Don’t forget to vote!
Almost everywhere in Illinois has some sort of election Tuesday: library and K-12 school boards, municipal offices, park, fire and community college districts — it’s a long list, because our state has lots of taxing bodies. Turnout for these elections usually is dramatically smaller than what we experience when federal offices are on the ballot, but there’s an observable uptick in interest in school board elections throughout the suburbs, which should manifest in a decent showing by the time polls close.
Requesting a mail-in ballot this late in the game may be unwise, but early voting sites are open through Monday — some even have Sunday hours — and are a fantastic option for anyone who can’t clear their schedule Tuesday. I stopped by a county building while running kids around Wednesday afternoon and spent more time completing my ballot than waiting in line. Altogether, including the walk to and from my car, it took about 10 minutes.
If you do plan to vote Tuesday, take time over the weekend to verify your polling place. On Thursday McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio told Shaw’s Kelli Duncan some voting locations had to change because the schools used in November will be full of students. Other places less suitable for November’s crowds, when COVID-19 infection rates were higher, are back in business.
Although Tirio sent notices to voters in every affected precinct in mid-January, some reported being unaware as of late March. It’s worth a visit to your county clerk’s website, or a phone call, just to make sure you can participate in this important election.
Can budgets actually decrease?
At a time when most state agencies are asking for more money in next fiscal year’s budget, it was pleasantly surprising to read the Illinois Department of Corrections say it actually needs less funding in 2022. According to Capitol News Illinois, the request for $1.54 billion from the state’s general fund and $97 million from other state resources represents a 10 percent reduction from the current appropriation.
IDOC Director Rob Jeffreys credited “evidence-based programming” and other reforms that were effective in both streamlining the department’s operations and reducing recidivism. The state’s prison population is down 20 percent, reaching its lowest level since 1991.
One measure that could increase spending in this area is Senate Bill 2128, which would allocate $3.3 million to hire 31 classroom teachers and 19 vocational instructors to work in the state’s prisons, which would bring staffing levels back to where they were in 2006. That figure represents just a 0.21 percent increase over Jeffreys’ requested funding and arguably is an important investment in further efforts to actually correct and rehabilitate inmates, positioning them for a productive post-release life.