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  • forby hardin work campBENTON – State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) expressed his disappointment that the governor’s news conference in Southern Illinois today wasn’t to announce jobs for Southern Illinois. The Rauner Administration cut jobs in the region by closing the Hardin Work Camp. Bringing quality jobs to Southern Illinois has been Senator Forby’s top priority and one that he believes the governor should share.

    Senator Forby released the following statement on Wednesday:

    “I was hoping the governor was coming to Southern Illinois to tell us he is going to reopen the Hardin County Work Camp and help put Southern Illinois back to work. I guess not. What Southern Illinois needs is more jobs, not more Rauner news conferences. I work for the people of Southern Illinois and my biggest initiative is to bring jobs back to the region. I would think this is something the governor could get on board with.”

  • forby coalSen. Forby joined legislators from Southern Illinois on Tuesday to discuss the status of coal in Southern Illinois.

    During the press conference Forby spoke on the importance of the coal industry in Southern Illinois.

    “Coal is the number one issue we have down home. It’s good for jobs,” said Forby. “Fifty percent of our power comes from coal. Coal is not going to go away, and we the have the best coal in the state of Illinois. As much money as we spend on coal from western states, we could put scrubbers here in Southern Illinois and put people back to work. That’s why we are here today - to put people back to work.”

    For full audio of Forby’s statements click below.

  • forby siu surplusSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) that would reappropriate funds from the School Construction Fund and the Capital Development Fund for ongoing school construction and improvements passed through the Illinois Senate Tuesday.
    The measure would free up funds for outstanding school construction grants as well as give the Capital Development Board the ability to fund emergency projects.

    “We need to ensure our schools have the resources they need to stay up to date,” said Forby. “If schools don’t have the resources to make sure their buildings are up to code, to recover from natural disasters or to enable those with disabilities are access the buildings, then we are not ensuring students have the learning environments they need to excel.”

    School construction grants are based on natural disasters, projects to alleviate classroom shortages, and rehabilitate buildings due to safety hazards and to keep buildings up to code for people with disabilities.

    “We cannot send kids to schools in buildings that have damage,” Forby added. “This is about making sure our students have the best environment to learn in.”

    The legislation would free up funds for schools throughout Illinois, and would make construction funds available for Marion Community Unit School District 2 and Meridian Community Unit School District 101 in the area Forby represents.

    The measure passed the Senate with a vote of 53 to 0 and will now go to the House for consideration.

  • forby hardincountySPRINGFIELD – State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) has been hard at work on an issue important to Southern Illinois: reopening the Hardin County Work Camp. Today, he made progress by passing a measure through the Senate to do just that.

    House Bill 4326 would require the Illinois Department of Corrections to operate the Hardin County Work Camp.

    “I am happy to see this measure gain such great support from my colleagues both in the Senate and the House,” said Forby.

  • forby bailoutBENTON – Millions of dollars worth of construction projects in Southern Illinois remain on track thanks to a state budget agreement Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) helped approve.

    The list of projects slated for construction includes:

    • A $6.3 million bridge replacement project in Union County at the Illinois 146 interchange
    • $1.4 million in funding to resurface Skyline Drive in Marion.
    • $800,000 in funding to repair bridge joints on the Mississippi River Bridge in Cairo

    Those are a few of the Southern Illinois projects included in the agreement. Statewide, nearly $2 billion worth of construction would have shut down on July 1 if no budget was in place.

  • forby bailoutBENTON – Millions of dollars worth of construction projects in Southern Illinois remain on track thanks to a state budget agreement Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) helped approve.

    The list of projects slated for construction includes:

    • A $6.3 million bridge replacement project in Union County at the Illinois 146 interchange
    • $1.4 million in funding to resurface Skyline Drive in Marion.
    • $800,000 in funding to repair bridge joints on the Mississippi River Bridge in Cairo

    Those are a few of the Southern Illinois projects included in the agreement. Statewide, nearly $2 billion worth of construction would have shut down on July 1 if no budget was in place.

