(The Center Square) – While Democrats passed a measure to spend tax dollars on community-based crime prevention programs, Republicans fell short.
State Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, passed an amendment to House Bill 2791 that will use $65 million of federal tax funds from the American Rescue Plan Act for community-based approaches to reducing gun violence.
“What we know is that we have a crisis when it comes to public safety,” Peters said. “It’s something that we feel in my district every day.”
There was criticism that such community-based programs need to be audited and reviewed. Others questioned what happens to the program when ARPA dollars dry up. Peters said they’ll discuss that in future budgeting talks.
“I’m sick and tired that no matter what zip code you live in in this state that you have fear and pain and may we start stemming and stopping that pain and move to a path and a place where people don’t have nearly as much trauma and they can live a good life,” Peters said.
While supporting the Peters’ bill, state Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, said he has a package of bills, including reappropriating $100 million for local police and mental health services and stiffer sentences for violent gun crimes, that would do more to help police and keep violent offenders off the streets.
“Many of the bills that I’ve filed have been filed for many, many, many years in this building, in this chamber,” Rose said.
He accused Democrats of putting their heads in the sand on being tough on crime.
State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, criticized Democrats’ recent statements about Republicans in an editorial on how to address crime.
“I appreciate in your editorial where you say ‘Republicans are late to the game,’” Rezin said. “We’re not late to the game. We can’t get our bills called.”
Republicans have been pushing legislation they say will address violent crime, but there’s been no movement by the Democratic supermajority.
HB2791 must be concurred on by the House.