending relies on his tax
The Governor put the best face possible on Illinois’ fiscal situation; unfortunately, his glowing assessment does not square with the facts, and his spending plan relies on a huge income tax increase to implement. He also skims over the most fundamental problems we have. We have one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. We are one of the most corrupt states in the nation, and are the only state in the nation that has lost population for the last six years.
We have to change the way things are done in Springfield. We have all these advantages but the politicians keep screwing it up. We have to get rid of the corruption. We have to reduce property taxes. We must address our fundamental pension problem that is stealing the future from our grandchildren. We have to get control of the run-away spending. Unfortunately, the Governor’s tax that is central to his spending plan is the final nail in the coffin to driving even more of our tax-paying citizens out of the state, and that is wrong.
What Illinoisans need is more fiscal leadership and responsibility. Last year’s budget process is a road map that proves working collaboratively can produce a budget that meets the needs of Illinois citizens and funds these priorities without a tax increase.
As the legislative budget process gets under way, I stand ready to work with my fellow lawmakers to make the tough decisions necessary to pass a balanced budget with structural reforms that will boost the economy and jobs.
Reducing medical care delays
New legislation has been filed that would change a healthcare process that currently leaves many Illinois residents waiting for medical treatment because of insurance coverage requirements.
Illinois patients often have medical care delayed or denied because of their health plans’ use of a process called prior authorization. Senate Bill 3822 is a bipartisan solution that supporters say will bring much-needed transparency and streamlining to prior authorization requirements.
Health insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers use prior authorization to cut costs, requiring health professionals to do extra paperwork before their recommended patient care is approved. Even when authorization is granted, too often insurance companies later deny payment for medical care they approved.
Prior authorization requirements are often not based on clinically valid criteria, and are administered by individuals who lack relevant qualifications. The Prior Authorization Reform Act would make sure prior authorization requirements are based on medical evidence and administered by qualified individuals.
Senate Bill 3822 has been introduced in the Senate and awaits assignment to a legislative committee where it will receive a public hearing.
Exempting overtime wages from tax
Illinois residents who work overtime would find some tax relief under recently filed legislation that would exempt overtime wages from the state income tax.
Senate Bill 3695 would create a deduction on any overtime wages earned in Illinois. Wages earned in excess to a taxpayer’s regular monthly or weekly salary would be exempt from the state income tax.
The state income tax on overtime wages would still be withheld from an individual’s paycheck; however, when that person goes to file their taxes for that year, they would receive a deduction equal to the amount of taxes paid on overtime wages.
Honoring Air Force Combat veterans
Recipients of the Air Force Combat Action Medal could be recognized on Illinois license plates under newly filed legislation.
Senate Bill 2518 creates the Air Force Combat Action Medal license plate and allows the Secretary of State to issue them to eligible drivers.
The new license plate would join others created to recognize military service and awards, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Navy Service Cross.
The existing Combat Action Badge plate is offered for Army recipients of that medal, which is very similar to the Air Force’s Combat Action Medal.