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Murphy votes to protect middle class, make full pension payment

murphy 060319SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Laura Murphy, a Des Plaines Democrat, supported a balanced budget plan that protects the middle class and continues the state’s trend of making its annual pension payments.

“This budget begins Illinois’ path to stability,” Murphy said. “It prioritizes spending on programs that will help working and middle class families and responsibly allocates funds for our annual obligations.”

“Over the past four years much instability occurred in this State due to the lack of a budget. Social service agencies were starved. Our seniors, children and the disabled received the brunt of this dysfunction.  I am happy to say that has changed under this new leadership”.

This budget includes a $50 million increase to the Monetary Award Program (MAP), which makes college more affordable and accessible for everyone in Illinois.

“We saw that after two years without a budget, Illinois students were leaving the state in large numbers to pursue their college education elsewhere,” Murphy said. “Many of them don’t return, representing an enormous brain drain with significant financial implications. I hope this continued investment will encourage more students to stay in Illinois to attend college.”

The budget also fulfils the state’s annual pension payment obligation and puts a dent in our backlog of unpaid bills.

“The state made a promise and should keep that promise when it comes to pensions,” Murphy said. “This has been an issue for far too long, and I am happy to see that this budget meets the financial obligation it promised.”

Hastings votes to approve landmark infrastructure revitalization plan

hastings 060219SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Michael E. Hastings voted in favor of a package of legislation that would modernize Illinois’ infrastructure, providing the South Suburbs with much needed job creation and additional revenue.

“It is our job as lawmakers to ensure the needs of the communities we represent are met, and overall the South Suburbs stand to benefit immensely from this capital plan,” Hastings (D-Tinley Park) said. “Our schools will be receiving sorely needed maintenance, our roads and bridges will be modernized and we will be able to reap the financial benefits the gaming industry can provide for our community.”

Currently, 2,300 bridges around the state are rated structurally deficient, including the I-80 bridge in Joliet. This landmark legislation will work to fix this problem.

“Prolonging a capital plan is simply inviting tragedy to strike. During this spring session, we sought solutions in order to update our infrastructure so it is safe to use for the millions of individuals who frequent Illinois roads,” Hastings said. “By approving the capital plan, we have been able to accomplish that while also creating new, good-paying jobs.”

Under this capital plan, the South Suburbs would also be eligible to build a casino and racetrack in the future, providing the area with revenue while simultaneously cementing the community as a statewide destination.

Crowe fights for protections for victims of sexual harassment

crowe 060319SPRINGFIELD – Employees who experience sexual harassment or discrimination in their workplace have new rights under legislation cosponsored by State Senator Rachelle Crowe (D-Glen Carbon) that passed out of the Illinois Senate.

“Men and women have the right to speak out against inappropriate behaviors at work without fear of consequences or losing their job,” Crowe said. “These acts cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The initiative creates the Work Place Transparency Act to protect an employee’s rights if they experience sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment or retaliation in the workplace.

The measure also includes major reforms to the state’s ethics investigation process, including making the process more transparent and giving additional rights to victims of harassment and discrimination who file ethics complaints.

Senate Bill 75 also:

  • Limits the use of contract provisions intended to prevent an employee from reporting sexual harassment, such as non-disclosure agreements, arbitration clauses and non-disparagement clauses for cases involving harassment, discrimination and retaliation
  • Makes harassment against contract employees illegal (currently, these employees do not have legal protection against sexual harassment)
  • Clarifies that it is illegal to discriminate against an employee if they are perceived to be part of a protected class (i.e. gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity), even if they are not
  • Allows victims of gender-related violence to take unpaid leave from work to seek medical help, legal assistance, counseling, safety planning and other assistance
  • Prevents a union representative from representing both a victim of sexual harassment and the alleged harasser in a disciplinary proceeding
  • Requires hotels and casinos to provide employees who work in isolated spaces with panic buttons for use if they are sexually harassed or assaulted

Senate Bill 75 has passed the House and Senate and now awaits the governor’s signature.

Sims supports measure to fix Illinois’ crumbling infrastructure

sims 060319SPRINGFIELD—A plan to fund numerous construction projects throughout the state passed through the Senate today.

State Senator Elgie R. Sims Jr., a Chicago Democrat, supported the comprehensive infrastructure plan that totals more than $45 billion.

“This is a meaningful investment in communities throughout Illinois,” Sims said. “Modernizing the state’s infrastructure will solve many safety and traffic issues while spurring economic growth by creating jobs.”

The last major capital plan was in 2009. The current measure will fund a variety of different projects, including fixing 2,300 bridges, renovations at community colleges and road construction.

Capital investments are as follows:

Program

Funding

Percentage

Roads and bridges

$33.2 billion

74%

Education

$3.4 billion

8%

State facilities

$4 billion

10%

Environment and conservation

$1.1 billion

3%

Broadband deployment

$420 million

1%

Health care and human services

$465 million

1%

Economic and community development projects

$1.8 billion

4%

“It is completely unacceptable that we’ve closed down bridges because of safety concerns, such as the busy Lake Shore Bridge near my district,” Sims said. “After hosting a town hall on this issue, I know we are addressing some of my constituents’ key concerns, including $33 million for renovations at Chicago State University and $150 million for an airport in the South Suburbs.”

The capital plan is set to head to the governor’s desk for approval.

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