SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Senate President Don Harmon predicted Illinois voters will once again elect a supermajority of Democrats to continue the party’s control of the upper chamber this November, and pushed back against GOP criticism on spending and crime.
“Democrats have a long tradition of actually being responsible with taxpayer dollars, though Republicans have done a much better job of portraying themselves as the fiscal watchdogs,” Harmon said. “But I think our actions speak louder than their words, and our balanced budget this year is the best that I’ve seen in 20 years.”
Harmon sat down with several widows of fallen police officers in March and listened to their concerns about a recent rise in crime. Would the legislature’s moves this April persuade the spouses of fallen officers that Illinois Democrats have their back?
“I hope so,” he responded. “I hope we’re walking the walk. We funded police in this budget. We’ve authorized the state police to do three cadet classes for the first time in the largest recruiting ever. We’ve given local police departments more resources for cameras. We’ve expanded the use of highway cameras to track violent crimes in progress, to crack down on a carjackings, as well as other violent crimes. It’s not something we can solve with a magic wand. I wish it were, but I hope that they believe we’re doing our best.”
Harmon said he didn’t know if lawmakers needed to make any further changes to the SAFE-T Act before the state phases out the use of cash bail in January of 2023.
“I think people have turned this political argument on its head,” he said. “Republicans have obviously seized on what they think is a winning rhetorical argument, but it doesn’t fit with the facts. Today, in a world of cash bail, the most dangerous criminal who has enough money can leave the jail awaiting trial and go commit more crimes. We would like a model that evaluates each defendant based on their threat to a specific person or to the community, and judges should be able to hold people who are dangerous in jail awaiting trial.”