• 030116 js 0074CLpreSPRINGFIELD — High school students from across the state visited the Capitol on Tuesday to meet with legislators and advocate for agricultural education funding. State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) met with FFA students during the 2016 Illinois Agriculture Legislative Day.

    “Every year, Will County agricultural leaders and I work to keep ag education funds in the state budget,” McGuire said. “We’ll have to do so again this year since the governor’s proposed budget this year wipes out funding for ag education at high schools and community colleges.

    “Agriculture provides jobs and income throughout the 43rd District,” McGuire said, “from the corn and bean fields in Elwood and Channahon, to the barges hauling grain through Joliet, to the food processing plants in Romeoville and Bolingbrook.”

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  • McGuire2014squareSPRINGFIELD — After the governor’s budget address Wednesday, State Senator Pat McGuire issued the following statement:

    “The question was, ‘Will the governor introduce a one-year budget or a two-year budget?’ The answer appears to be ‘no budget at all.’

    “The governor's support of early childhood and K-12 education is welcome. Yet he said nothing about helping low-income students pay for college or keeping the doors of our colleges and universities open. The governor talks about growing our economy, but his disregard of post-secondary education threatens to stunt Illinois' economic growth.

    “The governor mentioned human services only in passing near the tail end of his speech. I am stunned by the governor's avoidance of the day-to-day toll his inflexibility is taking on the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, and our neighbors and family members battling mental illness and substance abuse.

    “We, the people of Illinois, need to pull together and use our hearts and minds to save our state.”

    UPDATE: 4:40 p.m. 2/17/2016: “A bit more information about the governor's FY 17 budget has become available. The governor's budget appears to spend $3.5 billion more than expected revenues. It looks like the governor wishes to balance his own budget by the General Assembly either rubber-stamping his Turnaround Agenda or giving up the legislative branch's constitutional role in the budget process.

    “Both are dangerous paths to take. I encourage the governor to heed the advice of former Gov. Jim Edgar and others and to engage in sincere, sustained negotiations with legislators on the budget. Again, on the budget.”

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  • 021616CM0549SPRINGFIELD — With dozens of students and other higher education supporters gathered for support, Senate Democrats delivered to the governor today legislation giving him the authority to honor his commitment to lower-income college students.

    After a press conference about the need for Monetary Award Program grants, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) helped personally walk Senate Bill 2043 to the governor’s office.

    “Over 125,000 of Illinois’ neediest college students need ASAP the financial aid the state promised them,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “The governor’s repeated refusal to authorize these students’ MAP grants is causing havoc in homes and on campuses throughout Illinois.”

    SB 2043 includes MAP grants for the 2015-16 academic year as well as funding for community colleges and career-technical and adult education. It gained approval from both the House and Senate last month and awaits the governor’s signature.

    “Governor Rauner chose to fund K-12 education. He saw the light on pre-K education, McGuire said. “SB 2043 now gives the governor the opportunity to support post-secondary education.

    “For everyone’s good, I hope he will,” McGuire said.

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  • AmtrakSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation and Amtrak announced late last week that they have reached an agreement to maintain service on state-supported routes at a savings to taxpayers and without having to raise fares on the downstate routes.

    When the governor announced his initial plans to slash support for these routes, State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) questioned whether these cuts were wise in the long term.

    “The governor's proposal last spring to cut state support of Amtrak's intercity Illinois routes by 40 percent was troubling. In response, we held a Higher Education Committee hearing at which mayors, business leaders and university officials explained that frequent Amtrak service attracts investment, retains students, and reduces the need for on-campus parking,” said McGuire, chairman of the Senate’s higher education panel.

    College students make up a significant portion of the ridership on these routes, including the Lincoln Service, which runs four times a day between Chicago and St. Louis and passes through Joliet.

    “I'm pleased IDOT listened,” McGuire said. “This is good news for everyday Illinoisans and for Joliet's new multi-modal transportation center, too.”

  • Higher Education Committee chair Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) speaks to the importance of MAP grants on the Senate chamber floor on January 28, 2016.

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  • 012816CM0908CLToday, the General Assembly passed Senate Bill 2043, which funds Monetary Award Program grants for the 2015-16 academic year as well provides money for community colleges and vocational and GED training as well. State Senator Pat McGuire rose on the Senate floor in support of the legislation. Below is the audio of his speech.

