comptroller mendozaBUNKER HILL – Some Illinois lawmakers took to social media this week to disingenuously spread misinformation regarding pay increases for legislators in the state budget approved early Sunday morning, prompting Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza to step in and issue a statement dispelling the falsehood. Now, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) says some of his colleagues willfully deceived the public for political gain.

“There is not a single member of the Illinois House or Senate who will receive a pay raise. My colleagues in the Senate are aware of this now and were aware of this when we voted,” Manar said. “At a time when our constituents are all feeling economic hardship and angst, for lawmakers to knowingly suggest otherwise is cheap, disingenuous, and indicative of the worst of our politics. The people we represent deserve better and are owed the truth.”

Despite some confusion among House members, Manar says members of the Senate fully understood both the budget measure’s intent and impact, which was covered in detail on the Senate floor prior to the vote.

“Republicans are arguing today that we should have just ceded our legislative authority to a yet to be named judge in a presumed lawsuit that hasn’t even been file,” said Manar. “Instead, we chose to make the pay raise worth nothing and we stopped it.”

Due to a past court decision challenging how the General Assembly blocks its own pay increases, the legislature took a proactive route to ensure a pay freeze for legislators. Senate Bill 264 appropriates $0 to fund legislative cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, meaning the Illinois Comptroller has no authority to process pay increases.

“The General Assembly appropriated no money for legislative COLAs, so lawmakers will be paid the same amount as last year,” Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza said.

Moments before the Senate voted on the spending plan early Sunday morning, Manar made clear to his colleagues on the Senate floor that no pay increase was included in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal under consideration.

“There is no pay raise paid for in this budget. I need to say that on the record. This budget appropriates the same amount of money as the current fiscal year,” Manar said in his closing remarks. ”It does not pay for a pay raise for the legislature. One more time, it does not provide an increased appropriation to raise the pay of legislators. That was a choice we made for obvious reasons.”

Category: Uncategorised

Manar

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois General Assembly today approved legislation to help rank-and-file teachers and school districts address the unique challenges to Illinois’ education system created by COVID-19.

Senate Bill 1569 makes a number of changes that help schools adjust to remote learning, including the following:

  • Allows for the creation of remote learning days and remote learning plans
  • Allows for a combination of remote learning and in-person instruction
  • Suspends clock hour requirements when a disaster is declared
  • Affirms graduation modifications granted to Spring 2020 graduates
  • Allows mandated exams to be completed remotely

“This package provides school districts more flexibility and creativity to work around the limitations posed by COVID-19,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill). “This will help them deliver the best possible learning experience for their students as the circumstances evolve over the next year.”

Because teacher evaluations for the 20-21 school year have been paused due to COVID-19, SB 1569 extends teacher license renewals by one year.

The legislation also extends a law allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom as substitutes for up to 120 paid days or 600 paid hours without impairing their retirement status. Originally passed by Senator Manar in 2017, the program has helped address the severe teacher shortage facing downstate school districts.

“Over the past few months, aspiring, current, and retired teachers have stepped up to serve their communities in ways many of them have never imagined they would,” Manar. “They’ve gone above and beyond to be there for their students, despite a host of administrative and financial challenges. I’m pleased that we were able to remove some of those hurdles and sources of uncertainty.”

Finally, the legislation also makes it easier for college students who receive financial assistance through the Aspirational Institutional Match Illinois Grow Higher Education Grant Pilot Program, also known as AIM HIGH, to retain their aid for the duration of their four years of undergraduate studies.

AIM HIGH provides financial assistance to eligible low-income students who attend one of the state’s 12 public universities. Under the measure, the income of a student when entering the program will be the income of the student for the life of the program.

Category: Uncategorised

ManarBUNKER HILL - Governor Pritzker on Wednesday announced two new emergency assistance programs geared toward providing immediate capital to small businesses in rural and downstate communities.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of downstate communities,” Manar said. “Rather than massive corporate investments, the rural way of life is driven by the ability of family-owned businesses to support each other. I applaud Governor Pritzker for recognizing rural downstate business owners' unique needs and taking bold action to help them protect their livelihoods and endure the challenges and uncertainty posed by COVID-19.”

The Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund, unveiled by Pritzker on Wednesday, is a $60 million program that will support low-interest loans of up to $50,000 for small businesses in every industry outside of Chicago.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Successful applicants will owe nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at 3% interest for the remainder of a five-year loan term.

Applications will be available on the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website by Friday, March 27.

Pritzker also announced the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program, a $20 million grant program for small businesses in suburban and rural counties across Illinois.

