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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.”

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    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.
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  • uis logo 082818SPRINGFIELD – A new venture that will connect downtown and the nearby University of Illinois campus as part of a heralded statewide innovation network is an example of what’s possible when the state starts investing in its young people and their future, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

    “Not only is this a step toward UIS having a more significant presence downtown – something local officials have discussed for years – it is the first of many incredible things to come for the capital city as a result of this project,” Manar said. 

    “I am pleased to have had role in making this a reality, and I look forward to watching the exciting changes that are about to unfold in Springfield.”

    State, local and university officials are announcing this morning that the Innovate Springfield business incubator will become part of UIS, giving the university a significant downtown presence for the first time in its history.

    In addition, UIS will become a hub of a statewide innovation network that is intended to connect universities and foster entrepreneurship in various fields.

  • manar 052118SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar said he is disappointed but not surprised by the governor’s veto Sunday of a plan to raise the minimum wage for Illinois teachers for the first time since 1980.

    For nearly four decades, state statute has required Illinois school districts to pay teachers a minimum salary of about $10,000. Based on decades of inflation, the minimum mandated salary today should be about $32,000.

    Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the Senate sponsor of the measure, noted that there are teachers throughout Illinois today who live at or below the federal poverty line, something he said he finds unconscionable given the professionalism and dedication required to educate children.

    It was hoped that raising the minimum salary would help Illinois tackle an acute teacher shortage crisis by sending a message that the work teachers do is valued and attracting more young people to the profession.

    “Refusing to guarantee professional educators a livable minimum wage is no way to lure more teachers to Illinois,” he said. “I’m disappointed in the governor’s veto, and I know thousands of dedicated, hard-working, creative educators throughout the state are, too.”

    Under the measure (Senate Bill 2892), the state would update the minimum mandated salary for teachers annually for the next four years. After that, subject to review by the General Assembly, it would be increased according to the Consumer Price Index. The phase-in looks like this under the proposal:

    • $32,076 minimum for the 2019-2020 school year
    • $34,576 minimum for the 2020-2021 school year
    • $37,076 minimum for the 2021-2022 school year
    • $40,000 minimum for the 2022-2023 school year

    It is unknown if the General Assembly will attempt to override the veto.

    Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin said members of the organization, which backed the minimum wage bill, also are disappointed but unsurprised by the governor’s veto.

    “The governor repeatedly says he’s a friend of education, but his actions tell us otherwise. Senator Manar’s legislation would have been the best way to combat the teacher shortage in Illinois. Studies show the most effective way to alleviate a teacher shortage crisis is through respect and adequate wages,” Griffin said.

    “By vetoing this bill, the governor is disrespecting every teacher, student and community in Illinois.  We are in the midst of a crisis the governor does not seem interested in fixing.”

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  • 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.