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Tom Cullerton announces additional funding to combat opioid crisis

opioids 050217VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is excited to announce Illinois was recently awarded a federal grant for over $16 million to fight Illinois’ opioid crisis.

This grant comes in light of recent news that heroin and opioid abuse now kills more Americans annually than gun homicides or traffic accidents according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We can’t rest until the opioid crisis is eliminated from our communities,” Cullerton said. “Every dollar we receive will help our community providers and organizations give people an opportunity to seek treatment and turn their lives around.”

The federal grant supports new treatment and recovery services, including the establishment of an Opioid Crisis Line and expanded medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorder. The funding will also support opioid-related enhancements to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), the launch of a statewide opiate awareness campaign, new pilot programs to provide medications to treat opioid use disorder, and pre-release and post-release services for individuals who are incarcerated in county jails.

In addition, the funding will support a widespread expansion of the training of first responders to an opioid overdose and the availability of the overdose reversal medication Naloxone, commonly referred to as Narcan.

In 2016, Cullerton worked to addresses the heroin and opioid abuse and addiction through House Bill 1. The legislation combated to problem in a variety of different ways, by training public safety entities in administering Narcan, requiring state agencies to develop a three-year heroin and opioid drug prevention program and expanding state-funded treatment to include addiction treatment and prescription costs.

“We need to find a comprehensive solution to protect our young people from making fatal decisions,” said Cullerton. “Our priority is to put protections in place to save lives.”

Despite innovative methods to combat the opioid overdose crisis in DuPage, Illinois continues to experience a notable increase in drug overdose deaths. Cullerton continues to work with DuPage County on finding ways to combat this epidemic.

“Drug overdoses can happen to people regardless of their age, socioeconomic background or ethnicity,” Cullerton said. “There is help out there. We need to make sure those suffering from opioid addiction know where to find it.”

Through the Illinois Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council, The Illinois Department of Human Services and many other state agencies are coordinating the state’s efforts to develop a statewide opioid epidemic preparedness and prevention strategy.

Tom Cullerton passes measures to help combat veterans’ suicide epidemic

tcullerton crwdfndSPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) has advanced plans to tackle issues found during the Veterans Suicide Taskforce hearings.

Cullerton passed Senate Bill 1693 to allow deceased veterans with military service to include their veteran status, branch of military and the period of time served in the military on their death certificate.

“We need to get to the root of veteran suicide epidemic,” Cullerton said. “We can only tackle this problem after we have a complete picture of cause of this problem. This is a simple way to collect statistics and honor Illinois’ veterans.”

The idea was suggested by DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgenson, who indicated that veteran suicide was under reported since Illinois death certificates do not include information on the history of U.S. military service.

“Our veterans are our community’s heroes. Illinois’ military members and veterans put their life on the line every day, now is the time for us to take care of them,” Cullerton said. “Every life we save is priceless.”

Cullerton also passed Senate Bill 866 to require the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to provide information and education on service animals to veterans.

Under current law, the DVA isn’t required to provide information or resources on how a veteran might obtain a service animal.

“The DVA should be a one-stop shop for our veterans,” Cullerton said. “There is a stigma within the veterans’ community on using traditional treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  We haven’t been able to explore the effects of using service dogs as alternative treatments since there is a lack of awareness in the veterans’ community.”

Cullerton hopes this small step will help make service dogs readily available to veterans to cope with PTSD. Among who have used or are aware of service dogs there is a high demand. However, trained dogs can be difficult to find.

“Using service dogs as treatment for PTSD could be the key to ending the veteran suicide epidemic,” Cullerton said.

Senate Bill 866 and Senate Bill 1693 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now move to the House for consideration.

Tom Cullerton: “The governor prioritizes paper over people”

Sen. Tom CullertonVILLA PARK— Illinois is currently paying $2.4 million to rent space in Springfield to store Department of Human Services’ records in a warehouse that could have been bought for $750,000.

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is outraged at Governor Rauner’s irresponsible use of state funds.

“The governor prioritizes paper over people,” Cullerton said. “Meals on Wheels, rape crisis centers and mental health facilities are surviving on bare-bones budgets while state files are living the high life. It may be difficult for a big-time businessman to get this, but the state doesn’t have $1.65 million to waste on careless expenses.”

Bush, Cullerton honored for protecting mental health funding

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SPRINGFIELD – The Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI) presented awards to Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) for their efforts to protect mental health funding.

Bush and Cullerton advanced legislation last year to push for greater local government consolidation.

During negotiations, they learned that local health boards could be caught in the crossfire of potential government consolidation plans.

They worked diligently to ensure local mental health dollars were protected by removing Community Mental Health Authorities from potentially disastrous effects.

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Last year as the sponsor of House Bill 229, Bush worked to ensure funding for mental health and developmentally disabled are protected.

“Consolidating local governments is good for Illinois. It saves taxpayer dollars and reduces government bureaucracy,” Bush said. “But I refused to allow potential cuts to mental health funding in return. We must always protect our most vulnerable residents, and ensuring local mental health providers are fully funded is a key part of doing so.”

Cullerton, chief architect of the government consolidation model used in House Bill 4501, worked with ACMHAI to make sure DuPage County’s vulnerable populations were protected from unintentional consequences.  

“The purpose of government consolidation is to streamline processes to make sure government is working in step with the needs of the people,” Cullerton said. “Government should be efficient and effective. But when we eliminate services for our most vulnerable residents, our efforts become counterproductive. I simply cannot stand for that.”  

ACMHAI plans to continue working with Bush and Cullerton to advocate for state mental health funding.

"Senators Bush and Cullerton have shown great leadership in their commitment to protect the $75 million in local mental health grant funding resources generated in local counties, townships and municipalities throughout the state of Illinois,” Debbie Humphrey, ACMHAI President said. “At a time when demand for mental health and substance abuse services is dramatically increasing while funding sources are shrinking, these valuable local funds serve as an important lifeline to those seeking access to treatment."

Sen. Tom Cullerton

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23rd Legislative District

Years served: 2013 - Present

Committee assignments: Energy and Public Utilities; Insurance; Labor; State Government; Transportation; Veterans Affairs (Chairperson); Sub. on Utility Rate Regulations (Sub-Chairperson).

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

Associated Representatives:
Deb Conroy
Diane Pappas