Three Will County state legislators held a town hall meeting Wednesday at the Fountaindale Library in Bolingbrook to talk about a number of issues and field questions from constituents.
State Sens. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, and Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, and state Rep. John Connor, D-Lockport, tackled topics related to the long list of bills passed in this past legislative session in Springfield.
State Rep. Natalie Manley, D-Joliet, was scheduled to appear but could not because of the birth of her grandchild.
The Democratic lawmakers mostly praised the work done by the General Assembly and Gov. J.B. Pritzker and drew a stark contrast to previous sessions under Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“I do not believe I’m exaggerating when I say that this is the year that Illinois entered the 21st century,” McGuire said.
McGuire specifically pointed to the passage of a constitutional amendment to do away with the flat tax provision of the state constitution.
If approved by Illinois residents, the legislature could implement a progressive tax system.
The legislators also addressed what they were doing to lower the property tax burden on local families, about which at least one of the 25 or so attendees asked.
Bertino-Tarrant emphasized that, especially since changing the state funding formula, local school districts have received more funding that could help school boards rely less on property taxes.
Bertino-Tarrant added that while many constituents are hearing
about new taxes and fees, there are other areas in which the state made cuts. She specifically mentioned reforms in Medicaid and cuts in bureaucracy will save the state millions of dollars.
“If people think we’re heavy in government and have a lot of waste and fraud, we do not,” Bertino-Tarrant said.
Connor highlighted a few bipartisan “pro-business” measures being passed and more money going toward local projects such as an eventual new facility for the local Illinois State Police headquarters.
However, he spoke most highly of the efforts by the Legislature, and especially the local representatives, to get the capital bill passed with
$848 million to go toward improving a local stretch of Interstate 80.
“We all want to be safer on the roads,” Connor said. “And that doesn’t come for free.”