Cunningham

  • MAP grants, community colleges funding head to governor (AUDIO)

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  • Senate Democrats: Students need to be a priority (AUDIO / VIDEO)

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  • Sen. Cunningham on importance of MAP Grants

    Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) expresses his thoughts on why MAP grants are so important at a press conference on January 13, 2016.


  • Student-Teacher Background Checks go into effect January 1

    cunningham bkgrd chksCHICAGO — On Jan. 1, prospective student-teachers in Illinois will be required to go through the same background check process as a regular teacher. Senate Bill 706, passed during the last session of the 99th General Assembly, improved the process of how to properly screen student-teacher candidates.

    The legislation is the result of a multi-year discussion between Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18), the Illinois State Board of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    Currently in Illinois, student-teachers are required to get separate background checks for each school they teach at, which can create confusion for the student-teacher and the districts where they are placed to teach.

    “Our first priority should be protecting our children while they are at school,” Cunningham said. “This law is a sustainable way to allow student teachers to get the on the job training they need while protecting our students.”

    The legislation requires that student-teachers submit to a series of background checks, including a fingerprint-based criminal history check, a Statewide Sex Offender Database check along with a check of the Statewide Murderer and Violent Offender Databases. The Illinois State Police and FBI are also required to furnish any conviction records of prospective student teachers.

    “This is about protecting our students from predators. If we want to keep excellent teachers in the classroom, we need a plan to both protect our future leaders and ensure our instructors are the best and safest,” Cunningham said.

    The legislation passed both the Senate and the House and was signed by Gov. Rauner.

    For other laws going into effect on Jan. 1, please visit the Illinois Senate Democrats’ website.

  • Senate sends local funding measure to governor

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  • Cunningham: Time to give local governments their money

    cunningham bkgrd chks(CHICAGO)— On Monday, December 7, the Senate voted to pass SB 2039. The legislation would release many non-GRF funds to go where they belong. The Motor Fuel Tax money, or gas tax, is one of the group of funds being released to local governments.

    “It is time that we give this money to the communities that need it for public safety issues, like fixing potholes,” said Senator Bill Cunningham, who voted to send gas tax revenue to local communities in May, as well.

    The House of Representatives on Wednesday, December 2, voted to send that money back to local communities and sent the legislation to the Senate. After Senate approval, it is heading to the governor’s desk for his signature.

    “The fact that we had to take this vote again is disappointing. The governor had a chance to send this money out, but instead he vetoed it. I voted to put these funds where they can do some good,” said Cunningham.

    Many communities in Cook County will now be able to use money for critical projects. While 2015 gas tax amounts are not yet available, in 2014, Oak Lawn received $1,403,471 in gas tax money. Orland Park, in 2014, received $1,405,377 in gas taxes.

    Senator Cunningham represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago.

  • Cunningham Statement on Illinois Leaders' Meeting

    cunningham hmstdexempt(CHICAGO)—State Senator Bill Cunningham, who represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago, released the following statement on the leaders' meeting set for December 1:

    “I am glad a meeting is finally occurring, but what we need now is substantial progress,” said Senator Cunningham. “I hope the governor comes to the table with every intention of bringing together a common-sense proposal that puts Illinois back on the path to financial security without sacrificing critical programs. I am glad there is a meeting but at this point we need more than just meetings.”

  • You pay at the pump, why is Springfield keeping your money?

    You pay at the pump, why is Springfield keeping your money?

  • Cunningham, local officials ask Congress to hold CSX accountable

    cunningham csxCHICAGO—Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18th) and other local officials recently sent a letter to the Illinois Congressional delegation asking Congress to hold CSX accountable for problems in Mount Greenwood and Evergreen Park.

    “Too many residents in our communities are being negatively affected by blocked grade crossing, pedestrian safety problems and idling trains which poses an environmental hazard to our communities,” said Cunningham.

    CSX has promised to move a scheduled train off the Elsdon line, which runs just east of Kedzie Avenue, but Cunningham is concerned that this is just a continuation of the long back and forth that has occurred with CSX.

    “This is not the first time we have had CSX make a promise. Repeatedly, we receive assurances that the problems will diminish and we are continually facing the same issues. Moving one or two trains isn’t going to fix the problem,” said Senator Cunningham.

    The letter signatories who joined Senator Cunningham were State Representatives Fran Hurley and Kelly Burke, Chicago 19th Ward Alderman Matt O’Shea, and Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton. The letter accuses CSX of failing to comply with at least 14 “mitigation measures” imposed on the railroad by federal regulators when the CSX acquisition of the Elsdon line was completed in 2013. Cunningham and the other local elected officials are urging the federal government to sanction CSX with fines or more strenuous regulations.

