Castro

  • Castro to host mobile COVID testing site this weekend

    COVID testingELGIN – To help residents obtain tests for COVID-19, State Senator Cristina Castro is partnering with several other government officials and agencies to host a mobile testing site this weekend in Carpentersville.

    “Getting tested for COVID-19 remains one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread, since those who test positive know that they should quarantine to avoid exposing others to the virus,” Castro said. “The testing site we’re sponsoring is open to anyone, and I encourage everyone to stop by and get a test.”

  • Justice Ginsburg passes after long struggle with pancreatic cancer

    ginsburg 092120On Friday, September 18, the United States lost its petite powerhouse in the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87 and succumbed to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer after multiple rounds with the disease.

    In reaction to news of her loss September 18, members of the Senate Women’s Caucus responded with sorrow and resolve, and released the following statement:

     

  • Treasurer recognizes Castro’s commitment with Hispanic Heritage Month award

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – In recognition of her outstanding commitment to fighting for Latino communities, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) was presented with the Outstanding Commitment as an Elected Official by Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs.

    “It is important that we celebrate those who have paved the way before us, but we must also highlight leaders like Senator Cristina Castro who work diligently to push for diversity, protect consumers, and fight for working families in Illinois,” Frerichs said.

     

  • Castro encourages local businesses to apply for second round of grants

    sm restaurant 082120ELGIN – To help small businesses deal with undue economic burden caused by COVID-19, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development has begun accepting applications for a second round of Business Interruption Grants. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is encouraging local businesses who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic to apply.

    “The past several months have been hard on all of us, and despite shutdown restrictions being eased, many small businesses are having difficulty paying their staff and keeping their doors open and lights on,” Castro said. “Since small businesses are the backbone of our community, I am encouraging businesses owners to apply for the Business Interruption Grants to help ease some of the pressure they’re under due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    The grants are the second in a series of $636 million in funding for struggling small businesses. Nearly $220 million will be awarded, with a particular focus on downstate businesses, businesses in disproportionately affected areas, and businesses in industries and regions that have been heavily impacted by the pandemic. Businesses outside of these areas are still eligible to apply, but their applications may be reviewed later.

    “These grants will help keep people from losing the jobs they’ve worked hard to obtain and shutting down the businesses they’ve worked hard to establish,” Castro said.

    Businesses will be informed of a decision regarding their application within four to six weeks of its submission. More information, including eligibility information, can be found on DCEO’s website.

  • Castro urges census completion, cites area response rates

    census responder 091020ELGIN – With the Sept. 30 conclusion of the 2020 Census looming, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is urging local residents to complete their household surveys in order to produce the most accurate count possible.

    “The response rate data we have is a good sign, but there is always room for improvement,” Castro said. “With the 2020 Census cut short by a full month, the next few weeks will be crucial to ensuring that our communities get the full amount of funding and representation to which they are entitled, which the census determines.”

    According to the official census website, as of Sept. 10 the response rates for cities in the area are:

    • Barrington Hills – 70.9%
    • Bartlett – 85.5%
    • Carpentersville – 75.6%
    • East Dundee – 81.4%
    • Elgin – 72.8%
    • Hanover Park – 76.9%
    • Hoffman Estates – 81.0%
    • Schaumburg – 79.3%
    • South Elgin – 80.3%
    • Streamwood – 82.1%

    “These numbers are encouraging, but we should continue to keep working until they’re all at 100,” Castro said.

    The census can be completed online, by phone or by mail.

  • Several local businesses to receive COVID-19 relief grants

    gym 082120ELGIN – Recipients of the first round of the state’s Business Interruption Grants were announced last week. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is congratulating the 26 local businesses that will receive a combined $420,000 in relief.

    “The COVID-19 crisis has impacted all of us, including small business owners and their employees who have been living in fear of waking up one morning and no longer having a job,” Castro said. “These institutions helped keep our communities up and running during the height of the pandemic, so it’s great to be able to provide them with the support they need to keep their doors open.”

