The Spring 2021 Legislative Session has come to a close and I am proud of the accomplishments we made. We came together to pass a balanced budget that includes an additional $350M for the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula, which is a critically-needed investment in Illinois public schools. This year’s budget also extends the renewal of property tax exemptions for low-income seniors and people (including veterans) with disabilities.
Over the last four years, we have reduced the state’s backlog of bills by over 80% and paid this year’s pension obligation in full, both aimed at reducing cost to taxpayers.
This year has been a difficult one for the Asian American community. We have suffered a spike in violence, hate speech, and discrimination that must not be tolerated. That’s why passing the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act was so important–and personal. This legislation ensures that Asian American history is included in public school history curricula because the best weapon against ignorance is education.
We tackled other major issues as well–see below for more legislative updates and district news. If my office can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz
This year’s budget protects our state’s most vulnerable, invests in infrastructure and job creation, and saves millions by paying down debt early.
- FY22 General Funds Budget totals $42.3 billion, holding the operating budget roughly flat.
- Closes $655 million in corporate loopholes to protect the middle class while the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share.
- Stronger state FY21 revenues accelerate repayment to the federal government of $3.2 billion in emergency borrowings, saving the state tens of millions of dollars.
- Allocates Year 1 of ARPA money (state-controlled funds from the American Rescue Plan Act), including a $570M investment in economic recovery and small businesses.
- Additional $350 million for K-12 education, bringing the total to $9.2 billion.
- $7.7 Billion in federal funds to schools
- $28.2 million more for MAP grants to a total $479.6M for need based college financial aid
- $3.4B for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)
- $170 million in additional investment in services for people with developmental disabilities
- Fully funds FY22 pension contribution of $9.4 billion
Through collective leadership from our entire caucus, we passed legislation to protect struggling families, small businesses, invest in local public education, and support underserved communities, as we recover from the pandemic.
- Ethics Reform (SB 539): With this comprehensive ethics package, we made a good first step toward restoring confidence in Springfield. Limits revolving door of legislators and staff becoming lobbyists, bans elected officials from lobbying their own unit of government and further limits campaign fundraising activities during and around official Session.
- TEAACH (HB 376): Illinois has become the first state to pass legislation requiring that Asian American stories and experiences are taught in K-12 curricula at a time when anti-Asian racism, discrimination and xenophobia are increasingly and shamefully common.
- Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence (HB 3317): We passed legislation to standardize state support systems to better serve survivors of domestic violence.
- Telehealth (HB 3308): This legislation requires individual and group accident or health insurance providers to cover telehealth services in the same manner as any other benefits covered on their policy. This will help drive down the cost of healthcare and increase access to healthcare services for those who struggle to attend in-person appointments.
- Access to Menstrual Products for Low-Income People (HB 155): We addressed a serious gap in state aid programs by allowing people who receive SNAP and similar benefits to use existing benefits to purchase menstrual products.
- Illinois Way Forward (SB 667) / Public Defender (HB 2790): We created a path for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office to represent immigrants during deportation proceedings if they cannot otherwise access an attorney.
- Affordable housing (HB 2621): We passed a comprehensive affordable housing bill that will leverage public and private investment to build and renovate thousands of affordable homes in our state, creating jobs and providing a higher quality of life for many Illinoisans.
Illinois to enter Phase 5, full reopening!
On Friday, June 11th Illinois will enter Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois reopening plan. All sectors of the economy and gatherings of all sizes can resume. Individuals are still encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they are able!
IDPH will still require individuals to wear masks when on public transportation, in congregate settings, in health care settings, as well as in schools, daycares and educational institutions, subject to continued CDC guidance.
For more information on Phase 5 guidance, you can view IDPH’s overview HERE.
Flick Park testing continues, The COVID-19 testing center run by Northshore Clinical Labs in partnership with the Glenview Park District at Flick Park is scheduled to remain open until July 31st. Registration is required, you can make an appointment HERE.
In-person Learning Returning in the Fall
The Illinois State Board of Education passed a resolution unanimously on May 24th to support the return of in-person learning for students across the state in the Fall. The resolution states:
“Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, all schools must resume fully in-person learning for all student attendance days…remote instruction be made available for students who are not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and are under a quarantine order by a local public health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health.”
Visit ISBE’s website to keep up to date on news HERE.
New Trier Township Property Assessment Appeals
Commissioner Larry Suffredin wishes to remind homeowners that property tax assessment appeals are open for New Trier Township through Thursday, July 1st. If you are in need of assistance you may reach out to the Commissioner’s office at 847-864-1209 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month
Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Learn about the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s and how to reduce your risk HERE.
This Session my colleagues and I passed legislation that would make Illinois the first state in the country to require training on diagnosis, treatment and care for Alzheimer’s for all health care professionals as a prerequisite of their licensing.
Meet my Staff
I wanted to introduce you to my new Chief of Staff, Liam Harding, who took up his new role last week. Some of you may know Liam already as he joined my office in March originally as District Director.
He previously interned for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in Glenview and Chicago, and worked with State Representative Mark Kalish in Skokie. Liam, his wife Melissa and their seven month old son Cillian live in Palatine.
Additionally, our office had our Summer intern begin this month, Noah Walch grew up in Glenview and joined us after recently graduating from Glenbrook South. Noah is attending Johns Hopkins University in the Fall and will be majoring in Public Health Studies. His areas of interest are public health, immigration and environmental issues.
If you are in need of any assistance or just have questions for our office, please do not hesitate to call Liam and Noah at my office at 847-486-8810 or via email at email@example.com.
Events in the District
Kids and students receive free admission in June to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education center. You can find more information on their current programming by visiting their website HERE.
Saturday, June 26th is Pioneer day at the Grove in Glenview, participate in hands-on activities along the way like tin punching, candle dipping, and much more. Complete all pioneer tasks, spin the wagon prize wheel, and receive a gift. Registration is required for all participants 2+. You can register HERE, tickets are $5/per person.
The Village of Skokie will be celebrating its first Juneteenth community celebration June 18th and 19th. See below for a summary of events, more information is on the Skokie United website, HERE.
- Alongside our community I participated in a rally to condemn antisemitism following the vandalism committed against the Persian Hebrew Synagogue in Skokie. We must not tolerate acts of antisemitism on any front, particularly one as blatant as this.
- I was honored to attend the grand reopening of the Skokie Public Library after its extensive renovation! It was great to see all the fantastic work put into the library and I hope you will take advantage of this amazing resource in our community.
- I was busy working in Springfield this May, culminating in many of my bills being passed and they now await the Governor’s signature.
- I was interviewed by Elaine Quijano on CBS’ Red & Blue to discuss TEAACH, you can view it HERE.
State Senator Laura Fine and I took a tour at Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association’s new Highland Park facility that is under construction. This facility will have a variety of spaces and offer programs for NSSRA participants, I cannot wait for it to be available to our community. You can read more about the facility HERE.