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  • castro 031518ELGIN– Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) announced today that School district 46 will receive more than $22.4 million in new money under Illinois’ new education funding formula.

    The Illinois State Board of Education issued vouchers to the state comptroller on Thursday for school districts around the state to begin receiving their money under Illinois’ new evidence-based model.

    “The way our public schools have been funded has been unfair until now,” said Castro. “It is nice to finally have a plan that places the groundwork for public schools to be fairly funded by the state. Our teachers, our communities and most importantly our students deserve this.”

    The distribution is the first step to ensure that every school district receives equitable support from the state. The model ensures that schools will not receive less state funding than they do today.

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD– The director of Illinois’ public health agency should resign, State Senator Cristina Castro said today, pointing to new information that calls into question his priorities and his ability to lead in a crisis.

    Castro (D-Elgin) is urging Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah to resign after emails emerged, as reported by WBEZ radio, regarding the Rauner administration’s bungled response to the Legionnaires’ epidemic at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy.

    Castro said she is deeply concerned about the way Shah and others handled the disease outbreak and the deaths of 13 veterans.

  • castro 092017ELGIN- The 22nd Senate District now has a new bipartisan economic development program, thanks to a measure championed by Democratic Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin.

    House Bill 162 reinstates the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program, allowing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to offer tax credits to businesses that invest in Illinois.

    “This new bipartisan law will help energize our economy and create good-paying jobs for our residents,” Castro said. “I look forward to continuing my work to increase economic development opportunities and investments in our communities.”

    EDGE tax credits are a competitive economic development program that helps Illinois attract and retain jobs. This incentive helps encourage business growth.

    ‘It’s important that we utilize every tool at our disposal to attract and retain good paying jobs for Illinois residents,” Castro said. 

    House Bill 162 requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to repossess economic development funds if a business granted the tax credit does not fulfill their part of the contract.

    That money would then be distributed to the local workforce investment area.

    EDGE credit recipients are also required to submit an annual report to DCEO containing supplier diversity information to help promote diversity in state economic incentives and programs. 

    The Illinois Manufacturer Association (IMA) supported passage of this key economic incentive.

    “The IMA is pleased that legislators passed a short-term extension of the EDGE tax credit,” Mark Denzler, Vice President & COO of IMA said. “It's an important tool to help attract and retain jobs.”

    House Bill 162 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support and was signed into law this week.

  • castro 050417ELGIN- The 22nd Senate District may be one step closer to reinstating a bipartisan economic development program, thanks to a measure championed by Democratic Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin.

    House Bill 162 reinstates the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program, allowing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to offer tax credits to businesses that invest in Illinois.

    “This bipartisan legislation will help energize our economy and create good-paying jobs for local residents,” Castro said.

    EDGE tax credits are an economic development program that helps Illinois attract and retain jobs.

    House Bill 162 will require the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to repossess economic development funds if a business granted the tax credit does not fulfill their part of the contract.

    That money would then be distributed to the local workforce investment area.

    EDGE credit recipients will also be required to submit an annual report to DCEO containing supplier diversity information to help promote diversity in state economic incentives and programs.  

    The Illinois Manufacturer Association supported passage of this economic incentive.

    “The IMA is pleased that legislators passed a short-term extension of the EDGE tax credit,” Mark Denzler, Vice President & COO of IMA said. “It's an important tool to help attract and retain jobs.”

    House Bill 162 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

  • castro 031518SPRINGFIELD – The U.S. Constitution is one step closer to adopting a new constitutional amendment to guarantee gender equality.

    State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) worked with the Illinois State Senate to pass Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 4, which proposes to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution.

    “Illinois could play a part in this historic role in the fight for gender equality,” said Castro, a sponsor of the measure. “This fight has lasted over 40 years and Illinois could be the 37th out of the 38 needed to ratify the amendment to the U.S. Constitution, placing us on the right side of history.”

    Currently, there is not a Constitutional provision that specifically guarantees equality based on sex. Without the ERA, current laws protecting women’s rights are often ignored, weakened or even reversed. 

    “My responsibility is to represent the people of my community and state. This amendment protects both men and women,” Castro said. “By passing this, Illinois is taking a huge step in the right direction, not only for our state, but for our country.”

    SJRCA 4 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for consideration.

  • castro 052918SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro’s (D-Elgin) measure that passed both chambers would help provide children in foster care and under supervision of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) the opportunity to go to college.

    Under House Bill 5122, certain youth from DCFS, who file for FAFSA and do not receive a DCFS fee waiver, would have the opportunity to receive a scholarship that would cover the remaining tuition and fees for any public institution of higher learning.

  • castro 042518SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) passed a measure today that would help provide children in foster care and under supervision of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) the opportunity to go to college.

    Under Senate Bill 2846, certain youth from DCFS, after applying for FAFSA, would have the opportunity to receive a scholarship that would cover the remaining tuition and fees for any community college, university or college in Illinois.

