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Sen. Sally Turner pushes back on taxes, immigrant healthcare in role on budget negotiation team

State Sen. Sally Turner
State Sen. Sally Turner, a Republican from Beason, represents a portion of McLean County.

A state lawmaker who represents much of rural McLean County is helping to negotiate a new state budget.

State Sen. Sally Turner of Beason says she was appointed to the Senate Republicans' Budget Negotiation Team because of her 24 years of budgeting as the Logan County clerk.

Turner says she's opposed to the $800 million in tax increases in the nearly $53 billion budget that's mostly from taxes on corporations and gambling. Turner said there are parts of the plan she supports, including more money for education, home energy assistance and services for people with disabilities.

“We’ve seen cuts in that in the past and we want to make sure those get supplemented the way they need to,” Turner said in an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.

When asked what could be cut from the spending plan to offset the tax increases she opposes, Turner said she'd like to see the state eliminate health care funding for noncitizens.

“I don’t see why we would have funding for that,” Turner said, adding she believes immigrant healthcare will be a key point of contention in budget negotiations.

Migrant funding transparency

Illinois Senate Republicans are accusing the Pritzker administration of not being transparent about how much the state is spending on services for migrants.

The governor's proposed budget calls for $182 million to support the influx of asylum seekers, many of whom have been bused to Chicago from Texas by that state's governor.

Turner said she suspects the total cost will be much higher, but isn't clear where that money could be hidden.

“We don’t know and it’s not just on the migrant funding,” Turner said. “Just show us where that is in the budget so we can understand what your ideas are and where you are coming from and what areas within the different agencies that you are taking the money from,” Turner said.

Senate Republicans have filed a bill to require the Illinois Department of Human Services to file an annual report detailing its state spending on resources for migrants.

The governor’s office disputed the GOP’s lack of transparency claims.

“Following Donald Trump’s orders, Senate Republicans are blowing their racist dog whistle and conflating different immigrant populations to vilify human beings for their political gain. Whether it’s the Governor of Texas shipping people across the country creating a humanitarian crisis or Republican legislators complaining that people who call Illinois home are getting services they need, Republicans are once again proving their only focus is on dividing us,” the statement read.

State officials have said Illinois has already spent or committed $638 million to pay for services for migrants, according to The Associated Press.

Turner's district covers a mostly rural district between Bloomington-Normal, Peoria, Springfield and Champaign.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.