The Majority Report 04/24/16 - Deal reached for colleges


Lawmakers come together to help colleges stay open

Lawmakers come together to help colleges stay openMillions of dollars in promised state financial aid for college students would finally arrive under a sweeping, bipartisan budget deal approved late last week by lawmakers and sent to the governor.

The deal — essentially a fiscal stopgap for students and universities teetering on crisis for nearly a year — approves spending on the state’s popular Monetary Award Program for college students and begins sending state dollars to the state’s public universities, some of which were on the verge of shutting down.

“We’ve been fighting the governor since last May to keep the doors of our great institutions of learning open,” said Senator Donne Trotter, chairman of a key Senate budgeting committee. “Chicago State, in my own backyard, would be on the brink of closure without this funding. I am glad that my Republican counterparts, and hopefully the governor, are finally on board with helping students graduate.”

At the same time, with the state budget impasse approaching 11 months, Senate Democrats recognized the legislation is a short-term solution and a broader budget fix is needed.

“I see a lot of people patting themselves on the back for what amounts to a past-due partial plan at best,” said Senator John Sullivan, a Rushville Democrat who represents the students and workers at Western Illinois University. “Students and workers want real answers and long-term stability rather than the chaos that’s been created the past year. They want the state to start solving problems rather than creating problems.”

Students and universities aren’t the only victims of the budget impasse. Businesses that provide care to developmentally disabled children and adults, seniors and other who qualify for state assistance have gone months without being paid.

Illinois Senate Democrats led efforts to approve an emergency spending plan for these social service providers. It, too, won bipartisan support and now goes to the Illinois House.

• Audio: Senator Kimberly A. Lightford of Maywood reacts
• Audio: Senator Toi Hutchinson of Chicago Heights reacts
• Audio: Senator Emil Jones III of Chicago reacts


Martinez plan gives undocumented students fair shot at affording college

Martinez plan gives undocumented students fair shot at affording collegeUndocumented students who excel academically but face financial hardships in their quest to obtain college degrees would be considered for financial aid under a plan advanced by Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez of Chicago.

“My proposal is about leveling the playing field and opening up opportunities to more students, so that they can achieve their academic goals.”

Should the proposal become law, an estimated 1,500 students could receive scholarship opportunities.

• In the media: Avanza propuesta que beneficiaría a estudiantes indocumentados en Illinois (Univision Chicago)
• In the media: Iniciativa de ley da a los estudiantes indocumentados una oportunidad justa para pagar la universidad (Ultimas Noticias)



Munoz helps veterans earn college credit

Munoz helps veterans earn college credit

When former U.S. Marine Jauwan Hall transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago, he was stunned to learn that military courses he had completed wouldn’t count toward his degree.

“There was no mechanism in place to designate those courses as UIC courses so there’s no mechanism that tells people in the registrar’s office that this course is equivalent to this course,” Hall said.

University officials and students tried to address the problem, but ultimately decided a new state law would be best.

Enter Senator Antonio “Tony” Munoz (D-Chicago). Munoz, an Army veteran, won Senate approval for legislation that would create a statewide standard at public universities and colleges to make sure students get credit for military courses.

“Veterans should not be shortchanged on the education they received while serving our country,” Munoz said.


In case you missed it


‘Sip and spit’ law will aid university programs

The burgeoning fermentation sciences program at Southern Illinois University got a boost last week thanks to Senator Pat McGuire of Joliet.

A provision in Senate Bill 2824, which passed the Senate, gives younger students in the program the ability to taste but not drink samples of their work during class – a concept called “sip and spit.”

The rapid growth of the craft beer industry in Illinois is creating demand for graduates with a strong scientific background and specific coursework in brewing science. With an eye toward this, officials at SIU’s Carbondale campus began setting up a facility on campus more than two years ago, complete with scientific instruments and brewing and fermenting equipment.

“This is a great example of where SIU is responding to industry needs,” said John Charles, director of government and public affairs for SIU. "We will be graduating individuals who will be ready to walk into the workforce on day one with the skills and training they need to be successful at locations across the country.”


Lawmakers vote to eliminate 'tampon tax'Senator Scott Bennett, Champaign: Proposed sex crime law mandates statewide training with emphasis on protecting victims (Belleville News-Democrat)

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Term limits proposals floating in General Assembly (Champaign News-Gazette)

Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: Senate passes legislation regulating police use of stingray devices (WAND-TV, Decatur)

Senator Melinda Bush, Grayslake: Lawmakers vote to eliminate 'tampon tax' (Chicago Tribune)

Senator James F. Clayborne Jr., Belleville: Local senators split on marijuana decriminalization bill (Belleville News-Democrat)

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, Chicago: Sharks don't like shark cages: Online lending industry resists regulation (Illinois Times, Springfield)

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Bill would allow retiring police dogs to live with partner (CBS Chicago)

Senator Bill Cunningham, Chicago: State crime lab takes a year to test rape kits, Alvarez says (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Gary Forby, Benton: Southern Illinois schools push for better funding (Herald & Review, Decatur)

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: In Springfield, lawmakers debate over term limits (WBEZ Radio, Chicago)

Senator Bill Haine, Alton: Illinois lawmkers approve higher ed funds (KMOX Radio, St. Louis)

Illinois legislation requires animal adoption over researchSenator Linda Holmes, Aurora: Illinois legislation requires animal adoption over research (WAND-TV, Decatur)

Senator Mattie Hunter, Chicago: Senators bring awareness to hate crimes (Chicago Defender)

Senator Terry Link, Vernon Hills, and Senator Julie Morrison, Deerfield: Bills would give voters say over township, road district consolidation (Daily Herald, Arlington Heights)

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Senador Manar defiende su propuesta para educación (Univision Chicago)

Senator Steve Stadelman, Rockford: Illinois legislation to end tax on Title 1 funds inches forward (Rockford Register Star)

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: Lawmakers try to address Rauner's marijuana decriminalization concerns (Chicago Tribune)


Copyright 2016 - Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus - All Rights Reserved