SPRINGFIELD, Ill.- House Democratic leaders met with reporters Thursday to discuss some of their goals for the rest of the legislative session.
They gave updates on redistricting hearings, a proposal for Asian American history curriculum in schools and a task force for statues on state property. Of course, next year’s budget is on everyone’s mind.
House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) explained the state’s revenue is looking much better than lawmakers expected a few months ago. Harris said things have looked a little different during the pandemic.
“To be honest, you know, we initially planned for this year very conservatively not knowing what COVID would bring,” Harris said. “But, thanks to the Biden administration and the various relief packages and unemployment packages that have been passed, it’s given families some disposable income.”
Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker said he wants to add $350 million for the evidence-based funding model for K-12 education. His proposed budget in February didn’t include that amount.
Rep. Lisa Hernandez (D-Cicero) also addressed concerns about redistricting hearings that have been taking place over the past several weeks.
“Right now what has happened is we have concluded the hearings,” Hernandez said. “It’s just a matter of compiling.”
House Republicans recently called out Democrats for drawing maps behind closed doors, clearly lacking transparency. However, Hernandez explained the Democrats have nothing to hide.
“We are just following the process like we always have,” said Hernandez. “It’s nothing new, it’s not a secret.”
Rep. Mary Flowers (D-Chicago) also gave an update on the Statue and Monument Review Task Force. Members hope to address pieces of art that may be problematic due to questionable historic figures.
Although, Black Caucus members also want to create a new statue to honor Martin Luther King Jr. The current statue sits across the street from the Capitol building under a tree and many people want to see the civil rights figure put in a more prominent spot on the grounds.
Flowers said the current monument of King doesn’t accurately reflect the man that he was. The task force hopes to evaluate his statue in the near future.