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Castro seeks answers, solutions at ethics commission hearing on lobbying

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 03:56 PM

castro ethics 101520CHICAGO – The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform met to discuss lobbying regulation Wednesday.

“I’m fed up with it, and I know the people of Illinois are fed up with it too,” said State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “It’s time we get to the bottom of the issue, figure out the root cause, and solve it once and for all in a way that prevents us from having to do yet another joint ethics commission a few years down the road.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the commission focused on lobbying and lobbying reform. Representatives from the city of Chicago, the secretary of state, the Illinois Municipal League, and several other organizations were present to answer questions and provide insight.

“It’s clear that something needs to be done, but it can’t be one sided,” Castro said. “Whatever reforms come out of this commission will affect everyone, so we need to be sure that nobody faces undue burdens as a result.”

Castro sponsored the resolution to form the joint ethics commission last year, and was later appointed to sit on it. The commission has several additional meetings scheduled in the coming months and must file a report of its findings by March 31.

Crowe announces library grants to local school districts

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2020 11:03 AM

library 072519GLEN CARBON – Six local school districts will receive more than $14,000 in grants through the Illinois secretary of state’s School Library Grant program, State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) announced today.

The grants, which are issued by the Illinois State Library, are meant to help public schools offer more library books and materials to students.

“School libraries have the tools to increase a child’s lifelong learning and literacy skills, enabling their individual social participation both in the classroom and at home,” Crowe said. “I applaud our state for recognizing the importance of providing our children with the opportunity to find a passion for reading.”

Schools receiving school library grants include:

  • Alton Community Unit School District 11 – $4,395.00
  • Collinsville Community Unit School District 10 – $2,877.00
  • Granite City Community Unit School District 9 – $4,280.25
  • Central School District 104, O’Fallon – $750.00
  • Roxana Community Unit District 1 – $1,302.75
  • East Alton-Wood River Community High School District 14 – $750.00

From Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations approved by the General Assembly and the governor, school library grants were awarded based on a formula of $.75 per student, with a minimum grant award of $750.

School libraries can use the funds to acquire fiction and/or nonfiction books, educational CDs and DVDs, and library subscriptions to electronic resources, as well as to improve technology by purchasing new computers or improving Wi-Fi connectivity.

Castro wants to close legislative pay loophole

Published: Monday, January 13, 2020 12:42 PM

castro 060219SPRINGFIELD – A loophole in legislative pay law allowing legislators to receive an entire month’s pay despite not serving the full month would be closed under a proposal by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin).

“In any other job, a person would not be compensated for an entire month if they only worked one day,” Castro said. “This is a glaring loophole that has been exploited far too many times at the taxpayers’ expense, and I’m sick of it. It needs to be closed.”

Bennett invites small business owners to a tax credit workshop

Published: Thursday, January 09, 2020 02:55 PM

cashCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is partnering with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce to host a free workshop about the Minimum Wage Tax Credit on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. at the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce (303 W. Kirby Ave., Champaign). 

On Jan. 1, the first phase of minimum wage increases took effect, raising the wage from $8.25 an hour to $9.25 an hour. Under the new law, small businesses are eligible for a tax credit, giving them a maximum credit of 25% of the difference between the new minimum wage and what each employee was paid previously.

“We need to keep small businesses competitive during this transition period,” Bennett said. “This informative workshop will help connect small business owners with updated information on the Minimum Wage Tax Credit to help offset the state’s minimum wage rate and ease their transition.”

Businesses and nonprofits with 50 full-time equivalent employees or less are eligible for the credit and can begin to claim on their quarterly Illinois Withholding Income Tax Returns.

Nick Austin of the IDOR will present at the workshop and provide assistance. Bennett urges small businesses to take advantage of this tax credit and participate in the February workshop. 

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Senator Bennett’s office at 217-355-5252 or SenatorBennett.com, or visit IDOR’s website tax.illinois.gov. 

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