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  • Tom Cullerton works to promote PANDAS

    tc panda 050317SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is continuing his work to raise awareness for Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) by designating October 9 of 2017 and 2018 as PANS, PANDAS and PITAND Awareness Day in the State of Illinois.

    “Education is essential to early diagnosis of PANDAS,” said Cullerton. “No one wants to see children suffer. The faster we diagnose children affected by PANDAS, the quicker we can begin treatment.”

    Charlie woke up on eighth his birthday with Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS).

    The little boy who once loved performing in talent shows and putting on skits was now scared of crowds and talking to his friends. There was an immediate change in his personality.

    PANDAS is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome and other tics after a child has had a strep infection. Symptoms range from severe separation anxiety to motor tics that appear similar to seizures and hallucinations. The symptoms are severe enough to prevent children from attending school.

    After two months of looking for answers, a doctor diagnosed Charlie with PANDAS.

    After observing Charlie, his mother Kate Drury, Vice President of PANDAS/PANS Advocacy & Support, was quickly able to recognize her younger son had PANDAS when he displayed early symptoms.

    Cullerton first became aware of PANDAS after meeting with the group formed by Drury and other mothers whose children have suffered from PANDAS. He pledges to continue to work to raise awareness and support to help children like Charlie.

    “As a parent, it's so hard to watch your child completely deteriorate in front of your eyes. You go to the doctor, get a diagnosis, and then are unable to access the treatment that doctor prescribes. The biggest problem we continue to face is that our families cannot rely on their insurance plans to cover the doctor recommended, medically necessary care our children require,” said Wendy Nawara, Executive Director of PANDAS/PANS Advocacy & Support. “This treatment gives our kids their lives back. Why do we even haven health insurance if it won't help us help our children? ”

    Cullerton commends the advocacy the group continues to do on behalf of the children of Illinois.

    PANDAS can potentially be a lifelong disease that is estimated to affect nearly 175,000 children and adolescents in Illinois. It has even been found in adults.

    Senate Resolution 454 passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

  • Automatic voter registration initiative becomes law (VIDEO)

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  • Bush, Cullerton honored for protecting mental health funding

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    SPRINGFIELD – The Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI) presented awards to Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) for their efforts to protect mental health funding.

    Bush and Cullerton advanced legislation last year to push for greater local government consolidation.

    During negotiations, they learned that local health boards could be caught in the crossfire of potential government consolidation plans.

    They worked diligently to ensure local mental health dollars were protected by removing Community Mental Health Authorities from potentially disastrous effects.

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    Last year as the sponsor of House Bill 229, Bush worked to ensure funding for mental health and developmentally disabled are protected.

    “Consolidating local governments is good for Illinois. It saves taxpayer dollars and reduces government bureaucracy,” Bush said. “But I refused to allow potential cuts to mental health funding in return. We must always protect our most vulnerable residents, and ensuring local mental health providers are fully funded is a key part of doing so.”

    Cullerton, chief architect of the government consolidation model used in House Bill 4501, worked with ACMHAI to make sure DuPage County’s vulnerable populations were protected from unintentional consequences.  

    “The purpose of government consolidation is to streamline processes to make sure government is working in step with the needs of the people,” Cullerton said. “Government should be efficient and effective. But when we eliminate services for our most vulnerable residents, our efforts become counterproductive. I simply cannot stand for that.”  

    ACMHAI plans to continue working with Bush and Cullerton to advocate for state mental health funding.

    "Senators Bush and Cullerton have shown great leadership in their commitment to protect the $75 million in local mental health grant funding resources generated in local counties, townships and municipalities throughout the state of Illinois,” Debbie Humphrey, ACMHAI President said. “At a time when demand for mental health and substance abuse services is dramatically increasing while funding sources are shrinking, these valuable local funds serve as an important lifeline to those seeking access to treatment."

  • Community College Reform measure signed, Cullerton says there is still work to do

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  • Cullerton and Sanders agree school funding changes good for DuPage Schools

    tcullerton 022817 178BARTLETT- State Senator Tom Cullerton passed a series of reforms to help lower Bartlett property taxes and ensure DuPage schools are fairly funded.

    Cullerton worked to pass a series of reforms that will lead to property tax savings through government consolidation measures, property tax relief and working to guarantee Illinois schools are funded the right way.

