check your credit score free onlineCHICAGO — State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is encouraging everyone who may have have had a change in their finances after four months of the COVID-19 crisis to take advantage of the available free credit reporting websites.  

“When the pandemic hit, many people suddenly lost their jobs or experienced other income loss, placing an unanticipated burden on their finances and potentially affecting their credit scores,” Villivalam said. “It’s important for everyone to be aware of their credit score due to the impact that bad credit can have on a person’s financial future.” 

As Illinois slowly recovers from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, Villivalam is urging everyone to double check their credit scores and to know where their finances stand. Everyone is eligible to receive their weekly credit report for free through Equifax, Experian and TransUnion until April 2021. For more information, please visit

“Managing your finances is stressful, yet this free service to check your credit score will at least provide a baseline for where you stand,” Villivalam said.  

Category: Press Releases

Pavement buckleCHICAGO – As temperatures continue to rise, Illinois State Senate Transportation Chair Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is urging drivers to be cautious of potential pavement buckling on roads due to the hot and humid weather. 

“During the summer we often worry about staying hydrated and reapplying sunscreen,” Villivalam said. “Oftentimes we forget that extreme heat can also cause the road pavement to crack and break which can create dangerous driving conditions.” 

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, pavement failures or blowouts can occur when prolonged high temperatures cause roads to expand and buckle up or blow out, resulting in uneven driving surfaces. Precipitation and humidity can also increase the potential for buckling.

“To ensure road safety this summer, I urge everyone to be cognizant of road conditions and construction workers while traveling and to report any issues immediately,” Villivalam said. 

Pavement failures should be reported to IDOT by calling 800-452-4368 or by calling 911.

Category: Press Releases

IL tollwayCHICAGO – State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is urging residents to take advantage of a new initiative announced by the Illinois Tollway this summer. TOLLING 2020 is a new tolling reform package that will significantly reduce the costs of unpaid toll fees.

“Thanks to this relief period, motorists who have been unable to pay outstanding fees due to COVID-19 will be able to catch up,” Villivalam said. “I believe customers will save under the new invoice process and violation relief.”  

For the remainder of 2020, the Tollway is reducing all outstanding violations with the Illinois Tollway, and all existing $20 and $50 fines per toll will also be reduced to $3 per toll, providing an opportunity for relief to thousands of motorists. Any unpaid tolls that occurred between March 9 and June 25 during the Stay at Home Order will not incur additional fines or fees.

Here are some important takeaways for customers under this new program:

  • As always, customers can continue to avoid fees completely for at least 14 days by paying online.
  • Vehicle owners who fail to pay a toll will now initially face a notice with a $3 invoice fee for each unpaid toll rather than a notice with a $20 violation fine, an 85%reduction. (Currently, a $20 fine is assessed for each unpaid toll if left unpaid. That penalty escalates by another $50 if the notice remains unpaid for an additional 60 days.)
  • Customers looking to take advantage of the significant reduction in fines can visit the Tollway’s website to review and pay their updated balances through the end of the year, even if they were previously at collections. (No special arrangements are necessary.)
  • Customers with unpaid tolls during the COVID-19 period will receive an invoice for their unpaid tolls only and are able to pay those tolls online as well. 

The Illinois Tollway is still operating all-electronic toll collection to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so tolls should still be paid online to avoid any fines and fees. Anyone who wants to learn more about the program, or how to pay unpaid tolls and violations, should visit the Illinois Tollway’s website at

Category: Press Releases

raise minimum wageCHICAGO — State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is hailing Illinois’ minimum wage increase, beginning today, as a welcome boon for working families and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’ve advocated for paying minimum wage workers a living wage for years, and this increase will be a welcome change for struggling families who need the extra income because of the pandemic,” Villivalam said. “It’s more important than ever to support those who are fortunate enough to be employed and those who are providing essential services.” 

The state’s minimum wage increases to $10 per hour on July 1, the second increase in a series of increases required by a law that was supported by Villivalam and passed last year. That law requires the state of Illinois to increase the wage by $1 on January 1 of each year for the next five years until it reaches $15 per hour in 2025. 

“Our minimum wage earners really deserve this raise. Until this law took effect in January, they hadn’t seen a pay increase since 2010,” Villivalam said. “I have learned a great deal about the challenges faced by small business owners and have worked to address them in other pieces of legislation. I do strongly believe, in the overall picture, this is a win-win. Workers get the raise they deserve to provide for their families, and businesses have a better shot at retaining their workforce.” 

While this wage increase is a statewide mandate, Chicago and other communities around the state already have higher local minimum wage requirements. 

Category: Press Releases

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