    Senator Forby was part of the working groups that helped piece together the framework of a deal that lawmakers and the governor finalized on June 30.

    “When thousands of jobs are on the line, I step up and do something about it,” Forby said. “Before we adjourned last month, we passed an important measure to ensure construction continues and these important jobs stay in Southern Illinois.” 

  • forby 051716SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) that would allow non-resident military members stationed in Illinois to obtain a concealed-carry license was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

    Forby, who was the Senate sponsor on the concealed-carry legislation that was signed into law in 2013, has been a strong voice on 2nd Amendment rights in Illinois.

    “This is an important bill to protect the 2nd Amendment rights of active military members stationed in Illinois,” said Forby.

  • forby coalSPRINGFIELD – In March of 2012, Molly Young, a 21-year-old Carbondale resident, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head in her ex-boyfriend’s apartment. When insufficient evidence was found to rule the incident either a homicide or a suicide to issue an indictment, Young’s family filed a civil suit against the boyfriend to seek justice for their daughter.

    Justice never came to the Young family because, under Illinois’ current law, the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims is two years.

    Legislation co-sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton), House Bill 6083, was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday to raise the statute of limitations on wrongful death claims to five years.

    “The story of Molly Young is a tragic one. This family has yet to get answers they need for the closure and justice they deserve because, unfortunately, time ran out,” Forby said. “ I think this is an injustice to the family, and I don’t want similar stories to arise. When a death occurs as a result of violent and intentional conduct, two years is not enough time to fully investigate what happened and bring the culprit to justice.”

    Another part of Molly’s Law signed Tuesday is House Bill 4715.

    The measure will impose civil penalties for instances of a public body’s willful and intentional failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. This was in response to the Young family’s repeatedly blocked FOIA attempts to receive information about the case.

    “FOIA requests are meant to provide transparency and give citizens information they need,” Forby added. “Under no circumstances should FOIA requests such as these be blocked. I hope this legislation will help bring the Young family the justice they deserve.”

  • forby coalToday, State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) stood with a bipartisan group of legislators in support of House Joint Resolution 687, which calls on the federal government to give the state additional time to review how the Draft Stream Protection Rule would affect surface coal mines in Illinois.

    The proposed rule would amend, modify or revise more than 450 provisions of the existing regulatory program. The additional time to review the over 2,000-page proposal that took six years to complete would ensure coal resources are used effectively and resourcefully.

    “In my district, we are closing everything and we don’t need to lose any more jobs,” Forby said. “Coal will be here for a while because it accounts for more than 50 percent of our state’s energy. The current proposal threatens to close coal plants in Southern Illinois, while unemployment rates are already unreasonably high. It’s getting to the point that you can’t come to Southern Illinois and work. The prisons are closing, juvenile detention centers are closing."

    "What are left to do? We need the additional time to make sure everything is done right to make sure we don’t lose any jobs.”

  • forby rtwzonesToday, Senator Gary Forby supported legislation ensuring several critical services remain operational and local municipalities get the gas tax money they are owed.

    The legislation provides:

    • $45 million to the Department of Revenue so local governments can receive their share of video gaming proceeds
    • $582.5 million to Illinois Department of Transportation for local governments share of motor fuel gas tax revenues
    • $31 million to Illinois Department of Transportation to purchase road salt
    • $165 million for the State’s supplement to Low Income Home energy Assistance Program
    • $77 million for 9-1-1 related costs

    “We got a lot of stuff our community needs,” Forby said. “But, we still have students who don’t know if they will receive tuition assistance the state owes them.”

    The measure that Senator Forby supported passed along local gas tax money for winter road clearing and funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. The legislation also funds 9-1-1 related costs to ensure residents have a line of communication in cases of emergency.

    “Many of the programs we funded today were held hostage by Governor Rauner in return for his anti-worker agenda,” Forby said. “Since winter is here, he decided to release funds for services that are necessary for road clearing and energy bill assistance. The game he’s playing is too easy to see through.”

