SPRINGFIELD, IL (IRN) – Unemployment is a big issue in Illinois, with the overall statewide rate at 9 percent. What can make it harder to get a job is if you are an ex-convict.

A state senator hopes to get a bill passed that would give businesses tax incentives for hiring ex-offenders, as long as the offense was not a sex offense.

Anthony Walker, who served eight years with the Illinois Department of Corrections’ impact incarceration program, understands how hard it can be to find a job. “I wasn’t fortunate to find a job, to gain employment, so I am in business now and I have been in business for 14 years. I think it’s a great opportunity for this bill to be passed ‘cause it gives interest for employers to hire ex-offenders, so they can be employed,” Walker said.

Melinda Costa, the general manager at Travelogde in Springfield, hires ex-offenders and says something must be done to help them.

“If we don’t get them employed, I know you don’t want me to say this but, and I’m sure the governor doesn’t want me to say this but, we’re going to have to build more prisons and just keep them inside,” Costa said.

The bill would increase the maximum tax credit from $600 to $1,500 per qualified ex-offender. It would also make eligible anybody with a felony record, as long as it does not include sex crimes.

S.B. 1659 has passed the Senate Executive Committee.

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