(The Center Square) – Statehouse Republicans are beginning what they say is going to be a sustained drumbeat to get the Democrat-controlled Legislature to pass a package of measures to enhance public safety.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this week said crime is at a near state of emergency, and he’s taking steps to address it like hiring more state police, reducing forensic backlogs and more.
“I’ve done more than I think any other governor in at least a couple of decades now to rebuild our state police,” Pritzker said. “There’s so much more that we’re doing to keep people safe and to try to bring this crime level down.”
But, state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said more needs to be done and criticized Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, for not making public safety a priority.
“Governor, Senate President Harmon has said he has nothing on his list that is that important to do in the spring session,” Rose said. “He is absolutely wrong. He is so deadly wrong. This is so important, the public safety of the people of Illinois is so important, we need to start doing this in veto session.”
Rose joined other Senate Republicans demanding votes on a package of bills for public safety they say should be priority No. 1.
The bills include various measures enhancing penalties for violent offenders and those committing gun crimes. A full list can be found on the Senate Republicans’ website.
The package includes a $100 million grant program to fund local police and help with mental health issues. Rose said the money is already there, it just needs to be reprioritized away from what he called pork.
“We would suggest it was not necessary, $39.3 million from the governor’s recommended [budget] and $76.3 million in General Assembly directed grants,” Rose said. “Budgets are a policy priority of the people of the state and somehow when the Democrats left town last may they didn’t make public safety a priority.”
He demanded that Harmon call the package of bills for a vote. Harmon’s office said the bills will “get the appropriate review.”
While veto session is only six days later this month, Rose said “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” as is evident in a sweeping criminal justice bill Democrats passed in January.
“We filed our bills, you’ve got two weeks to look at them,” Rose said. “We’re not pulling anything out at 3 o’clock in the morning with 58 minutes notice. So, yeah I think there is [time in veto session].”