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  • castro 031518ELGIN– Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) announced today that School district 46 will receive more than $22.4 million in new money under Illinois’ new education funding formula.

    The Illinois State Board of Education issued vouchers to the state comptroller on Thursday for school districts around the state to begin receiving their money under Illinois’ new evidence-based model.

    “The way our public schools have been funded has been unfair until now,” said Castro. “It is nice to finally have a plan that places the groundwork for public schools to be fairly funded by the state. Our teachers, our communities and most importantly our students deserve this.”

    The distribution is the first step to ensure that every school district receives equitable support from the state. The model ensures that schools will not receive less state funding than they do today.

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD– The director of Illinois’ public health agency should resign, State Senator Cristina Castro said today, pointing to new information that calls into question his priorities and his ability to lead in a crisis.

    Castro (D-Elgin) is urging Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah to resign after emails emerged, as reported by WBEZ radio, regarding the Rauner administration’s bungled response to the Legionnaires’ epidemic at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    Castro said she is deeply concerned about the way Shah and others handled the disease outbreak and the deaths of 13 veterans.

  • castro 092017ELGIN- The 22nd Senate District now has a new bipartisan economic development program, thanks to a measure championed by Democratic Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin.

    House Bill 162 reinstates the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program, allowing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to offer tax credits to businesses that invest in Illinois.

    “This new bipartisan law will help energize our economy and create good-paying jobs for our residents,” Castro said. “I look forward to continuing my work to increase economic development opportunities and investments in our communities.”

    EDGE tax credits are a competitive economic development program that helps Illinois attract and retain jobs. This incentive helps encourage business growth.

    ‘It’s important that we utilize every tool at our disposal to attract and retain good paying jobs for Illinois residents,” Castro said. 

    House Bill 162 requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to repossess economic development funds if a business granted the tax credit does not fulfill their part of the contract.

    That money would then be distributed to the local workforce investment area.

    EDGE credit recipients are also required to submit an annual report to DCEO containing supplier diversity information to help promote diversity in state economic incentives and programs. 

    The Illinois Manufacturer Association (IMA) supported passage of this key economic incentive.

    “The IMA is pleased that legislators passed a short-term extension of the EDGE tax credit,” Mark Denzler, Vice President & COO of IMA said. “It's an important tool to help attract and retain jobs.”

    House Bill 162 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support and was signed into law this week.

  • castro 050417ELGIN- The 22nd Senate District may be one step closer to reinstating a bipartisan economic development program, thanks to a measure championed by Democratic Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin.

    House Bill 162 reinstates the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program, allowing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to offer tax credits to businesses that invest in Illinois.

    “This bipartisan legislation will help energize our economy and create good-paying jobs for local residents,” Castro said.

    EDGE tax credits are an economic development program that helps Illinois attract and retain jobs.

    House Bill 162 will require the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to repossess economic development funds if a business granted the tax credit does not fulfill their part of the contract.

    That money would then be distributed to the local workforce investment area.

    EDGE credit recipients will also be required to submit an annual report to DCEO containing supplier diversity information to help promote diversity in state economic incentives and programs.  

    The Illinois Manufacturer Association supported passage of this economic incentive.

    “The IMA is pleased that legislators passed a short-term extension of the EDGE tax credit,” Mark Denzler, Vice President & COO of IMA said. “It's an important tool to help attract and retain jobs.”

    House Bill 162 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

  • castro 031518SPRINGFIELD – The U.S. Constitution is one step closer to adopting a new constitutional amendment to guarantee gender equality.

    State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) worked with the Illinois State Senate to pass Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 4, which proposes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.

    “Illinois could play a part in this historic role in the fight for gender equality,” said Castro, a sponsor of the measure. “This fight has lasted over 40 years and Illinois could be the 37th out of the 38 needed to ratify the amendment to the U.S. Constitution, placing us on the right side of history.”

    Currently, there is not a Constitutional provision that specifically guarantees equality based on sex. Without the ERA, current laws protecting women’s rights are often ignored, weakened or even reversed. 

