March 24, 2016
Along with some of my valued colleagues in public service, I'm proud to present three thought-provoking and informative discussions on current issues.
Next Wednesday, March 30, State Senator Andy Manar, State Representative Kelly Cassidy, Alderman Harry Osterman and I will hold a town hall meeting on inequities in school funding. Sen. Manar has been at the forefront of convening task forces and introducing legislative proposals to overhaul our outdated education funding formula, which does not adequately match resources to needs.
On Sunday, April 3, I'm excited to sponsor (along with Rep. Cassidy and Ald. Joe Moore) a "Know Your Rights" seminar. Representatives from the ACLU, ICIRR, ONE Northside and the Office of the Cook County Public Defender will help you understand your rights when you are interacting with the police. This workshop will be the first of many community discussions on public safety.
On April 14, Rep. Cassidy and I will host a screening of a documentary entitled Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA. The movie will be followed by panel discussion on gun violence and how we can work to curb the firearms industry's tendency to put profits over people.
Details on these events can be found below. Please call my office or send me a mesasge through my website with any questions.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th District – Illinois
Education Funding Inequities Town Hall
Know Your Rights!
Gun violence movie and discussion
5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640
773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)
122 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706
February 23, 2016
While we are now 8 months without a budget for our current fiscal year (FY16), the governor gave his budget address last Wednesday to present his proposed FY17 budget. Following my brief overview and comments is a table comparing the FY15 budget, the FY16 estimated budget and the governor's proposed FY17 budget. You can review the budget in detail here.
The governor's proposed budget has a $3.5 billion budget deficit he proposes to close by following one of two paths:
1. Working with the General Assembly to increase revenues after enacting items in his "turnaround agenda," such as additional workers' compensation reforms, pension reforms and limits on collective bargaining
2. Asking the General Assembly to give him power in FY16 and FY17 to reduce spending by
• Forcing reductions in spending from any fund except debt service, K-12 general state aid and funds for early childhood education; reductions to pension payments would be allowed• Transferring any amount from any fund to the general fund (excluding federal funds, debt service funds, pension funds and the road fund)• Eliminating or reducing transfers to local governments and other statutory transfers• Lowering rates paid to providers• Adjusting human services program eligibility and provider rates
In addition to being out of balance, there are a number of other potential concerns with the proposed budget:
1. While the Governor suggests fully funding P-12 education, his plan does not fix the state's broken education funding formula. Thus, poor areas of the state will continue to fall further behind.
2. On top of the $3.5 billion deficit, the budget assumes savings that will require legislative action, such as pension reforms, changes to health insurance for state employees and revisions to the procurement process.
3. The budget eliminates 15 human services programs that were funded at $53 million in FY15 and replaces them with a single lump sum of $25 million. Programs cut include homeless prevention, addiction prevention, the Autism Program, Teen Reach after school programs and immigrant and refugee services.
As noted in a Crain's Chicago Business editorial, this budget proposal "was a bit like watching a dog chase its tail. Gov. Bruce Rauner went through the motions, again insisting his turnaround agenda priorities are key to fixing Illinois' fiscal problems despite scant evidence to support this claim. Democratic leaders, meanwhile, immediately rejected Rauner's call to pass his budget or allow him to make the cuts he deems necessary to put spending in balance."
The budget impasse is horrible for the state. Real people are getting hurt by this inaction. Universities are in danger of closing or losing accreditation. Students who may not receive state scholarships are unable to return to school. Seniors can no longer receive care in their homes. And social service agencies throughout the state are closing programs and laying off staff with devastating impact to people they serve.
We can and should work with the governor on his turnaround agenda issues and more, but as critical social services shut down on a near-daily basis and higher education flounders, my focus is a budget for Illinois. I'm working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to get to a solution as soon as possible - on the budget and reforms - and I am convinced there is a path forward that is positive for residents, workers and businesses throughout the state. While the Senate President has been looking for areas of agreement to end the impasse, we need all our leaders to put the concerns of the public first.
Please also see below for two informative events - one on property tax appeals and the other on financial literacy - taking place tonight in the 7th District. As always, I encourage you to contact me with any questions by calling my office at (773) 769-1717 or through my website.
77 Proud Financial Literacy Resource Fair
Tuesday, Feb. 23 (TONIGHT) at 6:30 p.m.
Loyola Park Field House
1230 W. Greenleaf Ave.
Chicago, IL 60626
6:30 - Resource Fair
7:00 - Basic Banking and Savings
8:00 - Loan and Debt Management
Refreshments will be provided free of charge.
Please register here.
