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The Majority Report 02/25/19 - Senate Democrats hopeful about budget

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Senate Democrats hopeful about budget

Illinois Legislative Black Caucus

A balanced budget proposal delivered by the governor is a positive step forward for Illinois, State Senator Heather Steans said Wednesday after Gov. JB Pritzker delivered his first budget address to the legislature.

“I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in the Senate over the next few months to develop a budget that significantly moves Illinois toward a solution that achieves financial certainty and builds trust that Illinois is back on the right track,” said Steans (D-Chicago), chair of one of the Senate’s two budget committees.

Members of the Senate Black Caucus reacted positively to the speech but noted Illinois has an uphill climb after four years of chaos under the former governor’s administration.

“The governor’s budget plan is a great start to tackle some of the key challenges we are facing including ensuring a living wage for working families and that students around the state receive a quality education,” said State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.

State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) commended the governor for showing a desire to invest in colleges and universities but said a statewide construction plan also should be part of the budget.

“This is a beginning of negotiations. I argue that we must also prioritize construction funding. The I-80 bridge over the Des Plaines River is rated a 6 out of a possible score of 100,” he said. “That can’t stand when a failing grade endangers lives. I urge all my colleagues to push for a robust capital plan in Illinois.”

Watch: Legislative Black Caucus members react to Pritzker’s budget speech

 


Sandoval, Manar announce construction hearings

Sens. Andy Manar and Martin A. Sandoval

Local mayors, county officials, education leaders and residents will have a chance to weigh in on a statewide construction plan during a series of public hearings around Illinois this spring.

The hearings will be jointly hosted by members of the transportation and budget committees of the Illinois Senate. Lawmakers will consider existing construction plans and accept recommendations for local projects as they determine the best path forward to improve roads, highways, bridges, sewer systems and more throughout the state.

“A comprehensive plan to fix our dilapidated transportation system in Illinois is long overdue,” said State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

Illinois has not passed a capital bill in a decade. In 2018, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Illinois a C- grade, saying the state’s transportation infrastructure shows signs of deterioration and faces increasing vulnerability.

“I think we can all agree that when it comes to roads and bridges, there isn’t a county in Illinois that doesn’t need some kind of critical investment,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), chairman of the Senate Appropriations II committee, which helps determine spending priorities for the state. Continue reading.

In the news: Long, costly road to recovery ahead for state’s infrastructure

 


Van Pelt calls for dismantling gang databases

Sen. Patricia Van Pelt

State Senator Patricia Van Pelt is urging municipalities to follow the Cook County Board’s lead and end the use of controversial gang databases.

“For too long, law enforcement has been using gang databases with little oversight or transparency, despite the harmful, long-lasting effects they can have on the individuals in the databases,” Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said. “I commend the Cook County Board of Commissioners for voting to dismantle their gang database and put an end to its controversial use, and I encourage other municipalities to do the same.”

The use of gang databases to track individuals labeled as suspected gang members was called into question last year after investigative reports found that hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans have been added to gang databases, 95 percent of whom are people of color.

Van Pelt first raised the issue in the legislature last spring after learning about gang databases and the lack of oversight of their use. Since then, she’s held public hearings and met with law enforcement, activists and individuals who have been negatively impacted by being listed in a database. Continue reading.

 

 


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