Senator Steans in the Senate Human Services Committee

Direct support personnel may soon see a wage increase now that Senate Bill 955, sponsored by State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), was passed out of committee today. Senate Bill 955 requires the Department of Human Services to increase wages so that direct support personnel earn a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

“For many caregivers that work with developmentally disabled individuals, their work is a labor of love,” Steans said. “Front-line personnel and direct support professionals, have mentally, physically and emotionally taxing jobs that provide a great service to our communities. Many of them have struggled financially for too long because they have not been paid a living wage.”

Currently direct support workers earn a starting wage of $9.30 and have not seen a raise in nearly a decade. Illinois direct support personnel receive some of the lowest rates in the nation for this type of work. Low starting wages has made attracting and retaining qualified staff challenging, and has led to vacancy rates around 25 percent.

“Increasing wages for front-line personnel will not only help the workers and their families, but it will also lower vacancy rates and lead to better service for developmentally disabled individuals overall,” Steans said. “I am excited to sponsor this important legislation and work towards finally getting direct support workers a wage that is reflective of the challenges they face at work.”

SB 955 now moves to a second reading.

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on today’s voting on the Senate grand bargain:

Today the Illinois Senate began voting on the bipartisan grand bargain, moving one step closer to providing Illinoisans fiscal stability.

The appropriations bill we passed today ensures social service providers can keep their doors open, funds public universities and community colleges to the level they saw in 2015 when we last had a complete budget, and provides MAP grant funding for Illinois residents pursuing a degree within the state.

As a legislative body, we worked together on the grand bargain and compromised on many of the big issues facing our state. I am glad that we were able to push past differing political ideology and come together for real solutions to help struggling businesses, residents and families.


Senator Steans

February 27, 2017

Dear Friends,


Following the presidential election, I have heard from many of you that you’d like to get more involved in state government and the legislative process. I am excited that so many of you are interested in local government and have reached out to me for more information.


Based on these inquiries, I’ve decided to create an update that I will send out prior to most weeks that the Senate is in session. These updates will provide information on noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committee that week and let you know when and where the hearings will take place. If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.


I have also included information on how to fill out and submit a witness slip below. Witness slips are a way to voice your support or opposition for a particular piece of legislation. Before legislation is heard in committee, citizens can submit witness slips to register their opinions.


If you are interested in tracking legislation beyond its hearing in a committee, you can sign up for a free bill tracking tool on You can build queries based on which committees the legislation moves through and follow it as it is debated, voted on and passed to the other chamber. To sign up, click the “My Legislation” tab on


Again, click here to sign up to receive more frequent updates on important Senate legislation that will be heard in committee.


As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.


Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois



How to submit a witness slip


1. The first step is to identify which legislation you are interested in supporting or opposing, then finding out which committee will hear it. You can do that by going to and searching for the Senate or House bill.


2. Once you have determined which committee will consider the legislation, go back to the homepage of and click “GA Dashboard” under “Reports and Inquiry” in the middle column.


3. Click on House or Senate in the left-hand sidebar, depending on which type of legislation it is, and then click “Committee Hearings” in the dropdown menu.


4. If you wish to submit a witness slip for legislation that will be heard in committee that week, click the “Week” tab. If it will be heard later in the month, click the “Month” tab.


5. A list of all committees occurring that week or month will appear. Find the committee for the legislation that interests you. In the far right column, click the icon that looks like a piece of paper with the corner turned up.


6. You will be taken to a page that shows all legislation that will be heard in that committee. To submit your own witness slip, click “Create Witness Slip” in the right column of the legislation that interests you.


7. You will be asked to enter your information, the names of the groups or firms you represent and your position (support or oppose) on the legislation.


8. The last question asks what type of testimony you’d like to submit. The most common is “Record of Appearance Only,” which means you would like to register your support or opposition. During the hearing, the chairman or chairwoman will read how many people support and oppose a piece of legislation. If you are interested in presenting oral testimony in person at the committee hearing, click oral. If you are unable to attend the hearing but would like to submit a written statement, click “Written Statement Filed.” It is your responsibility to get a copy of your written statement to the chairman or chairwoman of that committee.


9. Once you have completed the required information, click “Create (Slip)” at the bottom of the page.



District Office

5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640

773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)


Springfield Office

623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706

217-782-8492 (Phone)



SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement on the governor’s budget address:

Senator Steans on the Senate floorWe do not have time for the governor to put his legislative priorities before resolving the budget impasse. We have already gone 20 months without a state budget and Illinoisans across the state who are in no way to blame for the budget crisis are paying the price.

We must ensure that social service agencies remain open, domestic violence shelters receive the support they need, provide adequate higher education funding so that college students can confidently choose to stay in Illinois and continue to work to mend what has been broken by the impasse.

In order to restore economic stability so that businesses and individuals can thrive in Illinois, we must end this budget impasse and move forward with a balanced budget. It is the governor’s constitutional obligation to present the General Assembly with a balanced budget. If he is not willing to do so, then the Senate will forge ahead with our bipartisan budget negotiations.


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Contact Us

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
Fax: 773-769-6901

Springfield Office
627 Capitol Building
301 S. Second St.
Springfield, IL 62706
Office: 217-782-8492