Sponsored by City Treasurer Summers, Equality Illinois, MB Financial Bank and the Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce
Property Tax Workshop
For 49th Ward and 50th Ward homeowners
Tuesday, Feb. 23 (TONIGHT), 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Devon Bank Community Room (lower level)
6445 N. Western Ave., Chicago
Sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans, Sen. Ira Silverstein, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Ald. Joe Moore, Ald. Debra Silverstein, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios
The property tax appeal deadline is Monday, March 14, 2016. For more information about the appeals process, you may contact Assessor Berrios at (312) 443-7500 or www.CookCountyAssessor.com, or Commissioner Suffredin at (847) 864-1209.
February 8, 2016
Illinois is now in its eighth month without a budget. This is unprecedented and inexcusable, with real people getting hurt throughout the state. Individuals suffering from mental health illnesses and substance use disorders are not able to receive treatment. Many seniors are no longer getting home health care services. And social service providers across Illinois are closing down programs due to the budget impasse.
One of the most sweeping effects of our lack of a budget has been the non-payment of Monetary Assistance Program grants that allow low-income students to attend colleges in Illinois. When Gov. Rauner vetoed the higher education budget we passed in May, funding to pay these grants was cut off indefinitely. As a result, Illinois' colleges and universities tell us that more than 1,000 recipients were unable to return to classes after winter break this year.
I don't believe a piecemeal approach to the budget is the best course of action. Already, Illinois' social safety net has been deeply damaged. Even if we were to have a budget in place tomorrow, the recovery of our social services infrastructure, not to mention many other areas of state government activity, would be hard, slow and expensive. The sooner we embark on this process, the better, and only a complete and fully-funded budget will restore the certainty and confidence needed to make it succeed.
Last Thursday, however, I voted for legislation that would release funding for MAP grants, community colleges and adult education programs, because if we allow thousands of qualified, motivated students to leave the state or drop out of higher education due to finances, it will be exceedingly difficult for Illinois to bounce back from the blow to our economy and quality of life.
The House and Senate both passed this bill last week. While Governor Rauner pledged not to sign it, I hope he reconsiders.
We do need to have a serious conversation about slowing the rise in tuition and making college more affordable for middle-class families. That's why the budget proposed and passed by the legislature included a 16% reduction in appropriations to public colleges and universities - a sensible alternative to the drastic cut (almost one-third of all state funding) the Governor had requested. At the same time, we increased MAP grants to make college more accessible to low-income students - many of them seeking to be the first in their families to earn a post-secondary degree.
But when the governor vetoed the higher education budget, strategic reforms had to be put on the back burner as institutions struggled to continue serving students. Eastern Illinois University has eliminated 200 staff positions. Chicago State University will run out of operating funds in March. The effect on college in Illinois has been broad, not targeted, and low-income and working students - 60 percent of them female and many of them balancing caring for their families with improving their earning potential - have borne the brunt of the harm. Low-income, non-traditional and part-time students require more support and resources from administration and faculty, not less, so across-the-board cuts are likely to result in lower graduation rates among the students who stand to benefit most from a degree, rather than in the elimination of waste.
Governor Rauner tried to take a positive tone in his State of the State address, offering hope that a bipartisan compromise can end the budget standoff. The governor mentioned some areas where he believes compromise is achievable. He endorsed President Cullerton's pension proposal and pledged to work with legislators to pass constitutional and effective public employee pension reform. He referenced bipartisan criminal justice reform accomplishments. He also joined voices calling for greater equity in school funding.
We can work with the governor on all these issues and more, but as critical social services shut down on a near-daily basis and higher education flounders, my focus is a budget for Illinois. I'm working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to get to a solution as soon as possible - on the budget and reforms - and I am convinced there is a path forward that is positive for residents, workers and businesses throughout the state. While the Senate President has been looking for areas of agreement to end the impasse, we need all our leaders to put the concerns of the public first.
As I continue working toward a responsible budget solution, it's also very important to me and my office that we keep you informed. We know the current situation is affecting you and your families, neighbors, customers and clients. Please do not hesitate to contact me at (773) 769-1717 or through my website with any questions, comments or ideas.
January 8, 2016
This Sunday, January 10th at 2 p.m., along with Congresswoman Schakowsky, Alderman Joe Moore, and Representative Kelly Cassidy, I'll be hosting an informational event on the rights of individuals when confronted by immigration authorities. The presentation will be conducted by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Centro Romero.
The event will be held at St. Jerome's Church (1709 W Lunt Ave.)
Please see below for a Spanish-language flyer, and share this information with your friends and neighbors.
I'd also appreciate it if you'd join with me in helping our fellow Illinoisans who have lost homes and belongings in the devastating flooding of the past few weeks. My colleague Rep. Brandon Phelps has organized a statewide supply drive to assist the victims, and I'm collecting donations to take with me when I go to Springfield next week for the start of a new legislative session.
Items needed include mops, buckets, bleach, rubber gloves, face masks, bottled water and non-perishable food. We are not accepting monetary donations at this time. Please bring your donations to my office (5533 N. Broadway) by Tuesday, Jan. 12. Call (773) 769-1717 with any questions.
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