Manar

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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.”

  • lightford 030519SPRINGFIELD – Fed up with delayed and denied state payments that are compromising quality health care for the most vulnerable, state legislators joined safety-net hospitals today to call for landmark reform of managed care companies under Illinois’ Medicaid program.

    Senate Bill 1807 and House Bill 2814, also known as the Safety Net Hospital MCO Reform Act, provide a path to rein in repeated abuses by managed care organizations (MCOs) in their oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars of care each year provided by hospitals who treat Medicaid low-income patients. Advocates and lawmakers called for immediate reform Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference.

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  • 02052019 Manar Ed Comm SB10 002RSPRINGFIELD – An effort to update Illinois’ minimum mandated salary for teachers – one that could attract more young people to the profession by sending a message that their work is valued – was approved by an Illinois Senate committee Tuesday.

    Illinois has not updated its minimum mandated salary for teachers since 1980. For 38 years, state statute has required Illinois school districts to pay teachers with a bachelor’s degree a minimum salary of $10,000 ($9,000 for those without a bachelor’s degree). Based on decades of inflation, the minimum mandated salary today should be about $32,000.

  • manar siu 013019SPRINGFIELD – Southern Illinois University could establish a presence in downtown Springfield under a plan introduced in the legislature today by State Senator Andy Manar.

    Manar’s plan (Senate Bill 179) would set aside $50 million in state capital funds for a grant to SIU for costs associated with the construction of a campus and public policy center. The site would have to be within 1 mile of the SIU School of Medicine at 801 N. Rutledge St.

  • manar 030218SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement regarding Illinois Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, who will step down from his post this week when his contract ends:

    “I want to thank Superintendent Smith for his service to the children, families, schools and communities of Illinois.

    “Tony helped guide the state through a period of tremendous change. He was an ardent proponent of school funding reform and worked diligently with his team to implement those changes. He supervised the state’s application for the Every Student Succeeds Act. He has been a driving force behind efforts to diversify the teaching ranks in this state. He paid attention to the impact of rural poverty on public education, and he was a constant advocate for underserved children and public schools throughout Illinois.

    “I wish him well as he pursues new challenges.”

  • manar 011619SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar is lauding Gov. JB Pritzker’s move to recognize fair pay for state employees and distance himself from the anti-worker policies of the previous administration.

    In his first full day in office, Pritzker announced he will begin bringing state employees to their appropriate step salary level and that he plans to continue addressing outstanding employment issues, such as back pay. State workers, including prison guards, veterans home nurses and public health monitors, have been owed this for years.

    “This is a step in the right direction. It doesn’t resolve all the issues that linger, but it tells state workers that the new governor understands their issues, values their work and is on their side,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who helped advise the governor’s transition team.

    Manar said he is pleased with the turnaround and acknowledged the effect that the uncertainty of the past four years has had on state workers and the central Illinois economy.

    “By far, the No. 1 constituent question my office continues to receive is when will state employees see back pay and promised step advancement restored,” said Manar, whose district includes thousands of state workers.

    “I appreciate that the governor has made this a priority and that he intends to move ahead in a manner that is responsible to the taxpayers of this state. I also hope this is bodes well for inking a new contract agreement with state employees.”

  • manar 120418TAYLORVILLE – The Illinois comptroller is expediting a state payment of $221,594 to Taylorville Memorial Hospital after the city was struck by a tornado during the weekend, State Senator Andy Manar announced today.

    Christian County was declared a state disaster area Monday after severe storms and tornadoes tore across central Illinois. Numerous people were injured and hundreds of structures were damaged or destroyed.

    “Expediting this payment is the right thing to do for the people of Taylorville, and I appreciate the comptroller prioritizing the community’s needs,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes Christian County.

    The money, which was owed by the state to Taylorville Memorial, was processed Monday, according to the comptroller’s office.

    “Our hearts go out to those recovering and rebuilding after the severe storms,” said Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

    Residents who are experiencing immediate problems or challenges as a result of Saturday’s severe storms may call Manar’s district office in Bunker Hill at 618-585-4848.

  • manar 030218SPRINGFIELD – More than $16 million in state funds are available for rural and downstate schools to expand internet access and close the broadband gap, State Senator Andy Manar announced today.

    The Illinois State Board of Education is accepting proposals from school districts that need to expand high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi access in classrooms. Manar (D-Bunker Hill), chairman of one of the Senate’s two budget committees, ensured money was included in the current state budget to help rural school districts access broadband internet so they can offer a 21st century education to students. The effort had bipartisan support.

    “Schools can no longer get by without high-speed internet and digital resources in classrooms,” Manar said. “Students in many rural and downstate areas of Illinois are at a disadvantage because of the lack of reliable high-speed internet in classrooms and at home.”

