Funding

  • Asst. Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez and Sen. Omar Aquino

    More than two dozen community agency leaders turned out at a recent forum to tell local senators that the state is overdue on a new program that puts people to work building up our communities.

    It’s been nearly a decade since the state last invested in roads, bridges and school construction.

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez and Senator Omar Aquino hosted the town hall and workshop to make sure local agencies know how to apply for state funding and assess the local needs as support grows across the state for a new, state-sponsored construction program.

    “We wanted to make sure we expanded what people knew about the capital bill, that it goes into infrastructure, it goes into brick and mortar stuff, and how we’re going to be creative in making sure that we’re getting equitable dollars in our districts,” Aquino said.

    Over 30 local community agencies ranging from health, social service, the arts and afterschool programs gathered at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture for the Oct. 24 event.

    “The two-year budget impasse hurt many organizations out there, so now we want to make sure we engage them so that we will be able to start doing some new things,” Martinez said. “I think the most important thing is our civic engagement, so our constituents can see that we’re working for them and we’re ready to respond to their concerns.”

    Speakers included Becky Locker, Director of Policy and Budget for the Illinois Senate Democrats; Jen Walling, Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Council; Colleen Smith, Legislative Director for Illinois Environmental Council and Representative Luis Arroyo.

  • jbt 120817PLAINFIELD- In light of the most recent spate of chaos created by Gov. Bruce Rauner, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is calling for a pause on the award of tax credits to scholarship donors.

    “If our schools are not receiving state funding, scholarship donors should not receive tax rebates on the taxpayer’s dime,” said Bertino-Tarrant, chairwoman of the Senate’s education committee.  “It is concerning that the tax program is up and running while our schools have not received funding or even been informed how many state dollars they can count on for the next school year.”

    Funding clarity has been denied to public schools because Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 444, a technical piece of legislation previously requested by the governor’s administration to help clarify and quickly implement school funding reform. His veto of the measure will do just the opposite of that.

  • opioids 050217VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is excited to announce Illinois was recently awarded a federal grant for over $16 million to fight Illinois’ opioid crisis.

    This grant comes in light of recent news that heroin and opioid abuse now kills more Americans annually than gun homicides or traffic accidents according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “We can’t rest until the opioid crisis is eliminated from our communities,” Cullerton said. “Every dollar we receive will help our community providers and organizations give people an opportunity to seek treatment and turn their lives around.”

    The federal grant supports new treatment and recovery services, including the establishment of an Opioid Crisis Line and expanded medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder. The funding will also support opioid-related enhancements to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), the launch of a statewide opiate awareness campaign, new pilot programs to provide medications to treat opioid use disorder, and pre-release and post-release services for individuals who are incarcerated in county jails.

    In addition, the funding will support a widespread expansion of the training of first responders to an opioid overdose and the availability of the overdose reversal medication Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan.

    In 2016, Cullerton worked to addresses the heroin and opioid abuse and addiction through House Bill 1. The legislation combated to problem in a variety of different ways, by training public safety entities in administering Narcan, requiring state agencies to develop a three-year heroin and opioid drug prevention program and expanding state-funded treatment to include addiction treatment and prescription costs.

    “We need to find a comprehensive solution to protect our young people from making fatal decisions,” said Cullerton. “Our priority is to put protections in place to save lives.”

    Despite innovative methods to combat the opioid overdose crisis in DuPage, Illinois continues to experience a notable increase in drug overdose deaths. Cullerton continues to work with DuPage County on finding ways to combat this epidemic.

    “Drug overdoses can happen to people regardless of their age, socioeconomic background or ethnicity,” Cullerton said. “There is help out there. We need to make sure those suffering from opioid addiction know where to find it.”

    Through the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council, The Illinois Department of Human Services and many other state agencies are coordinating the state’s efforts to develop a statewide opioid epidemic preparedness and prevention strategy.

  • holmes consolAURORA — Ahead of the end of the Illinois fiscal year Thursday, State Senator Linda Holmes voiced her support for legislation that would release $1 billion in funding to state universities and community colleges.

    The funding includes $5 million in funding to the Illinois Math and Science Academy for operational expenses and $151 million to pay out the remainder of Monetary Award Program grants to college students for the 2016 school year.

    “The same week we take up funding for K-12 education, we must address the promise of higher education in Illinois,” said Holmes, D-Aurora. “Our next generation of workers have waited long enough for this fight to end. We need to do right by our brightest young students and our hardest-working college aspirants and pass this legislation.”

    Senate Bill 2056 also includes funding for adult education and career and technical education programs, as well as various other grant programs through the Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, and Illinois Community College Board.

    The General Assembly reconvenes June 29 to consider the legislation.

  • Senator Pat McGuireSPRINGFIELD — State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) joined members of the Senate Downstate Caucus on Tuesday in support of a measure that more equitably funds Illinois’ public schools.

