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  • Senate President urges optimism on state budget deal after first leaders meeting in months (VIDEO)

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  • Senate President urges Republicans to end the impasse (VIDEO)

    Senate President John J. Cullerton

    The state’s lingering budget stalemate could end quickly if Republican lawmakers would prioritize a balanced budget deal over their political allegiance to Governor Bruce Rauner, Senate President John J. Cullerton told reporters on Friday.

    “This could all be over if the will is there,” Cullerton said at a Capitol news conference. His comments come as the state creeps ever closer to a third year without a budget under Rauner, who the Wall Street Journal recently dubbed ‘Governor Junk.’

    “The pressure is really on the Republicans in the House, and I think they really want to get this done as well,” said Cullerton.

    The Illinois Senate approved a balanced budget and reform plans last month, but the Illinois House has not yet reached agreement on the budget plan. With the initial May 31 deadline past, it now requires 71 votes in the 118-member House to approve a budget deal. That gives the political minority Republicans a share of the driver’s seat.

    If Republicans could reach a bipartisan deal with Democrats in the House, that deal could be added onto the framework the Senate already passed and quickly approved, perhaps even in a day. Instead of negotiating a deal, Rauner and his Republican allies have focused on a new series of proposals that not only require far longer to get approved but are also inherently out of balance since they forgot to file any proposal to pay for the spending.

    Cullerton called for “an intervention” among Republicans in the House to work on a balanced budget and get it approved before the state’s budget year runs out next week.

    The Senate President also derided as a “political stunt” a series of Special Sessions the governor ordered to force lawmakers back to the Capitol, even though the Senate already addressed all the issues he listed.

    “Everything the special session would do, we have done in the Senate,” Cullerton said. “I think they were unfortunately designed to be a political stunt to give the governor cover.”

    Cullerton also criticized the governor for again intervening and pulling Republicans out of a planned meeting of legislative leaders. The Senate President said these meetings are key because the four leaders have a history of being able to work together to get results.

  • Senate Democrats Balanced Budget vs. Rauner's Rhetoric (VIDEO)

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  • Documents on ed funding published by governor's political allies (VIDEO)

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  • Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial: Remembering the fallen and honoring heroic acts

    Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial 2017The Illinois General Assembly welcomed firefighters from around the state for the annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial & Firefighter Medal of Honor Ceremony. The event began with an honorary memorial tribute. Sadly, this year, two Illinois firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty. Many say, this event is a meaningful way to show respect by honoring those who serve our state and country.

  • Clock ticks as Senate Dems try to salvage Illinois economy. Cullerton to Senate: Deal, or no deal? (AUDIO/VIDEO)

    Senate President John J. Cullerton

    SPRINGFIELD — With time running out on lawmakers’ spring session, Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton attempted to jumpstart bipartisan budget action only to have Governor Rauner and Republicans block progress.

    Cullerton’s efforts come as the General Assembly draws ever closer to a May 31 deadline on a budget and Gov. Bruce Rauner risks entering a third straight budget year with no state budget and a mountain of unpaid bills that recently topped $13 billion.

    Rauner pulled the plug on budget talks last December even as an emergency deal was about to expire. There has been no state spending plan in place since January 1. Senate leaders stepped in to fill the leadership void and began piecing together a sweeping reform and financial plan intended to end the impasse and stabilize the state’s economy.

    Initially, the Senate made great progress.

    Nearly half of the deal — including key provisions for reducing government, opening up economic development opportunities and cutting bureaucratic red tape — won approval at the end of February. But with the rest of the deal positioned for success on March 1, word came down that Rauner was pulling nearly all the Republican support off the plan. Without those votes, the plan, which was put together by Republicans and Democrats, couldn’t advance.

    While there had been numerous meetings and claims of progress over the ensuing months, nothing had been voted on since the end of February. Cullerton decided last week that the Senate had waited long enough and it was time for action.

    “Every day there’s not a budget, the state spends itself another $11 million into debt. March 1 was 71 days ago. It is now May 10. After today, there are 20 days left before our scheduled adjournment on May 31,” the Senate President told the Senate. “I don’t think we can wait any longer. I believe the public’s patience is wearing thin. One way or another, it’s time to vote.”

    The Senate did approve a provision to give local government greater flexibility in borrowing, something that should result in lower interest rates on financing and result in local taxpayer savings.

    But efforts to vote on and advance reforms to the state benefit system for injured workers and a local property tax freeze stalled because Republicans refused to let the Senate vote on the plans. Republican senators said they needed more time to tinker with the provisions before they would consider voting.

    Cullerton said the Senate will keep working and urged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to realize time is running out, recognize the opportunity for compromise and seize it to help save the state’s economy.

