Lightford

  • Senate education leaders Lightford and Manar join school funding talks to try to sway governor’s support

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  • Lightford to Rauner: Austin is a Chicago Neighborhood

    lightford 052617CHICAGO- Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) reacted to comments Governor Bruce Rauner made today claiming that every child from a disadvantaged circumstance can receive a better education under his yet-to-be revealed plan:

    “The governor claims he is treating Austin, Englewood and Lawndale the same as Cicero, North Chicago and Rockford in his secret plan. While the details of his plan are unclear, one thing is certain, he wants to take money from Chicago’s children to make his plan more appealing and pit poor communities against each other. And that is wrong.

    “I have worked on fixing our education funding formula my entire career, and refuse to let any child get shortchanged on a quality education solely to appease the governor.

    “Senate Bill 1 has a hold harmless provision for all school districts because we refuse to give any school less, it funds schools based on need and ensures high poverty districts get the support they desperately need.”

  • Senators question CMS Director on concerns with rushed contract

    cms hearing 062817SPRINGFIELD- Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) held a hearing today to address concerns over a nearly $100 million taxpayer-funded contract to a private company charged with creating online efficiency in state employee health insurance processing.

    “In my opinion, this process was rushed. If I would have received one bidder for something of this magnitude I would have wanted to find more or expand the recruitment,” Lightford said.

  • Lightford has “deep concern” over latest revelation of Rauner mismanagement

    Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford

    Failing $94 Million Online Healthcare Contract Excludes Minority Business Opportunity

    SPRINGFIELD — Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) today expressed deep concern over an Associated Press report that suggests that Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration took action to purposely exclude state guidelines aimed at encouraging minority-owned business opportunities in an effort to steer a nearly $100 million taxpayer-funded contract to a private company that is charged with creating online efficiency in state employee health insurance processing.

    The news story, published on Sunday, highlights that the system was hastily designed and has caused serious difficulties in managing health care records of potentially hundreds of thousands of public employees and retirees. In addition, the investigation exposes the Rauner administration’s efforts to award the massive contract to Georgia-based company Morneau Shepell in what appears to be a favored contractor:

    “Documents show CMS staff members were told to proceed without following guidelines for ensuring minority-owned business participation,” the AP story says.

    “Bruce Rauner might have purchased the Illinois Republican Party, but he doesn’t own the State of Illinois,” Lightford says. “It’s outrageous to discover that he thinks it’s perfectly legitimate to misuse the trust of taxpayers to skirt rules aimed at giving all qualified businesses an equal playing field.”

    Lightford says she is discussing the possibility of utilizing part of Governor Rauner’s 10-day Special Session mandate to conduct a hearing on the failures of the Morneau Shepell contract as well as the procedures and decisions for discarding procurement rules.  

    “I don’t care if Bruce Rauner doesn’t like the long-established requirements to include and consider minority and woman owned businesses, I care that he decided to simply discard them,” said Lightford. “There’s a need for accountability here and I suspect questions will need good answers. We should do that in a public hearing, not behind the Governor’s preferred closed doors.”

    Throughout the past six months a number of news investigations have highlighted serious flaws in the judgement of Rauner officials when it comes to hiring and contracting. Already, the Illinois Senate Appropriations Committees have held in-depth hearings on what appear to be multi-million dollar insider leasing schemes to store supplies like paper in private warehouses.

  • Senate Democrats pass fair funding for all Illinois schools

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  • Lightford: Give Illinois workers the raise they have been waiting for

    Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford

    SPRINGFIELD — Minimum-wage earners statewide could soon see a pay increase as a result of legislation that raises the minimum wage to $15 by January 2022. Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford spearheaded efforts that would give hardworking families a much-needed raise.

    “People working full time should earn a living wage,” said Lightford, a Maywood Democrat “We want our workers to be able to support their families, have financial independence and be able to contribute to the state’s economy.”

     

  • House approves minimum wage increase to $15, Senate ready to vote

    minwage 053017Today the Illinois House approved Senate Bill 81 which increases the minimum wage in Illinois. The measure was initiated in the Senate and increases the minimum wage over five years to $15 per hour by January 1, 2022.

