Bennett

  • Bennett announces $2.1 million in new funding for Danville School District 118

    bennett 032318DANVILLE –Danville School District 118 will receive more than $2.1 million in new money through the education funding overhaul passed by the Senate last year, announced State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

    Under the school funding reform plan, schools will continue to receive the same state assistance they previously received.  However, the new formula is designed to ensure the most state assistance will be directed to school districts most in need.

    “For far too long, many downstate school districts like those in Danville were being left behind by the state,” Bennett said. “Now, for the first time we have a funding formula that provides fair and adequate funding for students throughout the state.”

    The distribution is based on detailed enrollment figures, district-specific student learning needs, available local resources and other data. No schools in Danville will receive less state funding than they do today.

    “Every school in Danville is a winner under this plan,” Bennett said. “This new money is a good first step in giving students, teachers and parents in Danville the equitable and fair funding level that they deserve.”

  • Senator Scott Bennett works to secure long-term funding for University of Illinois

    SenBennettSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) listened to the University of Illinois system administration testify before the Senate Appropriations II Committee today on their budget request for Fiscal Year 2019.

    “As we work towards a budget, I look forward to working with my colleagues to guarantee that the University of Illinois will acquire the funds it needs to maintain its position as one of the most prestigious universities in the Midwest and the nation,” Bennett said. “I’ve always believed that if we care about the future of our state, we must invest in its next generation and protect our universities and colleges.”

  • Scott Bennett works to support flood victims in Vermilion County

    bennett 032318CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is working to bring more help to those affected by flood damage in his district.

    Last month, flooding from heavy rainfall along rivers and in low-lying areas forced Vermilion County families to evacuate their homes and caused destruction to personal property, roads and government buildings.

  • Senate Dems react to governor's Fiscal 2019 budget address

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  • Scott Bennett announces $137,000 grant for Champaign Park District

    bennett 053116CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is excited to announce that families in Champaign will soon have a brand new park equipped with soccer fields, a multipurpose field, a multi-purpose path and parking.

    Champaign Park District was awarded $137,000 through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

    “Local parks are an essential part of a happy and healthy city,” Bennett said. “I’m thrilled that this grant will provide more beautiful green spaces and great community programs for my family, friends and neighbors.”

    Champaign Park District will be using the grant for the acquisition of Human Kinetics Park, a 5.6 acre park that is privately owned but currently leased to the park district. 

    The LCWF grant program, administered by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, provides up to 50 percent of the cost of projects to help purchase land to be used for public access and recreation.

    The LWCF grant program began in 1965 and, prior to this year, awarded more than $126 million 733 park projects in Illinois.

  • Cullerton announces appointments to sexual harassment awareness task force

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  • Debt Transparency Act becomes law after Senate overrides governor’s veto

    transparencySPRINGFIELD – A day after Illinois’ bill backlog reached $16.7 billion, members of the state Senate rejected a system that allows government agencies to conceal unpaid invoices from the comptroller and taxpayers for months on end.

    The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to override the governor’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act, a commonsense measure that demands better accounting and reporting practices by state agencies so that officials can understand the true extent of the bill backlog at any given time.

  • Scott Bennett expresses concerns over state budget cuts on agricultural programs

    bennett 052517CHAMPAIGN – Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Office of Management and Budget outlined more than $200 million in suggested cuts to Illinois’ 2018 budget, including reducing funding to several agriculture programs.

    “The governor’s cuts would slash funding for key agricultural research and conservation, undermining the ability of our famers to sustain their land and their livelihoods,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), Vice-Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Agriculture. “I am all for helping Illinois achieve long-term fiscal stability, but I wonder how much more funding to agricultural programs can be reduced without causing harm.”

    The governor’s proposed cuts are expected to reduce the budget for the Department of Agriculture by about $21 million. This will affect operations, promotions, export marketing and contractual staff.

