Stadelman returns to Capitol to pass budget, address COVID-19 challenges

State Senator Steve Stadelman returned to Springfield last week for the reconvening of the Illinois Senate after over two months of being unable to meet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The unusual circumstances that we passed a budget under cannot be overstated," Stadelman said. “We had to not only pass a responsible budget, but to also address the vast challenges the state has now been place under by COVID-19.”

Stadelman said the budget will help provide stability as the state copes with a global pandemic. He noted additional funding Illinois received under the federal CARES Act that will be distributed to local governments, provide rent and mortgage assistance and relief to small businesses, among other efforts.

“This budget addresses some of the most important challenges facing downstate communities like mine.” Stadelman said. “Health care workers and essential employees are on the frontline every day to ensure our safety and livelihood. They need assistance, and they need it now. That is reflected in this budget.”

Stadelman also emphasized the state's commitment to holding the line for K-12 and higher education funding.

“As a state we need to make sure that we continue to maintain steady funding for our schools,” Stadelman said. “Districts have had to significantly adjust due to COVID-19. It was important that we showed our students and educators that they are a priority.”

Property tax relief bill wins Stadelman's support

With property taxpayers across Illinois suffering, State Senator Steve Stadelman voted for legislation that will defer tax sales and gives counties the ability to extend homestead exemptions and waive late fees.

“Property taxes can be a significant financial burden for residents of communities like Rockford,” Stadelman said. “This legislation will provide much needed relief to ease the financial burden on our communities.”

The latest measure compliments other state legislation to reduce the local property burden including a new school funding formula that benefits low-income districts including Rockford and Harlem. Two recent Rockford Register articles illustrate the positive impact of those efforts:

The new relief package gives county assessment officers the ability to approve homestead exemptions without 2020 applications for residents with disabilities, veterans with disabilities and senior citizens who qualify for assessment freezes.

Exemption extensions are permitted if:

• the county board has previously declared a local disaster related to COVID-19;
• the owner of the property as of Jan. 1, 2020 is the same owner as of Jan. 1, 2019;
• the applicant for the 2019 taxable year has not yet asked for the exemption to be removed for the 2019 or 2020 taxable year;
• the exemption for the 2019 taxable year has not been determined to be an erroneous exemption.

County assessment officers are still permitted to conduct audits of taxpayers claiming an exemption to verify the applicant is eligible to receive the senior citizen’s assessment freeze through the homestead exemption.

Senate Bill 685 also defers tax sales and gives counties authority to waive property tax interest penalties.

Stadelman delivers $7.5 million toward proposed downtown innovations

State Senator Steve Stadelman has secured $2.5 million in matching funds pivotal to a $100 million transformation of dated three- and four-lane downtown roads into safer, more inviting and user-friendly two-lane streets with dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes and parallel parking.

Stadelman designated the state match from the Rebuild Illinois capital program when the General Assembly approved its new budget last week in Springfield.During last week's special legislative session, He also Stadelman also obtained $2.5 million for upgrades to the BMO Harris Bank Center and another $2.5 million for renovations at Davis Park.

The state's contribution to the Downtown Rockford Complete Streets Project is a key part of a $22.5 million federal grant application that would combine with private investment to bring at least $100 million in improvements to the region's urban core. A previous application in 2019 for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant lacked a state match and failed to receive approval of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Without Senator Stadelman's support, Rockford's application would not be in a strong position to win," said Bryan Davis, vice president of Government Affairs for SupplyCore, a private-sector partner. "The state's financial commitment greatly adds to the chances of Rockford prevailing in a very competitive federal grant program that doles out $1 billion annually."

If awarded, the BUILD grant would pay for reconstruction of the one-way Jefferson and Chestnut streets, reducing the number of lanes reserved for motor vehicles to slow traffic and reduce crashes. Bicycle and pedestrian lanes with a median and parallel parking would be added. The grant also would pay for the "circulator route" of electric buses looping downtown every 15 minutes.

Stadelman called the Complete Streets proposal a "visionary leveraging" of an estimated $1 billion in urban renewal efforts that span 20 years from the restoration of the landmark Coronado Theater to the conversion of the abandoned Amerock factory into a high-rise luxury hotel.

"If the return is an additional $100 million, the state is making a smart investment with its $2.5 million contribution," Stadelman said. "Not only does this proposal improve traffic safety, it literally ties together the many large and small public and private investments that have contributed to the rebounding downtown we know today. That synergy is important because the economic fortune of our whole region depends on Rockford's prosperity, which depends on the continued evolution of downtown."

The full local match approaches $9 million with another $5.5 million coming from municipal funds and $900,000 from Rockford Mass Transit District.

"Having an exciting downtown where people want to live, work and play benefits everyone," Stadelman said.

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Stadelman delivers $2.5 million toward proposed downtown innovation

ROCKFORD -- State Senator Steve Stadelman has secured $2.5 million in matching funds pivotal to a $100 million transformation of dated three- and four-lane downtown roads into safer, more inviting and user-friendly two-lane streets with dedicated bicycle and pedestrian lanes and parallel parking.

Stadelman designated the state match from the Rebuild Illinois capital program when the General Assembly approved its new budget last week in Springfield. The state's contribution is a key part of a $22.5 million federal grant application that would combine with private investment to bring at least $100 million in improvements to the region's urban core. A previous application for a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant that lacked a state match failed to receive approval of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

"Without Senator Stadelman's support, Rockford's application would not be in a strong position to win," said Bryan Davis, vice president of Government Affairs for SupplyCore, a private-sector partner. "The state's financial commitment greatly adds to the chances of Rockford prevailing in a very competitive federal grant program that doles out $1 billion annually."