    Senate Bill 3, which will spread Cullerton’s bipartisan government consolidation model statewide, passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. This measure will allow counties to dissolve certain units of local government through a voter referendum.

    “My goal is to save money, reduce taxes and make sure government is working for the people,” Cullerton said “The best way to lower property taxes is to put government consolidation decisions in the hands of the people who receive the services. This one small step will lower property tax bills and streamline government services.”

    Cullerton supported Senate Bill 1, which will help schools such as U-46 and District 300, which have been shortchanged for decades under the existing education funding formula. These districts could soon see a significant increase of funding to level the playing field with neighboring school districts but not at the expense of other school districts. No school district in Illinois will lose funding under the new proposed formula.

    The increase in funding to schools passed by the Senate this legislative session will work toward giving schools in need of extra support based on an evidence-based model that accounts for factors such as students with disabilities and low-income students.

    U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders joined superintendents, school administrators and educators across DuPage County and Illinois to support Senate Bill 1.

    “We’re grateful for all legislators who supported this significant school funding legislation but especially local legislators like Sen. Tom Cullerton. Senate Bill one is for us--the kids, families, and educators who make up the heart of U-46,” said Sanders. “SB1 aligns to the mission and values of the Governor's school funding reform commission. No district loses money but we’ll finally see equity in that state funds will better support both low-income and low property wealth districts."

    The state’s school funding formula has not been updated in more than 20 years and is considered one of the worst in the nation because it relies so heavily on local property taxes. Cullerton believes this funding plan will help DuPage residents in Bartlett, Carol Stream and Hanover Park see lower property tax bills.

    “Illinois needs to move toward a school funding system that is fair and gives all children, regardless of their ZIP code, a chance to succeed,” Cullerton said. “We are evening the playing field for children in districts such as U-46 and District 300 but not at the expense of the children attending other DuPage County school districts. This funding method will move Illinois from a formula with winners and losers to a system that gives all of the children across our communities an opportunity to succeed.”

    For a list of school districts in the 23rd Senate District, Cullerton urges area residents to call his Villa Park Office at (630) 903-6662 or visit www.SenatorTomCullerton.com.

  • Cullerton legislation to keep retired police dogs with officers becomes law

    tc police dogs signed 081316VILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton’s initiative to keep retired police dogs with their handlers was signed into law Saturday.

    Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed Senate Bill 3129, which creates the Police Dog Retirement Act.

    “Our family dog Brenna is a part of our family. These police dogs become a member of the officer’s family,” Cullerton said. “The special connection formed between an officer and their dog should be honored. We should want to give retiring police dogs a loving home.”

    Senate Bill 3129 requires a retiring police dog to be offered to the primary handler of the dog. If the officer doesn’t wish to keep the dog it can be offered to another officer or employee, a nonprofit organization or a no-kill animal shelter.

    “We need to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the special bond formed between an officer and their police dog,” said Michele Kasten of the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners.

    Cullerton believes this is not only a way to honor the service of Illinois police officers but also a cost-effective way to give police canines a safe and responsible home.

    Senate Bill 3129 was signed into law Saturday.

  • Cullerton, Hastings work to advance monumental veterans legislation

    Veterans presser 050317SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to combat alarming veterans suicide statistics in the nation.

    According to a recent study by the U.S.  Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

    This week, Cullerton advanced House Bill 2647 with bipartisan support out of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

  • Cullerton: “This one small change will eliminate unnecessary hurdles for military families who have already lost too much”

    Police Memorial 2016VILLA PARK - To assist military families State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) legislation to update the Line of Duty Compensation Act, was signed into law today.

    The Line of Duty Compensation Act provides for death benefits to be paid through the Court of Claims when law enforcement officers, firemen and military service men and women are killed in the line of duty.

    Cullerton had heard from the Attorney General’s Office about a claim filed by the wife of a U.S. Army serviceman who was killed during Operation Freedom Sentinel which is not currently included in the act.

  • Cullerton: We need to invest in essential industries

    TC farmbureauIllinois' 74,300 farms cover nearly 27 million acres -- about 75 percent of the state's total land area.

    To better understand agribusiness in Illinois, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is an active participant in the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adopt-A-Legislator program.

    “Agribusiness is vital to our economy,” Cullerton said. “The investments we make into agriculture not only help grow our economy but also puts food on our tables.”