    Under the plan, funding for Soil and Water Conservation Districts remains at $5 million, equal to the previous year; however, the $2.5 million of cost-share funds was reduced, and an additional $6 million in new appropriations will not be funded.

    “I definitely support a balanced budget and spending within your means,” Bennett said. “At the same time, I will continue to advocate for efficient levels of funding for these essential programs because agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy, and we need to do whatever we can to keep Illinois’ agribusiness growing.”

  • Scott Bennett announces $29,000 radio information service grant for UIUC

    bennett 053116CHAMPAIGN – The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been given a $29,000 Radio Information Service Grant from the Illinois Secretary of State.

    Through this grant, WILL-FM, the radio station at the University, will provide information to those who are visually impaired, physically handicapped and the elderly living in Urbana and the surrounding area.

    “Thanks to this grant, more residents in the Champaign-Urbana area will have the opportunity to access information they need,” State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “Anyone – regardless of limited visual or physical ability – should be able to participate more fully in our society.”

    Specifically, the grant will give those who are visually impaired and physically handicapped access to local daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and different types of books.

    The service also provides in-depth and detailed reporting that will be broadcast on a special radio called a sideband receiver. These receivers are distributed at no cost to qualified recipients and anyone who has a visual or physical disability impairing their ability to read may be eligible to obtain a special radio.

    WILL-FM’s informational service programs are broadcast daily and include hours of local programming for the audience’s enjoyment and enrichment. Volunteers will read local newspapers, news that may not generally be heard on the television news broadcast and a variety of topics including comics, grocery ads and obituaries.

    “I’m very excited about this opportunity to engage more members of our community,” Bennett said. “This program will make it possible for those who are visually or physically impaired to be current and knowledgeable about the world around them.” 

  • Scott Bennett fights for student debt relief

    bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD -- State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted today to protect Illinois college students from crushing college debt.

    The Illinois Senate voted to override Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1351, which creates the Student Loan Bill of Rights and prohibits predatory loan servicers from engaging in any unfair or deceptive practices towards any students and parents.

    “At a time where many young people are graduating from college with crippling debt, we need to make sure that students understand their rights and have access to proper resources,” Bennett said. “This legislation is a good first step to take in helping students and their families from falling behind on payments or defaulting on their loans.”

    Bennett sponsored the Student Loan Bill of Rights to ensure that students and their families receive clear information about the money they borrow for higher education and how their student loans are serviced.

    Over the past decade, student loan debt has doubled to become the largest form of unsecured consumer debt in the country with more than 40 million borrowers owing over $1.4 trillion. Nearly 70 percent of graduates leave college with an average debt burden of $30,000, and one-in-four borrowers are behind on their payments or in default.

    Senate Bill 1351 also aims to crack down on the student loan servicing industry that has made it more difficult and more expensive for borrowers to repay their loans.

    “Going to college should not be the financial burden that it has become,” Bennett said. “Every student in Illinois should have the opportunity to advance or complete their education without the fear of debilitating debt upon graduation.”

  • Senate overrides veto, protects workers' rights

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    SPRINGFIELD –Today the Illinois Senate voted 42-13 to protect workers’ rights and override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1905, sponsored by Senator Ira I. Silverstein (D-Chicago). The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act blocks Gov. Rauner’s campaign to engage municipalities in creating right-to-work areas in support of moves to boost corporate profits at the expense of workers.

    Sen. Silverstein released the following statement: "Illinois’ future success depends on its support of the middle class. Workers and employers should not be restricted from bargaining collectively as they continue building our economy, and local governments have no place enforcing a rule that constrains this freedom.

    "The Collective Bargaining Freedom Act upholds the rights of hard working Illinoisans to expect good wages, benefits and working conditions in exchange for their labors. This veto rejects restrictions of those rights and rejects the governor’s continuing efforts to undermine organized labor in a state that relies on it to operate and extend our economy and our future. In spite of efforts by the governor and his pro-corporate profit supporters to squelch these rights, we will not grow our economy by taking part in a race to the bottom in wages earned by Illinois families."

