This budget continues the work of rebuilding Illinois’ fiscal house. Our rainy day fund has grown to more than $1.7 billion, which will help us keep things running if revenues come up short in future years. We are also stabilizing Illinois’ public pension systems by going above and beyond our required pension payment to reduce liabilities. With smart decision-making, we’ve paid down debt and earned our state eight credit rating increases in less than two years.
We still have lots of work ahead of us, but this latest budget demonstrates continuing fiscal responsibility while prioritizing investments that will build our economy and strengthen communities across our state.
As your representative, I’ve been a champion for property tax fairness at every level. Working across the aisle, I helped to close a legal loophole that allowed tenants of the DuPage Airport Authority to skip out on nearly $770,000 in overdue property tax payments, and we passed new bipartisan legislation to penalize airport tenants that don’t pay their fair share. Now scofflaw businesses in DuPage County face real consequences for ignoring their tax bills and shifting the burden onto the rest of us.
Although these are steps in the right direction, there is still lots of work that needs to be done to bring fairness to our property tax system. As your State Representative, I am committed to working toward meaningful, lasting property tax reform that protects DuPage County and ensures that our community remains a great place to live, work, and raise a family.
When we fund our schools, we’re making an investment in the future that helps everyone in Illinois, because those kids grow up to be our employees (and sometimes our bosses.) These early investments in public education yields decades of enormous returns – in shared prosperity, in an expanded tax base, and in greater opportunities for everyone.
As a member of the Illinois Hydrogen Economy Task Force, I believe our state has the potential to be a national leader in creating and deploying clean hydrogen technologies. Clean hydrogen, which is produced with zero or next-to-zero carbon emissions, has the potential to reduce emissions from industrial and chemical processes and heavy-duty transportation. That’s why I introduced the Hydrogen Fuel Replacement Tax Credit Act (HB2051), which creates an income tax credit for eligible zero-carbon hydrogen use. This new tax credit is designed to give companies a strong incentive to shift to hydrogen fuels, helping to create good new jobs while benefiting the environment.
I also have helped to pass new laws to prevent coal ash pollution, expand wind energy production and prohibit the manufacture and distribution of paper made with toxic BPA.
As we recover from the pandemic, the General Assembly has been making a strong effort to rebuild Illinois’ mental health capacity. Last year, we passed SB 3617, which will make it easier for out-of-state mental health clinicians to get licensed in Illinois and provides grants to increase the number of beds in residential mental health treatment centers. We also passed HB 3308, which requires insurance reimbursement parity for virtual mental health and substance use disorder services, as well as authorizing all other telehealth to be covered through 2027.
That’s a good start, but we need to keep on finding new, effective ways to help the many people – especially children – whose lives are affected by mental illness.
In this year’s budget, we’re helping to make college more affordable by making major investments in college financial aid programs, including $100 million in new funding for the MAP grant program, for Illinois students with demonstrated financial need. We’re also expanding the AIM HIGH scholarship program, which provides funds to Illinois students who attend one of our great public universities.
We’re also doing more to promote and support our community colleges, their faculties, and their students. Our district is home to Illinois’ largest and most-respected community college, the College of DuPage. With the support of our state government and our local property owners, the COD offers students a world-class education at an affordable price, putting them on the path to successful and productive careers. That path is now a bit smoother thanks to my bill, SB 2208, which requires public universities to grant students full credit for courses in their major subjects that those students completed at Illinois community colleges.
In one of my first actions in Springfield, I filed House Bill 3553, to prohibit local governments from passing any ordinance restricting enforcement of any state gun law. I also was a co-sponsor of HB 96, the Fix the FOID Act, which would have tightened Illinois gun ownership laws and provided more resources to enforce existing laws that aim to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. That bill also would have required private gun sales and transfers to be conducted through a licensed firearms dealer, with the dealer holding on to the firearm until background checks are cleared.
In my second term, I was a co-sponsor of HB 4383, a law that made Illinois the first state in the Midwest to ban untraceable “ghost guns.” These are firearms that that can be assembled at home from parts purchased online without background checks. They do not have serial numbers, which makes them untraceable.
I know that many survivors of sexual assault and stalking never come forward for fear of retaliation by their assailants, so I sponsored and passed a law that makes sure survivors’ addresses and other personal information is kept confidential in court proceedings. This law means that survivors can stand up and seek justice without fear that their attackers will use court records to hunt them down.
I was deeply honored to receive an award from the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association (IHLA) for my sponsorship of a law that imposes harsher penalties on traffickers and others who profit from the exploitation of vulnerable women and children. The law also makes sure Illinois law enforcement officers have the training they need to identify and investigate human trafficking and involuntary servitude.
“I understand the issues that matter most to the people of our district. I’m standing up for fiscal responsibility while making sure our state government funds our top priorities – education, healthcare, serving our seniors, and protecting our environment. ”
TERRA COSTA HOWARD
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