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Cunningham announces mentoring grant for Chicago Ridge Public Library

cunningham 041219CHICAGO RIDGE – The Chicago Ridge Public Library is the recipient of a $7,642 mentoring grant from the Illinois secretary of state, State Senator Bill Cunningham announced.

The grant was awarded through the FY20 Project Next Generation program, which is a mentoring program administered through Illinois public libraries. Mentors work with middle and high school students to help them develop skills needed to use technology and find success through project-based learning. Mentors also help with developing life skills, such as effective communication, goal setting and conflict resolution.

Chicago Ridge is one of 29 public libraries in the state to receive the grant.

“This program provides students with the tools that they need to succeed both in and out of the classroom,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “Mentorship can make an incredible differences in the lives of young people and I want to thank Jesse White for his commitment to serving at-risk students in the south suburbs.”

In all, the secretary of state awarded more than $464,000 in Project Next Generation grants statewide. The money is provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Grants are awarded to public libraries that serve culturally diverse, low-income and underserved populations.

“I am committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth in Illinois,” said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “I established this innovative program when I first became secretary of state to give students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the latest technological tools at their local library.”

For more information, visit https://ilsendems.co/2GtOQzP.

Cunningham: Construction plan is needed investment in our state

cunningham 052219SPRINGFIELD – Communities in the 18th Senate District and across the state will see new investment in their public infrastructure thanks to a new statewide construction plan approved by the General Assembly this spring and signed into law by the Gov. JB Pritzker today.

The package will release over $45 billion in funding to improve Illinois’ roads, bridges, schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure.

“We’re committing ourselves to making Illinois’ public infrastructure system one of the best in the country,” said State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “We’ve been kicking the can down the road on this issue for far too long and it’s time to step up and make a serious investment to better the lives of Illinois residents.”

The construction plan is the state’s first in a decade, and since the last major infusion of infrastructure funding in 2009, ratings groups have increasingly raised red flags about the state of Illinois’ infrastructure.

“We’ve seen firsthand how severe our infrastructure problems have gotten right here in the Chicago area area with the recent closure of the Lakeshore Drive bridge, which delayed thousands of commuters for hours,” Cunningham said. “This new funding is long overdue and I’m glad to see that we’re making a serious commitment to investing in our infrastructure.”

The construction plan also includes the creation of the Illinois Works Task Force, which will help recruit and train individuals to work on the newly funded construction projects. The program is expected to bring thousands of new jobs to the state.

“We’re not just rebuilding our state, we’re putting Illinoisans to work doing it,” Cunningham said. “This package represents an investment in both our infrastructure and the people of our state.”

Cunningham votes for balanced budget that prioritizes education

cunningham 050919SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs, voted Friday in favor of a responsible, balanced state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that includes greater investment in education at all levels.

“I’m proud to support a bipartisan, balanced budget that reflects the priorities of our state,” Cunningham said. “With the turmoil of the last few years behind us, we’re showing our commitment to leading Illinois down a path toward certainty and stability.”

Among the provisions in the budget are increases to education funding, including an additional $50 million for K-12 education that will bring property tax relief to homeowners. The plan also includes an extra $50 million for the MAP program and another $10 million for the AIM HIGH program, which provides grants to middle-income students who wish to pursue a college degree.

“An investment in our students is an investment in the future of Illinois,” Cunningham said. “Education funding has always been a priority for me and I’m glad to see that we’re making a commitment to improving the quality and accessibility of public education in our state.”

The budget also includes a full payment of the Illinois’ pension obligations for the seventh year in a row, the longest stretch in the state’s history.

“In the past, the General Assembly had a bad habit of kicking the can down the road in regard to our pension commitments,” Cunningham said. “The theme in this budget is stability and that’s paying our full pension obligation provides and has provided for almost a decade.”

Cunningham passes measure to improve access to benefits for Chicago police

cunningham 030719SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed a bill sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham Thursday that would ease the financial burden on Chicago police officers who litigate to receive certain benefits.

Under current law, the board of trustees for the PABF can issue a denial of the continuance of a duty or occupational disability benefit for a member. Members can appeal the denial, but the cost of litigating the appeal can be a heavy burden.

House Bill 2470 would require the Policeman’s Annuity Benefit Fund of Chicago (PABF) to pay court costs, litigation expenses and reasonable attorney fees for members who were unfairly denied duty or occupational disability benefits.

“Officers earn their benefits by risking their lives day in and day out to protect us and they shouldn’t have to face a financial barrier to accessing them,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This bill is a major win when it comes to protecting the hard earned benefits these men and women deserve.”

The PABF may still strip an officer of benefits if an officer intentionally and unjustifiably delays proceedings and is ultimately convicted of a felony related to his or her service.

House Bill 2470 passed the Senate 50-8. It will now return to the House of Representatives for concurrence before going to the governor’s desk.

Senator Bill Cunningham

 Cunningham2014

Assistant Majority Leader
President Pro Tempore
18th Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Executive Appointments; Higher Education; Insurance; Assignments (Vice-Chairperson); Executive (Vice-Chairperson).

Biography: Born July 21, 1967. Full-time state legislator and lifelong resident of the 18th Senate District. Graduate of Mt. Carmel High School; B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Former Chief of Staff and Director of Communications for the Cook County Sheriff's Office. Previously served as a State Representative (2011-13) and as an elected member of the Sutherland Local School Council. Resides in Chicago's Beverly community with wife, Juliana, and two daughters, Madeline and Olivia.

Associated Representatives:
Kelly M. Burke
Frances Ann Hurley