    Applications for funding are available at www.isbe.net/broadband. They are due by 4 p.m. Jan. 25. The Learning Technology Center of Illinois www.ltcillinois.org is offering free assistance to school districts to help with their applications.

    In Illinois, 77 school districts need fiber connections, and 31 need bandwidth upgrades, according to Education Superhighway, an organization that advocates for increased connectivity in schools.

    The organization reports that more than 650,000 students in Illinois have gained access to high-speed internet since 2015 and that 96 percent of school districts have access to broadband now, up from 71 percent in 2015.

    However, more than 400,000 Illinois students remain at a disadvantage when it comes to digital learning.

    Fiber optic technology offers fast, affordable network speeds and allows school districts to cost-effectively scale up to meet growing bandwidth needs. The $16.3 million in available state funding will cover the costs of special construction projects for school districts with federal approval to install fiber optic cable lines.

    To find out which area school districts are in need of upgrades, visit https://www.compareandconnectk12.org/.

  • manar 112718SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar today was named co-chairman of the education transition committee for governor-elect JB Pritzker, further guaranteeing the needs of downstate Illinois are relayed to the incoming administration.

    The 35-member Educational Success Committee is the seventh of several working groups of the transition made up of experts who will advise the new administration.

    “Educating our children is a foundational obligation of state government, and that’s why I led the charge to update our antiquated K-12 school funding formula to make it equitable for every child,” said Manar (D-Bunker Hill). 

  • manar lyme 111518SPRINGFIELD – Illinois physicians will not face discipline for recommendations they make to aggressively treat Lyme disease under a new law supported by State Senator Andy Manar.

    The Illinois Senate on Thursday voted to override the governor’s veto of a bipartisan plan that permits Lyme disease sufferers to receive extended regimens of antibiotics under a physician’s care.

    The plan clears the way for doctors to prescribe more aggressive treatments for Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses than are currently accepted under industry standards without facing disciplinary action by the state.

    “Numerous people in my Senate district suffer from the life-altering effects of Lyme, and I believe this plan is a step in the right direction as we learn more about how to successfully treat the disease,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who co-sponsored the measure in the Senate.

    House Bill 4515 creates the Lauryn Russell Lyme Disease Prevention Act. It requires state officials to form a Lyme disease prevention and outreach program and establish a 12-member Lyme disease task force.

    The bill passed in the spring with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it in August. This week lawmakers voted to override the governor – 110-0 in the House and 48-0 in the Senate.

    There were 237 confirmed cases of Lyme disease in Illinois in 2016, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

  • manar 052818SPRINGFIELD – Illinois should reassess how it awards pre-K grants after school districts throughout central Illinois were unexpectedly rejected for money they’ve long relied upon to run their programs, State Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

    “How can we ensure every student arrives at kindergarten ready to learn when the state is pulling the rug out from under school districts that are trying to help?” Manar said. “We have to ensure these grants get to the communities that need them the most so that we can continue to help the children who need it the most.”

    School districts throughout Illinois earlier this year were denied pre-K grants by the Illinois State Board of Education without warning, even though they have been receiving the grants for years.

    Bunker Hill CUSD 8 in Macoupin County is among those that were denied. Last year the district received $104,000 for its preschool program; this year it received $0. The district has received a pre-K grant since at least 1995, according to records.

    Manar said the Illinois State Board of Education cut Bunker Hill’s pre-K funding by 100 percent with no warning and little explanation. Half of all students in the district are considered low income.

    Studies show that early childhood education is vital to a lifetime of successful learning and that children from disadvantaged homes are less likely to attend preschool.

    Manar noted that the abrupt decision by ISBE to change the way it awards early childhood grants undercuts priorities identified in school funding reform discussions, including equity, poverty and need. ISBE’s new process benefits wealthy school districts that can afford to pay consultants to write their grant applications, he added.

    “Bunker Hill is not alone in this. Numerous rural and downstate communities are in the same boat, wondering how to move forward,” he said. “Like funding for K-12 schools, pre-K grants should be based on need, not on who wrote the best grant request.”

  • State Senator Andy Manar
    SPRINGFIELD - The Rauner administration's strict 45-hour cap on home care overtime for personal assistants to disabled Illinoisans is too severe and deserves review, State Senator Andy Manar said Monday, flanked by two constituents who are struggling because of the policy.
     
    "We're seeing quality-of-life and quality-of-care suffer as a result of the governor's restrictions," Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. "Gov. Rauner should remember that some cuts may look good on a balance sheet, but they have life-threatening consequences when put into practice."
     
    Manar sponsored legislation (HB 3376) in 2017 to extend the overtime cap to 55 hours in an effort to compromise between disability advocates and the administration. Gov. Rauner vetoed the measure.
    Today, Manar said he intends to introduce legislation again to address the matter, with input from those who are most affected.