Senator Van Pelt speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) issued the following statement in response to the ruling on Chicago Public Schools’ lawsuit against the state:

“Governor Rauner has made it clear that Chicago’s children are just pawns in his political game, but I am hopeful that enough members of the General Assembly will come together to provide Chicago Public Schools with the same level of funding that every other school district receives. It’s time to put politics aside and put our children and their education first.”

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Senator Collins, Van Pelt, Lightford, Martinez

SPRINGFIELD — Months after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a measure that would have secured funding for Chicago Public Schools, Illinois Senate Democrats rejected his attempt to promise $215 million to the school system without any funding source to provide it.

“This measure would have made yet another promise to Chicago students without taking the necessary steps to ever follow through on it,” said Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago. “We already approved a measure last year – which the governor saw fit to veto – that would have addressed this very problem in a responsible way, with the necessary funding. As it is, this is another broken promise in the making.”

Gov. Rauner vetoed a plan last year, approved by the Illinois General Assembly, which provided funding for Chicago Public Schools and included the necessary revenue.

“Just because Bruce Rauner didn’t do his homework doesn’t mean Chicago teachers, students and parents should suffer for his mistake,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago. “Maybe he should do his vetoes in pencil until he’s sure of his answers. It would have prevented the chaos he’s caused for our schools.”

“The governor put himself in a position where he feels pressured to help CPS, and the way out is offering a long term solution, not this halfhearted attempt,” said Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford, D-Maywood. “Our children have a right to a quality education and it takes real commitment to deliver that.”

Democratic members rejected the proposal when it came before the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday. While the measure would mandate the state to pay CPS, it would provide no revenue and no firm date of disbursement.

“What we need is real solutions to make sure CPS gets its fair share of state dollars,” said Majority Caucus Whip Iris Martinez. “This legislation was an attempt to solve the governor’s public relations problems with CPS, but what it won’t do is get more dollars into the classroom. CPS teachers, students and administrators deserve equitable funding, not unfunded and false promises from the Republicans.”

Senate Democrats have included a comprehensive plan on CPS funding as part of the grand bargain legislative package. So far, that provision has not met with any Republican support. The measure remains under consideration in the Senate.

03092017CM0976SPRINGFIELD – After a week of testimonies from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s cabinet members on potential cuts they could make in their departments, it’s clear that Rauner has no plan to balance his proposed budget.

“Governor Rauner has once again proved that he is all talk and no action,” Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) said. “He has spent the past two years harping on the need to reduce spending, but when given the opportunity to offer cuts, his cabinet members were silent.”

Senate Public Health Committee Chairwoman Van Pelt is one of several Senate committee chairs who spent the week asking state agency directors what programs they intend to cut to help balance the nearly $5 billion in deficits Gov. Rauner proposed.

“Every state agency across the board would need to cut spending by 20 percent to achieve the balanced budget the governor wants,” Van Pelt said. “I am absolutely stunned that Gov. Rauner hasn’t even asked agency directors to provide a list of cuts they could make in their departments. Every day without a budget costs the state $11 million. The governor should be offering solutions, but instead he is creating chaos and destruction.”

The move by Senate committee chairs comes one week after Gov. Rauner derailed the Senate’s bipartisan plan to resolve the state’s budget impasse. Agency directors have been asked to return to Senate committees next week with a detailed list of cuts.

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Senator Van Pelt chairs Public Health CommitteeSPRINGFIELD – Even after cutting programs for AIDS, prostate cancer and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the Illinois Department of Public Health still would need to cut an additional $20 million in programs to help balance the governor’s proposed budget, state senators learned Tuesday.

“I’m stunned Gov. Rauner didn’t consult with his own public health director about cuts to vital programs that would be needed to balance his own budget plan,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), chairwoman of the Senate’s Public Health Committee.

“Every state agency across the board would need to cut spending by 20 percent to achieve the balanced budget the governor wants. Those kinds of cuts in public health would have dire consequences, and people deserve to know what those cuts could be.”

Members of the Public Health Committee heard from Illinois Public Health Director Nirav Shah, who identified $3.85 million in cuts – far less than the reductions needed to achieve the savings Gov. Rauner requires. Shah told the panel he could cut $3 million from the AIDS drug assistance program, $143,000 from a prostate cancer awareness fund, $470,000 from the University of Illinois-Chicago and $240,000 from the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome awareness program.

The governor’s budget proposal includes $115 million for public health.

“Gov. Rauner has been begging lawmakers to give him the authority to make line-item budget cuts. Clearly, he’s not up to the task,” Van Pelt said.

Shah agreed to return to the committee next week with a list of $23 million in public health department cuts required to balance the governor’s proposed budget.

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