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  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black EducationSenators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”

    Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.

    In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.

    This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.

  • clayborne 041118SPRINGFIELD – A measure introduced by State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-Belleville) would allow students to take the bus if their route to school passes through high-crime neighborhoods.

    House Bill 5195 would allow a school district to claim reimbursement if it provides free transportation to students living within one and a half miles of their school that have to walk through an area with a “course or pattern of criminal activity” as defined by law enforcement.   

    “Students should be able to get to school without the fear of becoming a victim of gang violence,” Clayborne said. “This measure will protect these kids and let them focus on their studies instead of fear their commute to school.”

    Current law already allows a school to offer free transportation to students within one and a half miles of the school if they have to pass heavy traffic or railroad tracks.

    Under the proposed legislation, local law enforcement would define which areas are considered to have patterns of criminal activity.

    A student’s parent or guardian could also petition the school board to have a specific area considered to have a pattern of criminal activity.  The school board’s decision would require approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation, The Illinois state Board of Education and local law enforcement.

    HB 5195 passed the Senate Education Committee and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

  • clayborne 050217SPRINGFIELD – The Chair of the Illinois Lottery Control Board is under fire for comments he made about East St. Louis earlier this month. Evanston resident Blair Garber used the same disgusting remarks used by President Trump to describe third world countries to describe East St. Louis in a tweet.

    Garber was appointed by Governor Bruce Rauner to the board that oversees the state lottery in May of 2016.

    State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-Belleville) represents East St. Louis in the Illinois Senate and is calling on the governor to ask for Garber’s resignation from the board.

  • Sen. James F. ClayborneToday, the Illinois Senate failed to advance the remaining proposals in the Grand Bargain package they have been negotiating since January. State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) issued the following statement:

    “Again we had a chance to put people’s livelihoods above politics, but  my colleagues on the other side of the aisle made it clear they are unwilling to compromise. Senate Democrats have worked tirelessly for months on a package of bills to get the state back on track. We have changed the package 35 times in an effort to reach compromise with the governor and Republicans. We cannot waste any more time. We must pass a budget.”

     

  • clayborne 050217SPRINGFIELD — Service members looking to obtain college credit for military courses may soon have an easier process when transferring credits to a public university or community college in Illinois.

    The proposal, sponsored by State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville), passed the Senate Higher Education Committee Tuesday. 

    “Providing our service members accessibility to higher education should be a priority of our state and our nation,” said Clayborne. “It is important we continue this trend by offering students a clear understanding of how their military courses transfer into our state’s universities and community colleges.”

    The measure would create the Educational Credit for Military Experience Act, which  would require the state’s public universities and community colleges to develop a policy for awarding college credit for military courses taken through the Armed Forces.

    House Bill 3701 will now be considered by the full Senate.

  • Sen. James F. ClayborneSPRINGFIELD – State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) passed a measure through the Illinois Senate Wednesday which aims to increase the number of minority-owned, female-owned and veteran-owned enterprises Illinois companies contract with.

    The measure, Senate Bill 262, would require Illinois companies to submit a report outlining their procurement goals and highlighting minority ownership of businesses they contract with.

    “This measure is about ensuring corporations do not continue to overlook minority-owned businesses,” Clayborne said. “I want to ensure that companies are investing back into the communities they provide service. If a company is supplying services in a community like East Saint Louis, they should do everything they can to contract with businesses in that community.

    “It is also important that these companies show every best effort to diversify who they contract with. I want to make sure minority-, female- and veteran-owned businesses have a fair chance in this business climate.”

    If companies fail to report their efforts showing their diversity goals to the Illinois Commerce Commission and the Business Enterprise Council, they would be barred from bidding on state contracts for one year.

    The legislation passed the Senate Wednesday and now goes to the House for consideration.

  • clayborne 041118SPRINGFIELD – Legislation aimed at increasing participation of minority-owned businesses in local government contracts passed the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee yesterday.

    Senate Bill 2610, sponsored by State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-Belleville), would require counties and cities that receive more than $1 million in motor fuel tax revenue from the Illinois Department of Transportation to implement a business enterprise program before they receive their funds from IDOT.

    The program would set goals for the inclusion of minority-, veteran-, female- and disability-owned businesses for government contracts. Currently, 21 counties and 46 municipalities receive more than $1 million in motor fuel tax revenues from IDOT.

    Clayborne said requiring cities and counties to include these underrepresented communities in their contracting will open new avenues of opportunities for businesses.

    “This is about making sure our local governments are including every community in their contracting process,” Clayborne said. “Our local governments should be investing in the communities they serve and this measure will guarantee that they are.” 

    The legislation will now go before the whole Senate for a vote.

  • clayborne 050118SPRINGFIELD – Legislation aimed at increasing participation of minority-owned businesses in local government contracts passed the Illinois Senate 54-0 today.

    Senate Bill 2610, sponsored by State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-Belleville), would require counties and cities that receive more than $1 million in motor fuel tax revenue from the Illinois Department of Transportation to implement a business enterprise program.