    The Illinois Farm Bureau Adopt-A-Legislator Program was created in 2001 to build long-term relationships between urban state legislators and farmers throughout the state. The goal of the program is to create a cultural connection between urban legislators and farm bureau members.

  • Cullerton’s groundbreaking legislation to streamline veterans’ resources signed into law

    tc 021617VILLA PARK- State Senator Tom Cullerton’s (D-Villa Park) monumental legislation to combat veteran’s suicide in Illinois was signed into law today.

    “One veteran lost to suicide is one too many,” Cullerton said. “This new law applies common-sense solutions to eliminate barriers between veterans and the state resources they qualify for. This initiative wasn’t compiled in haste but over hours and weeks of testimony, input and concerns raised by veterans, their loved ones and veterans’ organizations throughout the state. This is a true testament to their hard work and dedication to our nation’s heroes. I’m proud of the work that went into this measure and to be part of this monumental effort.”

    House Bill 2647 is a collection of comprehensive recommendations to ensure veterans have better access to services, treatment for mental trauma and depression as well as better access to employment opportunities.

    According to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S.

    A common theme throughout the process is finding ways to access veterans’ resources promised to the state as well as addressing a disconnect between federal and state resources. House Bill 2647 creates a connection between the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense to help streamline and remove redundancies when returning veterans redeem benefits.

    Some of the provisions in House Bill 2647 include:

    The DVA will be required to reach out to the U.S. DoD to identify veterans returning from units that have experienced heavy casualties, served in high-conflict areas or have at least one member who possibly committed suicide following their service. After identifying veterans DVA will create a proactive line of communication.

    DVA will also work with higher education facilities to address issues that may negatively affect a veteran’s ability to learn in a traditional classroom environment such as exploring the expansion of online classes, moving desks away from windows and crowded halls, and providing veterans’ only instructional hours.

    DVA will be required to proactively reach out to the U.S. DoD to develop a system to allow veterans to file DD Form 214 (discharge papers immediately upon discharge). This is the required form for veterans to receive benefits.

    Lastly, creating collaboration between local chambers of commerce and DVA to create an employer training program to focus on the needs of veteran employees and identify veteran friendly businesses.

    Cullerton, chairman of the Task Force on Veterans Suicide and a veteran himself, hosted multiple hearings throughout the state to hear from veterans, their spouses and community organizations to hear concerns and recommendations to ease some of the struggles returning veterans experience.

    House Bill 2647 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018.

  • DuPage County schools may see a $27.5 million increase in plan supported by Tom Cullerton

    TC dupage 041416VILLA PARK- DuPage County schools may see an increase in education funding for the fourth year in a row thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

    Cullerton is working on a plan to increase education funding and to allow DuPage County schools to open on time this fall.

    “We have continued to increase education funding every year since I have been in the state senate,” Cullerton said. “As the father of three young boys, I understand what DuPage County parents are looking for.”

    All of the schools in Cullerton’s district will see a major increase in funding.

    “The only way to lower suburban property taxes is if we start funding schools properly,” Cullerton said.

    Under this plan, Addison School District would see a $2.6 million increase and Villa Park School District 45 would receive an additional $939,825 in funding. 

    Cullerton did not support the Illinois Senate Democrats’ earlier plan, Senate Bill 231, which would pick winners and losers in schools across his district. He believes the legislature shouldn’t be in the business of taking money away from one school at the expense of another. 

    “I refuse to support a plan that would advance one school, at the expense of another,” Cullerton said. “It’s important to give all students an opportunity to succeed.”

    The Senate will convene on Wednesday at noon to take action on pending budget measures.

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

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  • Hastings, Cullerton support suicide prevention

    AFSP SPWAccording to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 40,000 suicides were reported in 2013. This places suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

    September 6-12 is designated Suicide Prevention Week to help spread awareness about the severity of this issue and put a stop to the steady increase in yearly suicide rates.

    The Illinois Senate recently passed legislation focused on preventing youth suicide, and it was signed into law on August 21. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park), initiated the plan after a traumatic local experience.

  • Manar’s historic school funding legislation signed into law

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  • New Senate session: swearing in, getting to work with term limits

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  • No mention of college, seniors, disabled, veterans in Rauner budget speech (VIDEO)

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  • November 11 and year round, Senate Democrats support veterans

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  • Senate Democrats offer A+ laws for back-to-school season

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  • Senate Democrats react to State of the State address (VIDEO)

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  • Senate offers spending authority to governor to honor contracts

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