02222018ManarCarsonThe Rev. Courtney Carson from Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur delivered the invocation to the Illinois Senate on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

Accompanying Carson were Julian Harris, 16, and Karl Coleman, 19, both of Decatur. Harris is a student at MacArthur High School, and Coleman is a student at Richland Community College.

Pictured: Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is joined at the Illinois Capitol Wednesday by the Rev. Courtney Carson (center), Julian Harris (left) and Karl Coleman.

RetiredTeacher350Benefits for retired teachers are a target of Gov. Bruce Rauner again this year as he seeks to balance the state budget on the backs of working people and retirees.

Here’s what you need to know.

The governor outlined a framework for what he described as a “balanced” budget during a speech to the General Assembly on Valentine’s Day.

Unfortunately for the people of Illinois, his plan relies on lots of imagined savings from measures that would require favorable court decisions, agreements with unions, the sale of real estate and other iffy acts that could take years – should they happen at all.

Among the savings Gov. Rauner banks on in his proposal: $129 million by gutting health insurance for retired teachers and community college employees. He wants to double the out-of-pocket cost for retirees to go to the doctor, see specialists, undergo necessary surgeries and purchase medication.

Specifically, his plan eliminates the state’s $125 million subsidy for the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) and the $4.4 million subsidy for the College Insurance Program (CIP).

I see two significant problems with the governor’s proposal. First, it likely would be found unconstitutional. Second, it targets retired teachers whose modest pensions barely offer them enough to pay the utility bills and fill the refrigerator each month – people like elderly kindergarten teachers who haven’t set foot in a classroom in decades and have no Social Security to fall back on.

Here's an article from the Springfield State Journal-Register that contains more details about the governor's planned cuts and how they would affect retired teachers.

Gov. Rauner has proposed a heartless plan to weaken retirement security for aging teachers who worked hard during their careers to educate children. Democratic and Republican lawmakers are jointly opposed to the idea, and I believe we can come together to find other ways to save $129 million.

I will continue to keep you informed about developments regarding any cuts to the TRIP and CIP programs, but should you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office at 217-782-0228.

02212018 Poteat ManarSPRINGFIELD – Truman Poteat, a sophomore at North Mac High School, joined Senator Andy Manar at the Capitol in Springfield as his page for the day.

Poteat, 16, is the son of Brian and Alicia Poteat of Auburn. He visited the Capitol Wednesday, Feb. 21, where he toured the building and accompanied Manar on the Senate floor while lawmakers were in session.

Truman Poteat is an excellent student, earning a 4.3 grade point average on a weighted 4.0 scale the first semester of this schoolyear. He also is a member of the North Mac scholastic bowl team, enjoys playing video games and is a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

DIPG claimed life of 11-year-old Bunker Hill girl in 2015

Grace Skief 350BUNKER HILL – Grace Skief was 11 years old in April 2015 when she was diagnosed with an aggressive, incurable brain cancer that left her unable to speak, swallow or move.

A fiercely determined and kindhearted girl, Grace was a joy to her family and friends – full of life, laughing and telling jokes, playing with her older brothers, baking for loved ones, cheering at soccer games and offering gifts of comfort to others in their times of need.

With no medical treatment available and statistics showing a survival rate of less than 1 percent, Grace’s family did its best to make her comfortable. She died three months later on July 31.

“We were devastated. We were told there was no treatment that could save her life. We could either choose to do something that might extend her life but make her miserable, or take her home and let her die. That’s an unthinkable choice for parents to have to make,” said Kim Skief, Grace’s mother, who lives in Bunker Hill.

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is working with Kim Skief to raise awareness of the cancer that claimed Grace’s life. He is sponsoring a measure that would designate May 17 of each year in Illinois as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day.

DIPG is a highly aggressive cancer that affects an estimated 300 children each year in the United States.

“My children today are around the age Grace was when she was diagnosed, and her story is a reminder that medical care and cures, sadly, are not guaranteed to us,” Manar said. “That’s why awareness is so important. I want the Skiefs and other families that are going through an experience with a rare cancer like DIPG to know they are not alone, they have not been forgotten and they have a voice.”

Read more: Manar seeks to raise awareness of aggressive childhood brain cancer

 

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