CoalSPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) has been appointed to two state boards charged with research and policy development affecting the Illinois coal industry.

Manar said he is proud to have a greater voice in promoting Illinois coal because of its potential for job growth in central and southern Illinois.

“While the governor goes out of his way to lure companies and good-paying jobs to Chicagoland, he has largely ignored the people who live south of Interstate 72 and their problems,” Manar said. “We could see a resurgence of Illinois coal jobs with the proper leadership, investment and policy development. I look forward to being part of the conversation.”

Manar was appointed to the Illinois Coal Development Board, which sets and promotes a yearly agenda for research and methodologies to increase the use of Illinois coal resources. The board also advises the Office of Coal Development and the Illinois Clean Coal Institute on coal research and development policy projects.

The 17-member board includes lawmakers of both political parties from both houses of the legislature, as well as the president of the University of Illinois, representatives of the Illinois coal industry and relevant state agencies.

Additionally, Manar was appointed to the state’s Flue Gas Desulfurization Task Force, which was established in September under legislation that Manar sponsored. The panel will weigh the costs and benefits of using modern scrubber technology on coal-fired power plants to burn Illinois coal, as well as the cost of constructing new stacks compared to converting existing stacks at plants.

Most Illinois coal is sold and burned out of state because of its sulfur content, which exceeds state and federal air quality standards.

The task force will report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly and the governor.

Category: Latest News

DECATUR – The Decatur Public Library will make technology and mentors available to at-risk Decatur youth through a state grant that helps children who lack Internet access at home, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) announced today.

Library officials were awarded a $12,200 grant from the Illinois Secretary of State’s Project Next Generation program.

“If we expect children to succeed as adults, we have to narrow the digital divide,” Manar said. “This grant helps to ensure that children who don’t have computers or the Internet at home can enjoy access to these vital tools at the local library.”

Project Next Generation grants, funded by the Illinois State Library, allow public libraries to pair technology with tutoring to help students between 10 and 18 develop skills they may find useful in school and later in the workforce. Grants are awarded based upon community need and allow access to technology and computers that typically would not be available to the participating students.

The goal of the grant is to increase at-risk students’ confidence through project-based learning, reinforce their abilities and learning, enhance their ability to deal with life experiences and the future, and more.

The Decatur Public Library is at 130 N. Franklin St. and online at decaturlibrary.org.

Category: Latest News

The following op-ed by Senator Andy Manar was published in the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat.

MacCEOPicStemming the migration of young people from rural communities is a common challenge facing local leaders across Illinois and the nation. Macoupin County is no exception. The county has seen a 7 percent population loss since 1980, according to U.S. Census figures.

Our communities are confronted by this problem every day, but I’ve recently seen changes that will help us attack it head on: comprehensive school funding reform that will inject fairness into the system for rural school districts; the promising Macoupin CEO program, now in its second year, which immerses local high school students in the business world, connects them with mentors and nurtures their entrepreneurial spirit; and an innovative new program at Blackburn College in Carlinville that could help change population trend lines locally.

Called Macoupin Promise, Blackburn will offer free tuition to Macoupin County high school students who meet certain family income and admissions requirements. Blackburn President John Comerford says it’s a way for the college to give back to the community and to help develop future leaders and employees of the county.

I view it as a clear message to local students in our small towns: they’re wanted, they’re needed, they’re a worthy investment and they don’t have to leave the region or the state to take advantage of the higher education system.

Read more ...

Category: Latest News

SenatorManarSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar praised Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza today for prioritizing long-overdue state payments to school districts, even as the governor’s office continues to present her with millions of dollars in previously undisclosed invoices for payment.

“I commend Comptroller Mendoza for her continued commitment to getting these overdue payments out the door and into the hands of school administrators,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a Senate budget point person.
“It’s outrageous that we expect superintendents to keep our schools running and educate our children with no idea when they can expect to receive vital state payments that account for a significant portion of their annual budgets.”

Mendoza on Monday announced she is releasing $421 million to Illinois school districts for their final categorical payments from Fiscal Year 2017. These payments help school districts cover costs associated with special education, transportation and free and reduced-price lunches. The payments are separate from general state aid, which is calculated through Illinois’ school funding formula.

The comptroller usually makes four categorical payments per year, but the disbursements have been delayed because of the state budget crisis, adding financial pressure to many school districts that already are struggling.

Illinois currently has $16.3 billion in unpaid bills, according to the comptroller’s office.

Manar said school districts will continue to find themselves waiting for promised payments until the governor pays down the bill backlog through refinancing of the state’s debt – a step the governor’s office initiated last week after the General Assembly authorized it to do so months ago – and demands more fiscal accountability of state agencies under his control.

Some of that accountability could come through the Debt Transparency Act, legislation Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed on Aug. 18 that would have required state agencies to report every month on unpaid bills they are holding and the estimated interest due on those bills. Illinois taxpayers paid an estimated $900 million in late payment interest penalties last fiscal year.

Numerous Illinois newspaper editorial boards have encouraged lawmakers to override the governor’s veto of the act (House Bill 3649) during the fall veto session, which begins this week. Manar is the chief Senate sponsor of the measure.

“Any governor should understand the perils of keeping secrets from the accountants,” Manar said. “Withholding information from the comptroller about bills that eventually will require payment is a disservice to the taxpayers of Illinois and to every school district, small business owner and hospital administrator that has to stand in line waiting to be paid.”

Editorials in support of the Debt Transparency Act

Overriding this veto is a no-brainer | The (Springfield) State Journal-Register

Debt Transparency Act override a start | Decatur Herald & Review

Who's opposed to transparent, fiscally responsible government? | Peoria Journal Star

If Illinois hides overdue bills, they don't exist, right? | Belleville News-Democrat

A better way to track and pay Illinois' bills | Chicago Sun-Times

Override Rauner's veto of Debt Transparency Act | Rockford Register Star

Rauner's DTA veto makes less sense by the day | Quad-City Times

Debtor in denial | Joliet Herald-News

Override Rauner's veto of Debt Transparency Act | Freeport Journal Standard

 

Category: Latest News

School Funding Reform

 

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Springfield Office:
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-0228
Fax: (217) 557-3930

Decatur Office:
Macon County Office Building
141 S. Main St., Suite 502
Decatur, IL 62523
Phone: (217) 429-8110
Fax: (217) 429-8018

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Bunker Hill, IL 62014
Phone: (618) 585-4848