Pleasant Hill Village SignGIRARD – The announced closure of a central Illinois nursing home that offers skilled care for Alzheimer’s patients is the latest example of downstate Illinois bearing the brunt of the Rauner administration’s unrelenting drive to achieve savings at any cost, State Senator Andy Manar said today.

Pleasant Hill Healthcare, which has been operating in Girard since 1905, announced this week that it will close by September. The backlog of Medicaid determinations under the Rauner administration is a factor in the decision to close. The state owes Pleasant Hill more than $2 million in pending and approved Medicaid payments.

“The backlog of Medicaid determinations under the Rauner administration will continue to push rural nursing homes that already face significant financial pressures to extinction. Some of these facilities are barely hanging on as it is because of the state,” Manar said.

“The governor needs to understand the effects of his policy decisions on real families, real people in the rural communities he visits from time to time. With every nursing home closure on his watch, fragile residents will be uprooted, their families will go through emotional upheaval and more downstate workers will be on the unemployment line.”

Private nursing homes in Illinois are fronting the state $300 million for residential care for residents who are caught up in the state’s Medicaid determination backlog. According to the state comptroller’s office, 15,000 people are waiting for Medicaid eligibility determinations from the state. That’s nearly triple what the backlog was in August 2014.

“Nursing homes across the state continue to feel the impacts of the two-year budget impasse and are squeezed by other factors, such as reimbursement rates that don’t cover the true cost of patient care. The Rauner administration’s gross mismanagement of the Medicaid program and inability to process patients’ eligibility in a timely way is pushing these already stressed facilities, which care for our elderly and disabled residents, to the brink of fiscal disaster,” Comptroller Susana Mendoza said.

“The Rauner administration has known about this. I have sounded the alarm continuously, yet governor Rauner has failed to act again. The governor’s agency needs to get these eligibility determinations processed and the vouchers sent to my office, so I can pay these providers the money they are owed. If not, we will see more nursing homes in the same situation as Pleasant Hill Healthcare.”

Pleasant Hill features an independent and assisted living facility with 48 apartments, which will remain open. However, its skilled nursing home with 98 beds and specialized 24-hour care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients will close.
More than 60 employees and 61 residents will be affected by the closure.

Category: Latest News

Plan influenced by input from teachers in 48th Senate District

Manar Teachers meeting JanuarySPRINGFIELD – Rural and downstate school districts will have more tools to help overcome the challenges of a statewide teacher shortage under a new law that is based on input from central Illinois educators.

The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, was signed into law today. It is influenced by suggestions from teachers in and near Macoupin and Montgomery counties who met with Manar in the fall and winter to discuss the problem and possible solutions.

Among other things, the measure slashes red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creates a short-term substitute teaching license and allows downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

“This is a smart plan that gets to the root of the teacher shortage problem in Illinois – too much red tape and unnecessary restrictions that deter good, quality educators from seeking jobs in our classrooms,” Manar said. “I want to thank the teachers who took the time to help me and other lawmakers understand the barriers and who contributed ideas that were incorporated into this law.”

The measure (House Bill 5627) received bipartisan support and no opposition in the Senate or the House. It will do the following:

  • Provide full reciprocity for out-of-state educators.
  • Create a short-term substitute teaching license to allow people with certain qualifications to substitute teach for no more than five consecutive days. The $25 application fee may be reimbursed if the person teaches 10 days on the license.
  • Allows downstate retired teachers to substitute teacher for 120 days a year without jeopardizing their retirement benefits, rather than the current limit of 100 days.
  • Allows educators whose licenses have lapsed from failure to complete professional development to qualify for a substitute teaching license.
  • Requires school districts to create a short-term substitute teacher training program to provide information on curriculum, classroom management techniques, school safety and building and district operations.

Category: Latest News

SCOTUS Building 350SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar said he is disappointed the U.S. Supreme Court moved today to weaken organized labor and collective bargaining rights for American workers.

