PPP Changes FBCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is highlighting recent changes to the federal Paycheck Protection Program that make the program more accessible to smaller businesses.

“The PPP program is a terrific opportunity that has helped many of our local small businesses ease some of the burden, but it was not as accessible for some of our smallest business owners,” Bennett said. “This targeted PPP support will make a huge difference to our small business communities and economy as we recover from COVID-19.” 

The Biden administration recently changed the loan calculation formula to make it easier for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and the self-employed to qualify for relief. They’ve also established that student loan debt and prior incarceration will no longer prevent small business owners from obtaining relief.

Bennett encourages businesses that employ 20 people or less to apply. He noted that the federal government has opened a special window where only the smallest businesses – which make up 98% of the small business community – can apply.

This special application window opened Feb. 24 and extends for two weeks.

More information about the PPP program, including how to apply, is available on the Small Business Administration’s website.

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CHAMPAIGN – To recognize older adults who have contributed to their communities through service, education, the workforce or the arts, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) encourages residents to nominate an adult 65 years of age or older to the 2021 Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame.

“We all know an older neighbor or have a family member that has gone the extra mile during these challenging times,” Bennett said. “Let’s commemorate their contributions and achievements to our neighborhoods by nominating these special individuals for the Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame.”

The Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame celebrates outstanding accomplishments by seniors in community service, education, the labor force and the arts. Each year, four candidates – one from each category – are inducted.

Eligibility is based on an individual’s past and present accomplishments, and the candidate must be a current Illinois citizen for most of their life. Posthumous nominees are also considered.

Since its creation in 1994, 125 people have been inducted into the Senior Illinoisans Hall of Fame.

“We have incredible people in Champaign and Vermilion Counties that help make our communities a better place,” Bennett said. “Submit a nomination today so they can receive the recognition they deserve.”

The deadline for nominations is Tuesday, June 1. Nominations may be submitted online or by calling the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966.

iStock 1140560047 1CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined cancer survivors, caregivers and advocates at a virtual town hall Wednesday to discuss the need to limit co-pays and other cost-sharing requirements for prescription drugs.

Out-of-pocket health care costs are on the rise, with some Illinoisans unable to access the life-saving treatments and medications recommended by their providers. In 2021 alone, the American Cancer Society predicts that 74,980 Illinoisans will be diagnosed with cancer. Every Illinoisan with cancer—even those with good insurance plans—will face high out-of-pocket costs that make it harder for patients to afford their prescribed medication.

“Rising prescription drug prices leave people with the choice between filling life-saving prescriptions and paying rent, buying food, and affording other critical essentials,” Bennett said. “I am aware of the growing difficulty Illinoisans are encountering regarding prescription drug prices, and am committed to addressing this health care issue.”

Last week, Bennett introduced legislation that will limit a patient’s monthly out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions, making expenses more predictable and preventing patients from having to worry about going to their local pharmacy and being shocked by their monthly prescription costs.

Senate Bill 275 is assigned to the Senate Insurance Committee.  

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SPRINGFIELD – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address Wednesday, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) expressed his support of the governor’s plans to prioritize families, students, workers and small businesses.

“This budget proposal acknowledges the hardships that families have faced and continue to face during this awful pandemic, while also looking ahead at the needs of the people within our communities,” Bennett said. “I’m pleased to see this budget proposal invests in agencies like the Illinois Department of Employment Security, which has been overwhelmed over the past 11 months.” 

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has struggled with a flood of unemployment claims during the pandemic, but the proposed budget utilizes additional funding for the department to invest in call center workers, IT resources and fraud analysis technology.

The governor’s proposal also increases funding for the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant program, which provides financial assistance to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges.  This will help ensure current recipients will continue to qualify and more college students will have access to academic opportunities.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, this proposal prioritizes students’ needs and puts the state’s best foot forward,” Bennett said. “As the new chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, I support keeping our best and brightest in Illinois.”

Wednesday’s proposed budget is the beginning of the negotiation process, not the end. Bennett looks forward to bipartisan discussions this session to construct a balanced budget to provide stability and functionality for the state.

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