Manar

  • manar 042718Tuition waived for those who agree to teach in hard-to-staff schools

    SPRINGFIELD – College students who agree to teach science, math and vocational education in hard-to-staff schools could get a substantial break on the cost of their education under a plan introduced by State Senator Andy Manar.

    The proposal, which aims to get teachers into the pipeline and ease the statewide teacher shortage, received bipartisan support in the Senate Thursday and will move to the House for consideration.

    “We have every reason to incentivize our young people to attend Illinois universities, earn Illinois degrees, put down roots in Illinois towns, teach in Illinois schools and contribute to the Illinois economy,” Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said. “This is a bold plan, and done correctly, it can make a real difference for school districts in central and southern Illinois communities where the teacher shortage has been extremely difficult to overcome.”

    Senate Bill 3047 creates the Grow Your Own STEM and Vocational Education Teachers Act. Illinois public universities could waive tuition, fees and on-campus housing costs for students who agree to pursue bachelor’s or advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, math or agriculture and agree to teach related subjects in hard-to-staff Illinois schools.

    They then would teach such subjects as math, natural sciences, and career and vocational education, including agriculture, technology, industrial arts, trades, health care and information technology. These are all subject areas for which many schools have difficulty filling teaching vacancies.

    To take advantage of the offer, college students would have to maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and also would be required to reimburse the university if they fail to teach at least three years in a K-12 school or five years at a college or university.

    The legislation also creates the Create Your Own Dual Credit Teachers Program, which allows universities to waive tuition and fees for teachers who want to teach dual-credit courses in high school. Teachers must have a master’s degree and could pursue up to the maximum 18 graduate hours necessary to qualify to teach dual-credit courses. They would be required to teach at an Illinois high school at least five years and would have to fully reimburse the university if they breach the agreement.

    The initiatives would be subject to annual appropriation, and the state could cap the number of students who are able to take advantage of the programs based on the need for teachers in Illinois from year to year. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and its Education Foundation, as well as various statewide education organizations, support the legislation.

    “Manufacturers applaud Senator Manar for helping address the skills gap that exists today in the workplace,” said Mark Denzler, vice president and chief operating officer of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association. “The Grow Your Own STEM Teachers Act will help ensure that we have the capacity in our schools to teach important vocational education.”

    Manar agreed.

    “We have to get more teachers into the pipeline and into classrooms,” Manar said. “With this plan, we can send a strong message that we’re willing to invest in our young people right here in Illinois, and we hope they’re willing to invest in us.”

  • Manar Litchfield TIFSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate on Thursday approved extending the expiration date of a key economic development tool for the city of Litchfield.

    Senate Bill 424, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would extend the life of the city’s tax increment financing district to 35 years from 23 years. The TIF was established June 2, 1998, and is set to expire at the end of 2021. The legislation would push the expiration to 2033.

    Manar presented the legislation to a Senate committee Wednesday, and he was joined by Litchfield officials including Mayor Steve Dougherty.

    “The city of Litchfield has what I would describe as an incredible number of positive economic development projects that are happening,” Manar said. “The certainty of this TIF is critical to many of the things the city is doing in an aggressive way for job creation for both Montgomery and Macoupin counties.”

    The committee approved the measure Wednesday, followed by the full Senate Thursday afternoon. It has been sent to the House for consideration.

    Pictured: State Senator Andy Manar (left) and Litchfield Mayor Steve Dougherty present legislation extending the expiration of Litchfield’s TIF district to the Senate Revenue Committee Wednesday, April 25, 2018.

  • manar 042618SPRINGFIELD – An effort to shed more light on the actual cost of educating Illinois public school students was approved by the state Senate Thursday.

    Senate Bill 3234, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), would require an annual state report on public schools to include each school district’s administrative costs.

    “Taxpayers deserve access to the most accurate information possible about how their money is used, and that includes the administration in public schools,” Manar said. “As we begin to implement the new school funding formula, it’s going to be more important than ever that everyone has the same information about the cost involved with providing an adequate education locally.”

