SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As the state responds to the COVID-19 health crisis, state Rep. Michelle Mussman, D-Schaumburg, returned to Springfield to fight for a balanced budget that ensures funding for essential services, puts protections in place for workers and taxpayers affected by the crisis, works to expand access to affordable health care and helps schools adapt to remote learning.
“First and foremost, I want to thank the first responders, nurses, doctors and essential workers who put their lives on the line daily to protect our families and serve our community’s needs,” Mussman said. “While there is more work to be done, we came together this week to make difficult decisions and pass a budget that reflects our most urgent priorities while allowing for increased flexibility and oversight, and ensures that we do not spend more than what we have.”
Mussman supported a balanced spending plan that provides increased funding for Medicaid, domestic violence shelters, in-home health care for seniors and public health efforts. Included in the plan is over $400 million in new dollars for COVID-19 testing and other pandemic-related services performed by local providers. The plan also provides level funding for schools, early childhood education and college financial aid resources. Additionally, the Mussman-backed budget provides full funding of unemployment benefits and more than $40 million for career and technical training for those whose employment has been affected by the pandemic, while still fulfilling the state’s pension obligations.
“We must make sure that residents across Illinois can continue to receive the services they need without interruption,” Mussman said. “As we grapple with the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also put further protections in place for the tens of thousands of Illinois residents who have been laid off or furloughed and ensure that residents can access the critical health services they need during this time.”
To further ease the economic impact of COVID-19, Mussman supported Senate Bill 471 to ease the process of receiving workers’ compensation benefits for first responders and essential workers diagnosed with the virus and allow those receiving unemployment benefits to recoup a larger percentage of their previous income. Mussman also helped expand tele-health and mental health access, and passed a measure that will direct the state’s top health and insurance officers to report to the General Assembly on steps to take in order to reduce health insurance costs.
“More than ever, we need affordable health care that doesn’t discriminate based on economic status,” Mussman said. “I am dedicated to making real improvements to the lives of the hard-working individuals of our community and will remain an advocate to ensure that middle-class families have the resources they need, especially as we face a public health emergency.”
Mussman also helped pass Senate Bill 1569 to help schools accommodate e-learning, codify graduation requirements and ensure that student teachers are able to meet their requirements remotely. Additionally, Mussman worked to provide immediate relief to homeowners by supporting Senate Bill 685, which allows for delayed property tax payments without penalty and includes a one-year deferral of exemption applications for seniors, veterans and people with disabilities to ensure no one loses an exemption they are currently receiving.
“There is more work to do to ensure long-term relief from property taxes and additional difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mussman said. “I am committed to working with my colleagues to keep Illinois moving forward even in the wake of this unprecedented health crisis, and I will continue fighting for the resources that our community needs.”