    The Business Interruption Grants were offered by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants were available to restaurants, bars, fitness centers, and salons, particularly in areas of the state that have seen larger than average economic losses. The grants ranged from $10,000-$20,000 per business and can be used to cover the cost of payroll, rent, and utilities, and can also be used for pandemic-related expenses such as personal protective equipment.

    “I encourage any business that has been struggling over the past six months to apply for the next round of BIG grants when they become available,” Castro said.

    In total, the grants will award $46 million to over 2,600 Illinois businesses. A full list of recipients can be found here.

  • Castro: Utilities no longer driving conversation of clean energy

    clean energy 082120ELGIN – Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled eight principles for a clean and renewable Illinois economy Friday. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), who is the Senate sponsor of the long-awaited Clean Energy Jobs Act, released the following statement:

    “Up until now, utility companies have driven the conversation on energy. I am thrilled to see that is no longer the case. This shows a clear indication that the people who will lead the charge toward clean, renewable energy and jobs will be those who truly believe in it, and not those who stand to benefit from slowing down the process. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly to develop and implement the crucial Clean Energy Jobs Act.”

  • The Illinois Latino Caucus supports the Rental Assistance Program but more help needs to be provided

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  • Castro pleased with expansion of worker protections during pandemic

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – A measure supported by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) meant to expand protections for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday.

    “Essential workers literally kept our world up and running during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, so the very least we can do is expand their protections to ensure they stay safe for the duration of this crisis and for any similar future crises,” Castro said. “They perform necessary jobs, often with little thanks, so it’s about time we give back to them.”

    The package, Senate Bill 471, was passed by the General Assembly in May and contained three provisions:

    • Expanded disability protections for firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers and other public workers who contract COVID-19 during the line of duty;
    • Enhanced criminal penalties to protect retail workers who are performing duties such as relaying information or enforcing safety guidelines during a state of emergency; and
    • Expanded collective bargaining rights for workers at horse racetracks with 10 or more employees.

    The law is effective immediately.

     

  • Castro announces educator support grant for Hoffman Estates High School

    young teacher2 072320ELGIN –Gov. Pritzker announced new grants Thursday for state high schools to help recruit new educators. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is pleased to announce that Hoffman Estates High School will be receiving some of those funds.

    “I’m thrilled to see that Hoffman Estates High School will receiving a grant to help recruit and support a diverse faculty of teachers to help educate our students,” Castro said. “One of the most important things we can do as a society is provide a quality education for our youth. This grant will help Hoffman Estates High Schools and other school districts in the area and in the state recruit the best and brightest educators to help build a better future.”

    Programs supported by this grant through the Illinois State Board of Education will emphasize recruiting underrepresented students into education careers to help meet the high demand for teachers of color across Illinois.

    Hoffman Estates High School will receive a portion of a nearly $250,000 grant made to North Suburban high schools under the program, administered by the Illinois State Board of Education. For a full list of grant recipients or for more information, visit www.ISBE.net/CTE.

  • Castro encourages small businesses to make use of Paycheck Protection Program

    paycheck 042820ELGIN – Since small businesses have taken some of the heaviest financial losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is encouraging small business owners to take advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

    “The Paycheck Protection was established by Congress in order to help small businesses out in situations exactly like this one,” Castro said. “If you’re a struggling business owner, it’s important to realize that there is help available to get you through this crisis, and you should make use of it.”

    Paycheck Protection Program loans were established by the Department of Treasury as a way to help businesses that are having difficulty paying their employees. The loans have a 1%interest rate, and can be forgiven in full if used entirely for the purpose of covering payroll costs, rent, utilities or mortgage interest.

    “PPP loans have two important purposes: to ensure that small businesses can keep their doors open in times of hardship, and to prevent employees of those businesses from losing their jobs,” Castro said.

    A PPP loan can be up to $10 million per businesses and are awarded on a first come, first served basis. Applications are due by Aug. 8 and can be filled out here.

  • Castro urges those working to heal communities from COVID-19 to apply for new grants

    castro 071520ELGIN – The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority announced new funding to provide grants for organizations providing support and relief in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is encouraging organizations to submit applications.

