Legislative Update from Senator Don DeWitte

Grand Opening Open House for New St. Charles Office Set for August 2

As you may know, I recently opened a second district office. In addition to my West Dundee office, which is open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30-4:30, I will now have staff available in an office in St. Charles on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, from 8:30-4:30. This second office is a shared office with State Representative Dan Ugaste. The St. Charles office space will be Rep. Ugaste’s primary office, and his staff will be on-site Mondays through Fridays.

To celebrate the opening of the new office, Rep. Ugaste and I are hosting a grand opening open house this week on Wednesday, August 2, from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM. Please join us for a tour of the new building and for refreshments.

Senator DeWitte’s & Representative Ugaste’s New Office Open House
Wednesday, August 2
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
406 Surrey Woods Drive, Suite A
St. Charles, IL 60174

I am excited to open this second office, so my staff and I can improve accessibility for constituents. I invite all residents who felt the West Dundee office was too far from their house to stop in the St. Charles office and say hello.

IDES Audit Shows Severe Overspending of $5.24 Billion

On July 26, the Illinois Auditor General released a 156-page-report on the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) in response to a resolution filed by State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) calling for a full performance audit of the state’s handling of the unemployment system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scathing report shows overpayments to the tune of $5.24 billion from fiscal years 2020 to 2022. Approximately $2.04 billion was paid in unemployment insurance, with the remaining $3.2 billion coming from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). From those overpayments, only $551.7 million has been recovered, approximately 10%. Unfortunately, those numbers cannot be entirely confirmed by the IDES, which means that these overpayment numbers could be understated.

The report also found that beginning in March 2020, IDES suspended many routine identity cross-matches, performed on all regular Unemployment Insurance claims filed, to prevent fraud in order to handle the increase in claims processing traffic. Unfortunately, the side effect of rushing the approval process seems to have left the unemployment programs more susceptible to fraud. A large number of payments were even made to people who registered under the names of people who were deceased or in prison.

Furthermore, IDES did not implement one of the tools strongly recommended in May 2020 by the US Department of Labor until September 2021, alongside the suspension of other required and recommended cross-matches early in the pandemic. Even worse, IDES is continuing to still ignore select Department of Labor recommendations made in October 2021 and February 2022, including additional cross-matches that could be used to combat fraud.

Upon the release of the audit, I released this statement:

“Every person in this state, regardless of Party affiliation, should be appalled at the total disregard of structure, policy, rules, and regulations that were designed and available to prevent these kinds of illegal, unauthorized, and undocumented transactions from flourishing at taxpayers’ expense. There must be a level of accountability looked into following these findings. This is $5.24 billion in taxpayer dollars that were completely wasted.”

“Decisions were made to purposely remove the many safeguards that would have prevented this from happening. The Legislature needs to determine who made those decisions, especially since the choice to ignore proper protocols was made, clearing a path for the Pritzker Administration to simply put money into people’s hands as quickly as possible without any level of eligibility verification or scrutiny. These decisions, given the billions of dollars involved, represent a total abdication of fiscal responsibility, and confirm a total inability to account for taxpayer dollars.”

Upcoming Events in the 33rd District

In addition to the new office open house on Wednesday, August 2, we have several other community outreach events coming up. Mark your calendars now for these events:

  • August 2, Traveling Office Hours: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, Geneva Public Library, 227 S Seventh Street, Geneva

  • August 30, Traveling Office Hours: 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon, Gail Borden Library District, South Elgin Branch, 127 S. McLean Blvd., South Elgin

  • September 19, Senior Fair: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Pottawatomie Community Center, 8 North Ave, St. Charles

  • September 7, Senior Fair: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Dundee Township Park District Building, 665 Barrington Ave., Carpentersville

  • September 26, Fall Coat Drive: Coats can be dropped off at the DeWitte offices, 641 S. 8th Street, West Dundee, or the new St. Charles office (opens July 1), 406 Surrey Woods Drive, St. Charles

  • September 27, Traveling Office Hours: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Pingree Grove Village Hall, 555 Reinking Road, Pingree Grove

  • October 14, Document Shredding Event: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM, Elgin’s Gail Borden Library, Rakow Branch, 2751 W. Bowes Road, Elgin

  • October 17, Senior Fair: 10:00 AM-12:00 Noon, Grand Oaks Recreation Center, 1401 IL-176, Crystal Lake

  • October 28, Prescription Drug Drop-Off Event: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Location TBD

Federal Student Loan Repayment Pause to End

After a more than three-year pause, those with federal student loans will have to restart paying their federal student loan bills in October. Interest on federal student loans will begin to accrue in September.

