• Black Caucus: Governor’s vision sets state on path to help black communities

    black caucus budget 2020SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus responded to Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address on Wednesday.

    Black Caucus leaders discussed areas within the governor’s budget proposal that specifically affect black communities, including early childhood education, economic development and public safety.

    Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, Chair of the ILBC:

    “I am thrilled Governor Pritzker has a significant plan for education from birth to college. I share his enthusiasm for educating our young people because it is proven that their success lies in the quality of their education.

    “Educating our young people has always been a central focus of the Black Caucus. We understand that in order for communities to grow and advance, they need to be educated. We look forward to joining the governor in the fight for equitable funding and access to education.”

  • Lindop school district to receive property tax relief grant

    lightford 020520SPRINGFIELD – Property taxes will be lowered for some homeowners and business owners in South Suburban communities thanks to a new state grant program that seeks to lift some of the burden on school districts that are heavily taxed.

    The Property Tax Relief Grant is part of the education funding reform package that has been put in place to level the playing field to better serve struggling school districts.

    “This is a positive step forward in bringing long-term property tax relief to the community of Broadview,” Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) said. “Property taxes have been an extremely important issue, which is why I am pleased to see this grant awarded to Lindop School District.”

    Eligible school districts must submit an abatement resolution to their county clerks by March 30 to receive the grant. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will then distribute the grants to the school districts once they have received the Certificate of Abatement Form.

    More information on the Property Tax Relief Grant and a listing of each eligible school district can be found at

  • Black Caucus: State has made great strides, but there’s work still to be done

    SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) responded to Gov. JB Pritzker’s State of the State address on Wednesday.

    Leaders of the Black Caucus discussed key issues brought up by the governor’s address that specifically affect black communities throughout the state, including early childhood education, health care and criminal justice reform.

    Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, Chair of the ILBC

    “The governor’s address highlighted some areas where we were finally able to see progress for our communities under his leadership, including a new capital plan to fix the state’s crumbling infrastructure and create jobs that are desperately needed in our communities, and additional funding for K-12 and early childhood education.

    “One of our top priorities is educating our communities. We pride ourselves in fighting to ensure there is equitable funding in education, and that there is adequate after school support, especially for our at-risk youth.

    “With all that we have accomplished, there is still a lot of work to do to provide stability for the people of African-American communities. I was pleased to hear the governor talk about diversity, acknowledging inequities in the communities we represent. We look forward to working with his administration to ensure people of all backgrounds have a fair shot at success in Illinois.

    State Representative Camille Lilly, House Chair of the ILBC

    “Today, the governor affirmed our commitment to build on the progress we have made over the past year. Building a stronger Illinois that is inclusive and fair means prioritizing reforms that require millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, and supporting working and middle-class families.

    “The people of Illinois should never be forced to compromise their well-being due to high costs from the health care system and big pharmaceutical companies. Additionally, we need impactful property tax relief to provide stability and confidence for the people of Illinois that they can afford to live here long term.

    “As we begin a new legislative session, I will continue to advocate for vulnerable populations and strengthen ILBC communities as a whole. More work remains to get Illinois under-resourced communities back on track after decades of crisis, but I am encouraged by the Governor’s commitment and this new direction.”

    State Senator Christopher Belt, Senate Chair of the ILBC

    “I am glad to see Gov. JB Pritzker’s top priorities will revise our state’s ethics procedures, early childhood education and provide property tax relief for residents throughout the state. Providing property tax relief will help people with their basic expenses and hopefully retain our residents.

    “In addition, I support his vision for economic development for Illinois. He is continuing to push a statewide construction and infrastructure plan, which will help the economic growth in my district by creating jobs and increasing the quality of life of the community.”

  • Lightford applauds Pritzker’s commitment to education

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) responded to Gov. JB Pritzker’s State of the State Address on Wednesday with the following statement:

    “Last year, the governor gave the General Assembly an extra push to get some big items done, and I look forward to building on such a successful session. I am particularly excited about investing in early childhood education and working to make college more affordable.”

    “Education is a vital tool in lifting people out of poverty, and I am glad Governor Pritzker shares my commitment to the children of Illinois.”

  • Lightford announces library grants to local school districts

    library 011520SPRINGFIELD – Ten local school districts will receive more than $16,000 in grants through the Illinois secretary of state’s School Library Grant program, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) announced today.

    The grants, which are issued by the Illinois State Library, are meant to help public schools offer more library books and materials to students.

    “I am delighted that many deserving schools will benefit from this years’ library grants,” said Lightford. “Having access to new library books and additional educational materials encourages students to experience the joy of reading and learning exciting information.”

