"It’s important that we make sure the citizens of Illinois see that we’re performing our job as we ask so many others on the front lines to do theirs."
Illinois State Rep. Mike Halpin is joining his fellow state lawmakers back in Springfield on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The Special Session of the Illinois Legislature focuses on passing a budget before the end of May for the fiscal year that begins in July and addressing the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on citizens.
"One of the big things we’re going to do is make sure to increase access to TeleHealth and TeleMedicine," he explained during a live interview on Good Morning Quad Cities before heading off to Springfield. "It’s been crucial over these past several weeks and months that people can see their doctors without necessarily having to go into the office. That’s helped prevent the spread of the disease but still get people the treatment they need. The other thing we’re going to do is make sure we have additional support for behavioral health and mental health. Obviously, isolation and staying in your home has an effect on your mental health and we need to make sure needs are being met and then last, we want to study how to increase access to broadband. So many more people are probably going to be working from home, staying home with their kids because they don’t have childcare – broadband access is going to be more important than ever. Kids taking online classes is another issue that will help with that."
As far as reopening the state, Rep. Halpin says he thinks Governor J.B. Pritzker's five-phase 'Restore Illinois" plan is working and that businesses in our area should reopen at the end of May:
"I think the Stay at Home Order did what it was supposed to do," he said. "I think it is time at the end of this month to reopen some of those other businesses and try to get things a little bit closer to normal while still taking precautions that we need to take."
When it comes to passing a budget during a three-day session, Rep. Halpin is optimistic one will get passed and said the goals are simple:
"I think we’ll come to a budget that prioritizes the services citizens need and want while still being able to meet our obligations of pension payments and our investments in local infrastructure - things of that nature that will keep our state moving through his difficult economic time."
Finally, Rep. Halpin had a message for people in the Quad Cities. Mainly, it's time for him and other lawmakers to get back to business:
"I want to make sure that the people here in the Quad Cities and the state of Illinois know that the Legislature is back to work, is trying to pass a responsible budget so that we can continue to maintain the services that we’ve been providing. We are coming off a great year last year where we had a broad bi-partisan budget. This year it’s going to be a little more challenging with the revenue issues that we face, but at the same time it’s important that we get down to Springfield, do the job we’re elected to do, and give the people a little more confidence that going forward we’re going to make it through this on the other side okay."