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Update from the Capitol 11/24/2021

Wednesday, November 24, 2021 - Posted 5:28:24 PM by Rep. Tom Bennett

Tom Bennett

Help with home heating available

As we move into the coldest months of the year, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is reminding Illinoisans that utility bill assistance remains available through the Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Because of inflation and a nationwide increase in the price of natural gas, home heating prices are going up to levels not seen in many years. The program has been expanded this year to provide benefits between $750 and $1000 to eligible households in order to help them avoid falling behind on energy bills this winter.

To find out more or to apply online, visit

Revenue up, but warnings about inflation

Everywhere you go it seems that prices are rising. We see the effects of inflation at the gas pump, at the grocery store and just about everywhere else. It's having a significant effect on all of our wallets and it shows no sign of getting better anytime soon. Now state government has gotten a warning about the effect inflation will have on the state's finances.

The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) issued its October revenue report and found continued revenue growth for the state, but warned about the effect that continued inflation will have. In October 2021, state revenue improved by more than $1 billion over October 2020. Almost half of that growth was in sales tax revenue, with increased corporate income tax revenue also a big part of the gain. Funds flowing in from the federal government increased substantially last month compared to a year ago.

Tax revenue from Illinois' new sports wagering law leveled off during the summer and early fall, but information from the Illinois Gaming Board suggested that might be due to the popularity of betting on football and basketball which were in their off-seasons during the summer.

COGFA focused on inflation as "one of the biggest issues currently facing the economy." The report showed a 4.5% change in inflation in October compared to a year ago. This comes on top of a 4.8% increase in September. Inflation was at the highest level it had reached in 30 years. This is going to continue to be a serious problem for consumers in Illinois and nationwide. It also threatens our already-shaky state budget as prices rise for things which the state buys in large amounts, from gasoline for snowplows to food for state facilities and much more.

Pontiac office open house

Pontiac_Ribbon_Cutting.jpgThank you to everyone who stopped by Tuesday afternoon to help us officially open our new district office at 305 W. Madison Street in Pontiac. I especially appreciate the Pontiac Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting their November Business After Hours event at our new space. It was great to see so many friendly faces and to show everyone around our office. Thanks also to those who dropped off supplies for the Chamber's "Give Thanks…Give Food" collection drive for our local food pantries.

Now that we are fully up and running at the new location (as well as our existing office at 342 W. Walnut Street in Watseka) I hope that you will stop by and see me or my staff if we can ever be of assistance to you with state government.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,668,423,292 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $8.4 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $141 billion.

Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving.jpgAs we do every year at this time we will pause next week to remember all that we have to be thankful for. It has been another difficult year, that's for sure. Yet through it all we have seen neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, and families coming together once again for Thanksgiving. I am thankful to the people of our district for giving me your trust as your voice in Springfield, and for the many friends and neighbors who serve our communities and make this such a wonderful place to live and raise a family. If you are traveling next week, please be safe on the roads. And please take a moment to remember the less fortunate.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! I will be back with another Update From the Capitol on Friday December 3.

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State trooper injured when drunk driver crashes into squad car on I-55 near Romeoville

This is Winter Weather Preparedness Week

Thomas Bennett