    Schools receiving school library grants include:

    • Bellwood School District 88 — $1,656.75
    • Berkeley School District 87 — $1,797
    • Proviso Township High School District 209 — $3,254.25
    • Forest Park School District 91 — $750
    • Hillside School District 93 — $750
    • Lyons Township High School District 204 — $3,038.25
    • LaGrange School District 102 — $2,209.50
    • Komarek District 94 — $750
    • River Forest School District 90 — $1,072.50
    • Westchester School District 92.5 — $815.25
  • Majority Leader Lightford condemns possible rape cover-up

    lightford 201519SPRINGFIELD-- Outraged by allegations brought forth by a recent WBEZ story about the possible cover up of a rape detailed in a state government email exchange, Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford urged that appropriate authorities, including the Champaign County State’s Attorney, the Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Executive Inspector General, take immediate steps to investigate this report.

    The WBEZ story referenced a 2012 email to officials in then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration sent by lobbyist Michael McClain that among other things makes mention of a state employee who kept quiet about “the rape in Champaign”, asking that the administration keep that individual employed by the state.

    Majority Leader Lightford issued the following statement regarding this incident:

  • Lawmakers seek answers to abuse of seclusion rooms in schools

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  • Lightford visits West 40 alternative learning programs

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  • Lightford calls for teaching consent in schools

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Students across Illinois could soon have consent taught as a part of their sex education curriculum. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) passed House Bill 3550 through the Senate on Wednesday.

    “The stigma of being sexually assaulted has kept so many victims silent for decades,” Lightford said. “Teaching consent helps young people establish boundaries and feel empowered to speak out against an abuser.”

    The legislation requires students in grades 6-12 to learn the meaning of consent and how to respect personal boundaries. Under current law, consent is briefly mentioned in the School Code, but no definition or guidance is provided.

  • Lightford creates special license plate for veterans with PTSD

    lightford 022019SPRINGFIELD – More support for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder could be available under a measure led by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    House Bill 2126 authorizes K9s for Veterans to issue decals for the universal special license plate. The fees collected for issuing and renewing the plates would be deposited into the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Fund to be used for support, education, and awareness of veterans with the disorder.

    “Our veterans who are struggling with mental health issues need our support, and we are giving Illinoisans an opportunity to do so through the special license plate program,” Lightford said.

    Applicants would be charged a $25 fee in addition to the standard registration fee each year the decal is renewed. The Universal Special License Plate was established in 2016 to allow drivers to support any organization who has been authorized for a decal. An organization that would like to create a decal for the universal plate must have at least 2,000 applications before the Secretary of State can approve their application for a universal plate.

    The legislation was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee and will head to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Lightford protects consumers from misleading utility plans

    Majority Leader Kimberly A. LightfordSPRINGFIELD – To protect consumers from being taken advantage of due to misinformation from alternative retail electric suppliers, Senate Majority Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is leading legislation that was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

    “The data clearly demonstrates that alternative suppliers focus their signup efforts on low-income neighborhoods, those where English is a secondary language, and communities of color,” Lightford said. “I am proud to stand with Attorney General Raoul to protect our most vulnerable residents from unknowingly signing contracts that will result in rate hikes they cannot afford.”

  • Lightford measure lowers required school age to 5

    lightford 041119SPRINGFIELD – Children could soon be required to start school at age 5 under a proposal spearheaded by Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    Senate Bill 2075 lowers the compulsory school age from 6 to 5, and was approved by the Senate on Thursday.

    Parents could choose to hold their child back a year if they have a birthday after May 31.

    “This proposal makes learning a habit for children across Illinois,” Lightford said. “When we get students in the classroom at an early age, especially those from underprivileged communities, they are more likely to continue their education as they grow older.”

    In 2006, Lightford established a universal preschool program that helps prepare 3- and 4-year-olds for Kindergarten, a measure that increased the state’s early childhood education investments by $45 million.

    Since then, Illinois has continued to invest more in these type of programs with the latest commitment from Gov. JB Pritzker to increase early childhood funding by $100 million.

    The legislation now heads to the House for approval.

  • Lawmakers, advocates stress importance of accurate 2020 Census count

    Sens. Elgie R. Sims Jr., Emil Jones III, Iris Y. Martinez and Kimberly A. Lightford

    SPRINGFIELD – Senate lawmakers and advocates gathered Thursday to stress the importance of getting a full and accurate count in Illinois during the 2020 Census.

    Assistant Majority Leader Iris Y. Martinez spoke to the potential consequences of an undercount.

    “The census is used to determine federal funding and representation for our state,” Martinez (D-Chicago) said. “That means, if we are undercounted, we stand to lose billions in federal funding, along with two congressional seats and two Electoral College votes.”

