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The Majority Report 01/12/18 - Senate Democrats press for improvements at veterans home


Cullerton, Castro push for veterans home fix

Lawmakers grill officials during Legionnaires’ hearingIn an effort to finally stop the spread of a deadly illness at a Quincy veterans home, State Senator Tom Cullerton filed legislation this week that would authorize officials to proceed with long-delayed infrastructure upgrades at the facility.

The improvements would include water system updates or new construction to prevent the spread of Legionella bacteria at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, said Gov. Bruce Rauner has failed to take appropriate action to fix the problems.

“Gov. Rauner had three years to come up with a long-term solution to protect these heroes of our nation, and during that time, 13 people died from the spread of Legionnaires’ disease,” said Cullerton, a veteran and chairman of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

“My hope is this time the governor will realize the severity of inaction and do his job to provide our veterans the service and care they deserve, not more bureaucratic red tape and band aids.”

During a hearing this week, members of the Rauner administration for the first time requested additional funding for construction and renovations at the facility.

“If we in the General Assembly knew additional funds were needed to improve living conditions and eliminate risk factors for Legionella at this facility, it would have been approved in a heartbeat,” Cullerton said. “Sadly, we are once again waiting on the governor for answers and results.”

State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) participated in the hearing and said the governor’s office should have taken action three years ago when it first became clear there was a problem at the facility.

“I’m tired of excuses,” Castro said. “These are our veterans, and they deserve dignity. A permanent solution needs to be found.”

Learn more: A timeline of the Legionnaires’ outbreak in Quincy
In the news: Lawmakers grill officials during Legionnaires’ hearing
In the news: Rauner officials defend handling of Legionnaires’ at Quincy veterans home


Manar: Schools face potential chaos because of Rauner's veto

Sen. Andy Manar

The governor’s veto of a simple trailer bill on Monday creates potential chaos for every Illinois school that stands to benefit from long-overdue funding reform, State Senator Andy Manar said.

The last-minute veto of Senate Bill 444, technical cleanup legislation requested by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s own administration and passed quickly by the General Assembly two months ago, boggles the mind, said Manar, the chief Senate sponsor of Illinois’ historic, bipartisan school funding reform overhaul.

“Here’s what Gov. Rauner accomplished: absolute chaos while undoing all of the equity components in the school funding reform legislation that he takes credit for passing,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “Underfunded schools that have been subjected to an unfair formula for decades will have to continue to wait because of Bruce Rauner’s inexplicable actions today.”

The General Assembly responded immediately in November to a request from the Illinois State Board of Education, part of the Rauner administration, with bipartisan legislation to help the state quickly implement the new school funding formula.

But rather than immediately sign SB444, Gov. Rauner sat on the measure and issued a last-minute amendatory veto. That veto now stands to derail implementation of the new formula, which ISBE had indicated it was on track to move forward with immediately.

“Gov. Rauner tossed his own request in the trash by once again unconstitutionally rewriting legislation, just like he did last year with his veto of Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform bill,” Manar said. “I am truly perplexed and puzzled by the motivations of this governor, who claims to care deeply about public education in Illinois. Why would he veto a bill that he sought in the first place?”

In the news: State education board says Rauner veto ‘caused disruption to agency’
In the news: Elgin-area schools upset with Rauner veto of school funding bill
In the news: Governor vetoes school funding trailer bil


Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is a day of service

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service in Illinois.

Volunteers throughout Illinois will engage in a day of service to their communities Monday in honor of the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., who once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service in Illinois. It has been a national day of service since 1994.

Those who would like to share their time and talents on Monday but are unsure where they can volunteer are urged to visit Serve.Illinois.gov for a database of more than 2,000 volunteer opportunities, searchable by ZIP code or area of interest. The website is maintained by the Serve Illinois Commission, a 40-member, bipartisan panel that promotes volunteerism and service to communities.


In case you missed it


Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: OSF Healthcare obtains former Chase Bank building from CAT | WMBD-TV, Peoria

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: How to reinvent Illinois higher ed — and reduce the brain drain | Danville Commercial-News

Senator Pat McGuire, Joliet: Slowik: Leaders gather at town hall to discuss I-80 traffic safety | Daily Southtown

Senator Julie Morrison, Deerfield: YMCA welcomes state officials for ‘Springfield update’ on Jan. 9 | Northbrook Star

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: Illinois lawmakers push legal pot bill | Rockford Register Star


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