    The Illinois State Report Card contains data about statewide and individual school districts’ student and workforce demographics, finance, curriculum. It includes such data as average class size; a breakdown of students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds; percentage of low-income, special education and limited English proficiency students; operating expenditures; per-pupil state pension contributions; and various calculations under the state’s new school funding formula.

    Districts’ administrative costs would be reported on a per-pupil basis under the measure.

    Senate Bill 3236 was approved by the Senate with no opposition and goes to the House for consideration.

  • manar 042518SPRINGFIELD – The severe shortage of substitute teachers available in rural and downstate school districts would ease under a measure that was approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

    The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), increases to 120 the number of days a retired teacher can return to the classroom as a substitute without affecting his or her retirement status. Currently, the limit is set at 100 days.

  • manar 041718Measure will help stabilize rural communities as consumer shopping habits evolve

    SPRINGFIELD – An effort to protect rural and downstate communities by ensuring distant online retailers are playing by the same rules as local brick-and-mortar retailers advanced out of the Senate Tuesday.

    The measure requires out-of-state retailers that do business with Illinois customers to collect a use tax under two conditions: their cumulative gross receipts exceed $100,000 or they have more than 200 separate transactions with customers in Illinois.

    State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is a chief cosponsor of the initiative, Senate Bill 2577. It passed the Senate 39-10 with bipartisan support.

    He represents central Illinois communities that have been hard hit by job losses and declining sales tax revenue for road and sewer projects as long-standing brick-and-mortar retailers have shuttered because of online competition and changing consumer habits.

    “Out-of-state corporations are gaming the system. It’s hurting the small and mid-size retailers our communities rely so deeply upon for goods, services, jobs and revenue,” Manar said. “Online shopping, while good and convenient for rural consumers, has contributed to a tidal wave of brick-and-mortar store closures, job losses and sales tax declines that have local mayors and county boards extremely concerned. I share their worries.”

    Federal law requires retailers with a physical storefront to collect the sales tax required by the jurisdiction where the business is located. If the retailer has a physical presence in a state, it must collect applicable state and local sales tax from customers, regardless of where the sales originates.

    However, if it does not have a presence in a particular state, it is not required to collect sales taxes.

    As consumer shopping habits shift online, local governments are finding their sales tax collections – money often used for local infrastructure improvements – on the decline or stagnant.

    Manar stressed that SB2577 is an effort to level the playing field, not a tax hike.

    “As the economy and consumer habits change, it’s vital that state government is vigilant and changes with them,” Manar said. “If we don’t try to rectify this imbalance, I don’t want to imagine what some of our rural communities will look like in a few years.”

  • manar 041318Clinic’s ability to address Decatur opioid crisis uncertain while state funding is withheld

    SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar is calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to release the $3 million in state money he promised to Decatur’s Crossing Healthcare during a splashy news conference in February.

    More than two months after the governor’s announcement, the Rauner administration has only approved $750,000 for the clinic.

    That’s unacceptable, said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes Crossing Healthcare and much of Decatur.

    “Let’s revisit the governor’s track record with money for this clinic. He froze its funding immediately upon taking office in 2015. He blocked negotiations on the Senate’s ‘grand bargain’ budget last year and repeatedly vetoed budgets that would have provided the money the center was owed and desperately needed,” Manar said.

    “I have contacted the comptroller, and her office is prepared to release the full $3 million but can’t do that until Rauner submits the paperwork to do so. I would hate to think the governor could be so cruel as to dangle money in front of a clinic just so he could get in front of a TV camera.”

    Rauner previously froze a promised $3 million construction grant to the clinic for its Community Health Improvement Center.

    Crossing Healthcare is a federally qualified clinic that served more than 19,000 patients in Decatur in 2016. Among its many services is treatment for opioid addiction.

    “Gov. Rauner is going around claiming his administration is doing everything in its power to address the opioid problem. It’s baloney,” Manar said. “And, clearly, he’s not keeping his promises to Decatur.”

  • Sen. Andy ManarState’s oldest debt is outstanding wages for prison workers, caregivers and others

    SPRINGFIELD – An effort to compensate about 24,000 state workers for promised wages going back to 2011 took a step forward Thursday.

    A measure to set aside $63.25 million for the back pay was approved by a Senate appropriations committee. The legislation – Senate Bill 2269 sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) – was approved 14-2 with bipartisan support.

