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  • Bennett ensures Senate budget includes funding for Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy

    bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD – The budget passed by the Illinois Senate includes funding for a popular program managed by the Illinois National Guard, according to one Illinois state senator.

    The Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy, funded through the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, is a youth intervention program based in Rantoul at the former Chanute Air Force Base. The academy seeks to help high school dropouts gain job and life skills that will lead to a better future.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) represents Rantoul and voted for the budget in large part to keep programs like the ChalleNGe Academy open.

    “Some of the young people who go Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy just need a second chance,” Bennett said. “The best way for the state to guarantee at-risk youth have a future chance at success is to invest in programs like the Academy that give them the necessary skills to do so.”

    Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy was started as a pilot program after the passage of the 1993 National Defense Reauthorization Act. Currently, 29 states have ChalleNGe Academies.

    The Rantoul-based facility will also receive funding to prevent another shutdown of their facility upgrade, saving taxpayers the expensive costs of restarting the project. The academy employs a number of people in Rantoul.

  • Senate Black Caucus delivers full balanced budget

    blk caucus 052517With the end of session looming, the Senate Black Caucus led the charge on presenting and passing a full balanced Senate budget. When it became apparent that partisan lines were drawn and the governor wanted to further hurt our state’s most vulnerable populations, the Senate Black Caucus stood together to provide the necessary votes.

    Assistant Majority Leader Caucus Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), joint chairwoman of Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said in a statement, “We made an effort today to prevent the governor from causing more suffering to our most vulnerable populations with a plan that gives our state stability.”

  • Tom Cullerton votes to support DuPage residents

    tc 052417SPRINGFIELD — In an effort to protect Illinois taxpayers, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) voted against a premature tax increase.

    Senate Bill 9 increases the state income tax from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent.

    “I cannot support a tax increase until we cut more waste, fraud and abuse in state bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “The governor’s administration entered into a $2.4 million leasing deal on the taxpayers’ dime; yet folks are asking DuPage residents to help balance the budget. This is unacceptable and something I cannot vote in favor of.”

    Cullerton and State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) are urging for a bipartisan investigation by the Illinois Audit Commission to examine the sweetheart deal Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration gave to political insiders.

    Last week, the Illinois Senate passed structural reforms, such as Cullerton’s government consolidation plan, procurement reform and school funding reform.

    The school funding plan does not cut funding to schools in DuPage County. All schools will receive the same amount of funding they received this school year. However, struggling districts such as School District U-46 and Queen Bee School District 16 would receive an increase in funding to put them on an even playing field with neighboring schools. 

    “I would never support a plan that would pit children against each other,” Cullerton said. “None of our schools will receive less funding than the year before. However, we will move toward a system that is fair and gives all children, regardless of their ZIP code, a chance to succeed.” 

  • Senate Dems pass budget for state's stability and certainty

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  • Manar: If state can find emergency cookie dough money, why not emergency roof money?

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  • New facility would help women returning to communities after incarceration

    Sen. Dave KoehlerSPRINGFIELD – A new Department of Corrections facility would help women who have been incarcerated return to their communities under legislation being considered at the Senate.

    The facility, known as the Peoria Women’s Community Transformation Center, will provide housing, case management, social and educational services, hands-on training in construction skills and other types of vocational training, plus a pool of jobs created through the work of the Community Transformation Institute and its partners.

  • Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017 (VIDEO)

    jjc elmhurst2Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.

    The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

  • Senate President talks about real problems to solving state’s budget woes

    Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton is often invited to speak to groups and organizations about the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget. This presentation was put together to help illustrate the real pressures from both the budget and the growing backlog of unpaid bills.

    The following slides walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

     

  • Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017

    Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.

    The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

    Read more: Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017

  • Video: Manar still looking for budget answers from Rauner administration

    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.

  • Services for developmentally disabled threatened by budget impasse

    devel dis 030717Stories pop up every day all across Illinois about the effects of the budget impasse. Those stories range from facility closures to students who may be on the hook for thousands of dollars for their education. One story in the 18th District shows that the developmentally disabled are especially at risk during the budget impasse.

    “Sertoma Centre is just one example of the crisis that the state is facing,” Senator Bill Cunningham said. “We need real governing to ensure that we can end this fiscal crisis that is doing real harm to our community.”

