SPRINGFIELD – After viewing Gov. JB Pritzker’s 2019 Budget Address, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) released the following statement:

“The previous four years have conditioned me to automatically dislike the annual Budget Address, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear that Gov. Pritzker’s vision for the future of the state is one that is beneficial to all of the people who live here.

“I’d like to congratulate the governor for what I believe to be some very important and advantageous promises that he made in his speech. I’m glad he vows to increase investment in early childhood and K-12 education, because delivering folks a good, fulfilling life has to start young.

“I’m glad he vows to invest in social services like the CCAP program and disability services, because supporting those who need it throughout their entire lives is one of the most crucial functions of government.

“I’m glad he vows to invest in criminal justice efforts and violence prevention programs, as well as move to legalize recreational marijuana. However, I do caution that any attempt to legalize marijuana must be paired with expungement legislation so that folks who are currently in prison for marijuana offenses have a path toward release once it becomes legalized.

“This is a very good foundation upon which we can build a brighter future for everyone in Illinois that will help bridge the income inequality gap that plagues our state.

“I recently read an article about the income inequality in Chicago, which is growing at an alarming and potentially unsustainable rate. This hit home for me, because that’s where I live. It’s where I grew up, it’s where the people I represent live.

“We can use this budget as a springboard to leap toward more progressive forms of revenue, particularly a fair, progressive income tax that shifts the burden off of the black and brown working class families and onto the wealthy people who can afford to pay their fair share.

“This is a very promising budget. It’s not fully where it needs to be just yet, but I’m confident that with enough hard work, the General Assembly can use this budget as a starting point towards a functional, stable government that works for everyone and leaves no one behind.”

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Recently released inmates people would no longer need to reimburse the Illinois Department of Corrections for the cost of their incarceration under a measure sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) which passed out of a Senate committee today.

“It’s ridiculous that a provision like this even exists in the first place,” Peters said. “These people already have a major burden placed on them by the criminal justice system. It’s unconscionable that there’s an additional financial burden placed on them once they’re finally released, and only makes a return to a life of crime more likely.”

Under current law, recently released persons are required to reimburse the DOC for any expenses incurred as a result of their incarceration. The measure, Senate Bill 1158, strikes this requirement from the statute.

The bill passed through the Senate Committee on Criminal law and will now proceed to the full Senate for consideration.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – People charged with misdemeanors who are deemed unfit to stand trial would be allowed to be transferred into special programs under a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters.

“There is an alarming number of mentally unwell people who have been convicted of misdemeanors despite being unfit to stand trial for these crimes, and as a result, a lot of these folks end up stuck in the criminal justice system for longer than their original sentence,” said Peters, a Chicago Democrat. “By allowing these people to be transferred into misdemeanant diversion programs, we can give them the help that they so desperately need, which comes not from a jail cell, but from a program designed around their rehabilitation.”

Misdemeanant diversion programs offer mentally ill people charged with a misdemeanor an alternative to incarceration. The programs work to identify individuals with mental illnesses, provide these individuals with stabilizing treatment, and direct these individuals away from incarceration and toward community provided mental health services.

The law would require eligibility screening and an assessment of the defendant, and still leaves the discretion to the court. If approved for the diversionary program, the defendant’s charges may be dismissed with or without prejudice.

The measure is Senate Bill 1188. It passed the Senate Committee on Criminal Law and will now be considered by the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – The minimum wage in Illinois will increase to $15 per hour by 2025 under a new law signed by Gov. JB Pritzker today. State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) was with the governor when the bill was signed, and afterward released the following statement:

“I am thrilled to see the Governor take such swift action sign into law the bill we worked so hard to pass through the Senate. This minimum wage increase is nearly a decade in the making, and it’s a great day for Illinois now that it’s here. I’m proud to have co-sponsored the bill and am honored to have been involved in helping it get passed.

“Wages have been stagnant for years, despite laborer productivity being at an all-time high. Many people throughout the state work more than 40 hours per week and still don’t take home enough to pay their bills. It’s high time we address this issue that is crippling to so many middle class families in Illinois and restore to them the dignity they deserve.

“I would like to thank Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford for her years of hard work and dedication to this issue. This never would have happened were it not for her. Thanks also to Rep. Will Guzzardi for carrying the bill in the house and ensuring it got the required number of votes in that chamber.

“I would also like to thank the many organizations representing businesses who came to the table and negotiated in good faith; particularly, the Illinois Restaurant Association and its President and CEO Sam Toia. Sam did great work brining restaurants to the table and looking out for folks in Illinois, which ensured that the final bill provided relief to employers while still delivering workers the boost in wages they so desperately deserved. Businesses cannot function without their workers, and it was good to see business leaders recognize that.

“Finally, I would like to thank the many incredible grassroots organizations representing the workers, like Fight for $15, for the tremendous effort they put into organizing the outreach that was crucial to this bill finding the support it needed to pass.

“There is still a lot more work to be done to address the problems that arise from issues like income inequality and wealth hoarding, but an increase in the minimum wage is a great first step toward ensuring that no one is forced to live in poverty.”

Category: Press Releases

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