    The Downstate Caucus held a press conference to brief reporters about Senate Bill 231, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), which changes a nearly 20-year-old formula for how the state distributes its funding for K-12 education. A key provision of SB 231 shifts state money away from wealthier school districts — whose high property values fund a high level of per-pupil spending — to those districts with a higher proportion of low-income students.

    “In Illinois, the quality of a child's education too often depends on the child's ZIP code. Senator Manar's measure would correct this,” McGuire said. “I urge the governor to re-think his opposition to SB 231. To bring back Illinois, we need to bring every child's education up to world-class level. That's morally right, economically necessary, and SB 231 is the conscientious way to do it."

    Under SB 231, no district would receive less state money from 2015 levels, and many areas will see that 100 percent of its students get an increase in funding.

    “Kids in Illinois cities hit hard by factories closing in the 1980s and ever since badly need a boost,” McGuire said. “This legislation helps students in Joliet, Chicago Heights, Elgin, Rockford… SB 231 will help transform Illinois’ Rust Belt into the asset we need it to be.”

    SB 231 recently passed a key Senate committee and will be debated on the floor later this week.

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  • manar 032416SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Andy Manar’s (D-Bunker Hill) plan to update the state’s education funding formula passed through the Senate Executive committee on Wednesday.

    The legislation, Senate Bill 231, provides that state funding for education would be distributed based on student need while ensuring that no district would receive less state money than it did in the 2015-16 school year.

    “Today’s vote was a great step forward in changing what is, without a doubt, the least equitable system of funding education in the nation,” Manar said. “I’m fully committed to hearing input from everyone in the legislature, and throughout the state as this proceeds through the legislature.”

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  • harris 040516State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) released the following statement in support of Senator Andy Manar’s education funding reform legislation, Senate Bill 231:

    “Our kids throughout Chicago and the South Suburbs are facing some tough issues because of where they live, and receiving a quality education shouldn’t be one of them. Thanks to Senator Manar’s initiative, we have the opportunity to open doors for them and all children living in low-income communities by providing more resources to schools who are most in need. Most would agree that education is the gateway to opportunity, and every child deserves a chance to reach their full potential. I look forward to alleviating some of the disparities created within our current system.”

  • lightford 040516In response to legislation filed today restructuring the Illinois school funding formula, State Senator Kimberly A. Lightford (D – Maywood) released the following statement.

    Fairness in our school funding formula has been a topic of legislative debate and revision for decades, yet education equality remains elusive. At some point, justice has to become more than a promise. It must become a reality for all kids.

    Senator Manar has worked tirelessly with leaders on both sides of the aisle and from all sides of the funding debate to construct a bill that takes the well-being of every student, every school and every district into account. It’s not too late for us to do what we should have done decades ago – pass fair education funding reform worthy of our students.

    Like previous versions of education formula reform, such as SB 1, schools with fewer resources will receive more funding under the new version of the plan, but this legislation also allows more districts to qualify for additional funding through a widened adequacy grant, institutes a complete hold harmless for the next fiscal year and creates an evidence-based panel to oversee implementation of any changes.

    The legislation is filed as Senate Bill 231.

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  • manar n macManar optimistic for change this year

    VIRDEN – A broken school funding system is cheating North Mac students out of educational resources and opportunities and needs to be changed, state Senator Andy Manar told a crowd Monday that turned out for a town hall meeting hosted by the North Mac School Board.

    “Right now the state is failing our students,” Manar said. “We need a complete overhaul to bring funding and resources to schools and students who need them.”

    Manar, who’s leading efforts in the General Assembly to modernize how the state funds schools, outlined what a new system should look like. The guiding principle, he said, is that funding should target students and schools who need it the most for instance, those serving high numbers of low-income students, students with special needs and other key education and cost factors.

    Local officials joined Manar in calling for sweeping changes to the outdated system now in place.

    “The North Mac Schools have been hit hard financially by the inequitable education funding formula and recent state cuts. We’ve been forced to cut 38 staff and teaching positions and increase class sizes. We’ve also delayed educational improvements and building renovations to ensure the financial survival of the district,” said North Mac School Board President Robyn Hays.

    Manar is hopeful that a new education funding system, one that would recognize North Mac’s educational and financial needs, will be approved this year in Springfield.

  • lightford cps 012016CHICAGO—Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) issued the following statement in strong support of Senate President John Cullerton’s speech detailing the necessity for need-based school funding reform Monday at the City Club of Chicago.

    “Just as President Cullerton expressed so eloquently today, we must continue to shed light on one of the grossest injustices setting back Illinois today – the iniquities of our school funding system. Working together is the only way we turn our education system’s regression into progression. It’s the only way we turn systemic disadvantage into education equity. If we don’t act now in the interest of our children’s futures, it will be too late for another generation, and this, we cannot afford.” Sen. Lightford said.