  • Hastings looks for answers to address governor’s $5 billion budget hole

    hastings 011017SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park) spent the week asking Illinois agencies to address Governor Bruce Rauner’s nearly $5 billion budget deficit.

    The $5 billion budget deficit would in turn mean a 20 percent budget cut across the board for Illinois agencies and programs.

    Hastings, chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Criminal Law, brought in agency directors from the Illinois State Police and Illinois Department of Corrections to directly ask them where the 20 percent state agency cuts would come from.

    Illinois Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin did not appear in front of the committee or notify the committee of any scheduling conflicts.

    “The director of the Illinois Department of Corrections did not bother to notify the committee of his absence,” Hastings said. “It is offensive for directors to not come to Senate committees unprepared to answer questions. However, it is unimaginable for a director to not even bother to show up to committee. Come to work, do your job and explain the budget.”

    The Illinois State Police (ISP) is hoping for additional state funding to meet public safety needs. ISP needs to train additional cadets to fill workforce needs and keep Illinois safe.

    Governor Rauner did not seem to consult with the ISP while developing his proposed budget.

    “There is a void in leadership,” Hastings said. “The governor needs to lead our state forward, not obstruct progress. We are going on year three without a budget. We know our people are hurting. Governor, you need to step up and do your job.”

    ISP and IDOC did not list any potential budget cuts to meet the governor’s nearly $5 billion deficit.

    Hastings is looking forward to meeting with the Director Baldwin during Senate appropriations hearings.

  • McGuire: Governor’s unbalanced budget lacks specifics

    mcguire 030917SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, issued the following statement Thursday to address concerns with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s unbalanced budget proposal, which spends nearly $5 billion more than projected revenues.

    “This week, leaders of our nine state universities told of jobs lost, programs eliminated, reserves exhausted, furloughs imposed, and tuition rates increased,” said McGuire, Chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “Yet, the Governor’s proposed budget not only cuts Illinois higher education again. A nearly $5 billion hole with no plan to close it makes planning impossible for schools and families.”

    McGuire joined several other Democrats in the Illinois Senate at a press conference today in Springfield to speak about the governor’s unbalanced budget proposal. In a week of testimony before various Senate committees, agency heads were unable to identify any specific reductions to their departments that would help close the $4.6 billion deficit in the governor’s proposed budget.

  • Bertino-Tarrant: Agency directors are unprepared to deal with Rauner’s $5 billion out-of-balance budget

    jbt 050316SPRINGFIELD— State Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) joined fellow chairs of Senate Committees at a press conference today to discuss the fact that Governor Rauner’s agency directors have offered no new cuts to close out the $5 billion out-of-balance budget he proposed.

    “What’s frustrating is that we have a governor who has derailed budget negotiations and presented an unbalanced budget for next year,” Bertino-Tarrant said.

    When asked on several occasions before Senate committees, sixteen of Rauner’s agency heads were unable to identify a single dollar to cut from Illinois $36 billion operations budget.

    Bertino-Tarrant, the chair of the Illinois Senate’s Education Committee, questioned Superintendent of Education Tony Smith about what cuts he would make to close Rauner’s budget gap. His response was that Chairman James Meeks of the Illinois State Board of Education had directed him not to say anything about reductions.

    “Superintendent Smith said he, as well as Chairman Meeks, will not advocate for cuts,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “The governor needs to face the fact that his leaders are unable to identify any more reductions.” 

  • Van Pelt: Rauner and agency heads offer no plan for balancing state’s budget

    vanpelt 030917SPRINGFIELD – After a week of testimonies from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cabinet members on potential cuts they could make in their departments, it’s clear that Rauner has no plan to balance his proposed budget.

    “Governor Rauner has once again proved that he is all talk and no action,” Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said. “He has spent the past two years harping on the need to reduce spending, but when given the opportunity to offer cuts, his cabinet members were silent.”

    Senate Public Health Committee Chairwoman Van Pelt is one of several Senate committee chairs who spent the week asking state agency directors what programs they intend to cut to help balance the nearly $5 billion in deficits Gov. Rauner proposed.

