Senator Steans on the Senate floorCHICAGO – As hospitals, police departments, judges, counselors and coroners grapple with an unprecedented opioid abuse crisis in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to slash funding for local mental health services and addiction treatment.

That’s counterintuitive and irresponsible, said Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago).

“At a time when thousands of Illinoisans are dying across the state from the opioid epidemic, I do not believe it is prudent for the governor to cut funding for addiction and mental health services,” she said. “The opioid crisis is a serious and multi-faceted problem that requires substantial funding.”

According to an Illinois Department of Public Health report published in December, nearly 2,000 Illinoisans died from an opioid-related overdose in 2016, an 82 percent increase since 2013. More people died from opioids than homicides or car crashes in Illinois, the report stated.

The governor’s budget proposes the following cuts:

•    Community mental health services — $48.4 million
•    Addiction treatment for Medicaid-eligible — $16.1 million
•    Addiction prevention services — $483,000

Steans noted that access to medical marijuana can reduce reliance on opioids and help stem the abuse and overdose epidemic in Illinois. A report from Aclara Research revealed that 67 percent of respondents stopped using opioids after using medical cannabis.

“I believe that expanding access to cannabis could reduce the negative impacts of the opioid epidemic,” Steans said. “I think the governor needs to rethink his budget priorities and his policy stance on this issue.”

Senator Steans

February 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans in a committee hearingThis week the Senate will begin to hear funding requests from state agencies. This process will continue over the next few months as we work to create a bipartisan compromise budget. During these subject matter hearings, Senators will have an opportunity to question agency heads about their budget proposal and programs.

 

Please find a list of noteworthy bills that are scheduled in committee below. For directions on how to submit a witness slip to show your support or opposition to a particular bill, click here. You can listen to committee hearings live by clicking here.

 

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

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

Noteworthy bills in committee this week

 

Consumer issues

  • Credit freeze - A response to the Equifax data breach, HB 4095 prohibits credit report companies from charging people for freezing their reports.
    o Sponsor: Senator Bill Cunningham
    o Committee: Senate Financial Institutions

  • Student loans - SB 2439 prohibits the state from denying, revoking or suspending a professional license because the holder defaulted on a student loan.
    o Sponsored: Senator Scott Bennett
    o Committee: Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions

  • Net neutrality - SR 1117 addresses the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality and urges continued access to free and open internet.
    o Sponsor: Senator Michael Hastings
    o Committee: Senate State Government

Education issues

  • Teacher raises - SB 2517 requires school districts, instead of the state, to pay the benefit cost of teacher raises after 2019.
    o Sponsor: by Senator Dan McConchie
    o Committee: Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions

Government reform issues

  • Consolidation - SB 2544 streamlines and expedites the local government consolidation process.
    o Sponsor: Senator Tom Cullerton
    o Committee: Senate Government Reform

Pensions, licensing and state contract issues

  • Pensions for legislators - SB 2292 makes state lawmakers who retire after 2019 responsible for 50 percent of their General Assembly Retirement System cost.
    o Sponsor: Senator Tim Bivins
    o Committee: Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions

  • Liquor license - SB 2436 allows a local liquor control commissioner to grant exemptions to sell alcohol within 100 feet of churches, schools, hospitals and other buildings.
    o Sponsor: Senator Chris Nybo
    o Committee: Senate Executive

  • State contracts - SB 2279 prohibits the state from entering into or awarding contracts if there is no funding in place for the contract.
    o Sponsor: Senator Laura Murphy
    o Committee: Senate State Government

  • Food waste - SB 2606 requires all state procurement contracts for food services to contain a food donation policy.
    o Sponsor: Senator John Curran
    o Committee: Senate State Government

Revenue issues

  • Internet sales tax - SB 2577 requires out-of-state retailers to collect a use tax in certain instances. Currently, retailers that do not have a physical presence in a state are not required to collect sales taxes.
    o Sponsor: Senator Cristina Castro
    o Committee: Senate Revenue

Committee schedule for Wednesday, Feb. 21

 

  • Senate Appropriations I Committee | 8 a.m., Room 400
    Subject matter regarding FY 19 budget request for the following agencies: Department of Labor, Illinois Labor Relations Board, Illinois Education Labor Relations Board, Workers' Compensation Commission, and Employment Security.
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Local Government Committee | 9 a.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Financial Institutions Committee | 10:30 a.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Government Reform Committee | 10:30 a.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Executive Committee | 1:30 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Licensed Activities and Pensions Committee | 1:30 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate State Government Committee | 1:30 p.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Revenue Committee | 4 p.m., Room 212
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Subcommittee on Business Entities | 4:30 p.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee schedule for Thursday, Feb. 22

