Legislative News from Senator Don DeWitte

Senate Republicans Deliver 60,000 Valentines to Seniors Statewide

As I reported last week, in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, my staff and I delivered over 4,000 homemade valentines to seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living centers in Kane, McHenry, and DuPage Counties. The deliveries were part of the Senate Republicans’ annual Valentines for Seniors program.

This is my favorite event of the year because the community really comes together to make Valentine’s Day special for area seniors. Loneliness can be an issue for seniors, and through our Valentines for Seniors program, they know they are valued and that people are thinking of them. In all, we made deliveries at 21 different facilities. The Valentines for Seniors program is a statewide annual event, and all 19 Republican Senators participated this year. This year’s statewide total of valentines collected and delivered was just under 60,000.

Click here to watch a short video that highlights the deliveries.

Upcoming Budget Address Shadowed by Looming Deficit

As the Governor prepares to present his annual budget address next week, lawmakers are anxious to see how he intends to address the expected budgetary deficit and various points of contention, including the ongoing migrant crisis and free healthcare program for noncitizens.

While the U.S. economy has been more resilient than some economists originally anticipated, the state’s economy is expected to experience a significant decrease in revenues in the coming year, all the while spending is continuing to increase. According to the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget, Illinois is projected to face a nearly $900 million deficit for Fiscal Year 2025.

Governor Pritzker’s program to provide free healthcare to noncitizens is a particular point of contention in the upcoming budget process. The program has become one of the state’s largest fiscal responsibilities as well as one of its most scrutinized programs. The Governor claimed last year that new copayment requirements for migrants were expected to reduce some costs. $550 million was allocated for the program, but current estimates say the cost will be at least $200 million over budget. Senate Republicans have repeatedly pushed for the Governor and his allies to focus on other priorities, including existing programs for struggling Illinois citizens.

The projected deficit is also partly due to new permanent spending that was created during the height of the pandemic and funded with federal relief funds. Now those federal sources of money have mostly dried up.

My Senate Republican colleagues and I had repeatedly warned Democratic lawmakers about the potential risks that reckless spending growth would create on the state’s finances once federal funds were exhausted. Those warnings were ignored and the continued push for new programs and more spending has put the state’s finances in a precarious position.

Route 66 Set to Get a Face Lift

Historic Route 66 is set to soon receive a major face-lift in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development recently announced that $3.3 million has been allocated to projects lining the historic route in preparation of its centennial celebration in 2026.

The funds will go toward enhancing experiences and increasing electric vehicle infrastructure along the route, which has been nicknamed “The Main Street of America.” The modernization of Route 66 will be spread across all 300 miles of Illinois roadway it occupies.

Officials are hopeful the updates will boost the economy of small Illinois towns along the route that once depended upon frequent travelers to stop and shop at their businesses. The goal is to encourage more people to use the route and patronize those businesses.

This modernization project is an extension of the state’s larger “Middle of Everything” tourism campaign. The campaign aims to pay homage to the state’s Midwest roots, and centralized location and highlights how much the state has to offer visitors.

Makers’ Madness Makes a Return

The Illinois Manufacturers Association is once again bringing back their bracket contest, March Madness style, to determine the Coolest Thing Made in Illinois. The tournament, officially named Makers Madness, spotlights Illinois products through fan participation and online voting.

In order to qualify, the product entered into the competition must be made in Illinois. Nominations are open now until March 3 and the field will be narrowed down to 16 contestants through voting March 3-5. The Coolest Thing Made in Illinois will be announced at an awards ceremony on April 10 at the Governor’s Mansion. This contest brings attention to the many incredible products manufactured in Illinois.

Past winners include the world’s largest mechanical truck, the 797F Mining truck, made by Caterpillar Inc. in Decatur; the Self Regulating Traffic Signal Heater, which heats traffic signals so they will not get frozen or damaged by ice, made by Termico Technologies in Elk Grove Village; and the Rosenberg Moon Habitat, which is a 3D-printed structure used to house humans on the moon, made by Ingersoll Machine tools in Rockford. Nominations and votes can be submitted on the Illinois Manufacturers Association website at

February is American Heart Month

Heart decorations popping up for Valentine’s Day in February may also serve as a reminder that it is also American Heart Month. February is when everyone, especially women, are encouraged to focus on their cardiovascular health. 

Cardiovascular diseases are often thought of as something that mainly affects men, but they are just as common in women. The symptoms of cardiovascular diseases often differ between men and women. For instance, while men might feel chest pain during a heart attack, women could have pain in their jaw, neck, or back. Unfortunately, because people do not expect women to have heart attacks, they often ignore these symptoms, leading to unnoticed heart problems.

Heart disease is still the #1 cause of death for men and women. This year, the American Heart Association is celebrating 100 years of “Bold Hearts” and a vision for advancing health and hope for everyone everywhere. This month reminds everyone to take care of their hearts.

Please visit for more information on ways to learn more about heart attack and stroke symptoms and healthy living practices.  

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