    Senate Bill 1905 passed both houses initially in July with bipartisan support, and was vetoed by the governor on September 29. It now goes to the House for their consideration.

    Other Democratic senators spoke in support of the veto override:

    Senator Cristina Castro (Elgin): “I am happy to see that my colleagues helped protect the people of Illinois by working together to defeat Governor Rauner’s corporate agenda. We can’t let companies profit at the expense of our workers.”

    Senator Scott Bennett (Champaign): “Right-to-work is an inaccurate name for a policy designed to take away rights from hardworking families. This law will help tilt the balance away from big corporations and boardroom executives that work to rig the system at the expense of working families.”

    Senator Tom Cullerton (Villa Park): “Illinois businesses will only thrive if we treat workers with the dignity and respect they deserve. Governor Rauner’s harmful boardroom tactics benefit his friends at the expense of Illinois residents. Rauner’s extreme anti-worker agenda has no place in Illinois.”

    Senator Bill Haine (Alton): “The facts are clear: right-to-work policies do nothing but reduce workers’ wages and make workplaces more dangerous. The governor’s veto was yet another attempt to decrease wages for working families and ensure higher profits for his wealthy friends.”

    Senator Terry Link (Vernon Hills): “At a time when workers’ rights are under constant attack, it is important that we protect the rights of Illinoisans by ensuring that local governments can’t take away those rights. Dismantling collective bargaining rights would lead to lower wages and a loss of benefits for Illinois workers, and I refuse to let that happen.”

    Senator Laura Murphy (Des Plaines): "Since taking office, the governor has attempted to roll back employees’ rights and weaken the unions on the backs of which this state was built. All employees benefit from collective bargaining, even those that do not participate in organized labor. I hope this vote sends a strong message to the governor that I will not support his attack on the middle class.”

    Senator Iris Y. Martinez (Chicago): “Once again, the governor showed that he cares more about big businesses than the citizens of Illinois. Right-to-work laws lower wages, something that would disproportionately harm lower-income Illinoisans. I am glad the Senate stood up to the governor today and protected the hard-working men and women of our state.”

    Senator Bill Cunningham (Chicago): “Right-to-work is wrong for Illinois. Right-to-work and other anti-union measures are designed to do nothing more than lower workers’ wages to pad corporate profits.”

    Senator Don Harmon (Oak Park): “This issue has been litigated several times already, and we have our answer – only the state, not local governments, can create right-to-work laws. The governor’s veto was nothing more than a continuation of his radical anti-union agenda. Today’s override will ensure that workers across the state retain the fair representation they deserve.”

    Senator Kwame Raoul (Chicago): “The governor likes to claim that he’s pro-business, but he supports measures that are anything but. Everyone loses when right-to-work laws are in place. We cannot improve the business climate of Illinois if we implement laws that lower wages and strip away workers’ rights.”

     

     

  • Shortage of agriculture education teachers to be studied: Bennett

    bennett 052517SPRINGFIELD – A shortage of trained teachers for agricultural classes in schools may soon have a solution under legislation signed by the governor today. The governor signed the bill at the Illinois State Fair’s annual Agriculture Day.

    Despite the fact that 25 percent of jobs in Illinois are related to agriculture, there is a shortage of trained agriculture teachers.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored Senate Bill 1991 to try and address this problem.

    “Agriculture and downstate Illinois are inseparable,” Bennett said. “We must recruit and retain qualified educators who want to teach agriculture programs for future generations.”

    SB 1991 creates the Agriculture Education Shortage Task Force, which will make recommendations on recruiting and retaining agriculture education teachers and making reforms to current licensure and testing requirements.

    The final report will be released no later than January 1, 2019. Members of the task force will serve voluntarily and will not be compensated with taxpayer money.