    The program is designed to increase the inclusion of minority-, veteran-, female- and disability-owned businesses in government contracting. Currently, 21 counties and 46 municipalities receive more than $1 million in motor fuel tax revenues from IDOT.

    Clayborne said requiring cities and counties to include these underrepresented communities in their contracting will open new avenues of opportunities for businesses.

    “Every community in our state should share in the benefits of government contracts,” Clayborne said. “This measure makes sure that disadvantaged communities are not left behind in the contracting process.” 

    The legislation will now go to the House of Representatives.

  • clayborne 052318SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed legislation yesterday ensuring funds are available to rebuild the damaged Wolf Branch Middle School building.

    State Senator James F Clayborne, Jr.’s House Bill 1265 allows the school district to exceed its statutory debt limit to secure funds for emergency repairs necessitated because the building sunk 25 inches last year after the collapse of an abandoned mine below it.

    “It is an unfortunate reality that many buildings in downstate Illinois are on property sitting on abandoned mines,” Clayborne (D-Belleville) said. “By passing this measure, Wolf Branch can invest in a new school and focus on the future.”

    As a result of the damage, the middle school has been deemed unsafe and all 372 middle school students have been moved to the district’s elementary school building, resulting in significant overcrowding. All of Wolf Branch School District 113’s 797 students are now schooled in one facility.

    The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has taken steps to use federal funds to prevent the mine from further collapse and the district is pursuing other grant money to rebuild its facilities, but the raising of the debt limit is unavoidable considering the circumstances.

    HB 1265 is currently waiting to be sent to the governor. 

  • clayborne estl 1917SPRINGFIELD –In May 1917, East St. Louis witnessed one of the worst race riots ever seen in the United States. Sparked by attacks on African American men and women following a union rally, the riots culminated in the burning of black neighborhoods and malicious attacks and murders of African-American men and women.

    Senate Majority Leader James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) passed a resolution Monday in remembrance of the events that took place 100 years ago.

    “It is important we take time to reflect on and remember these events,” Clayborne added. “While we have made progress in race relations since the East St. Louis riots 100 years ago, our society remains contentious on race-related issues. To move forward, we must remember past actions and ensure the past does not repeat itself.”

    In 1917, East St. Louis industry was booming. To fill the gap in the labor market, factory recruiters began looking toward the South for black workers. What became known as the Great Migration culminated in a competition for jobs. The labor issues became a racial issue, which quickly boiled over with rising tensions.

    In early July 1917, the tensions became so bad that mobs of white men and women began setting fire to black neighborhoods, trapping people in their homes and shooting those who tried to escape.

    With no effective interference from local police, the sheriff or military authorities, many African American men, women and children lost their lives, more than 300 buildings were destroyed and 6,000 people fled from their homes.  It took days for the National Guard to gain control of the situation.

    “The events that transpired in 1917 were terrible to say the least,” said Clayborne. “The social, political and cultural ramifications these riots had on the community are vast. With this resolution I hope to draw attention to those events so the city, the state and the country can reflect on the atrocities of the riots and continue to heal.”

    The measure, Senate Resolution 337, observes May 28, 2017, as a day of remembrance in the state of Illinois on the centennial of the 1917 race riots. A copy will be sent to Marla Byrd, the commissioner of the East St. Louis 1917 Centennial Commission and Cultural Initiative.

    Read the resolution.

  • clayborne 050818SPRINGFIELD – State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-Belleville) is working to ensure funds are available to rebuild the damaged Wolf Branch School District 113 middle school building.

    Clayborne’s House Bill 1265 allows the school district to exceed its statutory debt limit to secure funds for emergency repairs necessitated because the building sunk 25 inches last year after the collapse of an abandoned mine below it.

    “It is a miracle that no one was hurt when that mine collapsed,” Clayborne said. “Through this legislation, Wolf Branch will be able to fix the school and get back to the business of educating our kids.”

    As a result of the damage, the middle school has been deemed unsafe and all 372 middle school students have been moved to the district’s elementary school building, resulting in significant overcrowding. All of Wolf Branch School District 113’s 797 students are now schooled in one facility.

    Clayborne said the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has taken steps to use federal funds to prevent the mine from further collapse and the district is pursuing other grant money to rebuild its facilities, but the raising of the debt limit is unavoidable considering the circumstances.

    Illinois law only allows a school district to borrow a certain percentage of what their land is valued at, and Wolf Branch is allowed no more than $12.6 million in debt. This project would require $17.5 million, so one-time action from the General Assembly is required.

    Per the legislation, the debt limit would decrease by the amount of any further state or federal grants received for the project as well.

    “Nobody wants to take on any more debt than is necessary, but this is clearly an extenuating circumstance that mandates this action from the General Assembly on behalf of our students,” Clayborne said. 

    HB 1265 is currently assigned to the Senate Education Committee.

  • clayborne05052017CM0335rSPRINGFIELD –High-poverty, downstate school districts, shortchanged for decades under Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation education funding formula, could see a significant influx of funding to level the playing field with wealthier school districts under a landmark school funding reform measure that passed in both houses of the legislature this week.

