Commentary, Opinion

Op-Ed: Sen. Joyce Touts His Support for Farmers, River Edge Redevelopment

Op-Ed by Sen. Patrick Joyce
D-Essex, 40th State Senate District

Farmers invest in their fields year-round to increase their chances of a great crop each fall. In Springfield, we take seriously our duty to thank our farmers for their hard work by helping them benefit from their bounty.

I led the push at the Statehouse this spring for including in Senate Bill 1963 a significant revenue package and an increase for ethanol at our fuel pumps.

Under the law before, sales tax exemptions applied to 90 percent of sales of gasohol, 80 percent of the proceeds of sales of mid-range ethanol blends, and none of the proceeds of sales of majority-blended ethanol fuel. The new law calls for more substantial tax exemptions to encourage more production and consumer use of e15 to e85 fuel blends, putting more money back in the pockets of our farmers.

Supporting Farmers is a Win-win

It’s a smart win-win for our state: farmers will see higher corn demand and better prices for what they produce, and our vehicles will burn cleaner fuel.

Another package of legislation to help farmers was included in Senate Bill 1701, which drew strong bi-partisan support in the Legislature. The changes in this bill and the money we included to support them in the state budget will encourage more farmers to voluntarily adopt conservation practices, such as cover crops that protect the soil from erosion. I take our obligation to protect our lands seriously and am happy to see us continue to prioritize agricultural conservation.

River Edge Redevelopment Zone Program

Another way we are working to invest in our local lands is through redevelopment zones. I helped push over the finish line Senate Bill 1963, which adds the City of Kankakee to the successful River Edge Redevelopment Zone Program.

I remember, as I’m sure many of you do when downtown Kankakee was a vibrant area. Small businesses were thriving, and families could come downtown and enjoy the day with plenty of things to do, all while helping support other families just like them.

Times have changed, and competing as a small business is much harder now. Enter the River Edge Redevelopment Zone, which will offer tax incentives to business and building owners who commit to rehabbing certified historic structures as part of their vision to bring back more prosperous days to Kankakee. This program works successfully in five Illinois cities today: Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria, and Rockford. The latest bill adds Kankakee and Joliet to the list.

To learn more about this innovative program, visit here.

I will have more updates on my work in Springfield as Gov. Pritzker signs bills we acted on this spring.

The bills Senator Joyce sponsored are here on the Illinois General Assembly website.