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.

Category: Press Releases

051215CM0439SPRINGFIELD – The minimum wage would gradually rise to $11 an hour and millions worth of corporate tax loopholes would be closed under a legislative agenda Illinois Senate Democrats are rallying behind as negotiations with Governor Rauner have stalled.

“As I talk to residents of the 5th Senate District, they tell me that they are concerned with opportunities to advance the middle-class, including an increase in the minimum wage. They are also concerned that corporations are not sharing in the sacrifice so many are talking about today. That is why I’m supporting and will work to pass the middle-class economic agenda put forth by my colleagues and I,” Senator Van Pelt said.

Senator Van Pelt specifically pointed to three key provisions in the Senate Democratic plan:

  • Minimum wage. Increases the state minimum wage to $9.00 on July 1, 2015 and by $0.50 each year thereafter until the minimum wage reaches $11.00 on July 1, 2019. Provides a three-year tax credit for employers with less than 50 employees.
  • Healthy Workplace Act. Guarantees up to seven paid days of sick time to full and part time employees. Sick time would accrue at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employees would not be able to take sick time for the first 120 days of employment
  • Corporate loopholes. Ends a variety of corporate tax breaks including corporations ability to automatically receive a tax breaks for production outside of Illinois. Closing these loopholes will bring the state $334 million.

“This plan will help counter the plans of the administration, which will do nothing to help working families and will do everything for corporate interests. The residents of the 5th Senate District want change that helps, not hurts middle-class families,” Senator Van Pelt said.

The new provisions come as Gov. Rauner has threatened to shut down state government and all state services if lawmakers don’t reduce worker protections, make it harder to sue corporations that make dangerous products and slash billions of dollars in services to at-risk children and seniors.

Senator Van Pelt plans to co-sponsor the legislation along with numerous other Senate Democrats. The proposals could be in final form for possible votes should lawmakers be called back into session this summer.

Category: Press Releases

vp floor 3SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) to address inequities in expulsions and suspensions in Illinois high schools has passed the Illinois General Assembly. The legislation comes after a 2012 study stated that Illinois suspends more African-American students than any other state in the nation.

Senate Bill 100, an initiative of Voices for Youth in Chicago Education and negotiated with school management as well as law enforcement, will make numerous changes to the School Code. The legislation is designed to reduce the racial disparities in expulsions and suspensions that have plagued Illinois schools.

“Some of our most vulnerable students, who struggle with poverty and a lack of parental discipline, are having the only steady influence in their lives taken away from them. When these students act out, they should be kept in school, not thrown out in the streets where they will not have the positive influence of our educators to help keep them in line,” Senator Van Pelt said.

The legislation addresses the frequency and racial disparity of suspensions and expulsions in several ways, including the following:

  • Disciplinary removals of longer than 3 days must be limited to instances where the student’s presence is an on-going threat to the school, and all other options have been exhausted.
  • A school board must state how a suspension or expulsion is in the best interest of a school before disciplinary action.
  • School districts must establish re-engagement policies for disciplined students.
  • Suspended students must be given the opportunity to make up their work.
  • School officials must limit suspensions and expulsions to the greatest extent practicable.

State records show that in the 2010 - 2011 school year, Illinois students lost 1,117,453 instructional days due to disciplinary actions, 95 percent of which were for minor offenses.

Category: Latest

VP Floor 2SPRINGFIELD – Technological advances in mammography are helping increase the ability to detect growths in breast tissue that often go unseen. Thanks to work by State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago), 3D mammography will now be added to the list of insured low-dose mammograms available through insurance.

Senate Bill 54, recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly, will add ‘tomosynthesis’, also known as 3D mammography to insurance plans. The procedure differs from standard mammograms and produces a cross-sectional 3D image to help doctors better identify potential concerns.

The procedure also reduces false positives and greatly increases visibility to sense invasive cancers while reducing cost to patients and hospitals.

“With advances in technology, adding 3D mammography to our insurance plans will save women’s lives,” Senator Van Pelt said. “Any plan to help women stay healthy, I will fully support.”

The bill has passed both houses of the General Assembly.

Category: Latest

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