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    SPRINGFIELD – A new bipartisan task force will be created to find ways to save taxpayers money under a new law sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker.

    Senate Bill 1932 creates the Property Tax Relief Task Force, which will explore potential solutions to reducing Illinois’ high property tax rates and make recommendations to the General Assembly.

    “For years our state had a regressive school funding formula that drove up rates and placed the majority of the burden on property owners,” Manar said. “Taxpayers have been forced to pay these exorbitant rates for far too long and it’s time to take a serious look at ways to resolve this problem.”

    The task force will be made up of a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the Senate and House of Representatives as well as individuals appointed by the governor.

    The following Democratic senators will serve on the task force: Sen. Christopher Belt, Sen. Melinda Bush, Sen. Cristina Castro, Sen. Rachelle Crowe, Sen. Tom Cullerton, Sen. Bill Cunningham, Sen. Laura Ellman, Sen. Laura Fine, Sen. Anne Gillespie, Sen. Suzy Glowiak, Sen. Don Harmon, Sen. Napoleon Harris, Sen. Linda Holmes, Sen. Mattie Hunter, Sen. Toi Hutchinson, Sen. Terry Link, Sen. Andy Manar, Sen. Iris Martinez, Sen. Robert Martwick, Sen. Julie Morrison, Sen. Laura Murphy, Sen. Robert Peters, Sen. Elgie Sims, Sen. Steve Stadelman, Sen. Heather Steans and Sen. Ram Villivalam.

    The Department of Revenue, State Board of Education and Governor’s Office of Management and Budget will also work with the task force.

    “We’ve made great strides toward fixing our school funding formula and the next step in that process is reducing the property tax burden and transitioning toward making state funding the predominant sources of support for schools,” Manar said. “This task force is one of the first steps in that process and I’m confident that by bringing Democrats and Republicans together to talk about this issue, we’ll be able to work together to find the solutions we need.”

    Manar has made easing the tax burden on property owners a focus of his tenure. This May, he also passed a bill out of the Senate that would freeze property taxes in most Illinois school districts as long as the state properly funds schools through its evidence-based funding formula. The legislation was not taken up by the House.

    Senate Bill 1932 passed both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously. It will take effect immediately.

     

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  • Historic statewide construction package signed into law

    Communities across the state will see renewed investment in their infrastructure under a bipartisan construction plan approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker today.

    The $45 billion construction package is the culmination of a three-month negotiation process during which lawmakers traveled throughout Illinois to hear input from local officials, educators, transportation experts and other interested parties.

    “We spent months traveling this state and learned more than I thought possible about the infrastructure needs in various communities,” said State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), who co-chaired the committee charged with developing the construction plan. “The result is a comprehensive package that takes into account the testimony we heard and fairly invests in communities in every corner of the state.”

  • Sen. Andy ManarSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) passed legislation Wednesday aimed at eliminating the teacher shortage in Illinois by increasing the minimum salary for teachers.

    “Illinois schools are having an increasingly difficult time attracting and retaining qualified teachers and a big part of that is the fact that we aren’t paying them enough,” Manar said. “This legislation shows the high value we place on teachers and the commitment we have to keeping them in Illinois.”

    House Bill 2078 would increase the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 over a four year period.

  • manar 031219SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) commended Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s decision this week to join a 44-state coalition suing the some of the nation’s largest drug manufacturers for artificially inflating prices for lifesaving medications.

    “Pharmaceutical companies have been expanding their profit margins and reducing competition for years at the expense of men and women who need their products to survive,” Manar said. “I’m glad to see that Attorney General Raoul recognizes the dire consequences these artificially high prices can have on Illinoisans and that he’s committing our state to standing up to the prescription drug industry.”

    The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, names 20 pharmaceutical companies and 15 executives who are responsible for manipulating prices and limiting the availability of prescription medications.

    The complaint alleges that the drug manufacturers conspired to fix prices for name-brand medications and restrain trade for more than 100 generic drugs. In some cases, coordinated price increases were over 1,000 percent.

    “In my district, I’ve seen firsthand the serious financial implications these price increases can have on working families – particularly in rural communities where consumers have limited access to pharmacies,” Manar said. “Now is the time to take these bad actors to task and this lawsuit is a good step toward doing so.”

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  • manar 050719CARLINVILLE – Based on a recommendation from a group of Carlinville High School seniors, State Senator Andy Manar is sponsoring legislation to make daylight saving time the year-round standard in Illinois.

