SPRINGFIELD - State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins stopped by our studio last week to discuss the importance of raising the Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC. Please take a moment to view Senator Collins statement on the EITC in the video below.

CollinsFloorShot1Urges action to protect seniors, veterans and the poor

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement after this morning’s joint Senate appropriations hearing, at which agency directors and representatives testified on the likely effects of budget reductions consistent with the scheduled expiration of the current income tax rate on January 1, 2015:

At today’s budget hearing, my colleagues and I learned that this year’s revenue shortfall will require state agencies to make devastating and unacceptable cuts. These include eliminating community supports for 18,000 individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness, substance abuse treatment and prevention services for more than 200,000 residents, access to food pantries for 1.96 million families, treatment for 10,000 veterans suffering from PTSD, child care for 39,000 young children and almost $1 billion in funding for public schools.

At a time when sweeping reductions like these are no longer a distant threat but an immediate fiscal reality, it is unconscionable that Illinois maintains corporate tax loopholes and still gives handouts to large corporations without sufficient accountability for job creation.

We owe it to our most vulnerable residents to examine every option available to us, beginning with scaling back corporate welfare, before eliminating services our neighbors depend on for life, dignity, safety and hope. I also urge my colleagues to seriously consider increasing the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Both would give relief to the working poor, decrease dependence on government assistance and drive economic growth.

Foxx meeting 3Health insurance marketplace open enrollment ends March 31 – Get covered today!

March 31 is the last day of open enrollment for health insurance coverage through the Illinois health insurance marketplace, Get Covered Illinois. Visit www.getcoveredillinois.gov to enroll online or to find a local event where you can receive assistance.

Need help with your utility bill?

ComEd has set aside $10 million to assist customers struggling to pay unusually high energy bills in 2014 due to the colder than usual winter weather.

Participants in ComEd’s Budget Billing program can arrange to pay a fixed amount each month, based on their energy usage during the previous year, and avoid spikes in their bill when the weather turns cold. The Flexible Deferred Payment Agreement Option allows customers with outstanding balances to establish deferred payment plans.

ComEd is also adjusting its eligibility requirements for financial assistance programs. Additionally, through April 1, customers who meet the income criteria for LIHEAP do not have to demonstrate any additional hardship in order to receive supplemental assistance through the Residential Special Hardship Program, which applies grants of up to $1,500 to unpaid electric bills. ComEd’s nonprofit assistance program, which typically provides one-time grants of up to $2,000 for 501(c)(3) organizations experiencing financial hardship, will extend this opportunity to organizations that have already received a grant, as long as the award was not in the past two years. Finally, eligibility requirements for the ComEd Helps Activated/Veteran Military Personnel program have temporarily been altered so that a veteran who has served for any length of time and has been honorably discharged may apply for up to $1,000 in bill payment assistance.

For more information about any of these programs, call 1-888-806-2273, visit www.comed.com/care or go to Fellowship Baptist Church (4543 S. Princeton Ave. in Chicago) between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 22, to meet with a representative and apply for assistance in person.

Women Business Owners Symposium – March 27

UIC Forum
725 W. Roosevelt Rd.
8 a.m.—3 p.m. on Thursday, March 27
Use Parking Lot 5 (Morgan and Roosevelt) or 6 (Halsted and Roosevelt)
FREE admission and FREE on-site daycare (ages 1-8)
Resources exhibit hall
One-on-one counseling

Hear Marianne O’Brien Markowitz, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and Beth Reese, President of Nicor Gas, discuss challenges and opportunities for women in business, as well as their own experiences.

Learn about
• The Affordable Care Act
• The “Buy Illinois” initiative
• Equal pay for women
• State and federally funded procurement opportunities
• Access to capital and wealth management
• Information technology and women in STEM fields
• Contract bidding opportunities for diverse suppliers

For more information or to register, visit www.ildeo.net/WBOS or call (312) 814-0007.

New leadership program for African-American professionals

In an effort to increase the number of educated, motivated African-Americans ready to take on leadership roles in the public, private and non-profit sectors, the Chicago Urban League and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have launched IMPACT.

IMPACT is a nine-month training, mentoring and networking program designed for African-American professionals between the ages of 30 and 45. The program will run from September 2014 through May 2015. Participants must attend a day-long class one Friday per month. Participation is highly selective, and applications are due April 23. Visit theIMPACT website for more information and to download an application.

Grants available to eliminate the “digital divide”

The Eliminate the Digital Divide grant program supports organizations that seek to provide access to computers, other technology and training in disadvantaged communities. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website has more information about applying, as well as important eligibility criteria. The deadline for applications is this Friday, March 14.

001collinsDear Neighbor,

The spring legislative session is in full swing, and the main topic of conversation is the looming state budget crisis. If the 2011 income tax increase is allowed to expire, pre-K through 12th grade public education could lose almost a billion dollars in state funding, 45,000 college students could lose access to financial aid and many social services could lose at least 14 percent of their funding, already sharply reduced during the past few budget cycles.

Lawmakers must undertake a thorough review of our tax structure so that we do not neglect funding of the core state services needed to combat generational poverty. I believe the answer is a “fair tax” that taxes the wealthy at a higher rate than the poor. I support the effort to allow voters to decide this November whether to allow different tax rates for different income levels, as do three-fourths of states with an individual income tax.

I also have introduced legislation to double the state Earned Income Tax Credit over the next five years. The EITC is a proven anti-poverty tool that kept 294,000 Illinois residents out of poverty between 2010 and 2012. Working families use their EITC checks primarily for necessities such as rent, groceries, school supplies and car repairs, thus putting money back into the economy — between $1.50 and $2 for every dollar the state spends on the tax credit. This supports local businesses and boosts employment.

I urge you to contact me with your thoughts and questions on this or any other legislation. As always, be sure to visit my website (www.SenatorJacquelineCollins.com) for the latest news. You may also call my office at (773) 224-2830 if I can be of assistance to you or your family.


Jacqueline Y. Collins
State Senator, 16th Legislative District

Read more: March 2014 Newsletter

Contact Info

Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607


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