    “The current funding formula puts many students in our communities at a tremendous disadvantage and has forced local school districts to hike up property tax rates. I am proud to join my colleagues to support additional funding for our schools and property tax relief for our communities,” said Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville).

    Senate Bill 1 has strong support from thousands of school administrators, superintendents, principals, educators, taxpayers and advocates for fair school funding. Illinois’ school funding formula has not been updated in more than 20 years and is considered one of the worst in the nation because it relies so heavily on local property wealth.

    An analysis of Illinois State Board of Education figures released estimates this week by Funding Illinois’ Future – a coalition that advocates for school funding reform – shows potential funding increases for area school districts under Senate Bill 1, an evidence-based model that accounts for factors such as students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students.

    It also provides extra support for the neediest districts in the quest for adequate funding, and it offers property tax relief.

    No school district would receive less funding under Senate Bill 1 than they have received under Illinois’ current school funding formula.

    The estimated overall gain some area school districts would experience under the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis of SB1 based on FY17 funding levels:

    • Belle Valley School District 119 - $437,238
    • Belleville School District 118 - $1,401,597
    • Belleville Township High School District 201 - $1,941,563
    • Brooklyn Unit District 188 - $36,744
    • Cahokia Community Unit District 187 - $551,826
    • East St. Louis School District 189 - $1,357,558
    • Freeburg Community Consolidated School District 70 - $32,974
    • Freeburg Community High School District 77 - $47,618
    • Granite City Community Unit School District 9 - $2,333,657
    • Grant Community Consolidated School District 110- $29,708
    • Harmony EMGE School District 175 - $69,982
    • High Mount School District 116 - $209,352
    • Lebanon Community Unit School District 9 - $39,789
    • Madison Community Unit School District 12 - $107,926
    • Millstadt Community Consolidated School District 160 - $24,580
    • O’Fallon  Community Consolidated School District 90 - $164,969
    • O’Fallon Township High School District 203 - $375,419
    • Shiloh Village School District 85 - $46,946
    • Signal Hill School District 181 - $104,876
    • Smithton Community Consolidated School District 3 - $19,989
    • Whiteside School District 115 - $66,197
    • Wolf Branch School District 113 - $25,444

    In addition, under Senate Bill 1, high-tax school districts are eligible for property tax relief up to 1 percent of their EAV. Estimated property tax relief for two area school districts:

    • Cahokia Community Unit School District 187 - $64,904
    • East St. Louis School District 189 - $79,425

    To review the Funding Illinois’ Future analysis, visit fundingilfuture.org.

  • Clayborne welcomes state champion Belleville Township – West Maroons to state capitolSPRINGFIELD – The mighty Maroons of Belleville Township High School – West boys’ basketball team joined State Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. (D-Belleville) at the state capitol today to honor their recent 4A State Championship.

    The Maroons triumphed over the Dolphins of Whitney Young Magnet High School (Chicago) in overtime at Carver Arena in Peoria last month, giving Belleville West their first state championship in program history.

    Senator Clayborne, the senate’s Majority Leader, was proud to welcome the students, saying their victory was a huge win for them and the entire Metro East.

  • clayborne 022817SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate moved a number of measures forward Tuesday in an effort to get the state back on track and solve the budget stalemate.

    State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) supported measures that would fund social service agencies, bring economic investment back to the Metro East and help reduce the state’s deficit.

    “It is time to get this state back on track,” Clayborne said. “We are making some tough yet necessary decisions in the Senate. Nonetheless, these are decisions to keep places like the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House open and ensure the citizens in our community have a renewed sense of livelihood.”

    The Senate continues to work on these measures in an effort to bring reforms to the state and put an end to the two-year budget stalemate once and for all.

    “Enough is enough. We need to ensure our seniors are taken care of, that after-school programs remain funded and that our most vulnerable residents no longer face uncertainty,” he said. “I hope this plan will make it to the governor’s desk and that he will support it. We need to get this done for the people of our state.”

  • clayborne 020317SPRINGFIELD – Senators James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) and Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) joined Secretary of State Jesse White today in announcing new legislation that would allow 16- and 17-year-olds to register for the state’s First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry when they receive their driver’s license or identification card.

    “I am happy to be advocating for this legislation,” said Clayborne who is a kidney recipient.

  • clayborne pens pmtSPRINGFIELD, IL – Comptroller Leslie Munger announced Wednesday that she plans to skip the state’s pension payment for November. State Senator James Clayborne (D-Belleville) reacted to the Comptroller’s decision.

    “We’re heading down a road we’re all too familiar with,” Clayborne said. “We know what happens when we don’t make our pension payments because that’s how we got here in the first place. The comptroller and governor should be using their business experience to bring forth innovation not reviving past mistakes we’re working to eradicate.”

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  • ilbc presserAfter three years of the governor failing to fulfill his constitutional obligation to introduce a balanced budget, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus assembled for a press conference to say enough is enough. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is a collection of black legislators from both the House of Representatives and Senate.

    "I am not sure what could be said about the governor's three years of inactivity," said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), chairwoman for the Joint Legislative Black Caucus. "Before he was sworn in he stated he wanted to shake things up in Springfield; in the process, he has shaken a hole in our state."