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  • Castro champions bipartisan economic tool to attract new jobs

    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 champions proven economic program for local businesses

    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 passes measure that would help prevent auto collisions

    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 stands up for economic program to help businesses start and stay here

    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.

  • Castro tells governor to prioritize people over profits

    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 to Rauner: Sign legislation so we can get to work

    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 works to ensure women have safe access to abortion

    Sen. Cristina CastroSPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday to ensure women in Illinois will continue to safely and legally exercise their right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

    House Bill 40 removes the "trigger" provision from a 1975 Illinois law that would reinstate a previous state policy banning abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, the legislation would allow abortion coverage for individuals on Medicaid or covered by State Employee Health Insurance plans.

    State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin), a chief co-sponsor of the measure, stated Wednesday that it is absolutely necessary to ensure Illinois women continue to have the right to choose to move forward with a pregnancy.

    “These types of decisions should be between a woman and her doctor,” Castro said. “We need to make sure women have a safe place to legally exercise this right. Illinois should be a state that continues to move forward and helps to preserve the rights of women. Should the federal courts overturn Roe V. Wade, it would mean overturning 40 years of progress for civil rights. Today I voted to safeguard those rights. I urge the governor to sign this legislation into law.”

    House Bill 40 passed the Senate Wednesday and will be sent to the governor for approval.

  • Castro: “I will continue to be a strong advocate for women”

    castro 110917SPRINGFIELD –The Illinois Senate failed to override a bill co-sponsored by Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) today that would make the Illinois Equal Pay Act stronger.

    House Bill 2462 would have strengthened the Illinois Equal Pay Act by prohibiting employers from asking about previous salary histories when interviewing job applicants. The measure would reduce the effects of pay discrimination in past jobs.

    “This legislation addresses the wide gap that is still prevalent between men and women, “Castro said. “Men and women of all races should have an equal chance to succeed and that is what I will continue to fight for as a member of this General Assembly.”

    Employers currently can base hiring decisions and salary offers off of job applicants’ salary history. This measure would have protected women and people of color. This perpetuates wage inequality, especially when women already earn less than men for similar work. It has also been found that women of color earn even less than white women when compared to men. This bill would have protected both women and people of color.

    “Women and people of color who enter the job market shouldn’t already be at a disadvantage based on their previous salary,” Castro said. “Not all employers discriminate, but we need to protect the employees that work for employers who do. Resolving the gender wage gap will take a concerted effort from both sides of the aisle. I will continue to be a strong advocate for women.”

  • Castro: College shouldn’t be the financial burden it has become

    castro 050417SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) voted last week to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1351 and to protect college students from overwhelming amounts of debt upon graduation.

    Castro co-sponsored Senate Bill 1351, which creates the Student Loan Servicing Rights Act which would create a Student Loan Bill of Rights. The Student Loan Bill of Rights would prohibit loan servicers from taking advantage of students and parents.

    “Some companies knowingly put students in risky loans that are overly expensive,” Castro said. “As legislators we need to do everything in our power at the state level to protect our students from being taken advantage of by the student loan industry. More and more students are coming out of college with enormous amounts of debt.”

    Student loan debt has become the largest form of unsecured consumer debt in the United States with one in four borrowers being in default or behind on their payment.

    “Students and their families deserve to be informed and given resources to prevent them from making mistakes they didn’t know they were making, like falling behind on payments,” said Castro. “Governor Rauner’s veto is another example of him putting profit over people.”

    The Senate overrode the governor’s veto on Senate Bill 1351 and now heads to the House for consideration.

  • Castro: Illinois’ heroes should not be burdened with unnecessary fees while serving our country

    castro 081817ELGIN- Active duty military members will now be able to cancel internet and television services with greater ease, thanks to Elgin Democratic State Senator Cristina Castro.

    “Illinois’ heroes should not be burdened with unnecessary fees while serving our country,” Castro said. “They have answered the call for duty and it’s our job to make their relocation easier.”

    House Bill 2449 was signed into law today.

    This measure allows any service member who receives orders to relocate for a period of service of at least 90 days to terminate or suspend contracts for internet services, television and cable services, athletic club or gym memberships and satellite radio services.

    “This one small update will eliminate unnecessary hurdles for our active duty military,” Castro said.

    The termination or suspension can be completed by delivering a written or electronic notice to the service provider and delivering a copy of the official military orders to the service provider that calls him or her to military service.

