Stadelman listens to student concerns about gun violence

Students from East High School met with Senator Steve Stadelman this week to share their thoughts on gun violence in America and learn about legislation to regulate firearms at the state level. Alondra Lavariega, Rachell Alvarado (center) and Simon Davis helped organize the recent March For Our Lives at Davis Park and an earlier protest at East.

Stadelman discussed two gun safety measures approved this month in both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly:
•    ban on the sale of assault weapons to anyone under age 21
•    72-hour waiting period after purchase of an assault weapon

Neither piece of legislation has been acted on by Governor Bruce Rauner, who vetoed a third measure to require state licensing of gun shops. Stadelman explained to the students that what happens to that bill depends on whether enough Republicans are willing to cross party lines in the Illinois House because the Illinois Senate can override Rauner on the votes of Democrats alone.

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Stadelman commended the students' efforts and noted that his four children participated in the local March For Our Lives, one of more than 800 nationwide and two dozen across Illinois.

"You're moving the needle," he said. "The fact that you're taking action could lead to legislation no one today would have envisioned."

Category: Week in Review

Marijuana question may go on November ballots statewide
Illinois voters may get the chance to let their voices be heard on legalization of cannabis under legislation passed in the Illinois Senate last week. The legislation, Senate Bill 2275, would place an advisory question on the 2018 ballot asking Illinois voters if they are in favor of marijuana legalization.

State Senator Steve Stadelman, who voted in favor of putting the issue before voters in November, says the advisory referendum will help legislators gauge public opinion on the subject. Most states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana have done so through ballot initiatives.

As proposed, the referendum would ask this “yes” or “no” question: "Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?"

If passed in the House and signed by the governor, the bill only would set the non-binding referendum in motion, not legalize the sale of recreational marijuana.

Legislative committee investigates Rauner inaction on veterans home
Lawmakers in Springfield expressed frustration this week over Bruce Rauner's failure to rid the Illinois Veterans Home at Quincy of the deadly Legionella bacteria after a top official in governor's administration revealed a change of strategy that is presumed will only cause more delays.

During a legislative hearing this week, Veterans Affairs Director Erica Jeffries said the Rauner administration now plans to tear down the residence halls where 13 deaths have been attributed to Legionnaire outbreaks since 2015. Jeffries had no cost estimate for the solution, only a timetable of three to five years. Previously, the governor was exploring the cost of replacing old plumbing.

Later in the week, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill) once again urgently requested from Rauner a detailed plan of action for ensuring the safety of residents, family and staff at the home. They also pressed for acceptance of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ offer of technical assistance – which includes a site visit to the Quincy home – as well as ongoing VA financial support and expert assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Rauner administration claims a preliminary report will be issued by March 31.
 

In case you missed me on Facebook ...

Steve Stadelman added 3 new photos.
March 7 at 8:54pm ·
Another boost for downtown Rockford! The popular City Market is expanding. A "wall breaking" ceremony starts construction on an indoor City Market building next-door. Congratulations to Rock River Development Partnership for its work in making the project possible.
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 Steve Stadelman
February 20 ·
 
Congratulations to members of Unity Church in Rockford who presented the results of their Teddy Bear Project to Children Home + Aid today. The gently used stuffed animals were kept in the church sanctuary as they were being collected, and thye were held by churchgoers who "filled them with love" during Sunday services. Organizers like Alice Stacionis hope The Teddy Bear Project brings comfort to vulnerable children in stressful circumstances.
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Category: Week in Review

Stadelman says Rauner budget is unbalanced, increases property taxes
 
raunerbudgetaddressState Senator Steve Stadelman is concerned about the negative effects Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed budget would have on education, human services and benefits for retired teachers and other public employees, while noting it’s technically not balanced and relies on shaky math.

"Once again, the governor’s rhetoric failed to match reality," Stadelman said following Rauner's annual Budget Address to the General Assembly in Springfield. "Bruce Rauner says he wants to reduce property taxes, but his proposal will result in a significant property tax increase on Rockford families.  While I appreciate the governor’s call for cutting back government, his priorities are misplaced. He proposes cutting autism and addiction prevention services, yet he wants to spend $30 million on a horse barn in Springfield."

