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Rauner finally signs two Cullerton bills aimed at saving veterans

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SPRINGFIELD – After months of waiting, Gov. Bruce Rauner finally signed two new state laws sponsored by State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) to protect veterans at state homes from deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks.

“Gov. Bruce Rauner’s mismanagement and failed leadership killed 13 veterans, now he is trying to take credit for measures the General Assembly had to pass to address his mismanagement,” Cullerton said. “Gov. Rauner does not deserve a pat on the back for attempting to govern in the eleventh hour.”

The first measure, House Bill 5683, will expand the list of facilities operated and maintained by the veterans home to include the Sycamore facility in Quincy, allowing for temporary housing of veterans.

“This measure places the health of our veterans ahead of bureaucracy,” Cullerton said. “The high summer temperatures put our heroes in harm’s way. Moving residents to the Sycamore home will serve as a safer alternative while the state makes progress in eliminating any sign of Legionnaires ’ disease at the Quincy home.”

Due to high temperatures expected during the upcoming summer months, the veterans will be at a greater risk than ever, and Cullerton said he is furious that it took so long for the governor to sign this safeguard measure into law.

“The governor continues to sit on his hands while both sides of the legislature work together to remedy the Legionnaires’ crisis,” Cullerton said. “The Quincy veterans’ facility is a home for servicemen and women and their loved ones, not a photo op for the governor.”

The second Cullerton measure Gov. Rauner signed, Senate Bill 3128, will save veteran lives by speeding up construction at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

The measure will immediately authorize the Capital Development Board and the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs to address the ongoing public health crisis that has already claimed 13 lives at the Quincy Veterans Home.

“Our veterans have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe,” Cullerton said. “It’s our job to ensure they are able to live their golden years in a safe environment with the best possible care. They laid their lives on the line to protect our democratic values. They should not live in harm’s way because of the governor’s incompetence.”

The law takes the following actions among others:

  • Gives the IDVA or CDB the authority to use the design-build procurement method to rehabilitate and redevelop the Quincy Veterans’ Home;
  • Prohibits CDB from charging a fee so that all of the funds are solely used for the rehabilitation and restoration of the home;
  • Requires the Office of the Governor, CDB and the IDVA to provide the General Assembly with un-redacted copies of all communications with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs related to securing funding for the rehabilitation of the veterans home;
  • Allows CDB to use federal funds directly for capital projects related to Quincy Veterans’ Home, rather than requiring these funds be used for debt service.

Cullerton, a veterans himself, has made it his mission to help his service brothers and sisters.

“Gov. Bruce Rauner has dragged his feet long enough,” Cullerton said. “I implore him to work quickly to rid the Quincy Veterans Home of all risks so that we don’t lose another veteran’s life.”

Sen. Tom Cullerton

tcullerton-hs

23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations II; Labor; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); State Government & Veterans Affairs; Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Energy and Public Utilities.

Biography: Born Sept. 20, 1969; studied at the University of Kansas; former village president and trustee of Villa Park; married (wife Stacey), three sons.