The anticipated increased police presence never materialized in Eldorado on Friday morning as Illinois Governor Pritzker arrived at Ferrell Hospital in Eldorado to sign health bill SB1469. The Saline County Neighborhood Crime Watch had posted on Facebook that “there should be a high amount of Law Enforcement patrolling in the area…as the Governor visits” and to “anticipate periods of heavy traffic this morning in Eldorado…”
The visit was kept tightly under wraps and few media outlets were in attendance. Illinois Senator Dale Fowler (59th district), former state rep Natalie Finney Phelps (118th district) and current Rep. Patrick Windhorst were in attendance, along with Ferrell staff and doctors.
Pana Hospital CEO Trina Casner and Ferrell CEO Alisa Coleman made opening remarks, speaking to a crowd of around 60 onlookers and media.
The Governor had this to say about the bill he was signing.
“Health care is a right, not a privilege. Your income or your zip code should never dictate your access to that right. Critical access hospitals are on the front lines of our work to provide quality health care in all of our communities. They contend with unique challenges and barriers to provide care in zip codes where there are no other options. SB 1469 will bring significant resources back to our critical access hospitals, where they were always intended to be. When all is said and done, the bill I’m about to sign will mean $55 million in funding for critical access hospitals throughout the state. That’s going to have a profound impact on centers of health care and community in regions across our state.
The governor went on to speak about his new progressive tax plan.
“Yesterday, I announced that my administration has begun negotiations to change our system from one that is regressive and taxes everyone at the same rate to one that will make people like me pay more and middle class families pay less. I call that the fair income tax. Our proposal will put Illinois on a course toward firm fiscal footing and make our system more fair to everyone.
In our current fiscal situation, there are only very few alternatives. If we don’t pass a fair tax, we can make a drastic 15% cut to education, public safety, economic development and other critical services. Or we can raise income taxes by 20% on the middle class and everyone in Illinois, which would hurt communities like those of you here in Eldorado. That’s why I choose to implement a fair tax, asking the wealthiest 3% of Illinoisans to pay more, allowing us to eliminate the budget deficit, pay down the bill backlog, balance future budgets and reduce the pension liability.
I choose fairness – because it’s the best way to keep communities like yours strong.”
The governor took a few questions privately from attendees before leaving the building.