Stadelman noted the governor's spending plan is essentially unbalanced for a fourth year in a row because of unrealistic assumptions including pension reform that requires legislative and court approval. There's also no escaping the hypocrisy of Rauner including revenue from an income tax increase he opposed to balance spending, Stadelman said.

What's more, giving school districts more flexibility to negotiate contracts and removing health care from collective bargaining illustrate that weakening labor is primary goal for the governor, according to Stadelman.

"The governor needs to drop his campaign talking points and lay out a genuinely balanced budget that addresses our $8 billion backlog of bills and puts our state on stable financial footing," Stadelman said.
 
Concerns grow about Rauner's turnaround on school funding
Beyond being deceptive, Gov. Rauner's budget proposal undermines a key accomplishment on his watch -- education funding reform.

Rauner calls for $350 million in additional spending on  public education, the amount required by the new funding formula he considers a top accomplishment. But the proposal then wipes out the increase by dumping nearly $500 million in state retirement costs onto local schools, according to State Senator Steve Stadelman.

"Public education ends up losing under the Rauner plan," Stadelman said. "Rockford and Harlem classrooms are especially harmed because the new funding formula benefits communities with low property values, high poverty and larger numbers of at-risk students."

Stadelman pointed out that schools still have not received a penny under the new formula, which Rauner is already trying to change. If enacted, Rauner's shift of pension costs to local government would leave schools no choice but to raise property taxes, something Rauner claims to oppose.

The combined effect of Rauner's proposals would result in a net $1 billion decline in state support for public schools.

In the news: Illinois schools say pension shift would undo funding revamp

Category: Week in Review

Legislature overrides Rauner veto of school funding reform
Steve Stadelman was among lawmakers from both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly who last week rejected the governor's attempt to rewrite historic legislation to reform the way Illinois funds public education. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of SB 444 threatened to stall implementation of a more equitable school funding formula that relies less on property taxes, a system that favors wealthy communities with fewer at-risk students.

SB 444 proposed simple technical cleanups to the original reform legislation that had received bipartisan support and that Rauner had signed into law. The governor, however, tried to insert substantive changes including an expansion of the new Invest in Kids program to provide tax credits for people who donate to private school scholarships.

Rauner's failed bid to amend the legislation only stalls the release of $350 million in new funding for classrooms, said Stadelman, noting that public schools in Rockford and Harlem benefit under the new formula. Despite the veto override, he said, the Rauner administration is now citing additional technical discrepancies that could continue to hold up distribution of money to schools.

Stadelman reacts to governor's annual speech
Illinois senators returned to Springfield last week for the start of the 2018 legislative session, a week during which Bruce Rauner delivered the State of the State address to a joint session of the General Assembly. Senator Steve Stadelman says the speech was once again long on empty promises and short on detail.

“While the governor laid out broad ideas, he failed to present a plan to accomplish them," Stadelman said. "In each of the last three years, we have seen the governor present extensive goals but fail to achieve them due to combative, partisan politics. It’s my hope the governor will finally be able to present a balanced budget that will attain bipartisan support and bring our state back to financial stability.”
•    Video response to State of the State address

Keep on chugging, Stadelman urges passenger rail group
 
stadelmanrailforumSenator Steve Stadelman encouraged the efforts of a citizens group trying to resurrect passenger rail service between Chicago and Dubuque, Iowa, but also warned of obstacles and advised that identifying funding is key.

Chief among those obstacles, Stadelman told representatives of Ride the Rail, is Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who pulled the plug on a $233 million project to bring train services from Chicago to Rockford when he took office in 2015. Stadelman worked with former Gov. Pat Quinn to get the project, first announced in 2010, back on track after negotiations broke down with one of two possible rail lines.

Ride the Rail is campaigning to "Bring Back the Blackhawk" by renewing interest in passenger rail from Chicago to Iowa through Rockford, Freeport and Galena. Stadelman said he firmly believes in the value of train service in stimulating the local economy but reminded the group of Illinois' current financial trouble and pointed out that trends in passenger rail involve public-private partnerships, with public money coming from local, state and federal sources.

Stadelman commended Ride the Rail for helping keep public conversation on the issue alive and expressed dismay that a recently released Federal Railroad Administration proposal for development of a Midwest passenger rail network omits Rockford.

"It won't be in the next year or two, but passenger rail will happen eventually," Stadelman said, "and we can't afford to remain off the grid."
•    WIFR-23 report

Category: Week in Review

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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