Cunningham

  • cunningham tractorSPRINGFIELD – Highlighting the importance of agriculture in the state, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) visited with farmers in Tazewell County on Monday to discuss the issues they face.
     
    “Perhaps no issue or industry unites Illinois more than agriculture and agribusiness," Cunningham said. "Whether it is grain traders in downtown Chicago or farmers in Tazewell County, or an agricultural sciences laboratory in Urbana, Illinois is an international center of agricultural production and its related businesses.”

  • cunningham bkgrd chksCHICAGO – In an effort to reduce administrative costs and help hold the line on college tuition growth, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18) has proposed a series of reforms in how higher education executives in Illinois are compensated. These reforms were sparked by a report revealing inappropriate practices, including the recent scandals at the College of DuPage.

    “Institutions of higher learning in our state have been plagued by recent controversies involving mismanagement or misconduct by college presidents, which cost taxpayers and tuition-payers millions of dollars in legal fees and severance payouts," Cunningham said. "We need to reform our laws to ensure more transparency and accountability in the administration of our public colleges and universities."

    Legislation proposed by the senator would create more transparency in the hiring and contracting process for executives by requiring the terms of contracts to be publicly disclosed before being approved. Legislation also would make it so that perks that are often given to university presidents, such as car and housing allowances, could not count as pensionable income.

    “Illinois has several excellent institutions of higher learning," Cunningham said. "It's disappointing that we need to focus on these negative issues. But it is necessary that we learn from past transgressions and reform our laws to ensure that Illinois colleges and universities are above board in all of their financial practices.”

    Cunningham’s reform package, Senate Bills 2155-2159 are currently in the State Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Executive Compensation, which is chaired by Senator Cunningham.

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  • cunningham dcfs wardsSPRINGFIELD - Wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who run away or go missing from the system will now have additional protections to help find them and keep them out of the hands of predators. Two pieces of legislation, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, were signed into law to help create a system to locate missing wards that are reported as well as enhancing penalties for criminals who exploit those missing wards.

    “The protection of our children, regardless of circumstance, is a priority. With the passage and signing of these important pieces of legislation, our most vulnerable children will have better protection and, hopefully, a better life,” said Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat.

    Senate Bill 1775, also known as the Safeguard our Children Act, spells out what is required from DCFS once a youth in their custody is reported missing. The legislation states that DCFS must report the missing youth to local law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Illinois State Police must also develop a network to help with locating missing DCFS wards.

    From 2011 to 2013, residential DCFS facilities reported 29,425 incidents of missing wards, averaging 27 runaway reports per day. Many residential facilities do not report the runaways to local law enforcement.

    “There have been numerous cases of DCFS wards going missing, where, unfortunately, law enforcement was not made aware of the missing child,” Cunningham said. “This new law will help us to find runaway wards as quickly as possible, helping protect them from possible exploitation.”

    Also signed into law was Senate Bill 201, which allows sentencing courts to consider a defendant’s knowledge of a prostitution victim’s DCFS status when sentencing. Many wards of the state are extremely susceptible and are in need of extra judicial protections. The legislation specifically states that judges may consider the fact that a criminal knew their victim to be a ward of DCFS and consider that knowledge as an aggravating factor when imposing sentences.

    "A series of recent articles reported that human traffickers often specifically target and recruit wards of the state who reside in group homes. Predators see them as especially vulnerable and susceptible to being lured into a life of prostitution," Cunningham said. "The new law would enable judges to enhance the sentences imposed on pimps and traffickers in those cases."

    Cunningham has worked closely with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart over the years to help craft good public policy in the criminal justice and corrections field. These two new laws are a direct result of that good working relationship.

    “I’m proud to have worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office on this. We will continue to work together to protect our most vulnerable children and make their protection a priority,” Cunningham said.

  • Report details compensation abuses, administrative bloat at state colleges and universities: Cunningham

    Months of work by members of the media and the Illinois General Assembly have culminated in a special report detailing costly administrative practices at our state’s public universities and community colleges. The report brings to light growing administrative costs and generous executive compensation packages that have helped fuel tuition increases for Illinois students.

    "This report found that many public colleges and universities have been too quick to award lavish benefits to their executives and increase the number of administrative employees they assign to non-instructional post," State Senator Bill Cunningham said. "While these practices are never welcome, they are particularly troubling during difficult budgetary times and when college tuition rates have grown faster than any other expenses faced by middle class families."

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