    Senate Bill 533 would eliminate the statewide practice of moving clocks ahead by an hour on the second Sunday of March every year.

    The legislation was spurred by a group of Carlinville High School seniors who put together a civics action plan for their civics class and chose to ask lawmakers to eliminate the time change in Illinois. They sought a meeting with Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and made their case to him directly.

  • Sen. Andy Manar

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar on Wednesday joined a coalition of labor, higher education and health care advocates in calling for vertical construction projects to be included in a comprehensive statewide infrastructure plan.

    “Illinois needs cranes on campuses and bulldozers at building sites. Construction projects signal that Illinois is open for business,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who is leading conversations in the Senate about statewide construction priorities.

    “Highway and bridge repairs are vitally important, but any statewide infrastructure plan has to balance those priorities with our need for new schools, modern hospitals and 21st century college facilities. There has to be a healthy mix.”

    The newly formed Build Up Illinois coalition comprises groups and associations representing K-12 school districts, community colleges, universities, the Illinois hospital system, the Illinois AFL-CIO and affiliated building trades.

  • manar 050219SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar on Thursday challenged the state agency responsible for economic development to focus more of its attention on rural and downstate Illinois communities.

    Manar (D-Bunker Hill) noted that there currently are 1,100 vacant jobs in Decatur and not enough workers to fill them. Most of the jobs pay well and come with benefits, he added. He said these kinds of challenges in struggling and impoverished regions of the state deserve more attention.

    His remarks were made during an appropriations hearing with the Department of Commerce and Economic Development.

    “I think a major challenge for the agency is how it injects itself into rural parts of the state that have seen poverty literally explode over the last decade,” Manar said. “I think it’s a fair criticism of the agency that, under multiple administrations, the rural areas of the state where the challenges are different and more difficult have just kind of been marginalized.”

    Manar said a key to job creation and business support downstate is to have economic development experts on the ground in those locations who understand the challenges and are available to help solve them.

    “We can’t do foreign trade relationships really well and not do downstate economic development really well and then say we’re successful,” Manar said. “We have to do both equally well to be truly successful.”

  • Senator ManarIncludes income tax cut, property tax relief for working families

    SPRINGFIELD – Nearly all working men and women in the 48th Senate District would pay less in state income taxes under a historic overhaul that was approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

    State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) voted for a package of measures that includes new income tax rates requiring millionaires to pay their fair share to the state, as well as tax relief for property owners and elimination of Illinois’ estate tax.

    “Anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year will get a tax cut under this plan. That’s nearly every single taxpayer I represent,” Manar said. “This is the right thing to do for people who find themselves working harder but taking home less. Those who have benefited from a robust economy can pay a little more to help bring stability to the state of Illinois.”

    Under the proposal, only the top 3 percent of Illinois earners would pay more in income taxes. Everyone who makes less than $250,000 a year would pay a rate of 4.95 percent or less.

    The package is part of a constitutional amendment that will require voter approval in 2020. The plan approved by the Senate Wednesday must go to the House for consideration next.

    Manar, who shepherded the state’s recent revamp of the school funding formula, sponsored the property tax relief portion of the package. Under this measure, as long as the state lives up to its responsibilities to adequately fund school districts, including lunch programs and student busing costs, there would be little need for districts to go to local property owners seeking tax hikes.

    Property tax relief has to be a priority for the state, Manar said, noting that his legislation gets at the root of what largely drives high property taxes across the state – funding for local school districts. In addition, it forces the state to own up to its responsibility of fully funding schools.

    “It’s time to turn off the spigot of property taxes and make state funding the predominant source of support for schools,” he said. “This is the next step toward bringing true equity to the funding of schools while acknowledging the property tax burden has to be reduced over time.”

    The package of legislation – the fair tax rates, elimination of the estate tax and property tax relief – are contained in Senate bills 687, 689 and 690. In addition, Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 (SJRCA01) simplifies constitutional language about income taxes to allow for a fair tax while eliminating Illinois’ current outdated flat tax system.

    Income tax rates contained in the Senate proposal:

    SENATE RATE PROPOSAL

    Single Filers

    Married / Joint Filers

    Rate

    Income Range

    Rate

    Income Range

    4.75%

    $0 - $10,000

    4.75%

    $0 - $10,000

    4.9%

    $10,000 - $100,000

    4.9%

    $10,000 - $100,000

    4.95%

    $100,000 - $250,000

    4.95%

    $100,000 - $250,000

    7.75%

    $250,001 - $350,000

    7.75%

    $250,001 - $500,000

    7.85%

    $350,001 – $750,000

    7.85%

    $500,001 - $1,000,000

    7.99%

    Over $750,000*

    7.99%

    Over $1,000,000*

    *If over this income threshold, all income is taxed at 7.99% rate

    Corporate Rate

    Current Rate

    7.0%

    Adjusted Rate

    7.99%

    Applies to all corporate income.