    “Kids in foster care are less likely to attend college,” said Castro. “This affects their futures, including their income levels and employment stability. I don’t want there to be barriers for these kids who are in situations that they had no control over.”

    Currently, there are scholarship opportunities provided through DCFS, but the number is limited. Only 53 scholarships are provided each year and approximately 250 students apply annually.

    “This measure will give kids from DCFS the tools to be successful,” said Castro. “They will then go out and contribute to our economy and make the job market stronger. Their talents and dreams shouldn’t be limited.”

    Castro’s measure will allow scholarship waivers to be available to students for at least the first five years that they are enrolled as long as they make progress toward completing their degree. The youth must enroll before the age of 26 to qualify.

    Senate Bill 2846 passed the Illinois Senate and will now move to the House for consideration.

  • castro 041718SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is sponsoring a measure to ensure out-of-state businesses making sales in Illinois pay their fair share of taxes and meet the same requirements as in-state businesses.

    Senate Bill 2577 would establish guidelines for what constitutes an in-state business in regard to retailers that are not physically located in Illinois, but that sell to Illinois consumers.

  • castro 042318SPRINGFIELD– Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) held a press conference today to acknowledge Distracted Driving Awareness Week and discuss the risks of distracted driving. She was joined by State Representative Anna Moeller, along with representatives from the Illinois State Police, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Police Association and AAA Chicago.

    “Many people think texting one quick message while driving or taking their eyes off the road for a split second to change the radio is harmless,” Castro said. “We have to get the message across that this can be life-changing.”

  • castro 053018SPRINGFIELD – Both the Illinois House and Senate passed legislation sponsored by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) today to protect nurses from workplace violence.

    “Health care providers devote their lives to helping their patients,” Castro said. “It is time that we help them. Nurses deserve to come to work and feel safe.”

    This legislation is in response to an incident that occurred in Kane County on May 13, 2017 at Delanor Hospital. Two nurses were taken hostage by an inmate undergoing treatment who managed to obtain a handgun.

    “The incident that happened in my home county at Delanor Hospital was both alarming and upsetting,” Castro said. “These nurses went to work that day to do their jobs and help their patients, but instead they were assaulted. That’s why I brought forth this legislation. Our nurses deserve to be protected.”

    In Illinois, violence against a nurse is deemed a class three felony charge, but there are no laws that require health care employers to provide protection to nurses, staff, patients and visitors.

    House Bill 4100 will create the Healthcare Violence Prevention Act to protect health care providers, put in place a violence prevention program and add whistleblower protections for nurses that report violence to law enforcement.

    House Bill 4100 passed both the House and Senate and now moves to the governor’s desk for consideration.

  • castro 042618SPRINGFIELD– Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is working to ensure that Illinois consumers get rebates in a fair way.

    Senate Bill 3102 makes it unlawful for retailers to offer consumers a rebate made on a store-value card that charges inactivity fees or other post-issuance fees.

    “If a consumer is owed money from a rebate, they shouldn’t be hindered by dormancy fees,” said Castro. “It is unlawful and unfair. Consumers shouldn’t be at risk of being charged for getting a rebate. That is their money.”

    The measure amends the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, which is designed to protect consumers against fraud and deceptive practices.

    In the past, companies would issue a rebate in the form of a check to a consumer. Under current law, if the check is not cashed within three years, the company is required to turn the amount of the check over to the Treasurer's Office as unclaimed property.

    The State Treasurer and the Attorney General have worked together to protect Illinois consumers who have money owed to them from rebates.  

    Senate Bill 3102 passed the Illinois Senate today 35-17 and now moves to the House for consideration.

  • castro 110917SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) attended the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Joint Committee Hearing regarding the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy. There have been over a dozen deaths caused by this disease in the past three years.

    “Governor Rauner’s administration should have taken immediate action three years ago,” said Castro. “His administration not being here today for this hearing shows me they aren’t taking this seriously. If they knew this was happening, why did they just sit on the CDC’s recommendations? Why did it take so long?”

    Legionnaires' disease is a severe form of pneumonia caused by bacteria found in plumbing systems. Thirteen residents at the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy have died due to this disease over the past three years.

    “Pro-action, pro-action,” said Castro. “I’m tired of excuses. These are our veterans and they deserve dignity. A permanent solution needs to be found.”

  • Auto dealerSPRINGFIELD – Obstructions in car windshields of test-driven vehicles has led State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) to act on life saving legislation that would require dealerships to remove decals on vehicles before leaving the lot.

    The measure, House Bill 733, arose out of a tragic situation where 22 year old Brenden Burke was victim to a preventable fatal accident.

    Burke was struck and killed in 2016 after a vehicle being test-driven from a nearby car dealer turned left into Burke’s path. The driver of the other vehicle had obstructed vision because of the number of decals and paper work left on the driver side windshield by the dealership.

    “The story of Brenden Burke is a tragic, yet highly preventable, one,” said Castro. “There is absolutely no reason decals and paper work should be obstructing the view of a person test-driving an unfamiliar vehicle.”

