SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Mark Walker, D-Arlington Heights, issued the following statement after Governor J.B. Pritzker’s State of the State address on Wednesday:
“The governor’s State of the State address is an opportunity for us all to reflect on what we must do this session to continue building a stronger Illinois. I’m proud to say that, last spring, I backed and sponsored many critical measures to help put Illinois back on track. From a Fair Tax that will transform Illinois’ unfair tax system into one that works for middle-class families to a bipartisan, balanced budget that pays down old bills and provides $350 million in new funding for public schools, we made good progress.
“I’m particularly proud of our work expanding career and vocational education and reforms backed by the state’s leading business groups easing the burden on small and medium-sized employers in Illinois. I spearheaded efforts to dramatically expand career and technical education in our state and give tax credits to businesses who take on new apprentices. I also supported legislation eliminating the Franchise Tax – essentially a tax to do business in the state – on over 300,000 Illinois businesses.
“Of course, there’s more work to be done and I look forward to continuing my efforts to make health care and prescription drugs more affordable. We need real property tax relief for middle-class families, which is why I worked to create a new Property Tax Relief Fund that will provide annual rebates to homeowners and recently introduced House Bill 4241 aimed at keeping skyrocketing property taxes in check.
“Critically, we need to take steps to crack down on corruption, restore confidence in government and regulate the behavior of elected officials and lobbyists. The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform is already hard at work identifying key areas of reform including universal lobbyist registration. We also need a ‘cooling off’ period before lawmakers can become lobbyists. Since bad actors will always try to find loopholes in the system, we must continue working together to close these loopholes before they can be exploited.
“An important step to building on the progress we’ve made is to continue passing bipartisan, balanced budgets that pay down the backlog of old bills and provide needed funding for our schools, senior care and other lifesaving services like domestic violence shelters and breast cancer screenings. Working together, Democrats and Republicans have made some important progress over the past year, and we need to continue working together to build a stronger Illinois that puts middle-class families first. I’m glad the governor shares that goal and I look forward to working with him during this session.”