    “My responsibility is to represent the people of my community and state. This amendment protects both men and women,” Castro said. “By passing this, Illinois is taking a huge step in the right direction, not only for our state, but for our country.”

    SJRCA 4 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for consideration.

  • castro 041718SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is sponsoring a measure to ensure out-of-state businesses making sales in Illinois pay their fair share of taxes and meet the same requirements as in-state businesses.

    Senate Bill 2577 would establish guidelines for what constitutes an in-state business in regard to retailers that are not physically located in Illinois, but that sell to Illinois consumers.

  • castro 110917SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) attended the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Joint Committee Hearing regarding the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. There have been over a dozen deaths caused by this disease in the past three years.

    “Governor Rauner’s administration should have taken immediate action three years ago,” said Castro. “His administration not being here today for this hearing shows me they aren’t taking this seriously. If they knew this was happening, why did they just sit on the CDC’s recommendations? Why did it take so long?”

    Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found in plumbing systems. Thirteen residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy have died due to this disease over the past three years.

    “Pro-action, pro-action,” said Castro. “I’m tired of excuses. These are our veterans and they deserve dignity. A permanent solution needs to be found.”

  • Auto dealerSPRINGFIELD – Obstructions in car windshields of test-driven vehicles has led State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) to act on life saving legislation that would require dealerships to remove decals on vehicles before leaving the lot.

    The measure, House Bill 733, arose out of a tragic situation where 22 year old Brenden Burke was victim to a preventable fatal accident.

    Burke was struck and killed in 2016 after a vehicle being test-driven from a nearby car dealer turned left into Burke’s path. The driver of the other vehicle had obstructed vision because of the number of decals and paper work left on the driver side windshield by the dealership.

    “The story of Brenden Burke is a tragic, yet highly preventable, one,” said Castro. “There is absolutely no reason decals and paper work should be obstructing the view of a person test-driving an unfamiliar vehicle.”

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) worked with the Illinois State Senate to override the governor’s veto on Senate Bill 1462 to bring a new economic development program to Illinois. 

    Senate Bill 1462 would create an Entrepreneur Learner's Permit pilot program to encourage and assist beginning entrepreneurs in certain business sectors by reimbursing them for state fees associated with forming a business.

    “It’s important to utilize this opportunity to help entrepreneurs start their businesses here in our state and stay here,” said Castro. “I am excited to continue fighting for economic development opportunities like this to make our state a better place to do business.”

    Currently, entrepreneurs must pay several fees for licenses and permits.  Senate Bill 1462 allows for reimbursement of those fees in hopes of making it easier to start a new business in Illinois. It reimburses state fees for first-time business owners of information services, biotechnology and green technology businesses.

    “Governor Rauner is a business man, but he is struggling to recognize the importance of new jobs,” said Castro. “Information Service, biotechnology and innovative green industries are the jobs of our future.  It’s important we work together to embrace these industries and modernize Illinois’ economy.”

    Senate Bill 1462 was overridden by the Senate with bipartisan support and moves to the House for reconsideration.

  • Sen. Cristina CastroELGIN - State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is urging her colleagues to work with her to protect collective bargaining rights for the people of Illinois by overriding the Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1905.

    “The governor needs to prioritize people over profits,” Castro said. “Governor Rauner’s anti-work agenda continues to perpetuate a growing backlog of bills and helped create a two-year budget impasse that decimated rape crisis centers, social service providers and local schools. He needs to learn his policies did not work in the boardroom and will not for the people of Illinois.”

    Castro’s measure, Senate Bill 1905, protects all Illinois workers by preventing local government entities from enacting harmful “right-to-work” laws advocated for by the governor and his extreme supporters.

  • castro 092017SPRINGFIELD – Needless bureaucratic hurdles are slowing ethics investigations and need to be removed, state Senator Cristina Castro said in filing legislation to streamline the process.

    “We have a skilled investigator on the job. We need to empower her to do that job and deliver results quickly,” said Castro, an Elgin Democrat and the newest member of the Legislative Ethics Commission.

    Here’s the problem with the current system.

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD –Despite legislation passed by both the Illinois House and Senate this week, there is still much to be done to fight sexual harassment in Springfield. Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), the newest appointed member of the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission, urged the governor to act quickly today.