    House Bill 2449 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

  • Castro: Upholding DACA will protect our state’s economy

    Castro DACA 080617SPRINGFIELD – Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) is fighting back against President Donald Trump’s efforts to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

    Castro sponsored Senate Resolution 864, which calls upon the Trump administration and U.S. Congress to preserve protections for undocumented young people formerly eligible for the DACA program.

    “Illinois has the third largest number of DACA recipients in the United States,” Castro said. “Trump is trying to make young people, who have lived much of their lives in this country, leave a place that has become their home. We cannot allow Trump to hurt Illinois’ residents and hinder our economy.”

    In September, Trump announced plans to repeal DACA, an Obama initiative put into place to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The program allows them to remain and work in the country if they meet certain criteria.

    Senate Resolution 864 was adopted by the Senate on Wednesday.

  • Castro’s new law empowers residents to eliminate government waste

    castro 050417ELGIN- Local communities have a new tool to combat government waste thanks to Elgin Democratic State Senator Cristina Castro.

    Castro championed House Bill 607, which allows townships to abolish road districts through the use of voter referendums. 

    “Empowering voters to streamline services and eliminate redundant forms of government will lower property tax bills,” Castro said. “Now more than ever we need to work in tune with local citizens to reduce waste in every level of government.”

    House Bill 607 allows every township in Illinois to place a referendum on the ballot asking voters whether a township road district should be abolished and the responsibilities of maintaining roadways transferred to the township. Previously this option was only available for townships located in Cook County.

    Castro said a good example of local road district consolidation happened in Hanover Township in Cook County when the township worked to consolidate its road district prior to the passage of this new law.

    “As a result of our citizen approved consolidation referendum, Hanover Township has an opportunity to implement cost saving measures all while maintaining  high quality constituent service,” said Brian P. McGuire, Hanover Township Supervisor. “As it should be, this new law invests power in the hands of local residents throughout Illinois.”   

    Castro said her experience as a member of the Kane County Board helped her craft this legislation and gain an understanding of government at the local level. 

    “Local control belongs in local hands,” she said. “There is no one-size-fits-all approach to consolidating government services, so this new law will allow taxpayers to decide what’s best for their communities.”

    House Bill 607 passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

  • Cristina Castro: Trust Act protects families (VIDEO)

    castro 050417SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate approved a measure today that limits local police interaction with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement actions, and rebuilds trust between police and immigrant communities. The Trust Act prohibits law enforcement agencies from engaging in immigration enforcement unless a warrant issued by a judge is presented, bans detaining a person based on their immigration status and forbids the use of any state or local resources to help create a federal registry based on race, national origin, religion or other protected classes.

    Illinois State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) released the following statements following the vote on Senate Bill 31:

    “We should be fostering safe communities where a person’s fear of hostility, or having their families torn apart, does not get in the way of public safety. A person in the shadows often will not come forward to report crimes against themselves or other people because they fear their status may be exposed. When someone’s fear gets in the way of cooperation, our communities become less safe. This legislation gives us the tools to put Illinois on the right track, keep families together and build stronger communities.”

  • Cristina Castro’s job creating measure signed into law

    castro 081817AURORA –The city of Elgin will soon see a face lift and an influx of economic opportunity thanks to a new law signed today.

    State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) sponsored Senate Bill 1783 which extends the Illinois Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program to free up much-needed funding for the restoration of older buildings in downtown Elgin. 

    “River Edge economic incentives make up a proven, bipartisan economic tool that increases investment in our communities to create millions of new good-paying jobs,” Castro said. “The extension of this important program will help us preserve our local history while we continue to see the job-creating benefits of the investments we have made in Elgin’s riverfront and downtown revitalization.”

    According to the city of Elgin, about 100 buildings in the downtown Elgin area can now potentially be rehabilitated.

    “I came to Springfield to make sure the people of my district are receiving the things they need from the state, such as job creation and economic development. This will help accomplish that,” Castro said. “This legislation not only helps restore older structures to their former beauty, but helps us accomplish our big-picture goals such as job creation.”

    The measure passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. Senate Bill 1783 goes into effect immediately. 

  • Debt Transparency Act becomes law after Senate overrides governor’s veto

    transparencySPRINGFIELD – A day after Illinois’ bill backlog reached $16.7 billion, members of the state Senate rejected a system that allows government agencies to conceal unpaid invoices from the comptroller and taxpayers for months on end.

    The Illinois Senate on Wednesday voted to override the governor’s veto of the Debt Transparency Act, a commonsense measure that demands better accounting and reporting practices by state agencies so that officials can understand the true extent of the bill backlog at any given time.

