Sen. Weaver hosts event at Princeton High auditorium
PRINCETON — State Sen. Chuck Weaver, R-Peoria, addressed a crowd of about 50 community members Thursday night at Princeton High School.
“This town hall meeting allows us to come together and for you to learn more about what is happening in state government,” Weaver said.
“You will be able to share your thoughts on legislative and community matters. It is also an opportunity for me to get to know you better as a community and to listen to your ideas. My goal is to help my base understand how I stand, and I want the other side to be able to relate to me,” he said.
Weaver explained that his was his 39th town hall meeting and that as 37th District senator, he has been representing Bureau County since 2015.
Weaver said: “I am a Republican. I am fiscally and socially responsible. My goal is to be true to myself.”
Weaver opened the evening by asking for questions, especially addressing the group of Princeton High School students that were in attendance. He told the students that they are the future and that their opinions matter. He encouraged the students to participate in the meeting by bringing them to the front of the auditorium and having them ask and answer many questions.
Some of the topics of concern addressed during the evening included the Parental Notification Act in regards to abortion, the graduated income tax, minimum wage reform, education, drug and mental health issues, and immigration reform.
Minimum wage reforms
Much of the evening revolved around the recently passed minimum wage reform act.
“I read an article saying $12.80 an hour is the average wage where it pays to replace a person with a robot or other equipment,” Weaver said.
“I am very concerned about job losses for unskilled workers. With those facts in mind, I fought as hard as I could, but to no avail as the Democratic legislative leaders forced through a minimum wage hike, which Gov. Pritzker signed into law on Feb. 19,” he said.
Weaver went on to explain that he didn’t feel the bill was thought through well and that there are many ramifications, including the fact that the wage increase will cost the state alone $600 million for their own workers to be increased to $15 an hour.
Weaver said he did not feel that it was necessary to raise the minimum wage in downstate Illinois where the cost of living is much different than in Chicago. He expressed his concerns for small towns and small businesses.
One person in attendance brought up the use of Narcan to counteract an opiate overdose. Weaver, along with Princeton Police Chief Tom Kammerer, addressed the issue. Weaver explained that one reason for these meetings is that it allows him to receive information from people who have real-life experience in the areas that Weaver does not have.
Chief Kammerer agreed to be in further contact with the senator to further discuss ideas, including a drug court and rehabilitation for people with addictions.
Another topic of discussion was Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed constitutional amendment to change the state’s income tax system from a flat rate structure to a progressive rate structure.
The 3 percent increase for the wealthy will not be enough revenue to fix the debt in Illinois, so Weaver said he feels that if the amendment passes, then the door will be open for additional taxes on the middle class.
“We should not talk about taxes until we talk about making cuts,” Weaver said. “The state of Illinois doesn’t have self control. We need to make 5 percent cuts across the board in our spending, except in education and road infrastructure. I think we should keep the flat tax and make the cuts. We have a debt problem.”
As the meeting was winding down, Weaver provided audience members his cell phone number and encouraged those in attendance to contact him as needed. He also met individually with the attendees afterward and took notes on concerns that were brought up.