These grants will offer businesses of up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 in working capital. The program redeploys Community Development Block Grant funds to support local small businesses.

Only communities qualified to receive CDBG funds are eligible for the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. Small businesses located in urban counties and metropolitan centers, including Madison County and the City of Springfield, are ineligible for the program.​

Applications will be available on DCEO’s website by Friday, March 27. The grants will be offered on a rolling basis.

Additionally, a new Hospitality Emergency Grant Program will spend $14 million in grants to help small hospitality businesses, in all areas of the state, make ends meet. It will provide up to $25,000 to eligible bars and restaurants and up to $50,000 for eligible hotels. Eligibility information and the application can be found here.

Category: Uncategorised

cdl 051120BUNKER HILL – Following pressure from members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Illinois Secretary of State has opened three Commercial Drivers License (CDL) facilities to meet the increasing demand being placed on commercial and agricultural enterprises engaged in delivering and producing essential goods.

“The trucking industry plays an extraordinary role in the health and safety of Illinois residents during this difficult time. A shortage of drivers could restrict our food supply, pandemic response efforts, and economic recovery,” said State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We must make sure that testing and licensing services are available and that facilities can meet the high volume of new drivers with permits who are ready to test.”

The Secretary of State’s Office will be taking the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and applicants.

The locations and hours of the facilities open include:

  • Springfield Dirksen, 2701 S. Dirksen Pkwy, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Marion, 1905 W. Rendelman St., Tuesday 8 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., Wednesday-Friday 8 a.m. -5 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m.-noon
  • West Chicago, 120 Powis Rd., Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

CDL driving tests will be conducted by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 217-785-3013. All other CDL transactions will be conducted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Secretary of State’s Office will be taking the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of employees and applicants.

For more information, please visit cyberdriveillinois.com.

Category: Uncategorised

COVID 19 update

Small business relief

  • Sales tax deferment: To help alleviate some of the unprecedented challenges facing bars and restaurants due to COVID-19, Gov. Pritzker has directed the Department of Revenue to defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants — accounting for nearly 80% of all such entities statewide. For more information, please view IDOR's informational bulletin available at tax.illinois.gov.
  • Small business disaster loans: Gov. Pritzker announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the state's eligibility for disaster assistance loans for small businesses facing financial hardship in all 102 counties due to COVID-19. Eligible businesses can apply for up to $2 million in low-interest loans here.
  • Counseling for small businesses: Advisors at Illinois Small Business Development Centers across the state are available to assist businesses with preparedness planning and accessing disaster loans approved for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. You can find the location and contact information of your nearest SBDC here.

Health care and pharmacy support

  • Telemedicine expansion: Through emergency rules imposed by the Pritzker administration, the state has significantly relaxed rules around telemedicine for both Medicaid and private insurers, allowing more providers to get reimbursed for these services that allow patients more flexibility and safety.
  • Health care access for families: The State of Illinois has filed a waiver with the federal government to loosen restrictions on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Pritzker administration is seeking to increase access to telehealth and the number of health care providers that can screen patients, allow 90-day prescription supplies without prior authorization and early refills, as well as several other items that will increase flexibility and provide additional resources.
  • Bolstering rural pharmacies: To protect the vital role of rural pharmacies during this crisis, the state is expediting payments under the Critical Access Pharmacy (CAP) Program, which supports small, independently owned pharmacies in rural counties and medically underserved areas of the state.

Food Security

  • Food assistance for children and families: The Department of Human Services has filed a federal waiver to ease eligibility requirements for food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, which cover 1.8 million Illinoisans and 174,000 pregnant women and parents of young children respectively.
  • Free meals for students: The Illinois State Board of Education is working to provide meals every day to all students, no questions asked. Grab-and-go meals are available statewide for students who need them, and some schools are even offering delivery. Contact your child’s school district for more information.
  • Grocery store hours for seniors: Gov. Pritzker announced yesterday that a growing coalition of grocery stores statewide will set aside one or more hours of operation for older residents to shop, before stores open to the general public. Contact your prefered store to see if they are participating.
Category: Uncategorised

COVID19 Updates

Insulin Costs in IL

School Funding Reform

 

eNewsletter Signup

eNewsletter Signup
  1. First Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  2. Last Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  3. Your Email(*)
    Please let us know your email address.

Contact Me

Springfield Office:
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-0228

Decatur Office:
Macon County Office Building
141 S. Main St., Suite 502
Decatur, IL 62523
Phone: (217) 429-8110

Bunker Hill Office:
115 N. Washington, P.O. Box 636
Bunker Hill, IL 62014
Phone: (618) 585-4848