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The Majority Report 01/14/19 - Together, we can make Illinois better


Together, we can make Illinois better

Sen. President John J. Cullerton

Senate President John J. Cullerton used his inauguration speech Wednesday to call for a new era of cooperation focused on putting people to work and investing in roads, bridges and other projects needed to make Illinois better for workers and businesses.

“We didn’t get elected to save the world. Voters put us here to make Illinois better. And together, that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Cullerton told senators on the first day of the 101st General Assembly. The Illinois Senate he leads now has 40 Democratic members and 19 Republicans.

Cullerton highlighted a training program at Richland Community College in Decatur as a potential statewide framework for putting people to work. The school and employers partnered to identify specific community needs for getting people working. More efforts like this are needed, Cullerton said, as nearly half the state’s 580,000 manufacturing workers are expected to retire over the next decade.

“We’re going to train thousands of workers with the skills needed to walk into the workforce and succeed,” he said.

In lending his support to the growing push for a statewide construction program, Cullerton cited projects that benefit workers and businesses by making it easier for people to get to their jobs. Examples included updating the aging Metra train fleet prone to breakdowns and delays, and expanding to four lanes a Central Illinois stretch of US 24 along the Illinois River.

“Ten years ago, we approved a statewide construction program. We did it because we’d gone too long without investing in the people, employers and systems that make Illinois great. We did it to symbolize a new chapter in Illinois government,” he said. “It’s time to do it again.”


Democrats welcome 8 new members to Senate majority

Senate Inauguration

Eight women and men of various backgrounds representing all parts of the state joined the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus last week.

Democrats now comprise a supermajority of the Senate. Of 59 Senate seats, 40 are held by Democrats.

New Senate Democrats, who were inaugurated in a ceremony at the Capitol Wednesday, include Christopher Belt of Cahokia, Rachelle Crowe of Glen Carbon, Laura Ellman of Naperville, Laura Fine of Glenview, Ann Gillespie of Arlington Heights, Suzy Glowiak of Western Springs, Robert Peters of Chicago and Ram Villivalam of Chicago.

“I look forward to confronting the problems facing our area by fighting for funding for education and workforce development programs and tackling the opioid epidemic sweeping our communities,” Crowe, a former Madison County assistant state’s attorney, said.

Peters, a former community organizer born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, credited his community for never letting him down.

“I hope my appointment to the Senate shows other young people that it doesn’t take bootstraps to succeed – it takes community,” he said. “As senator, I will give back to those who gave me a chance by focusing on issues important to my district, like a balanced budget, criminal justice reform, clean energy jobs and quality public education.”

In the news: Record number of women sworn into statehouse | WCIA


Asian-American leaders look to flex their political muscle

Sen. Ram Villivalam

Asian-American leaders statewide last week announced plans to unify their voices and advance issues that are vital to Asian-American communities throughout Illinois.

The leaders, including state legislators and local government officials, formed the Joint Asian-American Leaders Caucus. Illinois’ first Asian-American state senator, Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago), is among the founding members of the caucus.

“I’m excited to get to work in Springfield, but I’m more excited that Asian-American communities have a seat at the table,” he said.





In case you missed it


State Senator Cristina Castro, Elgin: ‘Time to fumigate the board:’ Senate votes to sweep out tollway board | Daily Herald

State Senator Rachelle Crowe, Glen Carbon: New Illinois Legislature underway with big Democratic majorities | The Telegraph

State Senator Ann Gillespie, Arlington Heights: New suburban lawmakers take their seats: What they want to do now | Daily Herald

State Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: Koehler named assistant majority leader | JournalStar

State Senator Julie Morrison, Deerfield: New law makes changes to School Safety Drill Act | State Journal-Register

State Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: ‘It’s a new era:’ Illinois General Assembly sworn in Wednesday | Rockford Register Star

State Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: Lawmakers have questions as marijuana debate shifts from ‘when’ to ‘how’ | Pantagraph


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