ROCKFORD, Ill. – 68th District candidate and small business owner Dave Vella issued the following statement about the priorities of the upcoming legislative session.

The COVID-19 pandemic is at the top of the agenda as the Legislature returns to Springfield this week. While there are many issues that need to be addressed in a short amount of time, I want to highlight three specific issues that I think need to be a top priority for this session.

The first is providing adequate childcare. Right now, there appears to be a disconnect between the timelines to open business back up and to provide childcare services. With summer approaching, and schools rightly closed down, working families need to have access to childcare if they’re going to return to work when most or all of the state moves into Phase 3. Thankfully, Mayor McNamara has announced a plan to open childcare early here in Winnebago County, but this is still an issue statewide. I urge the legislature to pass a policy that synchronizes reopening the economy with reopening childcare facilities in the safest possible way. 

The second is providing bridge support for businesses. The pandemic has taken an incredible toll on our economy, and businesses are going to need extra support from the government if they are going to weather this crisis. The legislature should provide strong relief programs for businesses in the form of no interest loans, tax abatement, and any other applicable policies. These also need to be enacted with the mindset that we are not out of the woods yet. The government allowing businesses to reopen and consumers patronizing businesses at pre-pandemic levels will likely not happen at the same time. Businesses are going to need government support until Phase 5.

The third is making sure that there is a process in place for education in the fall. Hopefully school will be able to return to normal in the fall, but we need to be prepared for remote learning at all levels. The legislature should work with the Illinois State Board of Education, Teacher Unions, and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that we have clear guidelines and expectations for remote learning moving forward. Our teachers and students have sacrificed a lot to continue learning in this difficult time, and we owe it to them to have a process for this moving forward.

Finally, I urge everyone to be collaborative as we tackle these problems. The more united we are, the better our chances of being successful in our fight against COVID-19.