    “Communities of color have suffered the worst from the coronavirus, not just in terms of number of cases, but also when it comes to the amount of resources available to help them recover,” Castro said. “There are many great organizations out there doing amazing work, and I would encourage them to apply for an ICJIA grant so they can keep it up.”

    The ICJIA grants are part of federal funding for supporting communities that have faced the hardest challenges from the coronavirus, allocated by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program. Uses for the grants include housing assistance; support services like mental health services and legal aid; rent, utilities or other expenses by local community organizations; and the distribution of food. The funds can also be used for any other need that is related to the pandemic.

    “These organizations are vital to community recovery, and I’m glad there is a way for them to get some extra help if they need it,” Castro said.

    Additional information and a link to the application – which is due by July 24 – can be found here.

  • Castro vows action on maternal mortality crisis

    Senator CastroELGIN – In the height of the coronavirus pandemic and global protests against systemic racism, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) said a recent news story about the death of Sha-Asia Washington, a 26-year old Black mother who died during an emergency C-section, shows the importance of not being distracted from other crises that vulnerable communities are still facing.

    “My heart goes out to Sha-Asia Washington, her now motherless daughter Khloe, their families, and to anyone else who has ever suffered the unimaginable tragedy of losing a mother due to complications from pregnancy,” Castro said. “Their tragedy is the latest in a long history of them. We must act now to fight the systemic inequalities that cause the terrible infant and maternal mortality among women of color in America.”

    According to the Center for Disease Control, Black mothers die from pregnancy related causes at a rate two to three times higher than white mothers. In cities like New York, where Sha-Asia Washington died, Black mothers die at a rate 12 times higher.

    “This is a reminder that in the 21st Century, with all of our modern medicine, Black and brown mothers are dying during childbirth at a higher rate than white women, just as they are more likely to die in virtually every other situation, from interactions with police to COVID-19 infection,” Castro said. “We need to protect women of color. We need to do better.”

    In the spring of 2019, Castro sponsored legislation in the Senate addressing the issue of maternal mortality. The bill contained insurance coverage expansions, post-partum follow up procedures, and added emphasis to high-risk mothers and babies. Though it passed the Senate, it stalled in the House. Castro intends to refile the language of the original bill as an amendment to Senate Bill 3024.

    “My original bill addressing these issues passed through the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support, so it’s clear that the desire to fix these problem is there,” Castro said. “It is imperative that when the legislature returns to Springfield, we work to provide the long-overdue answers to this crisis once and for all by passing Senate Bill 3024.”

    The amendment has not yet been filed.

  • Castro and Welch announce initiative to expand diversity on bank boards

    castro IMG 6357rCHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) joined State Rep. Emmanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Hillside) to announce a new measure that would require financial institutions that want to conduct business with Illinois state government to have a minimum of 20% of their boards be people of color.

    House Bill 5806 would only affect financial institutions that want to be able to receive state dollars. It ensures that the money that Illinois invests only goes to institutions that have boards that reflect the state’s diversity. 

     

  • Castro to reopen district office July 6

    castro office 070620ELGIN – After being closed for nearly three months out of health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) announced plans to reopen her district office July 6, with a few restrictions.

    “The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, but one thing it hasn’t is the need for people in my district to seek the sort of help that our office is uniquely able to provide,” Castro said. “With all areas of the state having moved into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, I believe that now is the time we can safely reopen and start providing constituent services face-to-face.”

    Castro’s district office is located at 164 Division Street, Suite 102 at The Professional Building in Elgin. The office will be open for its normal business hours, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Meetings, however, will be allowed by appointment only. Visitors will be required to wear masks at all times, and social distancing must be maintained for the duration of the meetings. Castro’s satellite office in Hanover Park will remain closed.

    “Above all else, our top concern remains the health and safety of everyone while we ride out the coronavirus storm together,” Castro said.

    To request an appointment, please send a message or call 847-214-8864.