    You can watch the Senate President answer reporters’ questions here:

  • Senate welcomes Consul General of Japan in Chicago (VIDEO)

    Mr. Naoki Ito, the Consul General of Japan in ChicagoToday the Senate had the honor of welcoming Mr. Naoki Ito, the Consul General of Japan in Chicago.
     
    Mr. Ito has had a long and distinguished career in the foreign service. After joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1984, he served in various positions around Asia before moving to the United Kingdom in 2008. He was named Consul General of Japan in Chicago in February of this year.

     

  • 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.”

  • Senate welcomes Mayor of Mexico City

    Miguel Angel Mancera, Mayor of Mexico CityToday the Senate had the honor of welcoming Miguel Angel Mancera, Mayor of Mexico City.

    Dr. Mancera has a long-standing commitment to public service. Before becoming mayor, he served as an advisor to municipal officials before becoming Attorney General of Mexico City in 2008.

  • Senators Join Women's March on Springfield (VIDEO)

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  • Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017 (VIDEO)

    jjc elmhurst2Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.

    The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.

    The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.

  • The Children's Place Association is hurting, like many others (VIDEO)

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    The Children's Place Association is a nonprofit in Humboldt Park that provides services for health, education, family stability and financial stability for some of Chicago's most vulnerable families. Due to the budget impasse, they are missing over $300,000 in state funding.

  • Manar calls for brakes to be put on outsourcing of prison nursing jobs (VIDEO)

    manar inaSPRINGFIELD – Too many questions exist about Wexford Health Sources’ oversight of health care in Illinois prisons, which is reason enough for Gov. Bruce Rauner to cease efforts to outsource prison nurses to the Pennsylvania corporation, Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

    Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, is co-sponsoring a bipartisan plan to stop the governor from outsourcing additional medical and mental health service jobs from state prisons. Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview) also is a co-sponsor of the plan.

  • Close call prompts Stadelman to introduce emergency prescription refill legislation (VIDEO)

    stadelman 031517SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) realized the importance of allowing pharmacists to fill emergency prescriptions on a family vacation a few years ago.

    Stadelman’s son, who was 13 at the time, has Type 1 diabetes. During their vacation, he realized that he had no insulin or needles. Because it was a Saturday, the pharmacy they visited was unable to reach his doctor to authorize a prescription.

    “This really drove home to me that getting a prescription filled quickly can be a matter of life or death,” Stadelman said. “I started to do research and saw that many other states allow emergency refills to take place.”

    Stadelman’s legislation would allow pharmacists to refill a prescription without a doctor’s authorization if abruptly discontinuing the medication would cause medical harm or danger to the person. It would not allow emergency refills of controlled substances. Pharmacists could fill a prescription for a time deemed reasonably necessary.  

    SB 1790 passed the Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions committee and will move to the Senate for consideration.

  • Video: Manar still looking for budget answers from Rauner administration

    manar 031617Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of a key Senate budget committee, explains the status of budget negotiations at the Capitol, including prospects for the Senate’s so-called “grand bargain,” the Rauner administration's reluctance to suggest cuts and examples of apparent mismanagement of the state by the governor.

  • Celebrating Women's History Month (VIDEO)

    Celebrating Women's History Month

    Women have always worked, but have often gone unrecognized for their influences within American culture. this video, members recognized individuals who have successfully challenged the role of women in both the labor force and business. By honoring trailblazing women in labor and business, various women were highlighted by their efforts to diminish the inequalities women face in the workplace.

  • Illinois Legislative Black Caucus: Enough Is Enough (VIDEO)

    ilbc presserAfter three years of the governor failing to fulfill his constitutional obligation to introduce a balanced budget, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus assembled for a press conference to say enough is enough. The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is a collection of black legislators from both the House of Representatives and Senate.

    "I am not sure what could be said about the governor's three years of inactivity," said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), chairwoman for the Joint Legislative Black Caucus. "Before he was sworn in he stated he wanted to shake things up in Springfield; in the process, he has shaken a hole in our state."

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

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  • Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black Education (VIDEO)

    Black History Month 2017 - The Crisis in Black EducationSenators comment on this year's Black History Month theme, “The Crisis in Black Education.”

    Over the years the crisis in black education has grown significantly. In urban neighborhoods, public schooling systems lack resources and have overcrowded classrooms, which result to students of color reaping the disproportionate shortfalls of the racial achievement gap.

    In the past, whether by laws, policies, or practices, racially separated schools remained the norm in America. Because of that, black students today are underperforming and are not advancing like their white counterparts.

    This year’s national theme, The Crisis in Black Education, focuses on the evolution of black education and its meaning as it empowers students to grow, achieve and prosper.

  • Senate Democrats join coalition to improve lives of Illinois women (VIDEO)

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