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State Sen. Tom Bennett slams migrant funding, tax increases in new state budget

Man standing in front of red wall
Eric Stock
Republican State Sen. Tom Bennett said his major opposition to the state budget is health care for non-citizens, and services for migrants.

A Republican lawmaker who voted against Illinois' $53 billion budget says state spending has gone too far during the Pritzker administration.

State Sen. Tom Bennett of Gibson City said the state's plan to add a new tax on sportsbooks and increase taxes on gaming is the wrong approach to balancing Illinois' financial ledger.

“We’re always looking for more places [to spend], more needs, more taxes and I never hear folks talk about how do we ever cut back,” Bennett said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

Bennett, who represents parts of Bloomington-Normal, said he does support Illinois' eliminating the grocery tax, which lawmakers approved.

The state is giving more municipalities the ability to add that tax if they wish.

“It is a concern that our communities will be aware of and will need to look at,” said Bennett, noting the revenue generated by the tax goes to local governments.

Bennett said his major opposition to the newly-approved state budget is health care for non-citizens, and services for migrants.

“Not only do families of Illinois have to pay more for their own health care, now they have to pay more so that non-citizens can get extreme, wonderful health care at our expense, for the taxpayers,” Bennett said.

The budget calls for $440 million for health care for non-citizens, and $182 million to provide services for migrants.

Bennett added he supported the budget's $350 million increase for schools through the evidence-based funding formula.

Illinois Republicans have noted the state budget has increased 32%, or by $12.8 billion, since 2019 when Pritzker took office.

Final term

This will be Bennett’s final state budget in the legislature. After 10 years in Springfield, the last two as state senator, Bennett is not seeking reelection.

A former junior high and high school science teacher and IT professional, he said it’s the relationships he’s developed over the last decade are what he’ll miss the most.

“It’s about the people and it’s the best job I’ve ever had,” Bennett said.

Grundy County Board member Chris Balkema, who won a four-way GOP primary race in March, will replace Bennett next year.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.