    The measure now advances to the Governor’s desk where he will either sign or veto the measure.

  • forby 051716BENTON – Illinois State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said he fully supports a plan to save road construction jobs in Southern Illinois.

    Earlier this month, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced it would have to cease all road construction jobs in Illinois due to the lack of state funding.

    “When I heard that IDOT was planning to stop road projects, I thought about the hard-working men and women that would lose their jobs if that happened. As a person who has made job creation my number one priority, I can’t stand by and let that happen,” said Forby.

    Senate Bill 2047 includes a plan that includes a full IDOT capital program for road and transit, as well as payments to local governments from gas taxes.

    “Not only will this legislation help keep jobs in our community, but it will also ensure money that is owed to local communities through gas taxes is released to help with important expenditures,” Forby added.

    The legislation is currently in the House, but is expected to come before the full Senate when the General Assembly reconvenes on Wednesday, June 29.

  • forby afscmeThe fight for employee equality advanced today when the Illinois Senate voted on two critical measures that ensure working families are given fair wages and benefits. The first measure Senate Bill 1229, which was overridden by the governor, aims to bar the American Federation of State, County and Municipal employees from striking or being locked out while a collective bargaining agreement is negotiated.

    The union’s collective barging contract expired on July 1st. The Governor’s office and the state largest labor union AFSCME have yet to reach an agreement.

    State Senator Gary Forby (D- Benton), who serves as the Senate’s Labor Committee Chairman, thinks the measure takes bureaucracy out of the negotiations, which will create a platform for non-politicized negotiations.

    “Since Governor Rauner began his term, he has waged an all-out war against organized labor and working families,” said Forby. “It’s clear the Governor doesn’t want fair negotiations, so if we take the bureaucracy out of the negotiation process, then it gives us a clearer path to reach an agreement.”

  • tammsA recent attack on prison guards at Pontiac Correctional Center serves to highlight the short-sighted decision to close a prison in Southern Illinois.

    Tamms Correctional Center, a “supermax” prison that housed Illinois’ most dangerous criminals, closed its doors in 2013 as a casualty of then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget. State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) led the fight four years ago to keep the prison open and is urging the current governor to reconsider his predecessor’s decision.

  • forby siu surplusSPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) allowing the Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University to sell, lease or transfer and convey surplus real estate and retain the proceeds to be used for a scholarship fund was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

    “Last week the SIU president reported the reality of the troubles the university faces due to the lack of a budget. This bill would help SIU in a time of uncertainty,” Forby said.

    “At a time when students are feeling the burden of tuition costs, MAP grants aren’t being funded and the state lacks a budget, this measure allows SIU to help themselves and the students attending the university. It’s really a common sense action to take. The legislation would help SIU to keep pushing forward and provide Southern Illinois students with a quality education.”

    Senate Bill 2970 was introduced by Forby in February as a way to assist the university in letting go of surplus land, thereby putting funding back into the SIU system, 100 percent of which would go into a scholarship fund.

    The measure passed favorably out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

  • forby bailoutBENTON - Southern Illinois schools would be big winners under a clean school funding plan being finalized that Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) said he will support at the Capitol on Wednesday.

    Local schools would see their state support increase by nearly $10 million over what they received this past year. In fact, Forby said no school would lose funding if the plan manages to become law, which would require approval in the Senate, Illinois House and the governor’s signature.

    “No more games. People need to put politics aside to ensure our schools open on time,” Forby said. “This plan fully funds our schools. Springfield will stop shortchanging us and cheating our schools, our students, our teachers and our taxpayers out of the money they were promised.”

    As proposed, for the first time in years the state would fully fund its commitment to local schools, and put an end to several years’ worth of the state knowingly cutting back payments to them. This practice was especially unfair to Southern Illinois schools while wealthy suburban Chicago districts were able to cope more easily with the cuts.

