04122018KS0048R

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Bill Cunningham issued the following statement following the passage of a balanced budget plan by the Illinois Senate:

“This bipartisan budget is a responsible spending plan agreed to by leaders from both parties and chambers that rejects the governor’s cost shifts and fulfills our obligation to students and teachers. By increasing K-12 funding by $352 million and fully funding teachers’ retirement and pensions, this budget avoids the governor’s proposal to shift responsibility for paying teacher pensions from the state to local property tax payers.

“The budget provides a 2 percent increase in funding to state universities and makes MAP Grants securable for four years, which will help students plan a foreseeable academic path at schools in Illinois instead of seeking out-of-state schools. The budget also includes a new merit and financial based scholarship program, AIM HIGH, for undergraduate students at public universities geared toward keeping our best and brightest students in Illinois.”

Cunningham is a Democrat representing parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

Category: Press Releases

20180314 KS 3956 R

SPRINGFIELD – Rank-and-file Chicago firefighters would have greater oversight and control of funding intended for their department under legislation passed by the Illinois Senate today.

Sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham and State Representative Fran Hurley, House Bill 5197 would establish a Foreign Fire Insurance Board, an entity that will be entrusted with the expenditure of fire insurance fees collected exclusively from insurance companies whose corporate headquarters are located outside of Illinois.

Currently, the City of Chicago receives about $5 million in fire insurance fees, which are directly deposited into the city’s general fund. HB 5197 would transfer control of those funds to a newly established fire insurance board and require the city to turn over fire insurance revenue to the board.

“The legislation streamlines the flow of tax dollars and allows Chicago firefighters to determine how revenue intended for their own department is used,” said Cunningham, a Democrat representing parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs. “The funding will now go directly to fire suppression instead of being spread throughout the city budget.”

Advocates of the legislation say it will improve Chicago firefighters' safety and effectiveness through enhancements in their equipment and training. The funds will be used to purchase of items such personal protective gear, tools, fire apparatus, enhanced training and for firehouse improvements.

“This newly created board will draw on the knowledge, experience and expertise of the rank-and-file to purchase items that allow them to safely operate in the many hazardous situations they routinely encounter,” said Robert Tebbens, director of political action for the Chicago Firefighters’ Union. “It will also give their families confidence that they will return home safely.”

Under current law, the Chicago Fire Department is the only one in the state that does not have a fire insurance board. The fire insurance board would consist of the department’s fire commissioner and six elected trustees.

HB 5197 now heads to the House for approval.

Category: Press Releases

05232018CM0617 RSPRINGFIELD – Local school boards would have the final authority to approve or decline new charter schools under legislation passed out of the Senate Executive Committee today by State Senator Bill Cunningham, a Democrat representing Chicago and parts of the Southwest Suburbs.

The legislation, House Bill 5175, eliminates charter schools’ ability to appeal a local school board’s decision to deny or not renew a charter school. Under current law, a charter school applicant may file an appeal with the State Charter School Commission, who can reverse the school board’s decision.

“Local school boards are deeply invested in the communities they serve and ultimately know what’s best for their schools,” Cunningham said. “The State Charter School Commission shouldn’t be able to reverse decisions by local leaders elected by voters in that community.”

The legislation leaves in place a provision allowing charters to be approved by referendum if at least 5 percent of the voters in a school district petition the school board.

HB 5175 now heads to the House for concurrence.

Category: Press Releases

05172018CM0850 R

SPRINGFIELD - Illinoisan families using the Illinois Treasurer’s College Savings Pool would receive heightened safeguards on their investments and would be given the option to use the funds if unexpectedly faced with disability-related expenses under legislation passed out of the Illinois Senate today.

House Bill 4751, introduced by State Senator Bill Cunningham, would resolve discrepancies between federal requirements and the College Savings Pool administered by the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office. The state treasurer administers college savings programs like Bright Start and Bright Directions, which allow Illinois families to save while taking advantage of federal and state tax benefits, allowing contributions to grow on a tax-deferred basis.

HB 4751 minimizes the fees that the State Treasurer’s office may charge for the costs of managing the college savings accounts, by requiring that the Treasurer must keep the fees as low as possible and consistent with the associated costs. The measure also declares that contributions to the College Savings Pool are not state funds and cannot be commingled with state funds.

To help families faced with unexpected costs relating to disabilities, the measure would also allow account owners to roll over funds into an Illinois ABLE account with incurring taxes. Illinois ABLE is a tax-advantaged investment program that provides persons with blindness or disabilities the option to save for disability-related expenses without putting their federal means-tested benefits at risk.

“If circumstances change and college is no longer a goal, families dealing with the burden of disability expenses need to have the option to tap into their Bright Start or Bright Direction funds,” Cunningham said.

HB 4751 now moves to the House for concurrence. Cunningham represents parts of Chicago and the Southwest Suburbs.

Category: Press Releases

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