020415CM0664(Chicago) – Every year, Oak Lawn and Orland Park-area residents pay over $1.4 million dollars each in state gas taxes, but the budget impasse means Springfield is keeping the money rather than sending it back to help pay for road salt, patching potholes and other necessary road projects and maintenance.

“The gas tax money needs to go back to the local communities where it belongs,” said Senator Bill Cunningham, who represents parts of Oak Lawn and Orland Park.  “We passed legislation that would give the money to local communities and the governor decided to veto that legislation.”

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cunningham 040114 schl sftyCHICAGO - During the past year, State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18th Senate District) has chaired the Illinois Senate Higher Education Subcommittee on Higher Education Compensation. In the course of that time, the committee has released a report detailing questionable compensation practices at our state universities and community colleges. On September 9th, FOX 32 reporter Dana Placko filed a report on the controversy.

Please take a moment to view the report, from FOX 32.

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053115CM0880SPRINGFIELD - Wards of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services who run away or go missing from the system will now have additional protections to help find them and keep them out of the hands of predators. Two pieces of legislation, sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, were signed into law to help create a system to locate missing wards that are reported as well as enhancing penalties for criminals who exploit those missing wards.

“The protection of our children, regardless of circumstance, is a priority. With the passage and signing of these important pieces of legislation, our most vulnerable children will have better protection and, hopefully, a better life,” said Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat.

Senate Bill 1775, also known as the Safeguard our Children Act, spells out what is required from DCFS once a youth in their custody is reported missing. The legislation states that DCFS must report the missing youth to local law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Illinois State Police must also develop a network to help with locating missing DCFS wards.

From 2011 to 2013, residential DCFS facilities reported 29,425 incidents of missing wards, averaging 27 runaway reports per day. Many residential facilities do not report the runaways to local law enforcement.

“There have been numerous cases of DCFS wards going missing, where, unfortunately, law enforcement was not made aware of the missing child,” Cunningham said. “This new law will help us to find runaway wards as quickly as possible, helping protect them from possible exploitation.”

Also signed into law was Senate Bill 201, which allows sentencing courts to consider a defendant’s knowledge of a prostitution victim’s DCFS status when sentencing. Many wards of the state are extremely susceptible and are in need of extra judicial protections. The legislation specifically states that judges may consider the fact that a criminal knew their victim to be a ward of DCFS and consider that knowledge as an aggravating factor when imposing sentences.

"A series of recent articles reported that human traffickers often specifically target and recruit wards of the state who reside in group homes. Predators see them as especially vulnerable and susceptible to being lured into a life of prostitution," Cunningham said. "The new law would enable judges to enhance the sentences they impose on pimps and traffickers in those cases."

Cunningham has worked closely with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart over the years to help craft good public policy in the criminal justice and corrections field. These two new laws are a direct result of that good working relationship.

“I’m proud to have worked with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office on this. We will continue to work together to protect our most vulnerable children and make their protection a priority,” Cunningham said.

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CHICAGO – State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-18th Senate) released the following comments after the Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation to curb excessive severance packages for administrators at Illinois public colleges and universities:

“I’m pleased to hear that the Illinois House has agreed to this one important reform to our higher education compensation system. While there are many other necessary reforms that we will discuss as the year proceeds, it is important as we go into the next academic year for our students and leaders to know that we are beginning the process of reforming our higher education compensation system to lower the costs for future leaders.”

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 18th District
329B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-5145
(217) 782-2115 FAX
District Offices:
10400 South Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 445-8128
(773) 672-5143 FAX

16033 S. 94th Avenue
Orland Hills, IL 60477
(708) 233-9703