  • Senate overrides governor's veto of Senate Bill 1

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  • Bennett, Manar, Ammons, Local Superintendents Speak Out Against Rauner’s Veto of School Funding Reform

    Senators Manar and Bennett and Rep. Carol Ammons address local superintendents

    URBANA, Ill. – State Sen. Scott Bennett, D-Champaign, State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, joined local school superintendents and community leaders to discuss the devastating consequences that the governor’s veto of education funding reform would have on central Illinois schools.

    “Under the amendatory veto, it’s very clear that our schools lose in central Illinois,” said Ammons. “Senate Bill 1 would have ensured that our schools would receive the amount of money they need and deserve to serve our children. Gov. Rauner’s shameful veto would cut funding to over 550 school districts, including those here in Champaign-Urbana. We should be finding ways to invest more in schools, not cutting their already limited funding.”

    Senate Bill 1, which creates an equitable school funding plan, would have fixed the state’s broken education funding system, and ensured that every school in Illinois saw increased funding. Despite his agreement with 90 percent of the legislation, Gov. Rauner issued an amendatory veto of the legislation.

    “The governor’s veto was clearly intended to hurt Chicago but caused a great deal of collateral damage to the schools of downstate Illinois,” said Bennett. “We must ensure that the formula that becomes law guarantees fair funding for schools all over Illinois.”

    Manar noted that Rauner’s introduced changes to Senate Bill 1 would punish schools for enrollment declines, thwart local economic development efforts and bar school districts from claiming voter-approved tax cap adjustments. These provisions unfairly harm downstate Illinois’ least-funded schools the most, including many here in central Illinois.

    “Rather than roll up his sleeves and work with lawmakers to solve Illinois’ school funding crisis, Gov. Rauner is pitting region against region, children against children, and education against economic development. That’s not leadership,” Manar said.

    “The governor hasn’t put forth a roadmap for success. He needs to tell us how he wants to solve this problem. He vetoed the entire state budget, and he vetoed Senate Bill 1, inserting provisions that would result in higher property taxes in the most underfunded areas of the state. He needs to get serious. We have to solve this problem, and we have a limited amount of time to do it.”

  • Students, communities, accreditation at risk for universities (VIDEO)

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  • GOP budget cuts retired teachers’ health insurance

    Sen. Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD – Health insurance programs for retired teachers will be cut in the so-called “Capitol Compromise” according to the Illinois Retired Teachers Association. The budget makes a 30 percent cut to the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program, also known as TRIP.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), who opposes the cuts to the program, issued the following statement:

    “Cutting insurance benefits for retired teachers is not the right way to balance the budget. Not only is it extremely unfair, it is potentially unconstitutional and will just lead to more litigation instead of a long-term solution for fixing our finances.”

  • Senate Democrats Balanced Budget vs. Rauner's Rhetoric (VIDEO)

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  • Schools could give housing assistance to homeless students

    Homeless youthSPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan passed the Illinois Senate.

    Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

    “This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

  • Pre-existing conditions covered under Illinois legislation

    Chest scanSPRINGFIELD – Health insurance companies will still be required to cover pre-existing conditions under new legislation passed by the Illinois Senate.

    After the U.S. House of Representatives passed new healthcare legislation, many feared that insurance providers would no longer be required to cover pre-existing conditions.

    State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is House Bill 2959’s chief co-sponsor.

  • Funding for Champaign-Urbana domestic violence shelter in Senate budget

    bennett dv champaignSPRINGFIELD – Courage Connection, the Champaign-based domestic violence shelter devastated by the state’s budget impasse, would be funded under the budget plan passed by the Illinois Senate this week.

    Originally opened in 1971, the shelter is considered to be the first domestic violence shelter in the nation. Since then, the shelter has helped tens of thousands of people find a safe place to stay for the night.

    Courage Connection includes four facilities that provide a safe haven for victims of domestic violence, allowing them to focus on rebuilding their life.