  • Senator ManarSPRINGFIELD – With Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis worsening in many parts of the state, the Illinois Senate today approved Senator Andy Manar’s plan to phase in an increase to the state’s minimum mandated wage for teachers.

    Senate Bill 10, which has statewide bipartisan support, incrementally increases to $40,000 the minimum salary that school districts must offer teachers. The increases would begin in the 2020-2021 school year and would occur over four years, reaching $40,000 in the 2023-2024 school year.

    Current state law mandates a minimum salary of only $10,000 for teachers with bachelor’s degrees. The law has not been updated since 1980.

    “We have a critical shortage of teachers in Illinois, and the minimum salary we offer them is a key factor in being able to attract more young teachers into the profession. This is a reasonable, incremental plan to address the shortage,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

    The legislation includes a directive for the professional review panel – which was established under the evidence-based school funding formula overhaul – to offer recommendations to lawmakers for how to help underfunded school districts cover costs associated with the increase prior to implementation of the minimum.

    According to a recent report by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 85 percent of schools surveyed are experiencing difficulty filling teacher positions – up from 78 percent in 2017. The shortage is worse in central and southern Illinois.

    Manar said a higher minimum salary reflects the state’s respect and support for teachers, as well as the education required to be a teacher and the work they do in classrooms.

    “Professional educators should not be living below the poverty level, but that’s exactly what’s happening in communities all over the state,” he said. “We expect teachers to solve all the problems of the world, and we hold them accountable for that. It’s time we pay them appropriately for it.”

    Manar’s teacher minimum wage measure passed in both houses of the Legislature last year with bipartisan support but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.

    The House passed a measure similar to Senate Bill 10 this week.

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    SPRINGFIELD – A set of measures designed to address Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis passed the state Senate Wednesday night, championed by State Senator Andy Manar, the plan’s sponsor.

    Senate Bill 1952 received bipartisan support and will go to the House for consideration.

    The measure contains the following provisions:

    • It reinstates the 6 percent cap for teacher salary increases to be covered by the state. Last year, lawmakers lowered the cap to 3 percent.
    • It removes the requirement that teachers must pass a basic skills test to be licensed.
    • It permits K-12 student teachers and early childhood student teachers to be paid.
    • It creates a refund program for teachers in underfunded, hard-to-staff school districts to recoup the cost of the teacher performance assessment.
    • It allows early childhood student teachers to be paid and receive credit.

    “We have to continue making changes to the things that are detrimental to the teaching profession and are driving would-be teachers to other states,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat. “I think this package is a necessary step, and I am excited that it contains excellent ideas that originated with teachers on the frontlines in schools throughout the state.”

    Illinois’ teaching shortage is more profound in rural and downstate communities, studies show.

    Last year, Manar passed a different set of measures to address the teacher shortage crisis, including slashing red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creating a short-term substitute teaching license and allowing downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. The packaged was signed into law in June.

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  • manar 031219SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ primary child welfare agency is failing families in rural and downstate Illinois, State Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

    “There is a void in services in parts of the state where child abuse is through the roof,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who chairs one of the Senate’s two budget committees. “I believe DCFS is completely ill-equipped to handle what’s happening in the rural parts of Illinois.”

    Manar’s district includes rural communities where residents sometimes step in to help children in crisis because DCFS is unresponsive or services are unavailable, and large communities like Decatur, where in February 2-year-old Ta’Naja Barnes died from starvation, freezing and neglect by her mother and mother's boyfriend.

    During a budget hearing Tuesday, Manar decried the absence of children’s advocacy centers and other resources in every county of Illinois, even as there has been an increase in hotline calls and abuse investigations by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

    According to DCFS data, 39 accredited children’s advocacy centers serve 95 of Illinois’ 102 counties. For example, one center in Macoupin County serves families in Macoupin, Montgomery, Greene, Jersey and Calhoun counties.

    Manar asked DCFS officials for more detailed information about the number and location of calls to the DCFS child abuse hotline, locations where abuse investigators work and more. He criticized DCFS for failing to make a sufficient budget request for the upcoming fiscal year that would allow it to properly serve the children and families of Illinois.

