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Kotowski proposal to combat heroin, prescription drug abuse epidemic advances

kotow-hb1-heroinSPRINGFIELD - Low prices and easier accessibility have fueled a growing heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic across Illinois. In 2013, 41 people in suburban Cook County alone died from a heroin overdose. In 2010, there were only six.

“The explosion of heroin and prescription opioid use in our neighborhoods and schools puts our children in serious danger. Something needs to be done now to help protect our kids,” said State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge).

In Kotowski’s proposal, several steps are outlined to help fight the growing problem. They include:

•    Requiring doctors and pharmacies to document when narcotics have been prescribed
•    Requiring the State Board of Education to create a heroin and opioid drug prevention program for schools
•    Creating a statewide medication take-back program
•    Allowing a pharmacist to dispense lifesaving Narcan to prevent heroin overdoses

“We owe it to the victims and our communities to do everything possible to stop this fatal, rampant problem. This comprehensive reform gives doctors, pharmacists, law enforcement officials and community members the necessary tools to end this deadly epidemic sweeping our communities,” said Kotowski.

Kotowski’s proposal, House Bill 1, passed with bipartisan support and will be sent to the governor’s desk.

Holmes votes to fund schools at highest level ever

holmes-ed-fundingIncreased MAP grants also passes Illinois Senate

SPRINGFIELD — As Aurora students celebrated the end of the semester, State Sen. Linda Holmes today joined fellow senators in passing a spending plan that would ensure their schools reopen on time this fall, provided Gov. Rauner approves it.

“This spending plan is another step toward adequate, equitable funding for our schools,” the Aurora Democrat said. “I urge Governor Rauner to approve these proposals, and not to play politics with our schools.”

The plan provides for $10 billion in education spending, including roughly $3 billion in federal matching funds. The proposal provides a $295 million increase over the current fiscal year, including $207 million in additional funds to General State Aid and $85 million directed toward schools with low resources.

Holmes also supported an increase in college grant funding that passed the General Assembly. The proposal would increase MAP Grant funding by $32 million to $397 million.

“As the cost of college education is rising, we can’t let some students be left out,” Holmes said. “We’ve known this funding has been inadequate, and I’m pleased to see an increase pass the General Assembly.”

The K-12 spending plan comprises House Bills 3763 and 4151. Legislation regarding MAP Grants is HB 4146.

Noland explains his “no” vote on budget plan

noland-budget-noSPRINGFIELD – This week the Senate and the House together passed a plan for next year’s budget. While the majority of Democrats voted for the budget, State Senator Michael Noland (D-Elgin), making good on his commitment to not support a budget without adequate revenue, voted “no" on the plan.

“It’s been said, a budget is a moral document. Morals must be supported by conviction,” said Noland. “Unless we have the conviction to pass revenue necessary to support suggested spending levels, this year’s budget remains an immoral and unconstitutional document. And as such, I could not vote for it.”

Noland, a third term senator from Elgin, has been an outspoken advocate for increased revenue and a balanced budget during his tenure in the General Assembly.

Manar votes to fund schools, help neediest students

manar-edfund-52915SPRINGFIELD—As central Illinois students celebrate the last days of the school year, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) voted for a $7 billion state education plan that would allow schools to open in August unless Gov. Bruce Rauner rejects the plan.

“This year we are able to not only provide an overall increase to education funding, but we’re also targeting an additional $85 million to help impoverished schools and students,” Manar said.

This year’s education spending plan represents a $295 million dollar increase of direct aid to schools: a $207 million dollar increase to General State Aid as well as an $85 million increase to school districts with high poverty and fewer available local resources.

“This is a less regressive, more need-based approach to school funding than the General Assembly has put forward in over a decade. We are taking steps in the right direction to make school funding fair and equitable for the students with the most need,” Manar said.

The Senate approved this increase Friday, which had been previously approved by the House. It requires the governor’s approval to fund school districts for the next school year.

This proposal is supported by a diverse group of education groups from across the state:

•    Faith Coalition for the Common
•    Advance Illinois
•    Aurora East School District 131
•    Calhoun Unified School District C4
•    Chicago Urban League
•    ED-Red
•    Galesburg School District 205
•    Granite City Community School District
•    Illinois Education Association
•    Instituto del Progreso del Latino
•    Large Unit District Association (LUDA)
•    LaSalle Elementary School District
•    Latino Policy Forum
•    Legislative Education Network of DuPage County (LEND)
•    LULAC of IL (League of United Latin American Citizens)
•    Monmouth-Roseville School District
•    North Chicago School District 187
•    North Mac District 34
•    Quad County Urban League
•    Rockford Public Schools 205
•    South Cooperative Organization for Public Education (SCOPE)
•    Stand for Children
•    Tri County Urban League
•    U-46
•    Waukegan School District 60

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