  • Manar 013118 sb444SPRINGFIELD – Legislation to set aside May 17 of each year to raise awareness of a rare and incurable form of childhood brain cancer was approved Wednesday by the Illinois Senate.

    The measure, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), was prompted by the advocacy efforts of Bunker Hill mother Kim Skief, whose 11-year-old daughter, Grace, died from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, in 2015.

    The Senate approved the measure, Senate Bill 2254, 56-0. It was sent to the House for consideration.

    “Grace’s story is a simple reminder that medical cures and care, sadly, are not guaranteed to all of us. That’s why I’m working with her mother to help raise awareness about this childhood cancer,” Manar said. “Although DIPG is rare, when it strikes it is painful, and unfortunately it is quick.”

    DIPG is an aggressive form of cancer that targets children almost exclusively – about 300 each year in the United States. It affects the part of the brain that controls the heartbeat, breathing, swallowing, sight and eye movement, and balance. It is in operable, and the survival rate is less than 1 percent.

    Grace Skief was a fifth-grader when she was diagnosed with DIPG in April 2015. She died three months later, on July 31, 2015.

    Twenty other states have set aside May 17 to raise awareness of this heart-breaking childhood cancer and the lack of a cure for it.

    Present in the Senate gallery during Wednesday’s vote were Kim Skief and her son, James, both of Bunker Hill; and Grace’s grandmother, Carol Robbins of Alton. Manar thanked them for their advocacy and their courage.

    “Any number of things could happen after tragedy strikes a family, as we often see when families visit us in the Senate,” he said. “At the lowest point the Skief family somehow mustered the strength and courage to move on and make something positive out of what undoubtedly is the most difficult situation anybody could go through.”

    For more information about DIPG, visit http://www.defeatdipg.org and http://www.cancer.gov.

  • manar 030218Senate committee votes to update Illinois statute for first time since 1980

    SPRINGFIELD – Ensuring teachers earn a livable minimum salary is one significant step Illinois can take to recruit more educators into rural and downstate classrooms and address the ongoing shortage, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

    The Senate Education Committee approved his measure raising Illinois’ minimum mandated salary for full-time teachers for the first time since 1980.

    “Fewer talented young people are going into the teaching profession for numerous reasons, one of which is pay. Would-be teachers can get a higher salary right out of college in other areas of the workforce, which his opposite of our priorities and our needs in this state,” he said.

  • IL School Buses

    Illinois schools will soon see millions in new money through the education funding overhaul passed by the Senate last year.

    The Illinois State Board of Education on Thursday issued vouchers to the state comptroller that clear the way for local school districts to begin receiving money under Illinois’ new evidence-based model of funding public schools.

    The distribution – which is based on detailed enrollment figures, district-specific student learning needs, available local resources and other data – is the first step toward right-sizing state support for every school district. No schools will ever receive less state funding than they do today under the new plan.

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  • manar 031418Manar urges governor to sign measure promptly

    SPRINGFIELD – The state will be able to distribute eagerly awaited funding under Illinois’ new education formula as soon as April under legislation approved by the Senate – as long as the governor chooses to act quickly when it reaches his desk.

    The measure, approved Wednesday, is a trailer bill to Illinois’ historic 550-page school funding reform law. It was requested by state education officials who said clarifications and corrections were needed to the original language before they could ensure money would be distributed as intended under the new funding model.

  • manar 030218Plan guarantees continued health care, employment in central Illinois

    SPRINGFIELD – The six critical access hospitals that serve Macoupin, Montgomery and Christian counties will not experience an interruption in vital federal funds under a bipartisan deal that was reached in Springfield.

    The deal, signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner Monday in Chicago, is the framework for modernizing Illinois’ $3.5 billion Medicaid Hospital Assessment Program. The federal government must sign off on the state’s proposal. The deadline is June 30.

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  • manar 030218Declares March 2018 Social Work Month in Illinois

    SPRINGFIELD – As Illinois grapples with how to address such pressing challenges as violence, addiction, poverty and equal rights, an army of social workers is there to offer help and guidance.

