Balanced budget honors commitments, invests in state’s future

05292019CM1690 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), one of the Senate’s lead budget negotiators, issued the following statement after voting to approve a balanced budget:

“This year’s budget cements our commitment to stability and our willingness and ability to put years of chaos behind us.

“This is a responsible plan that honors our obligations while prioritizing programs that invest in the future of our state, like early childhood education and grants for college-bound students.

“We are also providing much-needed funding for those who serve our most vulnerable citizens. Home health care workers will get a long-awaited raise. The Department of Children and Family Services will receive appropriations to hire new staff, reducing worker caseload and ensuring more attentive oversight for children and families under the agency’s care.

“Overall, the budget sends a clear message: Illinois is not merely surviving; we are thriving.”

05212019CM0481 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) is continuing her effort to introduce an inclusive curriculum to Illinois schools that celebrates the contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Steans passed legislation out of the Senate today that will require public schools to teach students learning history about the contributions LGBTQ individuals made to Illinois and the United States.

“One of the best ways to overcome intolerance is through education and exposure to different people and viewpoints,” Steans said. “An inclusive curriculum will not only teach an accurate version of history but also promote acceptance of the LGBTQ community.”

Currently, Illinois schools are required to teach students about the role and contributions of African Americans and other ethnic groups, as well as about women’s history, the history of the labor movement and disability history.

According to a 2015 survey conducted by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, nearly 70 percent of LGBTQ students in Illinois have been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation.

“It is my hope that teaching students about the valuable contributions LGBTQ individuals have made throughout history will create a safer environment with fewer incidents of harassment,” Steans said. “LGBTQ children and teenagers will also be able to gain new role models who share life experiences with them.”

House Bill 246 passed the House and Senate and now awaits the governor’s signature.

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) voted on several pieces of legislation today that would update Illinois’ outdated tax structure and allow the state to implement a fair tax.

Steans voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that would delete language prohibiting a fair tax and allow Illinois to tax lower incomes at lower rates and higher incomes at higher rates.

“Rates of income inequality are the highest they have been since 1928, the year preceding the Great Depression,” Steans said. “While the gap between the wealthiest Illinoisans and working and middle-class families continues to grow, the tax rate for everyone stays the same. Updating our tax structure will give us the flexibility to enact a system that is fair for everyone.”

If the amendment passes the Illinois House with a three-fifths majority vote, it will be placed on the November 2020 ballot. If 60 percent of those voting on the question vote “yes,” the Constitution will be amended.

Steans also voted to approve legislation sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) that sets rates for a fair tax, providing the constitutional amendment is approved.

Under Hutchinson’s plan, contained in Senate Bill 687, 97 percent of taxpayers would see either no change or a decrease in their tax rate. Only the top 3 percent of earners would pay more.

Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 1 and Senate Bill 687 passed the Senate today and now head to the House for consideration.

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04102019CM1053 rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of the Senate yesterday that would update Illinois’ suicide prevention strategy.

Steans’ measure requires the Department of Public Health to strengthen efforts to prevent suicide in Illinois. In 2016, suicide caused more deaths than homicide, motor vehicle accidents and prevalent diseases like liver disease, hypertension and HIV.

“Each suicide death caused loved ones left behind to wonder if they could have done anything differently,” Steans said. “The state has lagged behind in this area.”

Steans’ measure requires the department, working with the Illinois Suicide Prevention Alliance, to develop recommendations to prevent suicide using evidence based practices and promote any coordinating activity needed to implement them.
Suicide caused nearly 1,500 deaths in Illinois in 2017, the most recent year for which data is available.

In addition to lives lost, suicide has a significant economic impact on Illinois, with each suicide death resulting in more than $1 million in medical costs and work loss costs, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Senate Bill 1425 passed the Senate without opposition and now heads to the House for consideration.

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