    Senate President John J. Cullerton statement on House approval of a minimum wage increase:

    “The Senate has been waiting a long time for this. I hope that my assurances that this will get a vote in the Senate helped give the House members the courage to do the right thing. The Senate is ready to take this up if the House can get the paperwork over to us.”

  • Lightford: Lottery dollars should serve as a supplement to education

    LotterySPRINGFIELD — When the Illinois Lottery was established, its purpose was to provide extra revenue for schools, but those funds have been often used to replace funds from other sources. Reliance on lottery revenue to fund local schools could soon come to an end under a proposal that was approved in the Senate today.

    House Bill 213, led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), ensures that any money transferred to the Common School Fund from the State Lottery Fund shall serve as a supplement, not a replacement for, any other money due to the Common School Fund.

    “It is time we used lottery money as it was intended,” Lightford said. “Our school system is underfunded, and we cannot continue to allow our children to lose out on vital resources they need for success.”

    Currently, 24 percent of lottery ticket revenue is deposited into the Common School Fund. In fiscal year 15, that amount was $679 million of the total $2.85 billion in lottery sales.

    The measure will now head back to the House on concurrence.

  • Lightford wants every child born in Illinois to have a college savings account

    lightford 052617SPRINGFIELD- Children born in Illinois could soon be welcomed with a college savings account under a plan led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was recently approved in the Senate.

    House Bill 3691 would allow the State Treasurer to use state appropriated funds, private individual donations and foundation support to fund the Illinois Children’s Savings Account program.

    “Parents have enough to worry about when welcoming a child and the increasing cost of higher education does not have to be one of them,” Lightford said. “This measure simplifies the process for investing in a child’s education and it starts investing from birth.”

    The account will be seeded with an initial investment of $50. Following the initial deposit, low and moderate income families are encouraged to save more through a saving incentive that matches up to $150 a year.

    The measure will now head back to the House on concurrence.

  • Senate Black Caucus delivers full balanced budget

    blk caucus 052517With the end of session looming, the Senate Black Caucus led the charge on presenting and passing a full balanced Senate budget. When it became apparent that partisan lines were drawn and the governor wanted to further hurt our state’s most vulnerable populations, the Senate Black Caucus stood together to provide the necessary votes.

    Assistant Majority Leader Caucus Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), joint chairwoman of Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said in a statement, “We made an effort today to prevent the governor from causing more suffering to our most vulnerable populations with a plan that gives our state stability.”

  • Lightford: Children should not be expelled before kindergarten

    lightford 051917SPRINGFIELD- Children in public preschools are more than three times more likely to be expelled than children in kindergarten through 12th grades, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois. Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) leads a proposal that would keep more at-risk preschool students in the classroom.

    The proposal, which was approved in the Senate today, would prohibit the expulsion of children enrolled in early childhood programs receiving grants from the Illinois State Board of Education. The legislation focuses on transitioning children to programs that better fit a child’s needs.

  • Lightford measure creates Veterans’ Cancer Screening Program

    lightford 050317SPRINGFIELD- In response to concerns surrounding the lack of awareness surrounding the importance of cancer screening among veterans, Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) passed legislation through the Senate today that establishes the Veterans’ Cancer Screening Program.

    “Early cancer detection can make all the difference for many who are diagnosed,” Lightford said. “We know that a number of veterans were exposed to conditions that could result in cancer, and it is important that we are raising awareness and helping our veterans get screened.”

    Senate Bill 838 directs the Department of Public Health to promote awareness of cancer in veterans by:

    • Distributing information regarding the risks of cancer in veterans and benefits of early detection
    • Promotion of information about counseling
    • Establishment of referral services and screenings
    • Beginning January 1, 2018, public service announcements publicizing the importance of cancer screening for veterans

    The legislation now moves to the House for consideration.

  • Lightford measure aims to keep reenrolled dropouts in school

    lightford sb446 050217SPRINGFIELD— Re-enrolled dropouts could receive more resources under legislation steered by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved in the Senate today.

    School districts with a high dropout rate would receive more funding for each student that was dropped from enrollment rolls for at least one month and was re-enrolled into an evidence-based and best practices program for high school dropouts.