  • castro 050918 2SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro’s (D-Elgin) measure to protect undocumented immigrant tenants from landlord harassment passed the Senate today.

    Senate Bill 3103 creates the Immigrant Tenant Protection Act, which prohibits landlords from questioning a tenant’s immigration status as a means of harassment or to force an eviction.

    “Most landlords do the right thing, but some try to take advantage of their tenants,” said Castro. “We have to put a protection in place to ensure that landlords are not holding their tenants’ immigration status over their head to pressure higher rent or eviction.”

    Castro’s measure will allow tenants to report criminal activity or habitability issues without being targeted based on their immigration status.

    Currently, the Illinois Human Rights Act does not protect individuals based on immigration status, nor does it place any limitations on when a landlord may request or share that information. 

    “Tenants should feel free to come forward and report these important habitability issues no matter their status,” said Castro. “It is important, not only for the tenant’s safety, but the safety of the municipality.”

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) worked with the Illinois State Senate to override the governor’s veto on Senate Bill 1462 to bring a new economic development program to Illinois. 

    Senate Bill 1462 would create an Entrepreneur Learner's Permit pilot program to encourage and assist beginning entrepreneurs in certain business sectors by reimbursing them for state fees associated with forming a business.

    “It’s important to utilize this opportunity to help entrepreneurs start their businesses here in our state and stay here,” said Castro. “I am excited to continue fighting for economic development opportunities like this to make our state a better place to do business.”

    Currently, entrepreneurs must pay several fees for licenses and permits.  Senate Bill 1462 allows for reimbursement of those fees in hopes of making it easier to start a new business in Illinois. It reimburses state fees for first-time business owners of information services, biotechnology and green technology businesses.

    “Governor Rauner is a business man, but he is struggling to recognize the importance of new jobs,” said Castro. “Information Service, biotechnology and innovative green industries are the jobs of our future.  It’s important we work together to embrace these industries and modernize Illinois’ economy.”

    Senate Bill 1462 was overridden by the Senate with bipartisan support and moves to the House for reconsideration.

  • Sen. Cristina CastroELGIN - State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is urging her colleagues to work with her to protect collective bargaining rights for the people of Illinois by overriding the Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1905.

    “The governor needs to prioritize people over profits,” Castro said. “Governor Rauner’s anti-work agenda continues to perpetuate a growing backlog of bills and helped create a two-year budget impasse that decimated rape crisis centers, social service providers and local schools. He needs to learn his policies did not work in the boardroom and will not for the people of Illinois.”

    Castro’s measure, Senate Bill 1905, protects all Illinois workers by preventing local government entities from enacting harmful “right-to-work” laws advocated for by the governor and his extreme supporters.

  • castro 092017SPRINGFIELD – Needless bureaucratic hurdles are slowing ethics investigations and need to be removed, state Senator Cristina Castro said in filing legislation to streamline the process.

    “We have a skilled investigator on the job. We need to empower her to do that job and deliver results quickly,” said Castro, an Elgin Democrat and the newest member of the Legislative Ethics Commission.

    Here’s the problem with the current system.

  • castro 050417SPRINGFIELD –Despite legislation passed by both the Illinois House and Senate this week, there is still much to be done to fight sexual harassment in Springfield. Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), the newest appointed member of the Illinois Legislative Ethics Commission, urged the governor to act quickly today.

    “The newly appointed Inspector General and the Legislative Ethics Commission have work to do and we cannot get started with investigations until the governor signs these bills,” Castro said. “I am asking Governor Rauner to do so quickly so we can get to work as soon as possible on this time-sensitive issue.”

    Although there were four measures passed in both chambers this week in regards to sexual harassment prevention training and legislation, this is only the first step. One of the four measures that passed this week creates a task force to ensure this issue is taken seriously and the conversation does not stop until the culture changes.

    “Many people say the culture in Springfield is entrenched. Well, I’m new here and bring a fresh pair of eyes,” said Castro. “I am not afraid to speak out and be vocal on this issue. I have three years left to bring about real change and I have every intention to do just that. The topic of sexual harassment needs to be at the forefront of what we are doing and if need be, I will be the one who continues to beat the drum.”

  • castro 051218SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is urging Governor Bruce Rauner to sign House Bill 4922 into law to prohibit rebate cards that charge inactivity fees and avoid unclaimed property laws.

    HB 4922 recently passed the Illinois General Assembly with bipartisan support. The measure makes it unlawful for retailers to offer consumers a rebate made on a store-value card that charges “dormancy” or inactivity fees or other post-issuance fees.

  • Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro met with colleagues today urging for an override of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a bill she sponsored to address Illinois’ gender wage gap in Illinois and protect working women.

    Had it become law, House Bill 4163 would have banned employers from asking prospective new employees about their salary history. This would ensure wages were based on experience rather than the employee’s history.

    “It’s a vicious cycle,” said Castro, an Elgin Democrat. “If a woman is unfairly paid a lower wage at one job, and that unfair wage can be used to determine her wage at her next job, then she might never be able to earn the wage she is duly deserved.”