    Examples of local school gains under the proposal:

    Herrin School District would see a $914,000 increase, raising its state support to more than $11.7 million. That’s an 8 percent increase over previous state support.

    Marion School District would see a nearly $882,000 increase, which would take its total state aid to more than $9.5 million. That’s a 10 percent increase over what the state provided last year.

    Massac School District would get a nearly $576,000 increase to more than $9.1 million in state aid. That’s a 7 percent increase in state support.

    Cairo School District would get an additional $522,000. Total state support for Cairo schools would be more than $3.6 million, a 17 percent increase.

    Harrisburg School District would see its state support increase by more than $623,000 to almost $9.8 million. That’s a 7 percent increase.

    Forby said the deal is too good for Southern Illinois to pass up.

    “Every school in the region will see an increase in funding. That’s a plan I can support,” Forby said. “We all know Southern Illinois schools have been shortchanged for years. That ends now. It’s time we got our fair share.”

    The Senate plans to take up the proposal on Wednesday.

  • At a press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, State Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton) joined State Representative’s Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg) and John Bradley (D-Marion) in speaking out about the need for better K-12 funding.

    Sen. Forby released the following statement:

    “Our district has been hit as hard as any other place in Illinois. The state shut our prisons down, they shut our juvenile detention centers down, now they want to shut our schools down. Schools are our last straw. They talk about downsizing our prisons - well, you’re not going to downsize our prisons if you shut our schools down."

  • forby map training centerState Senator Forby (D-Benton) toured several rehabilitation and healthcare facilities to discuss the consequences Southern Illinois faces if Governor Rauner doesn’t work with legislators to pass a budget. Senator Forby listened to suggestions from the community affected by the budget so he can bring their recommendations to Springfield.  

    “Governor Rauner is holding the budget process hostage in exchange for proposals in his wage-killing turnaround agenda,” Senator Forby said.

  • forby bailoutBENTON — State Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton) said Southern Illinois schools are his top priority and that Governor Rauner is sadly mistaken if he thinks the senator supports taking over and bailing out Chicago schools.

    “Dumb idea,” said Forby. “I mean really, dumb idea. He’s laying people off, closing the Sparta shooting range and slashing our schools. Oh, but now he’s going to use our tax dollars to bail out Chicago and he thinks I’m going to help him? I don’t think so. What is he going to do next, come tell us how to run our schools in Southern Illinois too?”

    Forby’s comments come as Gov. Rauner is trying to bail out Chicago schools and is calling on downstate Democrats to help him.

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  • roadfund2

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) passed a measure through the Senate Executive Committee on Tuesday that would amend the Illinois Constitution to prevent revenues from the state’s road fund from being used for any purpose unrelated to transportation.

    HJRCA 36, which passed the House in April, was originally filed in House by Representative Brandon Phelps (D-Harrisburg). Senator Haine is the chief Senate sponsor.  

    “This measure will ensure that Illinois’ infrastructure will continue to be up to date and usable for generations to come,” Haine said. “A solid infrastructure is essential to any pro-growth agenda to push Illinois’ economy forward. Things like highways, railroads and bridges are quite literally what allows us to move goods and people to conduct commerce and allow for the continued economic advancement of Illinois.”

    The measure ensures that any motor fuel tax revenues would only be used for transportation-related purposes. It also would prevent a governor from sweeping the funds and allocating them for other use.

    Senator Gary Forby (D-Benton), who is the added chief co-sponsor in the Senate, noted that this legislation is important help to secure jobs related to infrastructure throughout Southern Illinois.

    “This measure is of great importance to Southern Illinois,” said Forby. “First, it is ridiculous that we would use transportation-related fees for anything other than the improvement of our infrastructure. This bill fixes that issue. Secondly, when we are improving our roads we are creating jobs for the people who work on our infrastructure.”

    The measure passed the Senate Executive Committee on Tuesday and will now go to the Senate floor for consideration.