    Martinez is the sponsor of legislation, contained in Senate Bill 1408, that would appropriate $25 million to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide grants to community providers and local governments for the purposes of encouraging full participation in the 2020 federal census.

  • Lightford joins Pritzker, Stratton for Women's History Month honors

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  • Lightford seeks to lower required school age to 5

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Children could soon be required to start school at age 5 under a proposal spearheaded by Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    Senate Bill 2075 lowers the compulsory school age from 6 to 5, and was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

    “It is vital for students to be in the classroom, especially at an early age,” Lightford said. “This measure allows us to make a strong impact in the lives of our children and increases opportunities for those who come from underprivileged communities.”

    The measure seeks to help address chronic absenteeism across the state by establishing a habit of attendance in kindergarten and first grade. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, at least one in five Chicago Public School students missed at least 17 days of school during the 2017-18 school year. The state’s average is about one in six children.

    Chronic absenteeism has a wide range of negative effects for the absent students and for their classmates, as instructors often need to go over materials again, Lightford said.

    The legislation now heads to the full Senate for approval.

  • Lightford helps Komarek School secure funds for facility updates

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Komarek Elementary School District 94 could soon have much-needed funds to update infrastructure under legislation led by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood).

    The $22 million plan includes a new gymnasium, parking lot and green space where 13th Avenue separates the east and west buildings of Komarek School. The sky bridge that currently connects the two buildings would be renovated to include a new library. The west building of the school, which was built in 1955, would be renovated to meet current standards.

    “This measure gives Komarek School administration an opportunity to update and revitalize their facilities,” Lightford said. “Our children deserve a learning environment that fosters growth and creativity, and I commend Komarek School for wanting to provide that for their students.”

    Senate Bill 2112 allows Komarek Elementary School District 94 to issue bonds up to $22 million should voters approve a referendum during the April 2019 elections.

    The measure was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

  • Lightford vows support for funding early childhood projects

    Senator LightfordSPRINGFIELD – Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is drawing attention to the need for designating funding for early childhood building and renovation projects in the state’s next construction program.

    “Our previous construction plan missed the mark on supporting early childhood programming,” Lightford said. “We need to ensure that we dedicate the funding to make sure our families have access to these critical services.”

    The state’s last construction plan was implemented in 2009, and included a $45 million appropriation from the Build Illinois Bond Fund for the state's first Early Childhood Construction Grant program. However, the Capital Development Board received 227 applications totaling more than $539 million in requests for these construction and renovation resources, illustrating the unmet needs of early childhood facilities.

    Senate Resolution 85 urges the next state construction program to dedicate a minimum of $250 million from state bond sources for the purpose of supporting critical early childhood projects.

    “While this is only half of what was needed ten years ago, this is an important first step that puts the need for these projects on the forefront,” Lightford said.

    The measure was approved in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled to move to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Lightford measure combats college debt crisis

    lightford 030619SPRINGFIELD – More financial assistance could soon be available for college students through a proposal sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood)

    “Students should be able to obtain a degree without drowning in student loan debt after college,” Lightford said. “This legislation combats the college debt crisis by providing financial support to Illinois students.”

    Senate Bill 1524 authorizes the State Treasurer to allocate up to 5 percent of the State Investment Portfolio to the Illinois Student Investment Account to assist qualified residents in paying for college through various investment programs. The Senate Financial Institutions Committee approved the measure on Wednesday.

    Investment programs may include income-sharing agreements, linked deposits and origination, and refinancing of student loans.

    The measure also establishes a Borrower Assistance Fund to provide monetary assistance to students facing financial hardship.

    The legislation will now head to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Manar joins Lightford effort to protect safety-net hospitals

    lightford 030519SPRINGFIELD – Fed up with delayed and denied state payments that are compromising quality health care for the most vulnerable, state legislators joined safety-net hospitals today to call for landmark reform of managed care companies under Illinois’ Medicaid program.

    Senate Bill 1807 and House Bill 2814, also known as the Safety Net Hospital MCO Reform Act, provide a path to rein in repeated abuses by managed care organizations (MCOs) in their oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars of care each year provided by hospitals who treat Medicaid low-income patients. Advocates and lawmakers called for immediate reform Tuesday at a Statehouse news conference.

  • Lightford joins call for teaching consent in schools

    lightford 022119SPRINGFIELD – Students across Illinois could soon have consent taught as a part of their sex education curriculum. Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined colleagues and advocates at a press conference on Thursday in support of House Bill 3550, currently being led through the House by Representative Ann Williams (D-Chicago).

    “Some victims of sexual assault have remained silent for decades because they were afraid or blamed themselves,” Lightford said. “We are here to say enough to a society that polices women more for what they wear than men for how they behave, and that starts with education.”