    “The newly appointed Inspector General and the Legislative Ethics Commission have work to do and we cannot get started with investigations until the governor signs these bills,” Castro said. “I am asking Governor Rauner to do so quickly so we can get to work as soon as possible on this time-sensitive issue.”

    Although there were four measures passed in both chambers this week in regards to sexual harassment prevention training and legislation, this is only the first step. One of the four measures that passed this week creates a task force to ensure this issue is taken seriously and the conversation does not stop until the culture changes.

    “Many people say the culture in Springfield is entrenched. Well, I’m new here and bring a fresh pair of eyes,” said Castro. “I am not afraid to speak out and be vocal on this issue. I have three years left to bring about real change and I have every intention to do just that. The topic of sexual harassment needs to be at the forefront of what we are doing and if need be, I will be the one who continues to beat the drum.”

  • castro 020718SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) continues to look for answers from state officials regarding a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that caused 13 deaths in the last three years at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    “I want to be part of a solution,” Castro said. “But that requires the Rauner administration – the people who are supposed to run state government – to come clean, be honest and actually put forth a plan to solve the problem.”

    At the Wednesday Veterans Affairs Committee meeting, Castro focused on a 2016 engineering report that the Rauner administration commissioned to try to solve the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Quincy home.

    The plan included replacing the plumbing in select facilities, including those that house the veterans most susceptible to infection. That 2016 report was never acted upon by the Rauner administration. Its existence was not made public until the evening prior to the committee hearing.

    Castro was stunned to learn of its existence and the administration’s failure to do anything with it even as the public health epidemic continued at the Quincy facility.

    “Why did the Rauner administration sit on this report and do nothing?” Castro asked. “The governor and his administration failed our veterans and now they’re trying to paper over their failure with new reports and bureaucratic red tape. That’s unacceptable.”

    The engineering firm is now being asked to expand the plumbing replacement to the entire campus, and Castro said it is long past time to act.

    “If the governor would have taken charge of the situation, he could have solved the problem back in 2016,” said Castro. 

  • Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday to ensure women in Illinois will continue to safely and legally exercise their right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

    House Bill 40 removes the "trigger" provision from a 1975 Illinois law that would reinstate a previous state policy banning abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, the legislation would allow abortion coverage for individuals on Medicaid or covered by State Employee Health Insurance plans.

    State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), a chief co-sponsor of the measure, stated Wednesday that it is absolutely necessary to ensure Illinois women continue to have the right to choose to move forward with a pregnancy.

    “These types of decisions should be between a woman and her doctor,” Castro said. “We need to make sure women have a safe place to legally exercise this right. Illinois should be a state that continues to move forward and helps to preserve the rights of women. Should the federal courts overturn Roe V. Wade, it would mean overturning 40 years of progress for civil rights. Today I voted to safeguard those rights. I urge the governor to sign this legislation into law.”

    House Bill 40 passed the Senate Wednesday and will be sent to the governor for approval.

  • castro 110917SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Senate failed to override a bill co-sponsored by Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) today that would make the Illinois Equal Pay Act stronger.

    House Bill 2462 would have strengthened the Illinois Equal Pay Act by prohibiting employers from asking about previous salary histories when interviewing job applicants. The measure would reduce the effects of pay discrimination in past jobs.

    “This legislation addresses the wide gap that is still prevalent between men and women, “Castro said. “Men and women of all races should have an equal chance to succeed and that is what I will continue to fight for as a member of this General Assembly.”

    Employers currently can base hiring decisions and salary offers off of job applicants’ salary history. This measure would have protected women and people of color. This perpetuates wage inequality, especially when women already earn less than men for similar work. It has also been found that women of color earn even less than white women when compared to men. This bill would have protected both women and people of color.

    “Women and people of color who enter the job market shouldn’t already be at a disadvantage based on their previous salary,” Castro said. “Not all employers discriminate, but we need to protect the employees that work for employers who do. Resolving the gender wage gap will take a concerted effort from both sides of the aisle. I will continue to be a strong advocate for women.”

