SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Yehiel “Mark” Kalish, D-Chicago, issued the following statement after conclusion of a special legislative session to provide critical services and resources for families facing the COVID-19 pandemic:
“I would like to thank all of the essential workers and staff who worked to turn the Bank of Springfield Center into a makeshift legislative chamber and also all of the first responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers that have been working diligently to keep our communities safe during this crisis.
“The challenges that our state is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented. My priority has always been to fight for middle-class families in our community and that is more important than ever during the pandemic. This session we took important steps that will help families as we continue to deal with the new challenges we face due to COVID-19.
“We passed a budget that will make sure that vital services continue for communities and people who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. We were forced to make tough decisions, making cuts where possible to preserve funding for essential services.
“Our budget increases funding for public health, including over $400 million for COVID-19 testing and other related healthcare services. We also passed reforms to expand access to tele-health and mental health care that are critical for our well-being as we continue the governor’s stay at home order.
“Our budget preserved the funding for our neighborhood schools that enables them to offer top-notch educational opportunities to our community. And we passed additional legislation that will help our schools as they transition to offer expanded remote learning.
“We passed reforms to streamline workers compensation if the first responders, medical professionals and essential workers who are risking their lives every day were to contract the virus.
“We enacted legislation that will help families deal with the economic repercussions of the pandemic by increasing unemployment benefits that laid-off and furloughed workers may recoup. While also providing property tax relief to families that are struggling by suspending late payment penalties and tax sales.
“There is no doubt that we will continue to face new challenges as the pandemic continues, but the progress that we made during this session moves Illinois forward and will help every family in our state as we continue to fight this pandemic together.”