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PEORIA – State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) offered the following statement in response to the governor’s approval of the state budget for the upcoming year:

“COVID-19 has presented our state with unprecedented challenges to which there are no easy solutions,” Koehler said. “When I returned to Springfield last month to pass a budget for the upcoming year, it was clear we needed to take swift, substantive action to preserve our local businesses and alleviate some of the hardship so many of our residents are facing at this moment.”

The state’s budget for the upcoming year includes:

  • $400 million for local health departments;
  • $250 million in CARES Act funding for downstate local governments;
  • More than $200 million set aside to help businesses affected by COVID-19 in downstate communities;
  • Nearly $80 million for rent and mortgage assistance for people affected by COVID-19 in downstate communities;
  • Nearly $60 million in additional funding for the Department of Employment Security to help address the challenges with the unemployment system;
  • $10 million for mental health and substance abuse treatment related to COVID-19 in downstate communities.

“While we have certainly been presented with an unfortunate situation, this is the sort of moment in which the legislature is supposed to step up and do what is right by those who we represent,” Koehler said. “This budget adequately uses the resources we have available to us at the state level to meet our immediate needs without sacrificing vital services.”

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – As Illinois begins the next phase of its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, property owners will see meaningful financial relief under legislation spearheaded by State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) which was signed into law today.

"The State of Illinois has just begun to implement measures to aid working families and small businesses while they persevere through a harsh reality,” Koehler said. “In my view, implementing property tax relief is one of the most beneficial actions we can take on behalf of our residents, and I’m proud to have worked alongside colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address this issue.”

Under this legislation, local businesses and residents would see property tax relief in the form of:

  • Empowering county governments to approve 2020 homestead exemptions for those with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens, as long as the property had been granted this exemption for 2019
  • Allowing counties with less than 3 million residents to waive interest penalties and fees for late property tax payments due in 2020
  • Deferred property tax sales

“Providing some leeway on property tax payments is a natural place to start, but we have more to accomplish,” Koehler said. “People are hurting in every sense of the word, and it is our moral obligation to provide assistance wherever possible.”

This legislation is effective immediately.

Category: Press Releases

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PEORIA – In response to the eruption of violence throughout the Peoria area last night, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) released the following statement:

“In the early 1970s, I worked for and marched with Cesar Chavez, founder and leader of the United Farm Workers Union. Non-violent protest was necessary to get the attention of the powers to be that things had to change. The time had come for justice among the ranks of America’s farm workers.

“Cesar often spoke of non-violent action as something he learned from the Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He felt the only way to achieve justice, was to affirm the dignity of everyone in a peaceful way and to resist the temptation of violence and destruction.

“In 1977, just a year before moving to Peoria, my wife and I were sent by Cesar to the New York City Boycott (a non-violent strategy of putting pressure on grape and lettuce growers to help achieve union contracts for farm workers). My task was to rid the volunteer support groups we had built up in the city of all the anarchists who used the farm worker movement for their own political purposes.

“Recalling this experience brought me to reflect upon the events that transpired over the weekend. Protests occurred on every corner and street in America, and I will defend the right and necessity of peaceful protest to right centuries-old wrongs and to bring about change. However, I will not defend those who take advantage of the chaos for personal gain through unnecessary violence, destruction and looting. They are putting innocent lives at risk and must be held accountable.

“While I recognize people are experiencing pain and frustration, destroying the property of local businesses will not bring justice to the family of George Floyd, or any of the countless families who have suffered because a loved one was murdered at the hands of the police. We are still firmly in the middle of a pandemic, and members of our local business community are working around the clock to get back to doing business and providing jobs in our community.

“Let us focus on the injustices that have occurred too often and the underlying racism that runs through our society, keeping communities of color from prosperity. Let us peacefully pursue justice, rather than destruction.”

Category: Press Releases

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PEORIA – To give residents who are struggling the chance to receive assistance with utility bills, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is highlighting the expansion of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) included in the state budget.

“LIHEAP is just one of the many vital services our residents are relying on to get them through this difficult moment,” Koehler said. “If people are just barely unqualified for this program, that does not mean they aren’t struggling and couldn’t use the financial assistance. The expansion of this program will allow more people to take advantage of the opportunity for lower utility bills.”

The LIHEAP expansion would increase the qualifying threshold from 150% of the federal poverty level to 200% of the federal poverty level, allowing more people to take advantage of available aid from the state. Additionally, the amount of credit issued to those who qualify would increase to:

  • $2,400 ($200 per month) annually if applicants are above the federal poverty level
  • $3,000 ($250 per month) annually if applicants are under the federal poverty level

For a single person to meet the federal poverty level an income of $12,760 per year is required, and for a family of four, $26,200 per year.

“This is the sort of moment when government is supposed to step up and offer a helping hand wherever possible,” Koehler said. “Forcing people to choose between paying their utility bill and affording groceries for the month is unacceptable. By giving more people access to financial assistance programs such as LIHEAP, Illinoisans won’t be forced to make that choice.”

The state budget proposal now awaits Governor Pritzker’s approval.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
323B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 677-0120