  • Cunningham: Agriculture critical in Illinois economy

    cunningham tractorSPRINGFIELD – Highlighting the importance of agriculture in the state, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) visited with farmers in Tazewell County on Monday to discuss the issues they face.
     
    “Perhaps no issue or industry unites Illinois more than agriculture and agribusiness," Cunningham said. "Whether it is grain traders in downtown Chicago or farmers in Tazewell County, or an agricultural sciences laboratory in Urbana, Illinois is an international center of agricultural production and its related businesses.”

  • Cunningham: Reform needed in higher education to help reduce tuition costs

    cunningham bkgrd chksCHICAGO – In an effort to reduce administrative costs and help hold the line on college tuition growth, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18) has proposed a series of reforms in how higher education executives in Illinois are compensated. These reforms were sparked by a report revealing inappropriate practices, including the recent scandals at the College of DuPage.

    “Institutions of higher learning in our state have been plagued by recent controversies involving mismanagement or misconduct by college presidents, which cost taxpayers and tuition-payers millions of dollars in legal fees and severance payouts," Cunningham said. "We need to reform our laws to ensure more transparency and accountability in the administration of our public colleges and universities."

    Legislation proposed by the senator would create more transparency in the hiring and contracting process for executives by requiring the terms of contracts to be publicly disclosed before being approved. Legislation also would make it so that perks that are often given to university presidents, such as car and housing allowances, could not count as pensionable income.

    “Illinois has several excellent institutions of higher learning," Cunningham said. "It's disappointing that we need to focus on these negative issues. But it is necessary that we learn from past transgressions and reform our laws to ensure that Illinois colleges and universities are above board in all of their financial practices.”

    Cunningham’s reform package, Senate Bills 2155-2159 are currently in the State Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education Executive Compensation, which is chaired by Senator Cunningham.

  • Without labor, nothing prospers

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  • Senate Democrats offer A+ laws for back-to-school season

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  • Cunningham legislation to protect DCFS wards signed into law

    cunningham dcfs wardsSPRINGFIELD - Wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who run away or go missing from the system will now have additional protections to help find them and keep them out of the hands of predators. Two pieces of legislation, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, were signed into law to help create a system to locate missing wards that are reported as well as enhancing penalties for criminals who exploit those missing wards.

    “The protection of our children, regardless of circumstance, is a priority. With the passage and signing of these important pieces of legislation, our most vulnerable children will have better protection and, hopefully, a better life,” said Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat.

    Senate Bill 1775, also known as the Safeguard our Children Act, spells out what is required from DCFS once a youth in their custody is reported missing. The legislation states that DCFS must report the missing youth to local law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Illinois State Police must also develop a network to help with locating missing DCFS wards.

    From 2011 to 2013, residential DCFS facilities reported 29,425 incidents of missing wards, averaging 27 runaway reports per day. Many residential facilities do not report the runaways to local law enforcement.

    “There have been numerous cases of DCFS wards going missing, where, unfortunately, law enforcement was not made aware of the missing child,” Cunningham said. “This new law will help us to find runaway wards as quickly as possible, helping protect them from possible exploitation.”

    Also signed into law was Senate Bill 201, which allows sentencing courts to consider a defendant’s knowledge of a prostitution victim’s DCFS status when sentencing. Many wards of the state are extremely susceptible and are in need of extra judicial protections. The legislation specifically states that judges may consider the fact that a criminal knew their victim to be a ward of DCFS and consider that knowledge as an aggravating factor when imposing sentences.

    "A series of recent articles reported that human traffickers often specifically target and recruit wards of the state who reside in group homes. Predators see them as especially vulnerable and susceptible to being lured into a life of prostitution," Cunningham said. "The new law would enable judges to enhance the sentences imposed on pimps and traffickers in those cases."

    Cunningham has worked closely with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart over the years to help craft good public policy in the criminal justice and corrections field. These two new laws are a direct result of that good working relationship.

    “I’m proud to have worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office on this. We will continue to work together to protect our most vulnerable children and make their protection a priority,” Cunningham said.

  • Senate Democrats report on executive compensation at public colleges and universities (UPDATED, VIDEO)

    Report details compensation abuses, administrative bloat at state colleges and universities: Cunningham

    Months of work by members of the media and the Illinois General Assembly have culminated in a special report detailing costly administrative practices at our state’s public universities and community colleges. The report brings to light growing administrative costs and generous executive compensation packages that have helped fuel tuition increases for Illinois students.

    "This report found that many public colleges and universities have been too quick to award lavish benefits to their executives and increase the number of administrative employees they assign to non-instructional post," State Senator Bill Cunningham said. "While these practices are never welcome, they are particularly troubling during difficult budgetary times and when college tuition rates have grown faster than any other expenses faced by middle class families."

  • Cunningham, subcommittee to investigate campus executive compensation (AUDIO)

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