 

  • Senate Agriculture Committee | 8:30 a.m., Room 409
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Appropriations II Committee | 9 a.m., Room 212
    Subject matter on FY 19 budget request for the following agencies: Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois Student Assistance Commission, Northern Illinois University, Illinois Community College Board, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the State Universities Civil Service Commission.
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

  • Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee | 9 a.m., Room 400
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

Committee schedule for Friday, Feb. 23

 

  • Senate Subcommittee on Tort Reform | 11 a.m., C600 Michael A. Bilandic Building, Chicago
    Subject matter on Workers' Compensation Commission arbitrators.
    To see submitted witness slips for this committee and submit your own, click here.

 

 

District Office

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Springfield Office

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Senator Steans

February 16, 2018

Dear Friends,

 

Senator Steans listens to the governor's budget address.This week the governor unveiled his fourth budget proposal. This is the closest he has ever come to presenting a real, balanced budget, which I appreciate. That said, I have some serious concerns about his cuts to human services, Medicaid and retired pensioners to whom we have a contractual obligation.

 

The governor’s budget proposes spending $37.6 billion while bringing in $37.9 billion. However, many of his proposed savings require significant legislative action or implementation of an employee contract in order to actually be achieved. If those legislative changes are not achieved, it is estimated that his budget would be more than $1 billion out of balance.

 

One of the biggest ways the governor proposes savings is by shifting 25 percent of teacher pensions and some health care costs onto local school districts. He also seeks to punish Chicago children for a pension problem they did not create by requiring CPS to pick up its entire pension cost – the only school district in the state that would have to bear this burden. These changes would undermine the bipartisan evidence-based school funding formula, which was passed over the summer to improve education funding for all school districts.

 

Though the governor claims to increase education funding by $330 million, his pension and health care cost shifts would result in a cut to education funding. He also eliminated funding for afterschool programs, advanced placement programs, parent mentoring and more. This cost shift and programmatic reduction may leave school districts with the tough choice of reducing classroom support or increasing local property taxes.

 

The governor also proposed reducing Medicaid reimbursement rates by 4 percent, which he estimates would lead to a $150 million savings. This could make it more difficult for Medicaid patients to access health care. He proposed this cut even though Illinois already has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the nation.

 

He outlined cutting funding for human services by $292 million. Many human service agencies are still struggling from the detrimental budget impasse. As a government, we have a responsibility to take care of our neediest citizens. I do not believe slashing funding for human services is a compassionate approach to governing.

 

The governor suggested eliminating health care support for retired teachers to save $129 million. This would likely double their out-of-pocket costs. Most of these retirees do not receive Social Security benefits to offset that change. Additionally, this point could be challenged in court because of the state’s contractual obligation to pensioners.

 

Senator Steans in a committee hearingThe governor failed to address the backlog of bills in his budget proposal, which currently sits at nearly $9 billion. The backlog soared to $16 billion during the budget impasse. Through a measure sponsored by Senate Democrats, the state was able to borrow $6 billion to pay off some of the debt and received more than $2 billion in matching funds from the federal government. This shifted the burden of debt from small businesses to investors. Without further action, the backlog of bills will continue to accrue late interest penalties.

 

Now that the governor has submitted his proposal, we will begin to conduct budget hearings in the Senate. Agencies will testify about their funding needs, and I will work with my colleagues across the aisle to find a compromise. Based on these hearings, we will propose and vote on a budget. The governor will have the option to approve or veto the budget once the Legislature approves it.

 

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

 

Sincerely,
Heather Steans
Senator Heather Steans
7th District – Illinois

 

Hospital assessment update

 

For the past several months, I have been working to create a new hospital assessment program that is fair to hospitals and patients. This program was designed to leverage federal matching funds to cover the cost of services provided to Medicaid patients in Illinois hospitals. From this program, hospitals receive a flat payment based on a variety of factors, such as the number of patients it serves. Nearly half of the annual Medicaid payment funds are set to expire under Illinois statute on June 30, 2018. We are working diligently to create a new assessment program before that date so as not to disrupt service. This assessment will need state and federal approval before it can take effect.

 

Upcoming events in the district

 

Loyola Climate Change Conference flyer

 

 

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)

 

Unsubscribe

www.SenatorSteans.com

 

Senator Steans reacts to the budget address.SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the governor’s budget address:

“This is the closest the Rauner administration has ever come to a real, balanced budget, which I appreciate. That said, I have some serious concerns about his cuts to human services, Medicaid and retired pensioners to whom we have a contractual obligation. I look forward to working across the aisle to tackle Illinois’ fiscal challenges.”

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District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
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