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Identity theft and student loans: Cornerstones of modern education

lightford-finan-edSPRINGFIELD – Most of us would agree that if we could do high school all over again, knowing what we now know about how the world works, some of our academic questions and concerns might focus on more practical subjects – maybe simply inquiring about how to get through day-to-day adult life unscathed.

How do I stay out of debt? What is the best way to pay back mounting student loans? How do I prevent the guy in the apartment next door from stealing my identity?

New legislation, sponsored by Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D – Maywood), would require those questions to be answered in Illinois public high schools. Passing the Senate today, the legislation would add identity-theft security, consumer debt and higher education loans to the list of mandatory subjects to be covered in high school financial literacy courses.

“Preparing the next generation for life after school takes more than preparing them for college courses or even a specific career,” said Senator Lightford. “It is just as important to prepare our students for the scarier aspects of adult life. We need to teach the next generation how to prepare for and avoid some of the most common and severe real world difficulties as they graduate from school, begin a career and start their own families.”

According to a leading producer of identity theft statistics, on average, close to 100 million Americans have their personal identifying information placed at risk of theft each year.

And thanks to climbing tuition and inadequate college savings, 40 million Americans now have at least one outstanding student loan, according to new analyses from credit bureau Experian.

The legislation, Senate Bill 672, now goes to the House for consideration.

Senator McGuire reacts to FY15 budget bill votes

mcguire-15budgetSPRINGFIELD— State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) released the following statement regarding the FY15 budget bills passage on the Senate floor today:

“Tight money demands tough decisions,” McGuire said. “Working parents need child care. Trials require court reporters. Prison guards deserve paychecks. That's why I supported this bipartisan budget fix.”

State Sen. Kotowski reacts to funding Child Care Assistance Program

kotowski-15budgetSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Dan Kotowski (D-Park Ridge) issued the following statement after voting to fund the Child Care Assistance Program.

“Today, the Senate officially voted to shakeup Springfield. After months of difficult negotiations, we finally passed bipartisan legislation that prioritizes working families over special interests and high-powered lobbyists.

“For nearly two months we have listened to working mothers who would no longer be able to work and provide care for their children without the Child Care Assistance Program. This legislation funds this program without raising taxes or increasing borrowing – exactly what I have been supporting all along.”

Senate approves bipartisan solution to budget shortfall

steans-15budgetSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7) secured Senate passage today of legislation that eliminates the $1.6 billion shortfall in the state’s budget for the current fiscal year and ends a child care funding emergency that has left tens of thousands of working parents short on options.

“Without taking on additional debt, this bipartisan solution patches the holes in this year’s budget and relieves a significant source of stress on low-income working families,” Steans said. “Now we can move forward into a productive conversation about the feasibility and human impact of the cuts the governor has requested in next year’s budget.”

House Bills 317 and 318 move $1.3 billion in surplus money from dozens of special-purpose state funds to fill critical shortfalls in funding for the Child Care Assistance Program, mental health care, developmental disabilities services, courts and prison guards. The $266 million influx will cover all anticipated costs of the child care subsidy program, which helps parents who are working or attending school, and prevent further closures of child care centers due to delays in state payments. The legislation also includes a 2.25 percent cut to most areas of spending, although nearly $100 million will be set aside to cushion the impact of the reductions on the neediest school districts.

“We knew this year’s budget wasn’t complete, because we didn’t have the votes to put in place the policies necessary to address the state’s chronic structural deficit,” Steans said. “Today’s solution isn’t ideal, but it staves off crisis and allows us to focus on next year’s budget and what we need to do to meet needs in a fiscally sustainable way.”

The House approved the two measures on Tuesday; they will now go to the governor’s desk.

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