Senator Patricia Van Pelt speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the Senate’s passage of a balanced budget:

“Tonight, I proudly voted for a budget that is both fiscally and morally responsible. The budget we passed helps ensure stability for our schools, universities, and for the social service programs that are essential to our communities.

“This budget includes $12 million in new grants for violence prevention programs in our communities, an additional $4 million for youth employment programs, and $430,000 in additional funding for Teen Reach to help ensure the safety of youth after school. It includes record investments for our neighborhood schools and additional funding for the University of Illinois at Chicago. We were able to add $20 million in new funds for workforce development and skills training and $30 million in additional funding for child care assistance so that parents can afford to work and raise a family.

“This is a budget for working families and it’s a budget that works. By making reasonable cuts to administrative spending, we were able to pass a balanced budget while still increasing investments in our most vulnerable communities.”

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Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) voted on several pieces of legislation today that would update Illinois’ outdated tax structure and allow the state to implement a fair tax.

“For decades, our tax code has been rigged to give the richest Illinoisans a pass while placing our state's financial burden unfairly on working and middle-class families,” Van Pelt said. “Today, I voted to change that by supporting a fair tax.”

Van Pelt voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would delete language prohibiting a fair tax and allow Illinois to tax lower incomes at lower rates and higher incomes at higher rates.

“I believe that millionaires and billionaires should pay their fair share, and that working-class families deserve a break,” Van Pelt said. “A bus driver should not pay the same taxes as a hedge fund manager, but that's what's happening under our current law. A fair tax will change that by requiring Illinois' wealthiest residents to pay more, while providing tax relief for 97 percent of Illinoisans.”

If the amendment passes the Illinois House with a three-fifths majority vote, it will be placed on the November 2020 ballot. If 60 percent of those voting on the question vote “yes,” the Constitution will be amended.

Van Pelt also voted to approve Senate Bill 687, which sets rates for a fair tax, providing the constitutional amendment is approved.

Under the legislation, 97 percent of taxpayers would see either no change or a decrease in their tax rate. Only the top 3 percent of earners would pay more.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 and Senate Bill 687 passed the Senate today and now head to the House for consideration.

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Category: Press Releases

DNACHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) demanded answers and sought solutions to the state crime lab’s backlog of DNA from nearly 700 murder cases during a Senate Public Health and Criminal Law committee hearing this afternoon.

“The backlog in murder DNA processing at the state crime lab is unacceptable,” Van Pelt said. “Technology exists to test DNA in under two hours, yet DNA from nearly 700 murder cases from the past few years is still backlogged. Law enforcement needs to be taking advantage of this technology. There are 700 families waiting for answers. They deserve closure.”

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Category: Press Releases

Senator Patricia Van Pelt speaks during a Senate committee hearingCHICAGO – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is urging other municipalities to follow the Cook County Board’s lead and end the use of controversial gang databases.

“For too long, law enforcement has been using gang databases with little oversight or transparency, despite the harmful, long-lasting effects they can have on the individuals in the databases,” Van Pelt said. “I commend the Cook County Board of Commissioners for voting to dismantle their gang database and put an end to its controversial use, and I encourage other municipalities to do the same.”

The use of gang databases to track individuals labeled as suspected gang members was called into question last year after investigative reports found that hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans have been added to gang databases, 95 percent of whom are people of color.

Van Pelt first raised the issue in the legislature last spring after learning about gang databases and the lack of oversight of their use. Since then, she’s held public hearings and met with law enforcement, activists and individuals who have been negatively impacted by being listed in a database.

“I’m continuing to work on legislation at the Capitol to ensure that innocent people aren’t added to a gang database without cause and to require oversight and accountability for the use of gang databases,” Van Pelt said.

Van Pelt sponsored a resolution requiring the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to conduct a review of the shared gang databases operating in Illinois and submit a report to the General Assembly by June 30, 2019.

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Category: Press Releases
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