• Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) shares her thoughts immediately following the governor's budget address on February 17, 2016.

  • Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) shares her thoughts immediately following the governor's budget address on February 17, 2016.

  • Senator Donne Trotter (D-Chicago) shares his thoughts immediately following the governor's budget address on February 17, 2016 in this exclusive audio.

  • Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) expresses disappointment in the governor's second budget address.

  • Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) shares his thoughts following the governor's second budget address on February 17, 2016 at the Illinois State Capitol.

  • Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) shares her thoughts following the governor's second budget address at a press conference in the Capitol.

  • Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) expresses her feelings on the governor's second budget address at a press conference February 17, 2016.

  • Senator Donne Trotter(D-Chicago) shares his thoughts following the governor's budget address at a recent press conference.

  • Assistant Majority Leader and Legislative Black Caucus Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) speaks regarding the governor's budget address at a recent press conference.

  • BudgetAddy 

  • Senate President John Cullerton appeared on IL Lawmakers following the governor’s budget address on February 17, 2016.

  • biss oped0216This week, Crain's Chicago Business published an opinion piece from Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) regarding comparisons between other states and our state, particularly those by the governor in seeking to justify his agenda.

    Everywhere I go, I hear the same question: What on earth is going on in Springfield? People can't figure out why we have no budget, what the consequences are, whether our economic future is slipping away from us and what can be done about it all.

    Sometimes they even go on to point out that surely something is wrong and in need of reform in Illinois, so it must stand to reason that we should enact Gov. Bruce Rauner's agenda.

  • Cullerton to City Club: School funding reform the defining crisis of our timeSenate President John Cullerton on Monday called Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula the defining crisis of our time and challenged Gov. Bruce Rauner to turn around Illinois by making fair funding for schools his top priority.

    Cullerton outlined the problems with Illinois’ school-funding formula during a sold-out speech at the City Club of Chicago, whose members include prominent civic, business and government leaders.

    “Our students, parents, teachers and taxpayers are tired of the bickering, tired of the impasse,” Cullerton said. “They’re looking for leaders with the courage to step beyond the status quo and do what’s right. Today I’m asking my colleagues to take that step.”

    Illinois has not updated its school funding formula since 1997. The system has resulted in striking inequities across Illinois’ school districts, rewarding wealthier communities and penalizing impoverished communities where students need more resources to succeed.

    In addition, Illinois covers barely a third of the total cost of public education, while most states cover half.

    As a result, the performance gap that divides rich and poor students, as well as students of color, ranks among the worst in the nation. Illinois is 42nd in terms of the gap in reading scores among these students, and it falls among the bottom 10 in the achievement gap between black and white students.

    Cullerton said Illinois leaders must ask themselves two questions: How much are we going to spend on education, and how are we going to spend it?

    “If the money isn’t going to help students in need, it doesn’t really matter how much we spend,” he said. “That’s why our funding formula needs to be overhauled.”

    To level the playing field among schools, Cullerton said a new funding approach must include some key principles:

    • State resources should go to school districts based on the needs of students, with more funds to support children who need extra support – those who live in poverty, have special learning needs and who are English language learners.
    • There should be a single, straightforward funding model and no more special deals for some districts.
    • The formula must account for a district’s ability to support local schools with local dollars, and accountability must follow those dollars.

    Cullerton noted that no one wants any school district to lose money. But in Illinois’ system of winning and losing school districts, there are far too many losers.

    “There’s a reason why the current school funding formula has been in place for two decades. It’s hard to change an entrenched status quo. It requires true, dedicated leadership,” Cullerton said. “The question is whether today’s leaders are up to the task.”

    Download the Senate President's City Club remarks
    Download the slides from the Senate President's presentation



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  • lmurphy ldrs mtgSPRINGFIELD- It has been nearly six months since the four legislative leaders met with the governor to discuss a budget. That all changed yesterday, however, when the Senate President, Speaker of the House and Republican leaders in both chambers met with the governor to discuss the ongoing budget impasse.

    The meeting was spurred in part by legislation co-sponsored by State Sen. Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) to require the governor and legislative leaders to meet weekly until a budget is agreed upon.

    “The state of Illinois has been without a budget for over five months now. This meeting, while a good starting point, is far overdue. It is time to stop playing politics with Illinois communities and get to work to prevent even further damage,” Murphy said.

    “Without a budget, local governments are being forced to choose between raising property taxes and laying off first responders. College students that would normally return to school in the spring will be forced to decide if they can still afford to attend without MAP grant funding. Refusing to work toward a compromise has a real and lasting impact on our families and communities.”

    The meeting consisted of both public comments and a private meeting. While the budget was not resolved during the public portion, the legislative leaders did commit to further negotiations following the private meeting.

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  • jbt commutertaxPLAINFIELD— State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement after today’s meeting between the governor and legislative leaders on the budget impasse:

    “Today’s meeting was an important step. We’re not going to be able to compromise on tough issues and have a budget in place if the governor and leaders aren’t talking. I hope more meetings occur in the future. Concrete steps need to be taken to end this impasse as quickly as possible.”

  • 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."