The Majority Report 05/15/16 - Schools, human services garner Senate's support


Senate Democrats advance school funding reform overhaul

Senate Democrats advance school funding reform overhaulSenate Democrats approved the first fundamental overhaul of the state’s classroom funding system in nearly a generation, setting aside Republican fearmongering and advancing a plan to bring fairness to the way Illinois supports public school students.

Senate Bill 231, championed by Democratic Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, passed in a 31-21 vote. It now goes to the House for consideration.

“For too many kids in this state going to kindergarten, they may think they have all the opportunity opening up to them. We shouldn’t pretend that they do. The outcome they will have is already predetermined before they set foot in a classroom,” Manar said of the status quo system Republican critics fought to maintain.

“This bill is designed to address that and get to the heart of the issue.”

• By the numbers: See how SB231 would affect your school district
• Sun-Times editorial: Rauner late for school again
• In the news: Senate OKs Manar school funding bill
• Senator Bill Haine of Alton: ‘I voted my district’
• Voice of The Southern: ‘We, the students’


Senators make a stand for human services

Senators make a stand for human servicesThree Chicago-area Senate Democrats helped keep the doors open at a substance abuse treatment center serving primarily Hispanics, but its future remains uncertain. And a key vote in the Senate means more funding may be going out to human service providers statewide.

Elgin’s Latino Treatment Center, threatened by the ongoing state budget stalemate, will get $59,000 in overdue state money that it needs to continue operating. Senators Michael Noland of Elgin and William Delgado of Chicago, along with Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez of Chicago, worked to get the payment to the center.

“I am grateful the state got the Latino Treatment Center the money it was owed, but it should have never taken this long,” Martinez said. “And what about all of the other human service agencies cutting programs and staff? It’s past time for the governor to sign a budget.”

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican members of the Senate voted in favor of stopgap funding for human service providers that have not been paid by the state in months. The measure spends nearly $715 million, or about 40 percent of what is overdue to agencies and programs that help seniors, children and people who are poor, sick and homeless.

Members of the House also overwhelmingly approved the measure. It is unclear if Rauner will sign it.

• Univision Chicago: Latino Treatment Center enfrenta futuro incierto
• Chicago Tribune: Latino Treatment Center may become casualty of state budget impasse
• Hoy-TV Azteca: Centro de Tratamiento Latino en peligro de cerrar sus puertas


Raoul heeds Obama’s call to ‘build a better politics’

Raoul heeds Obama’s call to ‘build a better politics’

Answering the call President Barack Obama issued in his February speech to the General Assembly, Senator Kwame Raoul last week secured Senate passage of bipartisan legislation that would allow Illinois to take the lead in reforming the way states draw the boundaries of their political districts.

The interstate compact, if enacted by 37 other states, would establish a uniform, transparent procedure in which an independent commission redraws each state’s congressional and legislative maps every 10 years, insulating the crucial process from partisan gamesmanship.

It would also strengthen protections for minority communities, which historically have been vulnerable to disenfranchisement during redistricting.

“We know redistricting needs to be a more open, less secretive and more independent process – one in which diversity, transparency and public participation are the predominant values,” said Raoul, a Chicago Democrat who in 2011 pushed through a law bringing mandatory public hearings and important minority protections to the state legislative redistricting process.

“But President Obama is right that change must encompass red and blue states alike. Illinois is ready to take the first step and challenge other states to join us.”

Read more about the compact


In case you missed it

steans sb550 floor

Senators Heather Steans and Donne Trotter, both of Chicago, are pressing for changes in state law to protect residents from dangerous lead contamination in drinking water and buildings.

Illinois has the second-highest prevalence of lead poisoning in the nation, according to public health statistics. A new Chicago Tribune analysis of state data identified nearly 200 public water systems in Illinois where test results exceeded federal standards for lead levels.

Steans is sponsoring Senate Bill 550, the Lead in Drinking Water Prevention Act, which would establish guidelines and transparency standards for testing and reporting results for public water systems.

Trotter is sponsoring Senate Bill 2300, which would bar landlords from leasing or renting property that have high levels of lead in building materials and paint.

Senator Scott Bennett, Champaign: Illinois route renamed in honor of fallen soldier (Independent News, Danville)

Senator Daniel Biss, Evanston: Legislature seeks limits on phone-tracking technology (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Tom Cullerton, Villa Park: State lawmakers, advocates tout bill for local government consolidation (Progress Illinois)

Senator Gary Forby, Benton: Change to Illinois’ school funding formula passes the Senate (WSIL-TV, Carterville)

Senator Don Harmon, Oak Park: Editorial — Illegal gun trading is not a right (Columbia Chronicle, Chicago)

Senator Dave Koehler, Peoria: Social service funding bill heads to governor's desk (

Senator Andy Manar, Bunker Hill: Editorial — Automatic voter registration in Illinois is the American way (Chicago Sun-Times)

Senator Iris Y. Martinez, Chicago: Helping Students get college credit for foreign language courses (Lawndale News)

Senator Ira Silverstein, Chicago: Silverstein extends work rights for domestic workers (


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