As the first half of session comes to a close, I wanted to provide you with a legislative update and tell you about some of my upcoming events. So far this session, three bills I have sponsored passed out of the House of Representatives and now head to the Senate.
I passed legislation to enable counties to properly pursue property tax frauds and save homeowners money on their property tax bills. House Bill 4148 would enable the county to take action in the event someone falsely files for multiple homestead exemptions on their property taxes. Each year, thousands of people across the state fraudulently claim multiple exemptions on their property taxes, and their crimes cause everyone else to pay more.
To better combat human trafficking, I passed House Bill 5278. This bill expands the definition of human trafficking so that law enforcement can cast a larger net in human trafficking operations.
Finally, I passed House Bill 5290 to address some of the problems surrounding school bullying and cyber bullying. Bullying is a very serious issue that has led to suicides across our state. This legislation would require the Board of Education to develop a bullying policy for use by school districts.
In addition to working on legislation, the House of Representatives has also begun discussions on the budget. This year, the House and Senate will begin our budget process with a General Revenue Fund number of $33.719 Billion. With around $8 billion in unpaid bills and another $5 billion in pension contributions, the state will need to make serious cuts. To minimize cuts to Medicaid, transitional housing, or hospitals, I believe we should close Tamms correctional facility, eliminate internal waste, and close loopholes that give millions in tax breaks to giant corporations.
Even though I will not be in Springfield this week, I will be working hard here in the district to make sure that your thoughts and concerns are heard. On Wednesday April 4th at 7 p.m., I will be hosting a “Coffee with Kelly” at Charmers Coffee. Charmers is located at 1500 W. Jarvis. These coffees have proven to be great forums for discussion on a wide range of issue and I am looking forward to hearing your concern on the budget.
On April 10th, I will be hosting a Tax Return Seminar for couples who have entered into a civil union and are filing a joint Illinois Tax Return. Differences in state and federal law require couples in civil unions to take additional steps to file jointly. Without a joint federal return, same-sex couples could be taxed at a higher level than their opposite-sex peers and in some cases and find their benefits improperly taxed. This Tax Return Seminar will allow couples in civil unions to ask questions and receive advice from lawyers, accountants, and representatives from the Illinois Department of Revenue on how to properly file and correct their income tax returns. This free event will be held on Tuesday, April 10th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Center on Halsted in the John Baran Senior Center, located at 3656 N. Halsted.
As always, if you have any questions about my upcoming events, legislation, or the budget, please feel free to contact my office at (773) 784-2002.