  • Castro co-sponsored casino support bill becomes law

    casino 063020ELGIN – A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) meant to provide support to casinos became law Tuesday.

    “Many businesses have been able to reopen under the Restore Illinois plan, but casinos have not,” Castro said. “A casino can be one of the largest sources of employment in its area, and the surrounding communities are often heavily reliant on the tax revenue it provides. If casinos are forced to close for good as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would have long lasting and devastating effects on the area.”

    Senate Bill 516 was signed by Gov. JB Pritzker Tuesday and makes several changes to previous gaming bills. It is meant to lessen the financial burden of casinos, which have been closed since the first Stay at Home Order was issued in March.

    Specifically, the bill:

    • Increases the period of time casinos have to pay fees from two years to six years and removes the requirement to pay interest in the fees;
    • Moves the implementation date of a new, lower tax rate to July 1, 2020, rather than having the rate kick in only when a new casino opens; and
    • Extends the due date for sports licensing and other fees by one year to July 1, 2021.

    “By providing these small changes, we’re giving the casinos the same opportunity to bounce back that other institutions have had, which gives them a bit of breathing room, while not completely removing their obligation to pay their fair share,” Castro said.

    Castro’s district includes the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. The measure passed both chambers of the General Assembly with bipartisan support during the May special session.

  • Castro named to budget oversight commission

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – As part of efforts to address the unique and unprecedented financial effect the COVID-19 outbreak has had on Illinois, State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) has been appointed to the Legislative Budget Oversight Commission.

    “The coronavirus pandemic put our state in a position unlike anything we could have imagined,” Castro said. “It’s not feasible to continue the budgeting process in the same methods we have in years previous. Additional oversight and scrutiny is necessary to ensure Illinois can navigate this crisis and continue to prosper when it’s over.”

    The commission was established by the General Assembly during the brief May special session and will be tasked with finding ways to overcome the challenges to budget drafting that was presented by the pandemic-induced financial crisis. The purpose of the commission will be to monitor the budget management actions taken by the governor and to oversee the ways in which CARES Act federal relief funds are distributed to state and local governments. Castro was named to the commission by Senate President Don Harmon earlier this week.

    “I want to thank President Harmon for giving me the opportunity to help ensure that the stability we established under the budget passed in May can continue for all future budgets for the duration of this crisis and beyond,” Castro said.

    The commission will be bipartisan and consist of 22 total members of both chambers of the General Assembly. Members of the commission will serve without compensation.

  • Senate President Don Harmon announces appointments to Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission

    harmon 03052020CM0660SPRINGFIELD, IL – Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) announced four appointees to the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission, a group created to help guide Illinois through the reopening process following stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of coronavirus.

    Senators Christopher Belt (D-Centreville), Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) and Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) will represent Senate Democrats on the commission. 

  • Latino Caucus: SCOTUS Ruling upholding DACA is right thing for nation

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  • Castro celebrates vote-by-mail expansion

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – On Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill expanding the state’s vote-by-mail program. State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) supported the measure to help safeguard the health and safety of voters.

    “Even though we are in unprecedented times and a lot of us are taking things one day at a time, there are many aspects of our lives that will not wait for the coronavirus pandemic to end, and voting is one of them,” Castro said. “Election Day is coming, and people are going to want to vote, so we need to make sure that they can do so without risking their health or the health of their loved ones.”

    The expansion of vote-by-mail came as part of a larger election package legislators passed during a special session earlier this spring to addressing COVID-19 concerns. The new law will require local election authorities to automatically send vote-by-mail applications to everyone who voted in the 2018 general, 2019 consolidated or 2020 primary elections, or who registered to vote after the 2020 primary.

    The package also establishes Election Day as a state holiday in 2020, to allow schools to be used as polling locations and to help recruit more high school students as election judges, since many of those who frequently serve as election judges are senior citizens, and thus at higher risk in light of the COVID-19 pandemic..

    “Voting is one of the most essential rights we have as citizens, and we should always be working to make it easier to vote, not harder,” Castro said.

    The law is effectively immediately and applies only to the 2020 general election.