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Silverstein wants Latino Treatment Center to stay open

Silverstein wants Latino Treatment Center to stay openSPRINGFIELD – The next tragedy of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s 10-month budget impasse could be the closure of the Latino Treatment Center.

“The governor is completely out-of-touch with the needs of Latinos,” said State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago). “His inability to govern and failure to get a budget done means that a vital organization providing substance abuse treatment services to Latinos is about to go under. It’s too bad the governor doesn’t care that his budget impasse is destroying Illinois’ social service network.”

The Latino Treatment Center has bilingual staff and evaluates and serves those in the Hispanic community by conducting evaluations for alcohol and drugs in either Spanish or English. Its staff specializes in outpatient treatment for substance abuse, treatment for families, individual and group counseling and adolescent treatment.

Governor’s resistance to formula change this year will plague Paxton-Buckley-Loda

manar 032416Spending more won’t fix inequity

SPRINGFIELD – Students and taxpayers in Paxton-Buckley-Loda CUSD 10 are being disadvantaged under Illinois’ antiquated system for funding education. The current education formula funnels money to largely wealthy districts that have the resources to spend as much as $30,000 per student. Recent data suggests that Paxton-Buckely-Loda CUSD 10 spends roughly a third of that per student, about $9,696. Reforming the state’s education funding formula could send more state money to Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

Unfortunately, Governor Bruce Rauner is pushing to put more tax dollars into the system that shortchanges Paxton-Buckley-Loda. He toured the high school Thursday.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) appreciates the governor’s commitment to improving education, but is trying to win support for a modern school funding system that better recognizes the needs of schools like Paxton-Buckley-Loda.

“Increasing our investment in education alone will not get to the heart of the inequity between Illinois’ school districts,” Manar said. “It’s disheartening to hear the governor tell students, teachers and parents all over the state in struggling school districts that he will fix the problem, while he refuses to commit to implementing a more equitable funding formula.”

Manar is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1, a complete overhaul of the state’s school funding system that prioritizes funding for school districts like Paxton-Buckley-Loda, based on the needs of its students. Under the reform plan, Paxton-Buckley-Loda could see an additional $237,000 in annual state aid, or about $170 more per student. Manar notes that this pending legislation would not require more spending, as the governor has proposed, at the state level. 

“I have advised the governor that he is making the same mistakes as his predecessors. He thinks we can spend our way out of this problem,” said Manar. “We spend $12 billion today on schools, and we have the least equitable system in America.  We can spend that $12 billion better to drive better results and bridge the inequity gap.” 

The new proposed funding formula takes student need into account, by providing more money to districts serving higher numbers of low income, special needs or English learning students. According to recent data, 49 percent of Paxton-Buckley-Loda students are low income, close to the state average.

Roughly 16 percent of students in the district have disabilities, higher than the state average of 14 percent.

McGuire votes for human services and higher ed lost in budget gap

McGuire2014squareSPRINGFIELD — A spending plan to restore human services and help shore up Illinois’ embattled higher education system state passed the Illinois Senate today.

Senate Bill 2059 authorizes the governor to fund programs and services not covered by the court orders and consent decrees that are propelling 90 percent of state spending. This 10 percent gap in the state budget has caused cutbacks in human services and endangered the future of state universities and needy students.

“This measure can restore Meals on Wheels. It supports the drug, mental health and veterans courts, which are more effective than imprisonment,” McGuire said. “And it signals to students awaiting MAP grants that the state plans to honor its obligation to them.”

Proponents of the legislation pointed to testimony of Illinois Comptroller Leslie Munger in a hearing earlier Thursday of the Senate Appropriations II Committee, of which McGuire is a member.

“Comptroller Munger made clear that getting in the queue at her office is the essential first step toward a non-profit provider a student, or a vendor getting the funds promised to them,” McGuire said. “Passage of SB 2059 gives the governor the authority to prioritize human services and higher education in the payment line at the Comptroller’s office.”

The measure now goes to the House for approval. Passage there would send the bill to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his approval.

Monarch butterfly license plate legislation moves forward

monarchProposal will be first under new universal specialty plate law

SPRINGFIELD — To create a program to preserve the monarch butterfly in Illinois, State Sen. Melinda Bush put forth a proposal that would create a new butterfly-themed specialty license plate sticker.

“What we propose is fairly straightforward: The monarch butterfly needs milkweed plants to lay its eggs and feed itself, and our highway medians are the perfect place to cultivate them,” Bush said. “This lets drivers pledge their support toward preserving our state insect by giving them a little home that’s easy to reach by wing and hard to disturb on foot.”

The monarch population in Illinois has decreased 90 percent in the past 20 years due to changes in the creatures’ natural habitat.

A different law passed recently requires new specialty license plates to adhere to a standardized system to make recording plate numbers easier for law enforcement officers. If enacted, the new monarch plate stickers would be the first under that reimagined system.

“This proposal works in concert with new rules called for by the men and women who patrol our roads and it makes efficient use of our median strips to help preserve an important part and lovely part of our ecosystem,” Bush said. “I urge all my colleagues to support this innovative solution.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 2882. It passed out of committee yesterday and will be considered before the full Senate.

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