    “We are addressing the reality that educators need resources to keep at-risk students in the classroom,” Lightford said. “If our goal is to get these students back on track, they need to be placed in programs tailored to their needs.”

    Senate Bill 446 provides an incentive weighting of two times the foundation level of support for each re-enrolled high school dropout for districts with two times the state high school dropout rate.

  • Lightford measure provides more opportunities for minority teachers, students

    lightford 040417SPRINGFIELD- More minorities could soon be eligible for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program under a plan led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved in the Senate today.

    Senate Bill 1739 allows licensed teachers pursuing additional teaching endorsements or a master’s degree in an academic field related to the subject they currently teach or plan to teach to apply for the MTI scholarship.

  • Lightford: We must limit number of children being expelled before kindergarten

    Sen. Lightford discusses HB 2663

    Children in public preschools are more than three times more likely to be expelled than children in kindergarten through 12th grades, according to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois. Today, Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) joined a group of law enforcement officials and colleagues from both chambers to discuss a proposal that would keep more at-risk preschool students in the classroom.

    The proposal, which was approved in the House with significant bipartisan support 95-20, would prohibit the expulsion of children enrolled in early childhood programs receiving grants from the Illinois State Board of Education. The legislation focuses on transitioning children to programs that better fit a child’s needs.

    “Disrupting academics is the last thing we should do,” Lightford said. “Children’s time in the classroom is vital, and we need to make sure we are connecting children with the right support.”

    House Bill 2663 not only serves young children, but it also acknowledges that educators need more support when instructing children with behavioral and mental health issues. There are a number of programs that work with teachers and parents to prevent further difficulties and build on children’s social-emotional skills.

    “Expulsion should always be a last resort, not the first option,” Lightford said. “This measure is a good start to ensuring the success of young children by focusing on their comprehensive development.”

    The plan is currently in the Senate and will be heard in the Education Committee in the coming weeks.

  • Lightford proposes more funding for educating reenrolled dropouts

    lightford 040417SPRINGFIELD- Districts with high dropout rates could soon receive more funding to help retain students under a proposal led by Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved in the Senate Education Committee today.

    “There is a disincentive to re-enroll dropouts based on low attendance rates, and the resources to get students back on track are not available to guarantee their success,” Lightford said.

    Senate Bill 446 would provide high schools with high dropout rates with increased state funding to provide an incentive to bring students back to the classroom. Re-enrolled students would have to be placed into an evidence-based model and best practices program for high school dropouts.

    “Students in these high dropout rate districts need support and guidance to get across the finish line,” Lightford said. “Educators should feel encouraged, not punished, for doing what is right and educating these students.”

    The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

  • Democrats reject Rauner’s empty promise of CPS funding, demand real money to fix his mistake

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    SPRINGFIELD — Months after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure that would have secured funding for Chicago Public Schools, Illinois Senate Democrats rejected his attempt to promise $215 million to the school system without any funding source to provide it.

    “This measure would have made yet another promise to Chicago students without taking the necessary steps to ever follow through on it,” said Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago. “We already approved a measure last year – which the governor saw fit to veto – that would have addressed this very problem in a responsible way, with the necessary funding. As it is, this is another broken promise in the making.”

  • Lightford proposal increases educational opportunities for minority teachers

    lightford 031517SPRINGFIELD — Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) moved a proposal expanding eligibility for the Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship program out of committee yesterday.

    Senate Bill 1739 allows licensed teachers pursuing additional teaching endorsements or a master’s degree in an academic field related to the subject they currently teach or plan to teach to apply for the MTI scholarship.

    “Minority students have better academic outcomes when taught by someone who also belongs to a racial or ethnic minority. Furthermore, increasing the number of teachers who can offer courses that award college credit creates a path for students from high school to college to career,” Lightford said.

    Recipients can get up to $5,000 a year toward their college tuition. Those who receive the grant are required to make a commitment to teach for a minimum of five years in an Illinois school where at least 30 percent of students are identified as minority students.

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

  • Governor who can’t cut, criticizes Democrats for not letting him cut more

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  • Few specifics, missed opportunities in governor's budget speech (VIDEO)

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