Lawmakers returned to Springfield this week, coming together for a joint session of the General Assembly to hear the annual State of the State Address. State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) joined his fellow lawmakers on January 31, listening as Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his annual review of the state.
For this year’s address, the major themes included creating more jobs, spending within the state’s means, ending the practice of borrowing to cover the state’s deficits, addressing the state’s pension crisis, and lowering the tax burden on families and businesses.
Sen. Fowler says considering some of the major challenges facing Illinois, including a tremendous bill backlog, mounting debt obligations and property taxes that drive out residents, lawmakers need to work together to help Illinois move forward. After hearing the address, Sen. Fowler is hopeful that this coming session will not be a repeat of last year. Instead, he hopes that lawmakers can come together, leave behind the divisive actions of the past that have prevented progress for far too long and pass the structural reforms needed to turn things around for the state.
In the midst of State of the State activities, Sen. Fowler had the chance to welcome visitors from his District, including our very own Southeastern Illinois College (SIC) Social Science Division Chair, Matt Lees, his District staff and their families and Grant Loudy, a general education student from SIC. They joined the Senator for the day, spending time in the Capitol and witnessing the General Assembly in action.
After session activities concluded, Sen. Fowler returned to the District, joining Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to tour one of Southern Illinois’ well-known manufacturers, Com-Pac. The Carbondale-based business opened their doors, inviting lawmakers into the facility to learn more about the business and the products produced in the facility, including plastic bags and zippers. Sen. Fowler was excited to see a local business receive attention, noting the importance that businesses, such as Com-Pac, play in Southern Illinois’ economy and the need to push for more pro-business reforms when lawmakers return to the Capitol for session.
Earlier this week, Sen. Fowler also had the opportunity to attend the Hospice of Southern Illinois Red Carpet Gala. The Hospice of Southern Illinois has played a big role in the community for almost 40 years, offering support and care to individuals and their families as a not-for-profit hospice provider.
In other news, Sen. Fowler is sharing information about a new program being offered by the State Fire Marshal and Illinois Safety Alliance. “Be Alarmed!” is a new program that will provide free smoke alarms, education about fire safety, and proper smoke alarm installation to people throughout the state through their local fire departments.
Finally, with tax season fully underway, both the state and federal governments are now accepting 2017 income tax returns. For more information on state returns, go to tax.illinois.gov and to check the status of your refund, go to revenue.state.il.us/Individuals/Refunds.htm.