“As if the middle class doesn’t have enough problems already, the Supreme Court today chose to put wealthy corporate interests ahead of working people in Illinois and across the country,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes a large number of unionized state employees, as well as many trade union members.

“This case was never about freedom of speech. Its aim from the start was to stifle the voices of teachers, first responders and other frontline workers across the country,” Manar said.

“Make no mistake: the corporations and far-right dark-money organizations behind this case that desperately want more control over government to advance their own interests benefit the most from weakening collective bargaining and diminishing the voice of union labor.”

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark Illinois public employee union case Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 overturns unions’ ability to collect fees from non-members to cover the costs of collective bargaining and enforcement of labor contracts. These fees are known as “fair-share” or “agency fee” payments.

Bruce Rauner filed suit over fair-share fees in 2015 shortly after becoming governor. The Supreme Court’s ruling, which overturns a 1977 decision, has implications for collective bargaining units all over the country.

 

Timeline of Janus v. AFSCME

May 23, 1977 — A U.S. Supreme Court decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education legalizes the collection of union fair-share fees from non-members for costs related to negotiating and enforcing labor contracts. Fair-share fees could not be used for lobbying and political expenses by unions.

Feb. 9, 2015 — Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, in office less than a month, issues an executive order suspending the deduction of fair-share fees from state employees’ paychecks and sending the money to unions. He also files a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of fair-share fee collection, contending it violates the First Amendment.

Sept. 13, 2016 — A federal judge in Chicago dismisses Rauner’s lawsuit, saying the governor does not have standing in the case. A state worker, Mark Janus, later is allowed to intervene in the case, saying he objects to fair-share fees being deducted from his paycheck to be sent to a union. Janus’ legal representation is provided by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and the Liberty justice Center.

March 21, 2017 — An appellate court affirms the federal judge’s 2016 decision to dismiss the case. Janus appeals the appellate ruling to the Supreme Court.

Sept. 28, 2017 — The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the Janus case.

Feb. 26, 2018 — Oral arguments are presented to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Gov. Rauner is present for the arguments and speaks to the media afterward.

June 27, 2018 — U.S. Supreme Court hands down its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

Category: Latest News

SmallBiz 350SPRINGFIELD – Last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that e-commerce retailers should pay the same local sales taxes as brick-and-mortar businesses is a victory for downstate Illinois communities that have seen their local economies decimated because of online shopping, State Senator Andy Manar said.

“Out-of-state corporations have been gaming the system for a long time, with alarming consequences for cities like Springfield, Decatur and small towns all over the district I represent. We’ve watched storefront after storefront close and retail workers sent to the unemployment line,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who has met with local small business owners and listened to their concerns about this issue.

“While online shopping is a wonderful convenience for rural consumers and businesses, it can also be a pox for many of the retailers we rely on to support our towns,” he added. “I’m talking about the moms and the pops who struggle to compete with faceless corporate giants that always manage to undercut them online because they get to play by a different set of rules.”

Illinois is poised to benefit right away from today’s Supreme Court ruling. Manar helped advance bipartisan legislation that requires out-of-state e-commerce retailers that do business with Illinois customers to collect a use tax under two conditions: their cumulative gross receipts exceed $100,000 or they have more than 200 separate transactions with customers in Illinois.

The measure creates a level playing field for retailers and will bring more economic stability to communities that have been hard hit by business closures the past few years. Those effects aren’t limited to job losses. Declining local sales tax revenue means less money for road and sewer repairs, sidewalk improvements, fire and police protection, and other local needs.

Lawmakers incorporated the Senate measure into the budget bill that was signed into law June 4 in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision. Now, out-of-state retailers are going to have to get used to the idea that they must pay their fair share, Manar said.

“The times change. Consumer habits change. I get that,” he said. “But if we don’t correct this imbalance, I fear some of our rural communities will be ghost towns in a few years.”

Category: Latest News

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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

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