    UPDATE 2:07 p.m. Jan. 28:

    McGuire helps pass MAP grant legislation

    SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of college students in Illinois who have been without their promised financial aid for months are now a step closer to receiving it.

    State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) voted to pass Senate Bill 2043, which authorizes full funding of Monetary Award Program grants for the 2015-16 academic year.

    “These students have faith that earning a degree will help them and our state flourish,” McGuire said. “They also have faith – which I heard expressed at four hearings across Illinois – that the state of Illinois will fulfill its promise to help them pay for college. The General Assembly voted today to honor that. Now it’s the governor’s turn.”

    Last May, the General Assembly passed MAP grant legislation, which the governor vetoed. And in August, SB 2043 stalled in the House. This version of SB 2043 that passed the House on Thursday not only includes MAP grant funding but money for community colleges and career-technical and adult education as well.

    With the Senate’s final approval Thursday, the measure now goes to the governor.

  • Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) expresses his thoughts regarding the State of the State address on January 27, 2016.

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  • Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) speaks at a press conference about the importance of MAP Grants on January 13, 2016.

  • 032114 js 0204CL rA measure to immediately release $168 million to benefit thousands of college students in Illinois has been filed in the Illinois State Senate.

    State Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) is chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee and the sponsor of Senate Bill 2226, which would cover the costs that colleges and universities around the state absorbed last fall fronting Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants that their students depend on.

    “Illinois needs to invest in the higher education of its residents in order to get back to full strength,” McGuire said. “Failing to provide the financial aid for which 130,000 students qualified threatens those students, the schools they attend, and the future of our state.

    Twice in 2015, the Illinois Senate passed legislation to fund MAP:

    • House Bill 4146 was passed in May. It increased MAP funding but was vetoed by the governor.
    • In August, the Senate returned to Springfield to pass SB 2043, which appropriated the governor’s original request. That legislation remains pending in the Illinois House.

    During the fall semester, colleges and universities around the state took on the cost of the absent MAP grants. However, dozens of schools recently said they can’t do the same for the current spring semester.

    “MAP isn’t about athletics, new buildings, faculty positions, or administrators’ pensions,” McGuire said. “MAP is about the opportunity to learn. It’s about students who want to do more in life for themselves and their state.”

    SB 2226 will be in committee for debate soon and goes into effect immediately on passage.

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  • mcguire 120715SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Senate today approved a measure authorizing Governor Bruce Rauner to release gaming and gas tax funds to local governments, pay Illinois Lottery winners, support community colleges, train police officers, and shore up human services.

    Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) is a co-sponsor of SB 2039. The measure passed the Illinois House on Dec. 2.

    "Better late than never," McGuire said. "Had Gov. Rauner negotiated a budget last spring, we could have avoided over five months of anxiety felt everywhere from mayors' offices to GED classrooms. Let's hope this common-sense, bipartisan action continues into the new year."

    Among the $3.1 billion in funds released by the legislation are:

    •    $100 million in casino taxes to cities with riverboats.
    •    $582 million in Motor Fuel Tax to municipalities and counties.
    •    $43 million to community colleges and non-profit organizations for adult education and career-technical training.
    •    $19 million for domestic violence shelters.
    •    $165 million for LIHEAP home heating-bill assistance.
    •    $12 million for law enforcement training.

    Most of the monies released by the measure are either federal pass-through funds or state funds derived from fees and licenses. Only $28 million comes from Illinois income and sales taxes.

    "I urge Gov. Rauner to sign SB 2039 immediately," McGuire said. "The state has played hide-and-seek with this money for far too long."

    The measure passed the Senate by a 53-0 vote and now moves to the governor’s desk.

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  • mcguire 15budgetSPRINGFIELD – After taking in the remarks stated before and after today’s closed-door leaders’ meeting, Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) released the following statement:

    "It's good news that the leaders will meet again,” McGuire said. “It's bad news that the Governor continues to ignore what life is like for the majority of Illinoisans. College students don't know if they'll be able to afford spring semester, local governments are waiting for their Motor Fuel Tax and gaming revenue, and non-profits that care for our most vulnerable are living from week to week. Despite all that, the Governor says redistricting and term limits are 'most important.' Let's hope he buckles down to budget work in upcoming meetings."