June 2, 2015
I'm sure you are disappointed, as I am, that Governor Rauner and the General Assembly were unable to come to agreement on a new state budget by the target date of May 31. Governor Rauner has promised a "long, hot summer," which many believe will be stoked by a TV and mail advertising campaign bankrolled by the Governor's $34 million in campaign funds.
I don't believe this is what the people of Illinois want or deserve from their elected leaders. And I believe there's a better path.
First, let me quickly review how we arrived at this point:
Democrats in the General Assembly passed a budget for next year that included moderate cuts in spending on top of the many cuts we have already made. We rejected the draconian cuts that Governor Rauner proposed, which would have cut the heart out of many programs geared to help the most vulnerable Illinoisans - from the physically and mentally challenged to seniors trying to live independently to single parents working to support their children through pre-school and childcare. You can click here to compare the Governor's proposed FY16 budget to the General Assembly's budget.
I believe that a fair and workable solution to the state's budget problems should involve a mix of moderate cuts in spending and a moderate increase in revenues - something that Governor Rauner himself has acknowledged. That revenue gap could be filled through a combination of steps that might include closing existing tax loopholes for corporations, adjusting the sales tax to better reflect our service-based economy, restoring some portion of the income tax increase that expired last year and taxing the retirement income of the state's wealthier residents.
Unfortunately, Governor Rauner has refused to consider these or other measures to resolve the budget crisis unless the General Assembly passes his so-called Turnaround Agenda. As a result, budget negotiations have broken down - although both the House and Senate will remain in session in hopes that an agreement can be reached.
I believe Governor Rauner's proposals deserve consideration. In fact, I have supported some of them in the past, such as redistricting reform. But his proposals to further restrict workers' compensation, put limits on damage awards in legal cases and freeze property taxes for municipalities and school districts across our state are complicated issues that would affect millions of working families. By insisting that the General Assembly accept this agenda as a precondition for negotiating a budget, Governor Rauner is demonstrating a "my way or the highway" approach to government that makes compromise difficult. And launching a summer ad campaign, funded by a handful of billionaires, to vilify his opponents will only make the situation worse.
I am eager to work with Governor Rauner and my Republican colleagues in Springfield to address our fiscal problems and put our budget in balance. That's been my record in office on things like Medicaid reform, and it's the only way to get things done.
I cannot, however, accept cuts to our budget that threaten basic healthcare and human services for the neediest among us or that severely underfund the public education our children need and deserve.
I hope that Governor Rauner will reconsider his approach to the budget and re-engage in negotiations to find a reasonable compromise that protects our most vulnerable residents. And I hope that he won't continue to hold those negotiations hostage to his insistence that we fully embrace his so-called turnaround agenda, which could have very serious consequences for millions of middle-class families across Illinois.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. I will keep you updated on developments in this important debate. I will convene a town hall shortly to provide an opportunity to discuss the budget and the current impasse as well.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th District – Illinois
5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640
773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)
122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706
May 12, 2015
Please be aware of two upcoming events in our district. The first is a job fair Alderman Joe Moore, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Representative Kelly Cassidy, Commissioner Larry Suffredin, the Howard Area Community Center and I will host tomorrow. The second is a public hearing on the CTA's Lawrence to Bryn Mawr Modernization Project. Please scroll down for the details on both events.
As always, please contact me with your questions and concerns through my website or by calling (773) 769-1717 .
Are you ready for a new job?
Come dressed to interview and bring 20 copies of your resume, because a wide variety of employers will be represented at Wednesday's job fair. Workshops on job preparation and resume writing will be offered, and representatives from workforce re-entry programs serving ex-offenders will also be present.
Wednesday, May 13
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Willye White Park Fieldhouse
1610 W. Howard (at Ashland)
Learn about the Lawrence to Bryn Mawr project and have your say
As part of the Red and Purple Modernization Program, the CTA plans to rebuild the Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr stations and the tracks adjacent to them. The goal is to improve the stations and make them accessible to customers with disabilities. In addition to ensuring ADA compliance, the project will install better lighting, add benches and real-time information boards and widen platforms for to relieve crowding.
Thursday, May 14
6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
5917 N. Broadway
Served by CTA Thorndale Station (Red Line) and CTA Bus #36 Broadway
March 3, 2015
Today, the Senate took the first step toward solving Illinois' child care funding crisis.
Reliable, affordable child care is absolutely essential for parents who are doing their best to participate in our economy and improve their families' prospects by working and/or attending school. The $300 million shortfall in Child Care Assistance Program funding threatens to leave 100,000 families and their 165,000 children without access to affordable child care.
The solution we advanced today involves no borrowing and no new revenues. It's been almost a month since parents who rely on CCAP came to us with their stories, asking us to support them as they build better lives for their families, and it is imperative that we move forward quickly to resolve this short-term crisis, which has already shut down child care centers and left working parents without options.
The plan, Senate Bill 274, allows the governor to move $579 million in excess money sitting unused in various state funds to fill gaps in essential areas of spending, including CCAP. The measure will also provide overtime owed to prison guards and services for people with developmental disabilities. Today, the Senate Appropriations I Committee, which I chair, approved the legislation and sent it to the full Senate.
I will keep you informed as this measure moves through the legislative process. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me about this or any other issue. My office and I would be glad to assist you. You may call (773) 769-1717 or click here.
District Office 5533 N. Broadway Chicago, IL 60640 Office: 773-769-1717 Fax: 773-769-6901
Springfield Office 623 Capitol Building 301 S. Second St. Springfield, IL 62706 Office: 217-782-8492