  • Elgin-area schools would gain under new school funding formula

    castro 050417SPRINGFIELD — High-poverty school districts, shortchanged for decades under Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation education funding formula, could see a significant influx of funding to level the playing field with wealthier suburban districts under a landmark school funding reform measure that passed in both houses of the legislature this week.

    “Nobody disputes that our funding formula in Illinois is outdated and unfair. Senate Bill 1 will bring millions of dollars to Elgin schools and provide millions more in property tax relief for homeowners,” said State Sen. Cristina Castro. “I urge Gov. Rauner to sign it into law as soon as he receives it.”

    Under the legislation, School District 300 would receive an additional $1.6 million. School District 46 would receive an additional $14.5 million and an estimated $20.6 million in property relief to homeowners.

    Senate Bill 1 received support from thousands of school administrators, superintendents, principals, educators, taxpayers and advocates for fair school funding. It would be the first adjustment to the state’s school funding formula in more than 20 years. Currently Illinois labors under a system considered one of the worst in the nation because of its disproportionate reliance on local property wealth.

    An analysis of Illinois State Board of Education figures this week by Funding Illinois’ Future – a coalition that advocates for school funding reform – shows potential funding increases for local school districts under Senate Bill 1. Factors such as a school district’s numbers of students with disabilities, English language learners and low-income students figure into the funding model.

    The legislation also provides extra support for the neediest districts and offers property tax relief. Under the legislation, no school district would receive less funding under Senate Bill 1 than they have received under Illinois’ current school funding formula. The measure awaits the governor’s signature to become law.

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

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  • Harmon clears way for governor to sign House Bill 40

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  • Latino Caucus supports Illinois National Guard troops deployed to Puerto Rico

    aquino 110917SPRINGFIELD-Illinois recently sent more than 100 Illinois Army National Guard troops to assist in the rebuilding of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, as many on the island continue to live without electricity or clean water.

    “Illinois has a large population of Puerto Ricans, and sending support to those who are struggling in their homeland is the right thing to do. I thank our troops who have been deployed to help as the people of Puerto Rico continue to rebuild,” said Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), Co-Chairman of the Latino Caucus.

  • Legislative ethics commission appoints inspector general, new member

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    With reports about sexual harassment and other complaints going uninvestigated, the Legislate Ethics Commission held an emergency meeting Saturday to appoint a legislative inspector general to the post that was vacant for two years. Former U.S. Attorney Julie Porter was appointed to begin the process of investigating complaints and ethics violations in the legislature.

    Porter is well known for her work trying complex cases as the corruption case that led to the conviction of Illinois powerbroker Bill Cellini and top Mayor Richard Daley’s top aide Robert Sorich, among others.  Porter worked at the U.S. Attorney’s office for 12 years and was appointed chief of the office’s criminal division before leaving to join a private practice in Chicago.

    Elgin Democratic Senator Cristina Castro iss the newest member of the Legislative Ethics Commission as of Friday, November 3. Castro said she intends to push the agency to be more timely and responsive in its handling of complaints.

    “I want to make it clear that I intend to help drive a culture of swiftness in the actions of the Commission. When there are accusations of wrongdoing, I intend to be thoughtful and fair – but the Commission should make every effort to act in a timely manner,” said Illinois State Sen. Cristina Castro, a Democrat from Elgin.

    Castro, a former marketing and communications manager in the private and public sector, was first elected to the Illinois Senate last year. She now serves as a full-time legislator for the 22nd State Senate District.

    Castro said her first priority is filling a vacant inspector general post so complaints that have lingered can be investigated and adjudicated.

    “It’s unacceptable to have complaints sit as long as they have. That’s going to change,” Castro said.

    The eight-member commission is charged with ruling on findings of ethical misconduct within the legislative branch and its employees. The commission was created in December 2003 by the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.

    For more information about the commission, visit its website.

    Senator Castro released the following statement in response to Julie B. Porter’s appointment to Inspector General of the commission:

    “Julie Porter has a proven record of fighting public corruption as the Assistant United States Attorney,” Castro said. “She has extensive experience seeking justice for the people of Illinois. I look forward to seeing her get to work as our new Inspector General.  I’m confident she will work swiftly and thoroughly to investigate and resolve all outstanding complaints.”

    Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), Chairman of the ethics commission, released the following statement on the selection of former Assistant United States Attorney Julie B. Porter as the new Legislative Inspector General:

    “Julie Porter is a skilled attorney who has experience trying public corruption and fraud cases. I look forward to working with Ms. Porter to quickly get the Ethics Commission back on track, address the complaints that exist and move forward.”