With this year’s main session of the General Assembly over, Illinois has several new laws that could make a significant impact on your daily life.
If you have kids, enjoy after-work cocktails or are a veteran, you should definitely check out our list of the most important and interesting new laws that took effect this summer.
Every year, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission helps more than 125,000 students throughout Illinois advance their career dreams by helping them pay for college. The Monetary Award Program is designed to help eligible students who may not have enough money to pay for higher education go to a higher education institution, as long as they meet guidelines outlined by the grant. Without Governor Rauner’s approval, students statewide won’t be able to afford college tuition and other associated costs.
State Senator Emil Jones III’s (D-Chicago) district houses Chicago State University and he believes Governor Rauner needs to make the appropriation of state funds to the grant program a priority.
“Not every family has the means to send their child to school,” Jones said. “And there are many students who have the ability to go to college, receive a degree and be prepared to enter the workforce. We must ensure we give these students who are looking for a hand up and not a hand out an opportunity to reach their goals and contribute back to our communities. Funding this program is a no-brainer. If we want a vibrant economy, we need a workforce prepared for the challenges of tomorrow. Funding this program ensures economic vitality in the future.”
Senator Jones also voted in favor of Senate Bill 2042, which allows $5.4 billion, mostly in federal “pass-through” funds, to be appropriated. Illinois receives these funds through the federal government, but aren’t able to spend them unless lawmakers give the state the authority to spend it.
The federal pass-through will fund programs for mental health, disability services, meals for homebound seniors, job training and LIHEAP.
Senator Jones offered the following comment:
“Providing our most vulnerable citizens with the resources they need to have quality living conditions is one of the greatest purposes of government,” Jones said. “We put programs in place to help people who are in the most need. Providing spend authority for federal money is responsible and by doing so, we put people before political agendas.”
SPRINGFIELD — State Sens. Linda Holmes and Melinda Bush issued the following statements on their support of legislation dealing with social services and higher education grant funding.
Holmes and Bush voted in favor of House Bill 2482, which would maintain the current threshold individuals must meet in order to qualify for social services like in-home elder care. Gov. Rauner proposed increasing the threshold, which would disqualify thousands of applicants.
“We are not a state that denies care to the elderly and the sick by claiming they are magically no longer in need,” Holmes said. “Services like the Community Cares Program, which helps seniors continue to live in their homes, actually save the state money down the road. Kicking people off of these services is the wrong thing to do for so many reasons.”
“I oppose taking such a callous approach to finances,” Bush said. “By making it harder to qualify for social services, the governor is attacking an important social safety net for a vulnerable population, all for cuts that we know will cost us more in the foreseeable future.”
Bush and Holmes also voted in favor of MAP grant funding at the same level proposed by Gov. Rauner, which would constitute a 2.25 percent increase over the previous year. The governor vetoed an earlier spending plan that included a higher level of funding.
“For families sending their proud high school graduates off to college this month, these grants are absolutely crucial,” Holmes said. “We’re meeting Governor Rauner halfway by adopting funding at these levels. Today I took action to ensure the grants are there for the middle class families whose students have worked hard to get into college.”
“Governor Rauner made the right call when he proposed an increase to these grants, and the wrong one when he held these funds hostage during this budget process,” Bush said. “Though I would have preferred to fund them at the higher level the Senate approved earlier, it is more important that they are released to the families whose students need them to get a quality education.”
SPRINGFIELD- As college students begin to head back to campus, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) passed legislation to fund state college assistance grants.
Under Senate Bill 2043, the Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants will continue to make college an option for students across Illinois. This state assistance provides need-based aid to help pay for tuition and fee costs to help eliminate excessive college loan debt.
“Illinois students shouldn’t be discouraged from attending one of our public universities or community colleges due to financial need,” Bennett said. “The legislation we passed today will help more students obtain a college education without further jeopardizing their financial health.
The Illinois Student Assistance Commission estimates that under Senate Bill 2043, that 125,000 to 130,000 eligible students will be approved for MAP grant assistance.
“We need an educated workforce to continue to grow our economy,” said Bennett. “The investments we make in education will provide Illinois with a well-trained and competitive workforce.”
Last year, 6,697 students, approximately 25 percent of undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana received MAP grant assistance.
Senate Bill 2043 passed the Senate 37-0-14 and now moves to the House for consideration.
SPRINGFIELD – Next week the Illinois State Senate plans to take up funding for financial aid for qualified college students. The Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) provides needy Illinois students with funding to pay for college tuition. This funding is currently being held up as a result of the budget impasse.
“In the coming weeks students will be returning to college campuses,” said State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton). “Many of these students rely on MAP grants for their college tuition. It is important we invest in the future of our state and make sure students have the opportunity to better themselves. That is why I am urging lawmakers to vote in favor of this measure."
In May, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation specifically aimed to help college students. Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the plan thereby taking away college funding for students who rely on state assistance.
