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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040214cm0270SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) is pleased to have had the opportunity to vote in support of an Illinois General Assembly bill that approved federal appropriations for a variety of state programs, totaling over $7.65 billion.

Senate Bill 2042 allows the state government to spend federal money on an assortment of programs. Included in the federal funding are dollars for community block grants for municipalities, family and community services including the WIC program, as well as funds to help homeless veterans, continue with breast and cervical cancer screenings, and home-delivered meals for the Department on Aging.

“With the passage of this legislation, a large portion of our state budget will be funded. Many of these important programs were in danger of closing due to the current budget impasse. I’m proud to have been in Springfield to vote for this legislation and I’m very pleased it has passed the Illinois Senate,” Senator Van Pelt said.

The legislation comes as the Illinois General Assembly and the governor’s office continue negotiations on a new state budget. The governor vetoed the appropriations legislation sent to him by the General Assembly in May that would have avoided the current stalemate.

Senate Bill 2042 will now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this legislation to help keep these valuable state services continuing and also urge the Governor to sign the bill into law once it gets to his office,” Van Pelt said.

052015CM0953CHICAGO – A national organization whose mission is to help put a stop to modern day slavery in the United States will get help from the state as it works to fight human trafficking. A measure sponsored in the Illinois Senate by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) was recently signed into law that will help promote the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline, designed to directly help victims of this horrible crime.

Senate Bill 43 will require the Illinois Department of Human Services and Illinois Department of Transportation to promote public awareness of the national human trafficking hotline, including displaying signs in high risk areas, such as truck stops, bus stations, train stations, airports and rest stops. The initiative will ensure more individuals have access to the hotline number and are also able to receive the help and resources they most need.

"I came to the Legislature to help restore lives and create a more just society. Senate Bill 43 helps move us toward that goal,” Van Pelt said. “By providing the victims of human trafficking this vital resource, we are helping to stop modern day slavery in our nation and working to rebuild shattered lives."

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the hotline has fielded over 85,000 calls since 2007, resulting in uncovering over 39,000 victims of human trafficking. Many of those cases are related to the underground sex trade but also include forced labor. A vast majority of the victims of human trafficking are women. Since beginning of 2015, the hotline has received over 5,200 calls.

Victims of human trafficking are encouraged to call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All calls are confidential. Online resources are also available at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s website, traffickingresourcecenter.org.

052015CM0953CHICAGO - Programs designed to help businesses and prospective employees alike are facing the chopping block as Governor Bruce Rauner has begun slashing programs and services rather than close corporate loopholes to try to balance the state budget.

On May 31, the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago, an organization whose mission is to assist businesses and promote economic development on the West Side of Chicago, received notice that at least two vital programs would no longer be funded by the state.

Grants that would help businesses and those seeking employment to better learn industry standard software, such as Quickbooks, PowerPoint and other business programs, known as “Eliminating the Digital Divide” grants were suspended by the Department of Commerce and Economic Development, or DCEO. Also eliminated was the “Employer Training Investment Program, or ETIP, which helped Illinois workers upgrade their skills to remain competitive in the global marketplace.

“My understanding was that we were all working to bring good paying jobs for highly skilled workers into Illinois. With the elimination of these grants, the governor’s office is going in the opposite direction. Without continuous training, our workforce will fall behind other, more technologically savvy nations. That will not help our middle-class and will not help our state,” Senator Van Pelt said. “These are programs businesses want and need to help them stay competitive in the face of global competition.”

The Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago estimates that in 2014, the work of the council, including work made possible by the eliminated grants, helped create more than 110 jobs in the West Side of Chicago, helping to export more than $30 million in goods and services.

“In order for our state and nation to keep up with the rest of the world, we must have the best trained and best skilled workers. Efforts such as the Digital Divide grants and the ETIP program help our workers, our families and communities thrive. I urge the governor to reconsider these cuts and begin concentrating on helping families, not hurting them,” Senator Van Pelt said.

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