    “Every state agency across the board would need to cut spending by 20 percent to achieve the balanced budget the governor wants,” Van Pelt said. “I am absolutely stunned that Gov. Rauner hasn’t even asked agency directors to provide a list of cuts they could make in their departments. Every day without a budget costs the state $11 million. The governor should be offering solutions, but instead he is creating chaos and destruction.”

    The move by Senate committee chairs comes one week after Gov. Rauner derailed the Senate’s bipartisan plan to resolve the state’s budget impasse. Agency directors have been asked to return to Senate committees next week with a detailed list of cuts.

     

  • Steans: Still determined to find compromise

    steans 030917SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in light of the inability of Rauner administration agency heads to identify possible spending cuts during committee hearings:

    The governor presented a budget that is now $5 billion out of balance. When members of the Senate asked his agency directors how they could contribute to filling this gap, none of them were able to identify a single dollar to help balance the budget.

    The fact that the governor stifled the Senate’s grand bargain negotiations when his budget relied on the grand bargain to help balance his budget tells me that the governor is more interested in creating chaos than fiscal stability. By continuing to push his partisan priorities, the governor is hurting taxpayers, businesses and families. Every day that we don’t resolve this budget crisis, $11 million is added to the state’s debt and our backlog of bills grows.

    Though the governor’s budget proposal is now $5 billion out of balance, I remain determined to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find compromise and fill the budget gap the governor created.

  • Collins: State budget compromise advances in Senate

    collins 022817SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, issued the following statement today as the Illinois Senate passed several key parts of the grand bargain legislative package aimed at ending the state’s two-year budget impasse.

    “While I am deeply disappointed that we have approved a gambling expansion, I am grateful that we saw strong bipartisan compromise on supporting Chicago Public Schools, giving voters the power to consolidate local government and taking steps to make sure we do right by taxpayers as we purchase goods and services in state government,” Collins said. “Today we have moved closer to a long-needed solution through compromise and statesmanship that has been sorely lacking in Springfield of late.”

  • Sen. Hunter supports the bipartisan budget deal

    hunter 022817SPRINGFIELD – Today, State Senator Mattie Hunter and the Illinois Senate voted on pieces of the bipartisan grand bargain, a package of deals to end the budget stalemate.

    Many public universities, senior and mental health services, addiction centers, and other programs have gone without state funding since Jan. 1, when the emergency budget deal expired.

    “It’s time to better serve our students and residents by replenishing the services that have been taken away due to the financial drought,” Sen. Hunter said. “Today in the Senate, both parties put aside partisan politics and worked to pass reforms that will help the residents and businesses that have been suffering.”

    The grand bargain allocates funding to higher education, human services and also introduces various sources that aim to bring revenue to the state. 

    The budget deal is designed to ensure funding through the rest of the 2017 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

  • Steans: One step closer to fiscal stability

    steans 022817SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on today’s voting on the Senate grand bargain:

    Today the Illinois Senate began voting on the bipartisan grand bargain, moving one step closer to providing Illinoisans fiscal stability.

    The appropriations bill we passed today ensures social service providers can keep their doors open, funds public universities and community colleges to the level they saw in 2015 when we last had a complete budget, and provides MAP grant funding for Illinois residents pursuing a degree within the state.

    As a legislative body, we worked together on the grand bargain and compromised on many of the big issues facing our state. I am glad that we were able to push past differing political ideology and come together for real solutions to help struggling businesses, residents and families.

  • Clayborne works to move Senate budget package forward

    clayborne 022817SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate moved a number of measures forward Tuesday in an effort to get the state back on track and solve the budget stalemate.

    State Senator James F. Clayborne (D-Belleville) supported measures that would fund social service agencies, bring economic investment back to the Metro East and help reduce the state’s deficit.

    “It is time to get this state back on track,” Clayborne said. “We are making some tough yet necessary decisions in the Senate. Nonetheless, these are decisions to keep places like the Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House open and ensure the citizens in our community have a renewed sense of livelihood.”

    The Senate continues to work on these measures in an effort to bring reforms to the state and put an end to the two-year budget stalemate once and for all.

    “Enough is enough. We need to ensure our seniors are taken care of, that after-school programs remain funded and that our most vulnerable residents no longer face uncertainty,” he said. “I hope this plan will make it to the governor’s desk and that he will support it. We need to get this done for the people of our state.”