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Tom Cullerton’s DuPage County fix signed into law

tcullerton VILLA PARK- DuPage County will now be able to honor a series of voter referendums from the November 2016 election.

Villa Park Democrat State Senator Tom Cullerton’s law to correct a mistake made by the DuPage County Election Commission last fall was signed into law today.

“The referendums passed with overwhelming support,” Cullerton said. “This is a small step to guarantee the will of the people is the law of the land.”

State law currently requires notice to be published no more than 30 days and not less than 10 days before an election. However, the notice was published in the local papers 33 days in advance due to a clerical error made by the election commission.

“This is a one-time deal to avoid costly litigation,” Cullerton said. “Voters voiced their opinions in good faith, now it is time to abide by their wishes.”

This law is a one-time correction that only applies to DuPage County for the November 2016 elections.

Senate Bill 3319 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

Aquino questions Rauner's budget commitment to immigrants

aquino 021717SPRINGFIELD – In a recent Senate budget hearing, State Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, questioned Illinois State Budget Director Scott Harry. Sen. Aquino focused his questions on the elimination of state funding for immigration programs.

“Did he have any conversations with the Trump Administration or the president? There’s no funding for immigration services within the Department of Human Services,” Aquino said. “It seems to be maybe a coincidence - if they haven’t had conversations - that you’re eliminating or potentially eliminating immigrant and refugee services at this time, especially considering what’s going on nationally.”

Responding to Aquino’s questions, Scott Harry said that he did not know whether Governor Rauner had spoken with the Trump Administration and that the reductions in funding for immigration programs “are the same reductions that were introduced in the governor’s fiscal year 2016 budget.”

The governor’s budget proposal does not fund immigrant-focused programs that previous budgets have funded. The proposal would eliminate $5.9 million in funding for immigrant integration services as well as $1.5 million for welcoming centers.

“We must fight against Trump's hateful, divisive immigration policy wherever it exists,” Aquino said.

Hastings expands scope of veterans’ property tax exemptions

hastings 021717SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) advanced a measure to expand veterans’ property tax exemptions to all qualifying surviving military spouses.

“Military spouses have already made the ultimate sacrifice,” Hastings said. “This property tax exemption was meant to honor the families of our fallen heroes. Military families shouldn’t miss out due to a legislative technicality.”

Currently the Disabled Veterans Standard Homestead Exemption only applies to surviving spouses whose veteran obtained an exemption prior their death or a veteran killed in the line of duty prior to 2015.

SB 82 extends the Disabled Veterans Standard Homestead Exemption to all surviving spouses of qualifying disabled veterans or veterans killed in the line of duty.

“This change will help restore this legislation to its original intention: to honor the sacrifices made by military spouses and families,” Hastings said.

Senate Bill 87 passed the Senate’s Committee on Veteran Affairs with bipartisan support.

Trotter stands on the right side of history

trotter 021517This is the third year that Illinois has gone without a budget proposal. People are suffering and going without the resources they so desperately need because those in power are not willing to compromise for the greater good. Yesterday, the governor had the opportunity to restore the faith of investors and residents by providing a decisive plan for a balanced budget, but this was not the route he took.

In the budget address, the governor uttered a few phrases from Lincoln’s remarks to Congress on December 1, 1862: "The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew." But he left out the end of the phrase, and dare I say the most important part: We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. The word “disenthrall” means to free from bondage and or liberate. Lincoln spoke of the United States freeing itself from the dogmas of the antiquated past, which required the relinquishing of slavery. A month after this speech, Lincoln made history by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. So it is not farfetched to believe that Lincoln would encourage us to liberate ourselves from the contention of the past and moved forward in an effort to save the state.

Prior to taking political office,  a 45-year-old Lincoln had this to say on July, 1 1854: “The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities.”

Rauner has a choice: he can either be the change he wants to see or continue the dismantling of the state he calls home. But one thing is for certain, something must be done to alleviate the devastation felt by poor communities all over Illinois as the financial burden is not equally distributed. It is felt most keenly by fiscally strapped neighborhoods that rely on social services many would deem vital. In order to provide basic services to the people who need it most, localities need funding.

Even before Lincoln’s entrance into the political arena, he was well aware of the role that government plays in the lives of its citizens. When government runs efficiently, it maintains legitimacy, and when it fails to do so it is delegitimized. The government is supposed to meet the needs of the people as opposed to its own self-interest. This has not been the case in Illinois for the last three years. We can do better and we should. No one man is bigger than the constituents he serves. First, Lincoln recognized the need for change, and then he pursued it. Rather than shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up, he altered things in order to provide a richer form of equity to all those embroiled in the vestiges of slavery.

History is being made and it is up to every one of us to determine how we want to be remembered. As senator of District 17, I pledge to do everything within my power to ensure that my constituents are not left in the cold by the lack of budget. I will continue to fight for the needs of all those who rely on the state to fulfill its promise.