Student loan experts recommend that borrowers reach out to their student loan servicer with any questions about their loans as soon as possible, especially if they are interested in enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan. Those plans, which set payments based on income and family size, can lower monthly payments but require borrowers to submit some paperwork.

Please consider attending one of the free seminars offered by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation listed in the graphic above to receive additional information. You can use the QR code to register.

Several Available DCEO Grants Application Deadlines Are Approaching

There are many little-known grants from the Department of Commerce Economic Opportunity (DCEO) for workforce programs and training with open applications right now and funding is still available for several. However, within the next month, several of those grants will reach their deadlines.

Digital Equity Capacity Kickstarter Grant Program

For this grant, the DCEO is seeking nonprofit organizations, local governments, public libraries, and school districts that will promote low-cost broadband programs, provide training on digital literacy, provide access to computers, or advance a community’s broadband access vision and goals. A total amount of $1 million is available, and awards may range from $30,000 to $300,000, with matching funds encouraged but not required. In order to be considered, entities must be pre-qualified, and you can find more information about it online. The application can be completed and submitted online, but the deadline is August 1 at 5 p.m. CST.

Energy Transition Navigators Program

In this program, selected Navigator Teams will connect individuals to the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) workforce and contractor programs and provide outreach and recruitment. Applicants should be nonprofit organizations with a history of serving low-wage or low-skilled workers or individuals from economically disadvantaged communities, and one team will be selected per each of the 13 regional hubs. A total of $6 million is available, with awards ranging from $250,000 to $600,000. The DCEO does request that applicants submit a notice of intent to apply online by July 27 at 5 p.m. and applicants must also be pre-qualified, but applications are not due until August 15 at 5 p.m. and can also be submitted online.

Illinois Works Pre-Apprenticeship Program

The DCEO will select nonprofits, including public colleges or universities, that will recruit, prescreen, and provide pre-apprenticeship skills training to help underrepresented populations successfully transition into full apprenticeship programs in construction and building trades. To fill current gaps in the program, the DCEO is especially looking for sites in Sangamon, Peoria, McLean, DeKalb, Kankakee, LaSalle, Rock Island, Whiteside, Marion, Lawrence, and Jackson counties as well as suburban Chicagoland. In total, $10 million will be offered with grants between $55,000 and $550,000. Like the other programs, pre-qualification is required and a notice of interest to apply should be submitted online. Applications will be open until August 30 at 5 p.m. and are also available to submit online.

A list of all open DCEO grants can be found on its website.

Secretary of State Moving to Appointment-Only Facilities Beginning September 1

Starting September 1 of this year, 44 of the busiest DMV facilities in Illinois will begin requiring appointments for the issuance of driver’s licenses, REAL IDs, or ID cards and in-car driving tests. Customers seeking renewals, license plate stickers, or who need other motor vehicle service transactions will be able to complete their transactions online. 

All suburban DMV facilities will transition to appointment-only facilities on September 1. Whereas DMVs today are open Tuesdays through Saturdays, moving forward, most stations will be open Mondays through Fridays from 8:00 AM until 5:30 PM. Sixteen facilities will also have Saturday hours from 8:00 AM until 12:30 PM, but none from the 33rd District made that list. The closest DMV facilities with Saturday hours as of September 1 will be Naperville, Lombard, Schaumburg, and West Chicago (CDL licenses only in West Chicago).

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias believes the move to appointment-only facilities will reduce wait times and incentivize more motorists to use online services for renewals. Motorists can visit or call (844) 817-4649 to schedule an appointment starting September 1. Click here to view a short video on how to schedule an appointment.

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