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    More than 800 Chicago State University students received their diplomas Thursday in an early ceremony moved up weeks for fear the school would run out of money and shut down due to an ongoing state budget impasse.

    A last-minute, $600-million higher education deal will, for now, keep the doors open at Chicago State, Eastern Illinois University and other state schools. But the stop gap plan isn’t enough to offset the long-term damage that’s been done as the schools have gone nearly a year without any state support. Layoffs and program cuts are still expected at Chicago State and other schools.

    Senator Emil Jones III was at Thursday’s graduation ceremonies – the 358th commencement for the nearly 150-year-old university. As happy as he is for the CSU graduates, he’s equally concerned for the underclassmen who increasingly are victimized by the budget showdown that began when Gov. Bruce Rauner rejected the entire higher education budget last year.

  • jones csu 012516Springfield – Recently, State Representative Ken Dunkin held a press conference boasting his plan to save Chicago State University (CSU) and several other state universities from financial collapse. What Representative Dunkin failed to mention is how seniors, people facing foreclosures, human services and LIHEAP would all fall victim to fund sweeps tied to funding his legislation. Senator Emil Jones III, Chairman of the Senate Black Caucus introduced Senate Bill 2272, which funds CSU without evoking harm to some of our most vulnerable citizens like Rep. Dunkin’s bill would cause.

    Below is Senator Jones’ statement:

    “The legislation that my colleague and good friend Ken Dunkin is proposing comes with a few strings attached. Ken’s bill is funded by a separate demand from the governor and Republicans in the form of Senate Bill 3044, which steals funds from LIHEAP, the Human Services fund, foreclosure prevention programs, money for our crumbling schools and a fund that provides long-term care for seniors.

    So sometimes, the things our “allies” suggest aren’t really what they seem to be. Legislation I am sponsoring spends tax money we have collected and hasn’t been spent to fund CSU. On a side note, I would like to applaud CSU’s students and faculty for their poise and willingness to make adjustments while the governor, his allies and republicans play politics with your futures. Back to Ken, let’s get on the same page and pass my bill that solves problems and doesn’t create them.”

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  • 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.

  • jones csu 012516State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) recently introduced legislation that helps college students who are facing financial hardships. The measure, Senate Bill 2941, prohibits universities and community colleges from denying a student from registering for classes and prohibits them from refusing to issue a transcript to a student because of and outstanding debt owed to the university.

    Senator Jones offered the following comments:

    “Currently, our governor’s inaction on the budget has forced over 150,000 students out of Monetary Awards Programs (MAP) grants, which provides qualified students with tuition assistance,” said Senator Jones. “Since this MAP grant funding hasn’t been enacted, many students weren’t able to register for classes or get copies of their transcripts for other scholarships, pushing intended graduation dates back even further  for many students.

    “We also have a population of job seekers who need their transcripts to show potential employers that they’re qualified for good-paying jobs. Without access to their transcripts, recent graduates are often skipped over and relegated to a situation where they can’t pay and outstanding debt to the school they graduated from.”

  • President Barack ObamaSPRINGFIELD –  Barack Obama may be celebrating his birthday outside the White House this year, but State Senator Emil Jones III (D-Chicago) wants to make sure the former president is not forgotten.

    Jones passed legislation during the legislative session that designates Aug. 4 of each year as Barack Obama Day in Illinois.

    “President Obama is a man who has inspired millions with his decades of dedicated public service,” Jones said. “He deserves to be honored for his continuous hard work for the people of our nation, our state and our communities.”

    Obama worked as a community organizer on the south side of Chicago after graduating from Columbia University and was elected to the Illinois State Senate to represent the 13th District in 1996. As a state senator, he helped pass ethics reform, negotiated welfare reform and promoted increased subsidies for childcare.

    The former president went on to be elected to represent Illinois in the United States Senate in 2004 before becoming the first African-American to be elected President of the United States in 2008.

    Senate Bill 55 passed unanimously in both houses and Gov. Rauner signed it into law.

