SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, focused his efforts on developing good-paying sustainable jobs, improving access to health care and taking steps toward fair taxes for middle-class families during the spring legislative session.
“My focus is on the priorities the people in my district and what I can do to make their lives better,” Connor said. “People with pre-existing conditions are denied health insurance coverage, and they pay $500, $800 or more for medications that should cost them 40 bucks; there are mothers and fathers losing huge chunks of their paychecks to an unfair tax system that forces them to pay more than billionaires. Kids rack up debt at expensive colleges and can’t find a job that pays more than minimum wage afterward. While solutions will not be easy or quick, we must steadily address these very real problems for my constituents.”
Connor passed a budget that controls government spending while maintaining our investments in necessary statewide services. The budget goes on to invest $375 million for public schools, and assigns much-needed funds for health care, veteran’s assistance and elder care. More than $1 billion has been set aside to pay bills from the Rauner-era budget logjam, and money will go towards updating our pension system.
Sparking economic growth and boosting the market for good-paying jobs were crucial pieces of Connor’s legislative agenda this session. These bills included the 21st Century Employment grant program, which funded job training grants for businesses, community colleges and high schools and the creation of a statewide Worker Protection Unit controlled by the Attorney General, which would ensure employers kept working conditions safe and paid workers on time. Connor was also a vocal proponent of “Buy Local” bills to keep state funds flowing to Illinois businesses not foreign corporations.
“One of the biggest steps we can take towards a strong Illinois is creating more $35 an hour jobs,” Connor said. “Good-paying jobs are the foundations for growing communities and secure families. We also pushed for safe working conditions, workers’ rights and Buy Local bills because good-paying jobs don’t mean a thing if employers aren’t giving you the wage you’ve earned or if you end up injured on the job and can’t work, and the state shouldn’t be sending money from Illinois taxpayers to non-Illinois businesses. We need to keep tax dollars in our communities to help them grow.”
To accompany the economic growth spurred by this legislation, Connor supported the Fair Tax amendment, which will cut taxes for 97% of Illinoisans. While middle-class families currently pay twice as much of their salary in taxes as millionaires and billionaires, the Fair Tax makes the wealthy pay their fair share to balance the budget and fund critical services like schools and health care. Connor also went further to reduce taxes on middle-class families, passing property tax credits for homeowners and creating a Property Tax Relief Task Force to lead the effort to lower taxes on homeowners.
“The Fair Tax is a long-overdue change our state has needed for years,” Connor said. “We are shifting the tax burden away from middle-class taxpayers so they can go back to fueling a robust economy. This is just the first of many changes I intend to support to reform the Illinois tax system. However, the Fair Tax goes a long way to changing what was one of the most unfair plans in the country.”
Connor also made a significant push to ensure health care is affordable and accessible for all Illinoisans. Recent years have seen skyrocketing costs on essential aspects of health care, and Connor cracked down on the pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies responsible. Connor voted to crack down on big insurance companies that raise rates for no reason by passing legislation that will require them to justify any premium increase. The Pharmacy Benefit Managers Article and Prescription Drug Transparency Act, both of which Connor supported, imposed penalties on bad-actors trying to take advantage of patients with preexisting conditions or crucial medication needs. When President Trump tried to sneak in legislation to slash the Affordable Care Act and take health care from millions of Illinoisans, Connor stepped in and passed legislation to stop him.
“Affordable health care is crucial to a safe, happy life,” Connor said. “Legislators have to address any challenges to that immediately. Pharmaceutical companies trying to pad their profits by exploiting my communities, insurance agencies do their best to deny care to anyone who isn’t already healthy; now, even the president is coming after Illinoisans’ health care. These attempts to strip people of their health care are shameful, and I will not allow them to continue.”
Connor had numerous other legislative achievements this session such as his work to keep violent offenders from purchasing firearms, the passage of the Reproductive Health Act to secure a woman’s right to an abortion and his many bills to expand veterans’ rights and the rights of their families.
“These measures are critical in getting Illinois moving forward again; however, we are far from finished,” Connor said. “I look forward to continuing to work for a stronger Illinois.”