March 3, 2017
Gov. Bruce Rauner sank to a new low this week, and he took the state’s latest hope for a budget deal with him.
For unclear reasons, the governor chose to interfere in Senate negotiations on the much-anticipated grand bargain, a package of bipartisan measures designed to cut costs, reform state government and generate revenue. Some of the proposals reflected Democratic priorities, others reflected Republican priorities. And some contained proposals that directly reflected priorities set forth in the governor’s agenda, such as workers compensation reform, pension reform and a property tax freeze.
Even the governor’s own budget proposal – unbalanced by at least $4.6 billion – was counting on the all-or-nothing comprehensive Senate deal. For weeks, the governor publicly encouraged the Senate to continue negotiating the grand bargain and vowed he would not interfere with our efforts.
But on Wednesday, as senators prepared to take votes on some of the more difficult issues in the package, the governor apparently no longer could sit idly by, choosing instead to intimidate Republicans into withdrawing their support for the deal.
His interference effectively killed a bipartisan compromise that had been in the works for months and could have helped resolve the state’s crippling two-year budget stalemate.
In my work as a state lawmaker, I rarely have felt as frustrated as I felt Wednesday when the rug was pulled out from under me and everyone else who had worked so hard on this deal and had negotiated in good faith.
Gov. Rauner refuses to present a balanced budget – even though the Illinois Constitution requires him to do so – and he killed the Senate’s effort to achieve one. That doesn’t sound like a governor whose number one priority is to end the budget stalemate.
In spite of those challenges, my colleagues and I in the Senate are committed to ending the budget stalemate. Expect to see this issue receive even more attention in the coming weeks. I’ll keep you posted.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 773-769-1717 or online with any questions or concerns.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th District – Illinois
Fighting for direct support personnel
My legislation to increase wages for direct support personnel made it out of committee this week.
Senate Bill 955 would raise hourly starting wages to $15 from $9.30 for front-line workers paid by the Illinois Department of Human Services.
Direct support professionals have mentally, physically and emotionally taxing jobs and provide a great service to our communities. Many of them have struggled financially because they have not been paid a living wage for far too long. The starting wage has not been raised in nearly a decade.
Illinois direct support personnel receive some of the lowest wages in the nation for this type of work. Low starting wages has made attracting and retaining qualified staff challenging, leading to high vacancy rates and challenges providing quality care.
Get more involved in state government
Keeping track of what’s happening in Springfield can be difficult. Let me help make it easier to follow by sending you a list of noteworthy legislation that will be heard in committees that week.
If you are interested in receiving this kind of update, please sign up here.
Indivisible Elected Official Panel and Workshop
Indivisible Illinois will meet Monday, March 6 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5:45 p.m.) at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster Street, Evanston, IL 60201, for an update on federal and state issues and an activist workshop.
I will speak alongside Congresswoman Jan Schakowksy, Congressman Mike Quigley, State Senator Daniel Biss and State Representative Kelly Cassidy.
Indivisible Illinois empowers local progressive groups by uniting and amplifying voices through networks, resources, and public platforms in pursuit of liberty and justice for all. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here by Saturday, March 4.
Know Your Rights
Please join me Sunday, March 26 at 2 p.m. for an information session about the rights of individuals when confronted by immigration authorities. I will be joined by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, Alderman Joe Moore, State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.
The presentation will be conducted by the National Immigrant Justice Center, the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Centro Romero, the Syrian Community Network and Northside Community Resources.
The event will be in the Gale School Auditorium, 1631 W. Jonquil. It is free and open to the public. Simultaneous interpretation in Spanish and Arabic will be provided.
5533 N. Broadway • Chicago, IL 60640
773-769-1717 (Phone) • 773-769-6901 (Fax)
623 Capitol Building • Springfield, IL 62706
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.
February 27, 2017
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 www.ilga.gov. 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 www.ilga.gov.
Again, click here to sign up to receive more frequent updates on important Senate legislation that will be heard in committee.
Sincerely,Senator Heather Steans7th 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 www.ilga.gov 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 www.ilga.gov 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 Office: 773-769-1717 Fax: 773-769-6901
Springfield Office 623 Capitol Building 301 S. Second St. Springfield, IL 62706 Office: 217-782-8492