The Majority Report 06/05/16 - How Senate Democrats took a stand for schools


Senate Democrats champion fair funding for education

Senate Democrats champion fair funding for educationSchool funding remains the top priority for Illinois Senate Democrats as lawmakers and the governor continue trying to negotiate a balanced budget.

“Reducing the uncertainty for our students and concerned parents is the first step toward restoring stability in our state,” said Senator Dave Koehler of Peoria. “The state should not balance its budget on the backs of schoolchildren.”

Koehler's comments came as Senate Democrats championed a clean state budget for public schools. The legislation, HB2990, had no financial strings attached and, unlike many other budget proposals, was not part of any outside political agenda.

While endorsed by Senate Democrats, the plan did not clear the Illinois House before lawmakers adjourned. It is now among the proposals on the negotiating table.

The Senate Democrats’ clean education budget would ensure no school gets less state funding than it currently receives. It guarantees that the state’s “foundation level” for adequate funding is fully funded. And there’s an additional $700 million in funding across the state with the dollars targeted toward communities facing the greatest economic and social challenges in providing educational excellence.

“The governor has asked for a stand-alone education budget, and we seek to meet his request while also reminding him that measures releasing resources for human services and higher education also sit on his desk, awaiting his signature,” said Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins of Chicago.

Collins was referring to previously approved bipartisan legislation that the governor has not acted on.

There’s a $700 million emergency relief plan for social service agencies that provide care for the developmentally disabled, elderly and others on behalf of the state. However, the state is not paying these businesses for the work they do despite signed contracts. Lawmakers identified $700 million sitting in dedicated state accounts intended to pay for these types of programs and services. The dollars are sitting there today to pay some of these bills.

Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of giving the governor the authority to use that money. So far he has not acted on the bipartisan deal — SB2038. It has been on his desk since May 18.

Lawmakers also previously approved HB4167, giving the governor authority to spend $227 million to honor his administration’s financial aid commitment to college students. The legislation has been on the governor’s desk since May 23.

Senate Democrats are trying to work with the governor for a comprehensive, balanced budget.

“A moral budget will fund our classrooms but also give aid to our elderly, those with disabilities, those with mental illnesses, the homeless and working families struggling to make ends meet. It will assist low-income women in obtaining treatment for breast and cervical cancer," Collins said. "And it will keep youth off our streets and in educational, recreational and employment programs during a summer that is already off to a horrifically violent start.”


Illinois State Museum to reopen July 2

Illinois State Museum to reopen July 2Illinois taxpayers and families once again will be able to enjoy the state museum they own when it reopens July 2.

Gov. Bruce Rauner closed the main museum in Springfield and all of its satellite museums to the public on Sept. 30 citing budget constraints, even though employees remained on the job. About half of the staff, including scientists, researchers and administrators, moved on to other jobs, according to news reports.

Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, who pushed hard for the nearly 140-year-old Illinois State Museum to remain accessible to the public, said the decision to reopen it is long overdue and noted that the closure failed to achieve any savings.

“I’m pleased that we could find a way to give the public access to this great resource once again,” said Manar, who sponsored four legislative measures to reopen the museum to the public.

• In the news: Museum sprucing up ahead of possible July 2 reopening


Hutchinson contraceptives measure goes to governor

Hutchinson contraceptives measure goes to governor

Insurance companies would have to provide coverage for most FDA-approve contraceptive drugs, devices and products under legislation advanced by Senator Toi Hutchinson of Chicago Heights.

“Women utilize contraceptives for many different reasons. The most obvious reason is for birth control,” Hutchinson said. “But for many women, contraceptives play a key role in our overall health. Government should ensure that women have access to all forms of contraceptives without intrusion by insurance bureaucrats or politicians.”

Hutchinson’s plan, which now sits on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature, additionally would require insurance companies to provide up to 12 months of contraceptives at one time. Currently, they’re only required to cover one contraceptive in each drug class, leaving out a host of medical options for women who must try multiple forms of birth control before finding the right one.

• Listen: Hutchinson defends right of conscience law


In case you missed it

SenatorBush05312016Ten measures advanced by the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus that await the governor’s signature:

1. Automatic voter registration
2. Elimination of state's tax on tampons
3. Ban on "room and board" lawsuits against prisoners and parolees
4. Changes to the health care right of conscience law
5. State compliance with federal REAL ID law
6. Rocket docket law to expedite misdemeanor adjudication
7. Expanded access to contraceptives
8. Second-chance breakfast for children in schools with high poverty levels
9. Protections against excessively high vehicle tow fees
10. Regulation of cell tower simulator, or "stingray," use by police



Senate President John Cullerton: Mark Brown: A glimmer of light in dark of Springfield night (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Scott Bennett, Champaign: A better way to investigate rape; legislation includes law enforcement training (Illinois Times, Springfield)

Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, Shorewood: Illinois lawmaker seeks to revoke Hastert’s state pension (The Associated Press)

Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: Democrats must articulate reform plan for Illinois (The State Journal-Register, Springfield)

Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, Chicago: Online small-business loans catch eye of companies, legislators (Chicago Tribune)

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: Legislators approve statewide water quality study (Daily Herald, Arlington Heights)

Senator Gary Forby, Benton: Lawmakers send Rauner plan to reopen Illinois prison camp (KFVS-TV, Cape Girardeau, Mo.)

Senator Bill Haine, Alton: Illinois Legislature passes towing reform bill inspired by ‘You Paid For It’ investigation (Fox 2 TV, St. Louis)

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: Procurement compromise needs more work (Peoria Public Radio)

Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: A deeper look behind this week’s budget wrangling (Peoria Public Radio)

Senator Iris Y. Martinez, Chicago: Buscan proteger a veteranos que enfrentan la deportacion (Univision Chicago)

Senator Kwame Raoul, Chicago: Torture bill awaits governor’s signature (Chicago Daily Law Bulletin)

Senator Heather Steans, Chicago: What now? Lawmakers weigh in on budget stalemate as it enters Year 2 (Chicago Tonight, WTTW-TV)


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