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) voted last week to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1351 and to protect college students from overwhelming amounts of debt upon graduation.

    Castro co-sponsored Senate Bill 1351, which creates the Student Loan Servicing Rights Act which would create a Student Loan Bill of Rights. The Student Loan Bill of Rights would prohibit loan servicers from taking advantage of students and parents.

    “Some companies knowingly put students in risky loans that are overly expensive,” Castro said. “As legislators we need to do everything in our power at the state level to protect our students from being taken advantage of by the student loan industry. More and more students are coming out of college with enormous amounts of debt.”

    Student loan debt has become the largest form of unsecured consumer debt in the United States with one in four borrowers being in default or behind on their payment.

    “Students and their families deserve to be informed and given resources to prevent them from making mistakes they didn’t know they were making, like falling behind on payments,” said Castro. “Governor Rauner’s veto is another example of him putting profit over people.”

    The Senate overrode the governor’s veto on Senate Bill 1351 and now heads to the House for consideration.

  • castro 081817ELGIN- Active duty military members will now be able to cancel internet and television services with greater ease, thanks to Elgin Democratic State Senator Cristina Castro.

    “Illinois’ heroes should not be burdened with unnecessary fees while serving our country,” Castro said. “They have answered the call for duty and it’s our job to make their relocation easier.”

    House Bill 2449 was signed into law today.

    This measure allows any service member who receives orders to relocate for a period of service of at least 90 days to terminate or suspend contracts for internet services, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships and satellite radio services.

    “This one small update will eliminate unnecessary hurdles for our active duty military,” Castro said.

    The termination or suspension can be completed by delivering a written or electronic notice to the service provider and delivering a copy of the official military orders to the service provider that calls him or her to military service.

    House Bill 2449 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

  • castro 041118SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) released a response to Governor Rauner’s decision, if requested by President Trump, to send Illinois National Guard soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “The members of the Illinois National Guard are a well-trained group ready to take on numerous responsibilities,” said Castro. “Providing political cover for the president’s growing personal scandals should not be one of them. It is irresponsible of Governor Rauner to use our National Guard to help further the president’s agenda.”

  • Castro DACA 080617SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is fighting back against President Donald Trump’s efforts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    Castro sponsored Senate Resolution 864, which calls upon the Trump administration and U.S. Congress to preserve protections for undocumented young people formerly eligible for the DACA program.

    “Illinois has the third largest number of DACA recipients in the United States,” Castro said. “Trump is trying to make young people, who have lived much of their lives in this country, leave a place that has become their home. We cannot allow Trump to hurt Illinois’ residents and hinder our economy.”

    In September, Trump announced plans to repeal DACA, an Obama initiative put into place to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The program allows them to remain and work in the country if they meet certain criteria.

    Senate Resolution 864 was adopted by the Senate on Wednesday.

  • castro 050417ELGIN- Local communities have a new tool to combat government waste thanks to Elgin Democratic State Senator Cristina Castro.

    Castro championed House Bill 607, which allows townships to abolish road districts through the use of voter referendums. 

    “Empowering voters to streamline services and eliminate redundant forms of government will lower property tax bills,” Castro said. “Now more than ever we need to work in tune with local citizens to reduce waste in every level of government.”

    House Bill 607 allows every township in Illinois to place a referendum on the ballot asking voters whether a township road district should be abolished and the responsibilities of maintaining roadways transferred to the township. Previously this option was only available for townships located in Cook County.

    Castro said a good example of local road district consolidation happened in Hanover Township in Cook County when the township worked to consolidate its road district prior to the passage of this new law.

    “As a result of our citizen approved consolidation referendum, Hanover Township has an opportunity to implement cost saving measures all while maintaining  high quality constituent service,” said Brian P. McGuire, Hanover Township Supervisor. “As it should be, this new law invests power in the hands of local residents throughout Illinois.”   

    Castro said her experience as a member of the Kane County Board helped her craft this legislation and gain an understanding of government at the local level. 

    “Local control belongs in local hands,” she said. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to consolidating government services, so this new law will allow taxpayers to decide what’s best for their communities.”

    House Bill 607 passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.