    In fact, more than 20,000 licensed social workers are employed throughout Illinois to help people in times of crisis. They work in school districts, colleges and universities, state and local government, social service agencies, the military, health care and mental health organizations and private practices.

    Senate Resolution 1371, sponsored by Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), declares March 2018 Social Work Month in Illinois. It was adopted by the Senate Thursday.

    “This resolution recognizes the accomplishments of social workers who are in our school districts, in our government buildings and working in private employment every day,” Manar said.

    “They are there to help children and adults on their worst days – to cope with grief and uncertainty, to overcome abuse and addiction, to recover from a disaster when all seems lost, and to gather the courage to face down discrimination and bullying.”

    This year’s Social Work Month theme is “Social Workers” Leaders. Advocates. Champions.” According to the National Association of Social Workers, the profession is expected to grow faster than average during the next seven years, with more than 649,000 people employed as social workers by 2024.

    Social workers are the largest group of providers of mental health services in Illinois, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is one of the largest employers of social workers holding advanced degrees.

    Mary Garrison, professor of social work at Millikin University in Decatur, said NASW is honored to have Manar sponsor a resolution for Social Work Month 2018.

    “This year's theme supports the efforts of Illinois’s 20,000 licensed social workers and Senator Manar to work actively to meet the needs of those facing barriers of injustice and impacted by abuse, neglect, poverty, addiction and mental illness,” she said. “Illinois social workers thank Senator Manar for recognizing our professional efforts to ensure rights for all through engagement, intervention and advocacy.”

  • manar 021518SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar and state lawmakers are pressing for an audit of the Rauner administration’s handling of a deadly disease outbreak at the state-run veterans home in Quincy.

    The administration has been reluctant to voluntarily produce documents and other information requested by lawmakers that would shed light on the response to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 13 people at the Illinois Veterans Home since 2015.

    The materials could help guide the General Assembly in setting policy and passing laws to protect veterans and employees at the facility and other state buildings where the Legionella bacteria has been detected.

    “By refusing to be cooperative with lawmakers, the Rauner administration has left us with no choice but to seek an audit that will produce the kind of information we need,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee.

    “Our job is to protect our constituents and to act in the best interest of the people of Illinois. Until we can properly assess how this crisis developed and how it was handled, we won’t know what we can do to help prevent more deadly outbreaks in the future.”

    Manar is chief co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 1186, which was adopted by the Senate Thursday.

    The resolution asks that the audit focus on the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs’ management of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks and that it include:

    • The department’s responses in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including recommendations made in a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and the department’s actions to address the recommendations.
    • The type, cost and timing of any infrastructure or building improvements that could contain the spread of Legionnaires’ or prevent it from reoccurring.
    • Changes made by the department to its operating protocols and staff training to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’.
    • The nature and extent of monitoring conducted by the department to determine if the changes put in place are effective and ensure the safety of residents and staff.
    • The amount of state money received or expended during fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 for infrastructure improvements, monitoring and other measures to address the outbreaks.
    • Information about whether the veterans home has been the subject of any legal or compliance reviews since 2015 regarding the care of residents and the results of those reviews.

    Three new cases of Legionnaires’ disease were confirmed at the Quincy veterans home this week. No additional fatalities were reported.

    In addition, officials confirmed this week that a patient at the Chester Mental Health Center in southern Illinois has tested positive for Legionnaires’.

    And earlier this month, state employees were notified that Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires’ disease, was detected at the Illinois Capitol Complex in Springfield.

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  • manar 031617State Senator Andy Manar is urging state education officials to submit a plan to disseminate the $350 million in additional state funding that was promised when a new school funding formula was signed into law Aug. 31.

    During a hearing Tuesday, members of the Senate’s Education Committee discussed the nearly 20 changes that the Illinois State Board of Education has suggested should be made to the new school funding formula.

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  • Manar 013118 sb444SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s erroneous veto of Senate Bill 444:

    "The Senate's override vote helps to correct a poor governing decision that so far has delayed execution of the new school funding formula by nearly three months. I look forward to the House taking the same course of action so that we can put this sorry situation behind us and allow the Illinois State Board of Education to move forward with its work. Schools and communities all over the state are anxious for this to be ironed out once and for all."