SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – At the conclusion of this spring’s special session, state Rep. Justin Slaughter, D-Chicago, issued the following statement:
“I want to thank the essential workers, first responders, nurses and doctors who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and are risking their lives daily to protect our families and serve the needs of our community. More than ever, we must make sure that these individuals have the support they need as they battle this unprecedented health crisis. We must also ensure that Illinois residents have access to the resources they rely on without interruption, and that is why I supported a balanced budget that addresses our most urgent needs.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shined a light on deep systemic and institutional inequality as it continues to put countless residents out of work, decimate our economy and disproportionately affect communities of color. This year, I worked to pass a balanced budget that prioritizes crucial resources for our community, including increased funding for Medicaid, in-home health care for seniors, and homelessness prevention, as well as full funding for domestic violence shelters and investments in youth employment and violence prevention.
“Additionally, the budget I supported ensures level funding for our schools and college financial aid resources, and more than half a billion dollars for early childhood education. To further support educators during the pandemic, I also backed Senate Bill 1569 to help schools accommodate e-learning and ensure that student teachers are able to meet their requirements remotely.
“I worked to provide full funding for unemployment benefits and over $40 million for career and technical education to help those whose employment has been wiped out by the effects of COVID-19. To further assist workers affected by the pandemic, I supported Senate Bill 471 to help those who have been laid off and furloughed to receive a larger percentage of their previous income through unemployment and ease the process of receiving workers’ compensation for essential workers and first responders who have been diagnosed with the virus.
“I also worked to expand access to tele-health and mental health care resources as they have become increasingly critical throughout the pandemic, and backed an additional measure that directs our state’s top health and insurance officers to report to the General Assembly on what we can do to cut health insurance costs. And because this pandemic has affected every part of our lives, it was important to ensure that residents are able to safely make their voices heard this November. Senate Bill 1863 takes steps to expand vote by mail options and create opportunities for local election officers to offer special voting hours for seniors and even ‘curbside voting’ options.
“As homeowners are also in need of relief from the effects of COVID-19, I backed Senate Bill 685 to allow counties to delay late payment fees and tax sales, and permit a one-year deferral on property tax exemption applications for veterans, seniors and people with disabilities who are currently receiving exemptions to eliminate the added stress of a difficult reapplication process.
“There remains a great deal of work to be done to put Illinois on the path to recovery and address the institutional barriers within our health care system. As we continue to grapple with the effects of this outbreak, I remain committed to fighting for our community’s needs and putting Illinois families first.”