Illinois Senate Democrats have issued an online petition urging students and stakeholders to support MAP grant funding on their website: www.IllinoisSenateDemocrats.com.
The Senate expects to take up the legislation on Wednesday, August 19.
CHAMPAIGN- As college students begin to head back to campus, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is circulating a petition to urge Illinois lawmakers to pass funding for an important state aid program.
“I urge legislators to put politics aside. These students are real people with real lives. We cannot afford to jeopardize their futures,” said Bennett.
Monetary Award Program (MAP grants) cannot be given to students until there is a state budget. More than 100,000 students across Illinois rely on MAP grants to afford higher education.
Some schools are unable to absorb the tuition cost while the budget impasse continues and are asking students to pay partial fees upfront as they wait for the budget impasse to end. Bennett doesn’t want students discouraged from returning to campus due the lack of promised financial aid.
“If these students could afford to absorb tuition costs and fees, they wouldn’t have qualified for state assistance in the first place,” said Bennett. “College affordability is a defining component in our state’s policies. We need to be working toward giving our young people the tools to graduate with success, not forcing them to miss out on valuable opportunities.”
Lawmakers will return to Springfield to take up legislative action on Wed., Aug. 19. Bennett will work with lawmakers to authorize funding for MAP grants.
SPRINGFIELD - In an effort to break the impasse over funding for financial aid for qualified college students, Illinois Senate Democrats announced Friday they intend to take up a student aid budget next week.
“The longer the state goes without funding MAP grants, the greater damage to Illinois students, families, colleges and universities. Governor Rauner is risking the economic future of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans who want to improve themselves and our state,” said Senator Pat McGuire, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee.
More than 100,000 students return to campuses across Illinois in the coming weeks who rely on the state's Monetary Award Program to afford higher education.
SPRINGFIELD — Thousands of college students and their families are caught in a political power play that State Senator Daniel Biss (D – Evanston) hopes to at least partially resolve next week at the Capitol.
At issue is the state’s primary student aid program – the Monetary Award Program (MAP). More than 100,000 students rely on MAP grants to help pay for school, but Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed the MAP grant budget. This left hanging both the students who rely on them and the schools they attend even as a new academic year begins.
Biss is among the Senate Democrats pushing to approve a MAP grant budget when the Illinois Senate convenes Wednesday. The Monetary Award Program is the state’s largest need-based grant program to help pay for college. As long as these grants aren’t funded, the economic futures of hundreds of thousands of middle-class and disadvantaged students are at risk.
“If we are unwilling to come together and sincerely seek to resolve our budget impasse in a fair and sustainable way, what kind of example are we setting for Illinois students?” Biss said. “Surely, we can all get behind a solution that simply seeks to help students realize their potential and support our state’s economic future.”
The funding proposal would mirror what Rauner recommended in his budget plan. He recommended spending $373.3 million on student financial aid through MAP. The MAP budget he vetoed contained an additional $24 million.
“Our state’s greatest asset is the talent and potential of so many students from all backgrounds. To squander this potential by not giving a hand up to students in need would be disgraceful,” Biss said.
The legislation is SB 2043.
VILLA PARK- The University of Illinois’ board of trustees voted not to award a $400,000 bonus to resigning Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Phyllis Wise, after she was caught sneaking around university rules.
“I’m glad the university trustees chose to side with taxpayers. The board’s actions show they are willing to take a step in the right direction, but the bonus provisions should have never existed in the first place. It leaves us with a lot of questions as the Senate ponders the nominations of the university trustees,” said State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park). “State-funded universities and community college administrators should not be rewarded for breaking the rules.”
SPRINGFIELD - A new law was signed today that will allow veterans attending Illinois colleges and universities to qualify for instate tuition rates. “Those who serve our nation deserve our utmost respect,” said Bertino-Tarrant, Senate sponsor of HB3692. “This law will make college more affordable for student veterans who have made significant contributions to our nation.” The law applies to veterans attending college through the Pre-9/11 G.I. Bill. Last year, Illinois allowed veterans using the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill to qualify for in-state tuition. Bertino-Tarrant simply wanted to make sure all veterans utilizing a G.I. Bill program would qualify for in-state tuition.
Report details compensation abuses, administrative bloat at state colleges and universities: Cunningham
Months of work by members of the media and the Illinois General Assembly have culminated in a special report detailing costly administrative practices at our state’s public universities and community colleges. The report brings to light growing administrative costs and generous executive compensation packages that have helped fuel tuition increases for Illinois students.
"This report found that many public colleges and universities have been too quick to award lavish benefits to their executives and increase the number of administrative employees they assign to non-instructional post," State Senator Bill Cunningham said. "While these practices are never welcome, they are particularly troubling during difficult budgetary times and when college tuition rates have grown faster than any other expenses faced by middle class families."
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