The proposed Downtown Rockford Complete Streets Project calls for reconstruction of the one-way Jefferson and Chestnut streets, reducing the number of lanes reserved for motor vehicles to slow traffic and reduce crashes. Bicycle and pedestrian lanes with a median and parallel parking would be added. The grant also would pay for the "circulator route" of electric buses looping downtown every 15 minutes.

Stadelman called the Complete Streets proposal a "visionary leveraging" of an estimated $1 billion in urban renewal efforts that span 20 years from the restoration of the landmark Coronado Theater to the conversion of the abandoned Amerock factory into a high-rise luxury hotel.

"If the return is an additional $100 million, the state is making a smart investment with its $2.5 million contribution," Stadelman said. "Not only does this proposal improve traffic safety, it literally ties together the many large and small public and private investments that have contributed to the rebounding downtown we know today. That synergy is important because the economic fortune of our whole region depends on Rockford's prosperity, which depends on the continued evolution of downtown."

Chestnut Schematic

The full local match approaches $9 million with another $5.5 million coming from municipal funds and $900,000 from Rockford Mass Transit District.

During last week's special legislative session, Stadelman also secured $2.5 million in capital funding for upgrades to the BMO Harris Bank Center and $2.5 million for renovations at Davis Park, both downtown along Chestnut.

"Having an exciting downtown where people want to live, work and play benefits everyone," Stadelman said.

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Stadelman annouces Rock Cut reopening 

State Senator Steve Stadelman today announced that Rock Cut State Park is now open so people looking for a safe recreational outlet during the COVID-19 pandemic can enjoy hiking, biking and other outdoor activities.

Stadelman worked with Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan and representatives of Gov. JB Pritizker's administration to include Rock Cut among 24 state parks initially scheduled to open May 1. Those discussions led to 35 additional state parks reopening today, including Rock Cut.

"I thank Director Callahan and the governor's staff for taking another look at its criteria for reopening state parks," Stadelman said. "Rock Cut is among this community's most treasured public assets, and its size allows plenty of space for people to enjoy nature while maintaining social distance. In these trying times, the ability to move around and be outdoors is a welcome relief."

Rock Cut covers 3,092 acres. Guidelines for safe use of state parks can be found at the IDNR website

 

Stadelman calls for more funds for local health agencies

Read more ...

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Stadelman: Illinois needs to implement Work-Share law now

A law passed by State Senator Steve Stadelman could be put to work to ease the pain for businesses and employees during tough economic times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The law also would allow Illinois to collect millions of dollars in federal funding for states that have "work-share" programs.

The only thing standing in the way is a lack of rules needed to guide the law's implementation, rules that never were written by former Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration.

Stadelman's legislation in 2014 changed how unemployment benefits are paid in Illinois, potentially reducing layoffs and improving state finances. It created work-share benefits, which are meant to assist struggling employers, allowing them to temporarily reduce employee hours rather than lay off workers.

At the same time, workers can collect partial unemployment compensation while staying on the job part time. Work-share also would help Illinois save money by not having to pay full benefits for employees drawing unemployment compensation.

"The value of work-share cannot be over-emphasized," Stadelman said. "In this uncertain time, employees who otherwise face layoffs would gain a sense of security, and businesses would avoid having to let skilled workers go."

Research from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimates work-share could prevent up to 124,000 in COVID-19 layoffs in Illinois and save the state over $1 billion dollars in unemployment insurance payments. According to the institute's Frank Manzo, the federal government will fully reimburse any state for its work share program.

“Under the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package, the federal government is, with some stipulation, fully reimbursing states for their work-share programs,” Manzo said in an April 7 article. “It is free money for the states that currently have these programs.”

Similar laws are in place in 29 other states. Under the Illinois law, partial benefits would be paid when a business cuts hours for at least 10 percent of its staff and shares the remaining work among affected employees.

“Businesses get to keep already-trained employees on staff, and employees get to keep their jobs while collecting partial benefits until they return to work full time,” Stadelman said.

At a Thursday news conference, Gov. JB Pritzker said he supports the work-share program. Stadelman is now urging the Pritzker administration to write the rules needed for work-share to go into full effect. ‚Äč

 

State contributes $250,000 to United Way's local relief fund

State Senator Steve Stadelman helped direct $250,000 from the Illinois' COVID-19 Response Fund to the United Way of Rock River Valley to support local nonprofit groups assisting individuals and families adversely affected by the pandemic.

"We were honored to be chosen" from only 30 organizations statewide that are providing COVID-19 relief at the local level, United Way staff said in a newsletter this week. "Using the ICRF's gift ... we made our first round of grant allocations to local non-profit organizations that are best suited to meet our region's greatest needs."

United Way, which established its Emerging Needs Fund with an anonymous $10,000 donation, announced in its newsletter that almost $550,00 has been raised so far. A list of first-round grant recipients can be found here.

 

Feeling overcome by the many sources of stress in your life right now?

If your level of worry seems abnormally high, the Illinois Department of Human Services has a free emotional support text line. Reach out for help. Text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0.

 

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Contact Info

Springfield Office:
Senator 34th District
121A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8022
 
District Office:
200 S. Wyman St.
Rockford, IL 61101
(815) 987-7557
(815) 987-7529 FAX