SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, took steps toward building up Illinois’ economy by creating opportunities for good-paying jobs, relieving the tax burden on the middle class by passing the Fair Tax amendment, and championing affordable health care by delivering a slate of bills designed to lower medication costs and improve health insurance accessibility and reliability.
“My focus will always be improving the lives of the people I represent,” Halpin said. “The middle class in our communities needs tax relief, and the next generation of job seekers needs practical training to compete for high-wage jobs. Families need affordable health care if they are ever going to be comfortable. What fundamentally ties these ideas together is financial security, financial strength. Our goal should be to work together to build a stronger Illinois to help communities prosper and ensure no one has to live in fear of financial collapse.”
Halpin passed the Fair Tax amendment, which will lower income taxes on 99% of people in the Quad Cities area while shifting the tax burden off of the middle-class so the wealthy pay their fair share. This new plan is only the first step towards financial freedom for Illinois’ middle-class, but it marks significant progress away from the state having the most unfair tax system in the country.
“We have a long way to go, but our work this session reforming the state finances will help balance the budget, bring in more revenue and ensure Illinois can offer countless new employment opportunities,” Halpin said. “The Fair Tax will form the backbone of our initiatives to create a more robust economy and bring a brighter future to this state.”
Halpin also played a significant role in passing a budget which allocated $375 million for education funding while setting aside a billion dollars to pay old bills. The budget also bolsters the pension fund and other services, such as veterans’ affairs and infrastructure improvements; all while holding the line on middle-class taxes.
Halpin supported work to ensure health care is consistently cheaper and more accessible. Halpin passed legislation cracking down on skyrocketing prescription drug costs, and capping double-digit insurance premiums. He also pushed for the Pharmacy Benefit Manager’s Article and the Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency Act, both of which enforce penalties on insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies that overcharge patients for crucial medications. Halpin also stood up to extreme politicians’ attempts to strip care from people with pre-existing conditions, barring the state from entering into waivers to allow big insurance companies to sell inadequate plans.
“Pharmaceutical companies and insurance agencies are piling up profits off of exploiting patients with serious diseases and outright lying to others about the costs of their medicines,” Halpin said. “There are powerful groups trying to take advantage of sick Illinoisans; even the president is trying to score cheap political points by attacking their care. It is essential we stand up to special interests and a hostile federal government intent on harming communities across the state.”
Economic development and job opportunities made up another big part of Halpin’s work this session. He helped pass the 21st Century Employment grant program, legislation to fund job training grants to high schools, community colleges and businesses. This program will assist a new generation of workers in learning the skills they need to work sustainable, good-paying jobs. Halpin also backed the forming of a Worker Protection Unit in the Attorney General’s office to ensure workers are kept safe from unsafe working conditions and mistreatment by their employers, and passed a series of “Buy Local” bills to keep Illinois money with Illinois businesses.
“Illinois needs more jobs paying $35 or $40 an hour, and we need practical educations for these jobs,” Halpin said. “Increasing worker protections, focusing on buying local products; this legislation will build up our economy and provide long-term, good-paying employment opportunities for all Illinoisans, now and in years to come.”
While these areas were Halpin’s main focus, he helped pass policy in numerous other areas; including instituting many pieces of legislation creating support programs for veterans and their families, securing women’s reproductive health programs and protecting unions from extreme attacks.
“We see the first signs of Illinois moving forward, but there is much more work to be done,” Halpin said. “I will continue to fight for our constituents in the coming months and years.”