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Hastings supports procurement reforms to streamline process

hastings052017SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) worked to pass bipartisan and bicameral structural reforms that will make the procurement process more efficient and more transparent for Illinois’ taxpayers.

Hastings passed Senate Bill 8, a plan to improve the way state government purchases goods and services.

“This legislation is the product of bipartisan negotiations,” Hastings said. “I’m proud that the Illinois General Assembly came together to work in the best interests of our residents. The next step is to pass a bipartisan budget.”

Hastings continues to hear from residents across the Southland that procurement rules can be difficult for vendors, state agencies and universities to navigate.

“Removing red tape and streamlining the process will make it easier for local businesses to bid on state contracts,” Hastings said. “Our local businesses are the heart of our economy. And they will lead us back to prosperity.”

This measure expands the ability of state universities to purchase needed products and services without going through the procurement process. Illinois would be allowed to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other governmental units. Vendors would also be given more flexibility when registering or submitting a bid.

Procurement reform was a structural reform requested by Governor Bruce Rauner. Hastings hopes now that the Senate has acted to address the governor’s structural reforms he will work in a bipartisan and bicameral manner to work toward passing a state budget.

The Illinois Senate has passed structural reforms in hopes the governor will compromise and pass a bipartisan budget that will be kind and compassionate toward the residents of the Southland. 

“The time to act is now,” Hastings said. “The Illinois Senate has held up their part of the deal. We have passed local government consolidation, workers’ compensation reform and now procurement reform. It is time for the governor to help us help the people of Illinois. Our children, seniors and most vulnerable cannot afford to wait any longer.”

River Edge Historic Tax Credit extension heads to governor’s desk

stadelman 031517SPRINGFIELD – An extension of the River Edge Historic Preservation Tax Credit has passed both legislative houses and is headed to the governor for approval. State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) secured passage of legislation today that extends the River Edge Historic Preservation Tax Credit for four more years starting in January 2018.

State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) passed legislation in the Senate extending the credit through January 2022 earlier this month.

“The tax credit has already incentivized hundreds of millions of dollars of development in Rockford alone,” Stadelman said. “This will help put crumbling infrastructure back to use, grow the economy and increase revenue.”

The credit has been an important economic tool for the revitalization of downtown Rockford, and is equal to 25 percent of the rehabilitation costs for a business in a historic building.  

Previously, the tax credit was used to incentivize projects like the $12 million renovation at the Prairie Street Brewhouse, which also created 110 construction jobs. In addition to Rockford, the credit is also available in Aurora, Peoria, Elgin and East St. Louis.

Koehler: Schools should be given more flexibility to hire social workers

koehler 053017SPRINGFIELD – Local schools will be allowed to hire more social workers under legislation passed in the Illinois Senate today. House Bill 826 would allow schools to employ enough social workers to meet the nationally recommended social worker to student ratio of 250:1. 

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

“We are not forcing schools to hire more social workers in an unfunded mandate,” Koehler said. “All we are saying is if schools want to use their resources to reach the recommended ratio of social workers to students, then we should allow them to do so.”

Past research has shown that diverse students such as those with disabilities or minorities are at a greater risk of having mental health challenges but less likely to receive the necessary services. With more social workers in schools, the hope is that those services will be more easily accessible.

“With more social workers in schools, we may be able to catch learning deficiencies early and help children grow,” Koehler said. “These selfless individuals are crucial to helping struggling students get on the path to success.”

According to the School Social Work Association of America, school social workers provide evidence-based education, behavior and mental health services to students.

The legislation passed both the House and Senate unanimously.

Van Pelt moves to improve relationships between law enforcement, youth and communities

vanpelt 053017SPRINGFIELD – Senator Patricia Van Pelt’s (D-Chicago) measure intended to foster communication between law enforcement and youths and enhance neighborhood safety passed in the Illinois Senate today.

House Bill 243 would allow high schools to establish partnerships with local law enforcement to create law enforcement job training programs for high school students.

“No one is well-served when there is a breakdown in trust and communication between law enforcement and the community,” Van Pelt said. “It’s time to put into effect meaningful programs that help foster positive relationships between law enforcement and our neighborhoods and encourage Chicago youth to pursue careers in law enforcement. If successful, law enforcement agencies will be more diverse and their officers will have a better understanding of the communities they serve.”

The measure also creates the Police Training Academy Job Training Program and Scholarship Fund, which requires the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to administer a scholarship program for students who have participated in such programs and have been accepted into one of Illinois’ public colleges or universities.

Having passed both chambers with bipartisan support, House Bill 243 now goes to the governor’s desk.