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Scott Bennett announces $29,000 radio information service grant for UIUC

bennett 053116CHAMPAIGN – The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been given a $29,000 Radio Information Service Grant from the Illinois Secretary of State.

Through this grant, WILL-FM, the radio station at the University, will provide information to those who are visually impaired, physically handicapped and the elderly living in Urbana and the surrounding area.

“Thanks to this grant, more residents in the Champaign-Urbana area will have the opportunity to access information they need,” State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “Anyone – regardless of limited visual or physical ability – should be able to participate more fully in our society.”

Specifically, the grant will give those who are visually impaired and physically handicapped access to local daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and different types of books.

The service also provides in-depth and detailed reporting that will be broadcast on a special radio called a sideband receiver. These receivers are distributed at no cost to qualified recipients and anyone who has a visual or physical disability impairing their ability to read may be eligible to obtain a special radio.

WILL-FM’s informational service programs are broadcast daily and include hours of local programming for the audience’s enjoyment and enrichment. Volunteers will read local newspapers, news that may not generally be heard on the television news broadcast and a variety of topics including comics, grocery ads and obituaries.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity to engage more members of our community,” Bennett said. “This program will make it possible for those who are visually or physically impaired to be current and knowledgeable about the world around them.” 

Scott Bennett fights for student debt relief

bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD -- State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted today to protect Illinois college students from crushing college debt.

The Illinois Senate voted to override Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1351, which creates the Student Loan Bill of Rights and prohibits predatory loan servicers from engaging in any unfair or deceptive practices towards any students and parents.

“At a time where many young people are graduating from college with crippling debt, we need to make sure that students understand their rights and have access to proper resources,” Bennett said. “This legislation is a good first step to take in helping students and their families from falling behind on payments or defaulting on their loans.”

Bennett sponsored the Student Loan Bill of Rights to ensure that students and their families receive clear information about the money they borrow for higher education and how their student loans are serviced.

Over the past decade, student loan debt has doubled to become the largest form of unsecured consumer debt in the country with more than 40 million borrowers owing over $1.4 trillion. Nearly 70 percent of graduates leave college with an average debt burden of $30,000, and one-in-four borrowers are behind on their payments or in default.

Senate Bill 1351 also aims to crack down on the student loan servicing industry that has made it more difficult and more expensive for borrowers to repay their loans.

“Going to college should not be the financial burden that it has become,” Bennett said. “Every student in Illinois should have the opportunity to advance or complete their education without the fear of debilitating debt upon graduation.”

Shortage of agriculture education teachers to be studied: Bennett

bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD – A shortage of trained teachers for agricultural classes in schools may soon have a solution under legislation signed by the governor today. The governor signed the bill at the Illinois State Fair’s annual Agriculture Day.

Despite the fact that 25 percent of jobs in Illinois are related to agriculture, there is a shortage of trained agriculture teachers.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored Senate Bill 1991 to try and address this problem.

“Agriculture and downstate Illinois are inseparable,” Bennett said. “We must recruit and retain qualified educators who want to teach agriculture programs for future generations.”

SB 1991 creates the Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force, which will make recommendations on recruiting and retaining agriculture education teachers and making reforms to current licensure and testing requirements.

The final report will be released no later than January 1, 2019. Members of the task force will serve voluntarily and will not be compensated with taxpayer money.

GOP budget cuts retired teachers’ health insurance

Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD – Health insurance programs for retired teachers will be cut in the so-called “Capitol Compromise” according to the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The budget makes a 30 percent cut to the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program, also known as TRIP.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), who opposes the cuts to the program, issued the following statement:

“Cutting insurance benefits for retired teachers is not the right way to balance the budget. Not only is it extremely unfair, it is potentially unconstitutional and will just lead to more litigation instead of a long-term solution for fixing our finances.”

Sen. Scott Bennett

Senator Scott Bennett

52nd Senate District

Years served: 2015 - Present

Associated Representatives: Carol Ammons; Chad Hays

Committee assignments: Agriculture; Appropriations II; Criminal Law; Gaming; Higher Education; Labor.

Biography: Bennett grew up in Gibson City, where four generations of his family worked on their family farm. He moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend law school at the University of Illinois after graduating from Illinois State University.