  • harris mr 110115Senate President John Cullerton addressed the Chicago City Club today. Cullerton’s speech focused on education funding reform as a priority for legislature. State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) reacted to the speech with the following:

    “Affording children a quality education has been one of my priorities since becoming a state senator. I applaud President Cullerton for focusing on the issue in his City Club speech today. I’m currently working with Senator Andy Manar to produce legislation that would secure a fair, adequate and well-funded education for all children,” State Senator Napoleon Harris (D-Harvey) said. “Our education funding formula doesn’t work, and it’s hurting the poorest kids in our state. We can’t continue to ignore this issue. Our state’s future is at stake.”

  • Cullerton to City Club: School funding reform the defining crisis of our timeSenate President John Cullerton on Monday called Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula the defining crisis of our time and challenged Gov. Bruce Rauner to turn around Illinois by making fair funding for schools his top priority.

    Cullerton outlined the problems with Illinois’ school-funding formula during a sold-out speech at the City Club of Chicago, whose members include prominent civic, business and government leaders.

    “Our students, parents, teachers and taxpayers are tired of the bickering, tired of the impasse,” Cullerton said. “They’re looking for leaders with the courage to step beyond the status quo and do what’s right. Today I’m asking my colleagues to take that step.”

    Illinois has not updated its school funding formula since 1997. The system has resulted in striking inequities across Illinois’ school districts, rewarding wealthier communities and penalizing impoverished communities where students need more resources to succeed.

    In addition, Illinois covers barely a third of the total cost of public education, while most states cover half.

    As a result, the performance gap that divides rich and poor students, as well as students of color, ranks among the worst in the nation. Illinois is 42nd in terms of the gap in reading scores among these students, and it falls among the bottom 10 in the achievement gap between black and white students.

    Cullerton said Illinois leaders must ask themselves two questions: How much are we going to spend on education, and how are we going to spend it?

    “If the money isn’t going to help students in need, it doesn’t really matter how much we spend,” he said. “That’s why our funding formula needs to be overhauled.”

    To level the playing field among schools, Cullerton said a new funding approach must include some key principles:

    • State resources should go to school districts based on the needs of students, with more funds to support children who need extra support – those who live in poverty, have special learning needs and who are English language learners.
    • There should be a single, straightforward funding model and no more special deals for some districts.
    • The formula must account for a district’s ability to support local schools with local dollars, and accountability must follow those dollars.

    Cullerton noted that no one wants any school district to lose money. But in Illinois’ system of winning and losing school districts, there are far too many losers.

    “There’s a reason why the current school funding formula has been in place for two decades. It’s hard to change an entrenched status quo. It requires true, dedicated leadership,” Cullerton said. “The question is whether today’s leaders are up to the task.”

    Download the Senate President's City Club remarks
    Download the slides from the Senate President's presentation

     

     

  • jones csu 012516Springfield – Chicago State University recently announced that it will be unable to pay for operational costs after March 1 due to the unprecedented seven month-long budget impasse. Without a budget, university students across the state who are recipients of MAP grants and tuition assistance are increasingly concerned about the prospect of not graduating.

    State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) introduced legislation that provides funding to ensure CSU can keep its doors open for the remainder of the semester.

    “Seeing the students at CSU rally around their university shows the community and the state just how much pride they have in their school,” Jones said. “This budget impasse has a lot of students stressed out about their future. The majority of the students affected by Rauner’s tactics are students who don’t come from the best backgrounds, but are trying to achieve more to build their community.”

    Jones’ legislation appropriates funding for Chicago State University at the level the governor originally proposed.

    “The State of Illinois has been without a budget for far too long. Many public institutions have been operating on reserved funds, and CSU has been dreading what was to come from not being funded. We have now reached our worst-case scenario. We are out of funds,” said Paris Griffin, Student Government Association president.

    Once legislators return to Springfield, the measure will be sent to the Senate Assignments Committee to be assigned for further consideration.

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    As Illinois students begin preparing for mid-terms, Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) assembled the Senate’s Higher Education Committee at Joliet Junior College to hear from students, parents and state community colleges and universities on the impact the current budget impasse is having on higher education in Illinois.

    “Time's a'wastin' - first semester already has started. Governor Rauner, get on board,” McGuire said. “Support MAP and higher education funding so Illinois high school graduates and returning adults can earn the knowledge and skills needed in today's economy to make our state strong again.”

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  • FY16 Budget Outlook ($ in millions)

  • delgado vets homeCHICAGO- State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago) joined Alderman Villegas on Monday in support of his effort to fund a construction project for a veterans home in Chicago. The project is at a standstill due to a lack of funding.

    “Our veterans deserve and depend on this home as a very important resource,” Delgado said. “If this project falls apart it will prevent them from living a worry-free life, and that is unacceptable.”

    If it’s completed, the home would be capable of housing 200 veterans in private rooms fitted with private bathrooms and would feature a common dining area and recreational facilities. The federal government has committed to supply 65 percent of the required funding, but the governor recently rescinded about $4 million of the remaining state funding needed to complete the project. If the funding is not restored the grants from the federal government may be jeopardized. The scheduled opening date for the facility has already been pushed back about 6 months to January 2017.