  • jones map fedEvery year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission helps more than 125,000 students throughout Illinois advance their career dreams by helping them pay for college. The Monetary Award Program is designed to help eligible students who may not have enough money to pay for higher education go to a higher education institution, as long as they meet guidelines outlined by the grant. Without Governor Rauner’s approval, students statewide won’t be able to afford college tuition and other associated costs.

    State Senator Emil Jones III’s (D-Chicago) district houses Chicago State University and he believes Governor Rauner needs to make the appropriation of state funds to the grant program a priority.

    “Not every family has the means to send their child to school,” Jones said. “And there are many students who have the ability to go to college, receive a degree and be prepared to enter the workforce. We must ensure we give these students who are looking for a hand up and not a hand out an opportunity to reach their goals and contribute back to our communities. Funding this program is a no-brainer. If we want a vibrant economy, we need a workforce prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Funding this program ensures economic vitality in the future.”

    Senator Jones also voted in favor of Senate Bill 2042, which allows $5.4 billion, mostly in federal “pass-through” funds, to be appropriated. Illinois receives these funds through the federal government, but aren’t able to spend them unless lawmakers give the state the authority to spend it.

    The federal pass-through will fund programs for mental health, disability services, meals for homebound seniors, job training and LIHEAP.

    Senator Jones offered the following comment:

    “Providing our most vulnerable citizens with the resources they need to have quality living conditions is one of the greatest purposes of government,” Jones said. “We put programs in place to help people who are in the most need. Providing spend authority for federal money is responsible and by doing so, we put people before political agendas.”

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  • jones 012918CHICAGO – State Senator Emil Jones, III (D-Chicago) is issuing a response to misleading claims made by the governor during his Juneteenth remarks today.

    Gov. Bruce Rauner touted helping the black community, especially black businesses. Rauner has actually largely ignored black-owned businesses during his term.

    “I was disgusted by the governor’s claims that he’s been a pillar within the black community, when in reality, he’s done various things that have in fact hurt our people,” said Jones.

    Some areas that have suffered under Gov. Rauner include:

  • CapitolSWJuly brings the beginning of a new fiscal year for the state, and several measures passed by the legislature and signed into law take effect on July 1.

    Most notably, two new laws address Illinois education: one reaffirms the importance of learning cursive writing in Illinois schools and another addresses the statewide teacher shortage.

  • jones 012918CHICAGO – Today, State Senator Emil Jones III (D - CHICAGO) joined elected officials at Roseland Community Hospital to discuss the financial future of Roseland and safety-net hospitals around the state.

    “Safety-net hospitals provide quality health care to the poorest communities, which is something that all people in Illinois deserve, regardless of their race or income,” said Jones. “These hospitals also employ an estimated 25,000 people in Illinois and 23,000 people across the Chicagoland area.”

    To remain at a sustainable funding level for the year, Roseland has laid off nearly seven percent of its staff and reduced the pay of all of its doctors and nurses. As of now, all “fixed payments” to hospitals will sunset on June 30, 2018.  The hospital assessment program, a combination of state and federal funds that provides financial relief across the state, is up for negotiation, creating uncertainty among safety-net hospitals.

    “Ensuring safety-net hospital funding for the next fiscal year has to be a top priority in Springfield,” Jones said. “Roseland, along with many other hospitals, is suffering tremendously—they cannot stand to lose any federal dollars.”

    In the past, it has taken each hospital assessment 12-15 months for federal approval. It is estimated that taxed payments account for almost 50 percent of all payments to safety-net hospitals.

  • ilbc amazonYesterday it was reported that an official letter was submitted to Amazon executives with an attached state and city bid signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and the legislature’s top four leaders. Members of the Illinois Legislative Senate Black Caucus are cautiously optimistic about the potential of Amazon moving its second headquarters to Chicago. 

    Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, delivered a clear message: “Job creation is a top priority for the caucus, specifically in our impoverished neighborhoods where unemployment rates soar due to lack of sustainable jobs.

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  • Senator Emil Jones (D-Chicago) speaks about two budget measures that passed the Senate today at a Legislative Black Caucus press conference.