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Biss’ Student Loan Bill of Rights to become law despite Rauner’s veto

biss 040517In a move to stand with college students and their families, the Illinois General Assembly overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a Student Loan Bill of Rights Tuesday, with the Illinois House voting 98-16.

Sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss, the initiative of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office will hold lending companies accountable to bad-faith practices like roping students into loans with terms they may not understand or pressuring borrowers into deferments that ultimately serve only to prolong their indebtedness and harm their credit.

Manar announces $28,455 grant to University of Illinois Springfield

manar 052517 rSPRINGFIELD – A state grant to the University of Illinois Springfield will help provide special radios to visually impaired residents over which they can listen to local news, books and magazines read by volunteers, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced today.

The university was awarded a $28,455 Radio Information Service grant from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Blind and Physically Handicapped Services program.

The grant specifically supports the broadcast of local news and information typically not heard on regular news broadcasts for the general public. For example, volunteers actually read specific sections of local newspapers during the daily broadcasts.

“This is an outstanding program that enables blind and visually impaired people to stay connected to their communities through timely access to their local newspapers and other materials,” Manar said. “A vast number of Americans enjoy reading for pleasure, stress relief and to stimulate the mind, and I’m proud that we can continue to make it available locally to those who rely on this service.”

About 295,000 Illinoisans have a vision disability and could be eligible for a special receiver to listen to broadcasts through the Blind and Physically Handicapped Services program. Radio stations around the state broadcast daily news, often read by volunteers, which only can be heard by obtaining one of the free special-frequency radios. Some people currently can access the services through a password-protected Internet web stream.

Visit the grant’s website for more information.

Sen. Cristina Castro urges Governor Rauner to do his job

castro 050417ELGIN – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) demanded today that the governor do his job and release the funds Harper and Elgin Community Colleges desperately need.  

After months of negotiations, the General Assembly put together a responsible and bipartisan budget that included cuts, reforms and revenue. Although the budget included $225,000 for Harper and Elgin Community Colleges, the state has not released the funds.

“I fought for a budget because I did not want to have this lingering uncertainty over Harper and Elgin Community Colleges and the work center,” Castro said. “It is important that we cover the cost of operating the Education and Work Center because it has a meaningful impact on the lives of the people in our community.”

Harper College partnered with Elgin Community College and the Chicago Cook Workforce at the Hanover Park Education and Work Center to provide services to community members. The center provides a variety of career skills development and English as a Second Language, basic adult education and high school equivalency instructions.

If the state does not release the funding, then the center might not be able to remain open beyond the fall semester.

“I am tired of Governor Rauner neglecting his duties,” Castro said. “The two-year budget impasse had a shattering impact on colleges and universities in Illinois and if he doesn’t release these funds, he will leave a lasting and staggering effect on the economy in my district.”

Michael E. Hastings announces new technology resources for area children

hastings 050117TINLEY PARK- Students in the 19th Senate District will soon see new technology updates at Matteson Area Public Library and Richton Park Library District.

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) is excited to announce $30,950 in grants will be awarded to these two local libraries through the Secretary of State’s Project Next Generation program (PNG).

“Our children need to be ready to compete in a technological savvy world,” Hastings said. “This vital funding will go toward upgrading and enhancing educational opportunities for students across our district.”

PNG is an educational technology initiative of Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White that was established to help educate at-risk students and bridge the digital divide.

“Learning does not stop in the classroom,” Hastings said. “Our local libraries often serve as a reliable and safe environment for our students to complete their studies.”

Matteson Area Public Library will be awarded $18,450 and Richton Park Library District will receive $12,500.00.

The grant will help enhance technology training for local students by proving additional funding to pay start-up costs for after-school training programs and supplemental staff to educate and mentor children.

“We should all thank these wonderful institutions and their staff for their help educating the future leaders of our communities and great nation,” Hastings said.

Hastings urges area residents to take advantage of local libraries for a variety of services such as borrowing books and magazines, free educational workshops and accessibility to computers.