    “I think we can all agree there’s a crisis on our hands when it comes to many aspects of what DCFS is charged with doing. We recite the names of dead children in this hearing once a year,” Manar said. “I want to know how much it’s going to take the department to do the job that it’s tasked with doing. If it’s a big number, it’s a big number.”

  • Senator ManarSPRINGFIELD – Aspiring educators no longer would be required to pass a basic skills test and student teachers could receive a paycheck under State Senator Andy Manar’s latest plan to address Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis.

    In addition, the proposal would reinstate the 6 percent cap for teacher salary increases to be covered by the state. Last year, lawmakers lowered the cap to 3 percent.

    Manar’s measure (Senate Bill 1952) was approved by the members of Senate Education Committee Tuesday. It received bipartisan support and has bipartisan sponsorship in the Senate.

    “These are three things I hear in almost complete unison from teachers across the state – in both rural and large school districts – that in various ways impact the profession and the ability to recruit and retain qualified teachers,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

    Three solutions are outlined the proposal:

    • Passing a basic skills test would no longer be a requirement to be a teacher. Research shows the test is a barrier to many qualified would-be teachers receiving their Professional Educator License in Illinois.
    • Removes the prohibition on student teachers being paid for their work. The plan would allow school districts, higher education, foundations and others to work together to solve local teacher shortages.
    • Reinstates the 6 percent cap for salary increases for teachers to be covered by the Teachers Retirement System. Last year lawmakers lowered the cap to 3 percent.

    “The salary cap is something I hear about regularly from constituents who work in education. It poses a challenge for recruiting and retaining qualified teachers, and it creates unnecessary competition among school districts that are vying for the same teaching candidates,” Manar said. “We have to tear down barriers to putting teachers in classrooms, not create new ones.”

    Last year, Manar passed a different set of measures to address the teacher shortage crisis, including slashing red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creating a short-term substitute teaching license and allowing downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. The packaged was signed into law in June.

  • Manar TvilleFFA 03192019SPRINGFIELD – The Taylorville FFA students who are Scotland-bound after acing a national competition this winter are a shining example of what comes from investing in agriculture education in Illinois schools, State Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

    The five students who comprise the Taylorville FFA Livestock Judging Team won the National Western Roundup in Denver in January. Their victory earned them a trip to Scotland for the international livestock tour this summer, during which they will have a chance to compete again and judge breeds that are less familiar to them.

  • Sen. Andy ManarLegislation targets middle men who drive up costs to taxpayers, customers, pharmacies

    SPRINGFIELD – Pharmacy middle men are driving up the costs of prescription drugs for customers and squeezing out rural pharmacies, all while putting taxpayers on the hook for greater costs, State Senator Andy Manar said.

    The Bunker Hill Democrat is renewing his effort to impose state oversight on pharmacy benefit managers, or PBMs, that negotiate drug prices and benefits on behalf of insurance plans. This week he introduced Senate Bill 652. House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) has introduced similar legislation, House Bill 465, in the House.

  • manar 031219Points to teacher minimum wage plan as one remedy

    SPRINGFIELD – Without an increase to the teacher minimum wage and other changes to reverse Illinois’ teacher shortage, people should get comfortable with reports like one released this week showing the crisis is worsening, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

    “Either you’re comfortable with the crisis, or you should be comfortable with changes in state policy to fix it. That’s a pretty easy choice,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

  • petitions 030719SPRINGFIELD – Two state senators are embarking on a bipartisan effort to level the playing field for new political parties and independent candidates in Illinois.

    State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) have introduced a plan that lowers the number of signatures required for new political parties and independent candidates to be on the ballot. They would need the same number of signatures that is required for established political parties to be on the ballot under the proposal.

    “It’s commonsense that all candidates and political parties should have to clear the same hurdles to secure a spot on the ballot,” Manar said. “I have never thought it was fair that some candidates in Illinois have to collect more signatures than others to run for office.”

    For example, in 2018, candidates with established political parties were required to collect between 5,000 and 10,000 signatures to run for statewide office, but independent candidates and those with new parties had to collect 25,000.

    Senate Bill 141 is a matter of fairness, Barickman said.

    “Competitive elections make for a stronger democracy, and I think reducing some of the hurdles for candidates to participate is a good step in that direction,” Barickman said. “I believe this is an idea that should receive bipartisan support and I’m optimistic that we will be able to advance this legislation.”