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Cullerton: Budget transparency is long overdue

tc 050918SPRINGFIELD  –  A bill introduced in the Illinois Senate would mandate transparency and accuracy in the governor’s annual budget proposal.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) advanced House Bill 5814, which forces the governor’s office to record late interest payments as a separate line item in its appropriations to state agencies. This paints a clearer picture of the state’s funds and slows the depletion of funding needed to run those agencies.

“As legislators, we can’t negotiate a proper budget when we don’t know how much money is owed or where it is going,” Cullerton said. “Utilizing responsible accounting practices in state government will allow the citizens of Illinois to know how and where their valuable tax dollars are spent.”

Currently, most late payment interest penalties accrue at a rate of 12 percent per month for bills unpaid after 90 days, while healthcare bills accumulate interest at a rate of 9 percent after 30 days.

The interest penalties are paid from the same appropriation line, depleting the amount a state agency can spend for its operations. Cullerton’s bill forces the governor’s budget to include separate line item requests to for prompt pay interest payments.

“This practice will force all future governors to be more realistic when presenting a budget to the general assembly and public,” Cullerton said. “We need to make sure governors, whether they are republican and democrat, do not attempt to hide behind phony numbers.”

The comptroller’s January 2018 Debt Transparency Report confirmed that taxpayers owe approximately $887 million in late payment interest penalties — despite the fact that over $140 million in interest penalties was paid out in calendar 2017.

This bipartisan measure is an initiative of Comptroller Susana Mendoza and is supported by the Better Government Association.

House Bill 5814 passed the Senate’s State Government Committee with bipartisan support and moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 

Castro protects undocumented immigrant tenants from landlord harassment

castro 050918 2SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro’s (D-Elgin) measure to protect undocumented immigrant tenants from landlord harassment passed the Senate today.

Senate Bill 3103 creates the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, which prohibits landlords from questioning a tenant’s immigration status as a means of harassment or to force an eviction.

“Most landlords do the right thing, but some try to take advantage of their tenants,” said Castro. “We have to put a protection in place to ensure that landlords are not holding their tenants’ immigration status over their head to pressure higher rent or eviction.”

Castro’s measure will allow tenants to report criminal activity or habitability issues without being targeted based on their immigration status.

Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act does not protect individuals based on immigration status, nor does it place any limitations on when a landlord may request or share that information. 

“Tenants should feel free to come forward and report these important habitability issues no matter their status,” said Castro. “It is important, not only for the tenant’s safety, but the safety of the municipality.”

Hutchinson works to address loophole that overlooks police sexual abuse

hutchinson 050918SPRINGFIELD – Law enforcement officers who sexually abuse or rape individuals in custody could face charges under a proposal advanced yesterday afternoon by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights).

“The general public should have complete faith that law enforcement officers are held to the same standards as everyone else in our society,” Hutchinson said. “No one person should be immune to consequences for their actions, and our laws should reflect that reality.”

Castro: Children shouldn’t have to choose between medication and education (VIDEO)

castro 050918SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is sponsoring legislation to allow students to have access to medical cannabis on school grounds.

House Bill 4870 creates "Ashley's Law,” which would allow the administration of medical cannabis infused products on school premises or on the school bus to a student who is a qualifying patient.

“Children shouldn’t have to choose between their medication and their education,” Castro said.

This measure is a result of a recent case of an 11 year old who uses medical cannabis to alleviate symptoms of her leukemia treatment. Although she is a qualified medical cannabis patient, her school is legally bound to prohibit her from administering her medicine at school under current state law.

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