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  • manar 031617Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a key Senate budget committee, explains the status of budget negotiations at the Capitol, including prospects for the Senate’s so-called “grand bargain,” the Rauner administration's reluctance to suggest cuts and examples of apparent mismanagement of the state by the governor.

  • manar 031617SPRINGFIELD – A measure designed to fill a projected workforce shortage in rural Illinois while connecting students with good-paying careers in health care advanced out of a Senate committee this week.

    Senate Bill 888, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would allow community colleges to award four-year nursing degrees in an effort to deepen the pool of qualified registered nurses available to be hired by Illinois health care employers.

    According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree today is considered the national entry-level educational standard for a registered nurse. A 2015 report by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation indicated that about a third of registered nurses age 55 and older planned to retire within five years, prompting concerns about a statewide nursing shortage.

    Manar said the district he represents, which spans rural and underserved areas of downstate Illinois, stands to be especially hard hit by the nursing shortage.

    Currently in Illinois, only universities may award bachelor’s degrees in nursing, but they have not been able to address the nursing shortage in some areas of the state.

    Community colleges are well suited to help four-year universities ensure hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and medical offices throughout the state have a pool of well-qualified nursing applicants from which to hire, Manar said, adding that it’s also a good way to stem the tide of young people leaving Illinois in search of jobs.

    “This approach may be outside of the box for Illinois, but nationally we would not be an outlier. Eleven other states do this type of thing with their community colleges,” Manar said.

    “This discussion is about something much bigger than simply the traditional mission of Illinois’ universities and community colleges,” he said. “This is about offering excellent health care, planning for the future, adapting to changing critical workforce needs, offering affordable options for job training, putting people in good-paying jobs and keeping young people in the communities – and the state –where they grew up. These are all vitally important issues in Illinois, and this legislation touches on all of them.”

    Senate Bill 888 grants 20 Illinois community colleges the ability to award bachelor of science degrees in nursing and sets standards for establishing nursing programs, including accreditation, documenting unmet workforce needs and more.

    It also calls for a four-year review of the effort by the Illinois Community College Board, including a comprehensive statewide evaluation of newly created programs and a written report submitted to the State Board of Higher Education, the governor and both chambers of the General Assembly before July 1, 2022.

    The legislation does not require community colleges to offer the degrees. State money may not be used to establish or maintain the program, according to the legislation.

    The measure advanced out of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee on Tuesday.

  • Manar avr 031517SPRINGFIELD – As lawmakers around the country propose new ways to restrict voters’ access to the polls, State Senator Andy Manar is determined to expand access in Illinois, simplify voter registration, clean up the voter rolls and save money for taxpayers.

    Manar (D-Bunker Hill) has re-introduced commonsense legislation to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois. Last year, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the effort even though it had bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature.

  • Senators Harmon, Steans and ManarSenate Fiscal Heads Repeat Demand for Rauner to Get Out of the Way

    A state financial report released this week by the General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) projects that state FY18 revenues are $329 million less than Governor Rauner’s estimates of $32.7 billion. The drop means that Rauner’s budget blueprint is unbalanced by nearly $5 billion.
     
    The Senate’s budget and revenue committee heads say the new estimates aren’t impossible to overcome, so long as the governor ends his behind-the-scenes antics that have derailed the Senate’s bipartisan compromises.
     
    Senator Toi Hutchinson (Chair of Senate Revenue Committee)
    “We know today that the governor’s budget is wildly out of balance - by $5 billion. That’s an alarming figure. What is abundantly clear is that not telling the truth about Illinois’ revenue crisis is disingenuous at best. The simple fact is part of the solution requires straightforward honesty with the public about the need for revenue.”   
     
    Senator Heather Steans (Chair of the Senate Appropriations I Committee)
    “There remains a determination to strike a compromise to provide what Illinois needs more than anything else right now: stability. Fiscal stability, stability for countless service providers and stability for our business community. Taking another few hundred million dollars out of the formula is a hurdle, but I’m confident we can complete the task to address Bruce Rauner’s $5 billion out-of-balance budget design. To make that task easier, it’s helpful if the governor ends his ideological meddling.”
     
    Senator Andy Manar (Chair of the Senate Appropriations II Committee)
    “The drop in revenue makes Bruce Rauner’s phony budget $5 billion out of whack and counting. Every day Bruce Rauner interferes, it adds $11 million dollars onto the growing pile of debt and makes his budget even more out of balance. The Senate remains committed to doing the job to fix the chaos the governor’s created.”

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  • manar avr 112916Illinois voters and taxpayers will have to wait for the cost savings and streamlined bureaucracy that would have come with enacting automatic voter registration in the nation’s fifth largest state.

    The Illinois House on Tuesday was unable to follow the Senate’s lead and override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a measure to enact automatic voter registration and help Illinois maintain its status as a leader in making voting as simple and convenient as possible for its residents.

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  • avr votingAs civic groups throughout Illinois prepare for National Voter Registration Day activities on Tuesday, Senator Andy Manar is reminding people that automatic registration is the best way to ensure all eligible voters are able to have a say in their government.

    The Illinois Legislature in May approved automatic voter registration legislation with strong bipartisan support. However, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the proposal in August even though he previously had expressed support for the concept.

  • manar presser 012016SPRINGFIELD – Illinois must do a better job of prioritizing education funding for students who live in poverty and have special needs, Senator Andy Manar said Wednesday during a meeting of the governor’s commission on school funding reform.

    Even with the additional investment the state made in K-12 schools this year, Illinois is unlikely to move the needle on better educational outcomes because the state does not drive enough dollars to the districts where they’re most needed, Manar added.

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  • avr votingCHICAGO-- With one day left for Governor Rauner to sign or veto bipartisan Automatic Voter Registration legislation, the Just Democracy Illinois coalition  joined the bill’s legislative sponsors to call on Governor Rauner to sign the bill into law on Thursday.

    “Automatic Voter Registration will add eligible Illinois voters to the rolls, make our voting lists more accurate, and save taxpayers money over time,” said Abraham Scarr, Co-Coordinator of Just Democracy Illinois and Director of Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “We urge Governor Rauner to seize this opportunity to modernize voter registration in Illinois.”

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