Downstate school districts facing severe shortage of substitutes

04252018 ManarSPRINGFIELD – The severe shortage of substitute teachers available in rural and downstate school districts would ease under a measure that was approved by the Illinois Senate Wednesday.

The plan, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), increases to 120 the number of days a retired teacher can return to the classroom as a substitute without affecting his or her retirement status. Currently, the limit is set at 100 days.

“We have an urgent problem in classrooms all over the state. Not only are school districts struggling to hire full-time teachers, they also can’t find substitutes to fill in when teachers are sick or need to be out of the classroom for training,” Manar said. “Retired teachers – people who already know what to do in a classroom – can help ease the burden on schools if we give them the opportunity to do so.”

Senate Bill 3045 was approved by the Senate with no opposition. The bipartisan measure will go to the House for consideration.

The results of a survey released earlier this year showed that numerous Illinois school districts are experiencing substitute teacher shortages. The survey of more than 500 superintendents was conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

Southern Illinois superintendents’ responses indicated the shortage is more severe there than it is in other parts of the state. The association recommended increasing the number of days and hours retired teachers can work as a way to significantly relieve pressure on schools.

Manar said it’s troubling to hear about schools around the state canceling classes when they are unable to find subs.

“Every time a substitute teacher is available to work, that’s one less school social worker or interventionist a principal has to pull away from their duties to fill in,” he said.

Category: Latest News

Measure will help stabilize rural communities as consumer shopping habits evolve

ManarPharmacy2017 350SPRINGFIELD – An effort to protect rural and downstate communities by ensuring distant online retailers are playing by the same rules as local brick-and-mortar retailers advanced out of the Senate Tuesday.

The measure requires out-of-state 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.

State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is a chief cosponsor of the initiative, Senate Bill 2577. It passed the Senate 39-10 with bipartisan support.

He represents central Illinois communities that have been hard hit by job losses and declining sales tax revenue for road and sewer projects as long-standing brick-and-mortar retailers have shuttered because of online competition and changing consumer habits.

“Out-of-state corporations are gaming the system. It’s hurting the small and mid-size retailers our communities rely so deeply upon for goods, services, jobs and revenue,” Manar said. “Online shopping, while good and convenient for rural consumers, has contributed to a tidal wave of brick-and-mortar store closures, job losses and sales tax declines that have local mayors and county boards extremely concerned. I share their worries.”

Federal law requires retailers with a physical storefront to collect the sales tax required by the jurisdiction where the business is located. If the retailer has a physical presence in a state, it must collect applicable state and local sales tax from customers, regardless of where the sales originates.

However, if it does not have a presence in a particular state, it is not required to collect sales taxes.

As consumer shopping habits shift online, local governments are finding their sales tax collections – money often used for local infrastructure improvements – on the decline or stagnant.
Manar stressed that SB2577 is an effort to level the playing field, not a tax hike.

“As the economy and consumer habits change, it’s vital that state government is vigilant and changes with them,” Manar said. “If we don’t try to rectify this imbalance, I don’t want to imagine what some of our rural communities will look like in a few years.”

Category: Latest News

Clinic’s ability to address Decatur opioid crisis uncertain while state funding is withheld

CrossingHealthCareSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar is calling on Gov. Bruce Rauner to release the $3 million in state money he promised to Decatur’s Crossing Healthcare during a splashy news conference in February.

More than two months after the governor’s announcement, the Rauner administration has only approved $750,000 for the clinic.

That’s unacceptable, said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes Crossing Healthcare and much of Decatur.

“Let’s revisit the governor’s track record with money for this clinic. He froze its funding immediately upon taking office in 2015. He blocked negotiations on the Senate’s ‘grand bargain’ budget last year and repeatedly vetoed budgets that would have provided the money the center was owed and desperately needed,” Manar said.

“I have contacted the comptroller, and her office is prepared to release the full $3 million but can’t do that until Rauner submits the paperwork to do so. I would hate to think the governor could be so cruel as to dangle money in front of a clinic just so he could get in front of a TV camera.”

Rauner previously froze a promised $3 million construction grant to the clinic for its Community Health Improvement Center.

Crossing Healthcare is a federally qualified clinic that served more than 19,000 patients in Decatur in 2016. Among its many services is treatment for opioid addiction.

“Gov. Rauner is going around claiming his administration is doing everything in its power to address the opioid problem. It’s baloney,” Manar said. “And, clearly, he’s not keeping his promises to Decatur.”

Category: Latest News

State’s oldest debt is outstanding wages for prison workers, caregivers and others

SPRINGFIELD – An effort to compensate about 24,000 state workers for promised wages going back to 2011 took a step forward Thursday.

A measure to set aside $63.25 million for the back pay was approved by a Senate appropriations committee. The legislation – Senate Bill 2269 sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) – was approved 14-2 with bipartisan support.

“This is Illinois’ oldest unpaid bill, and it’s time get this debt off the books once and for all,” said Manar, who represents a large number of public employees in the Senate. “It’s absurd to ignore a debt that the courts and lawmakers of both parties agree should be paid. Taking care of our frontline employees is the right thing to do.”

The legislation would appropriate money to various state agencies to pay employees the wages they’re owed. The employees include correctional officers, caregivers for veterans and people with developmental disabilities, mental health professionals and others.

Back Wages Owed to State WorkersThe Illinois Department of Central Management Services and AFSCME, the labor union representing the largest number of state employees, worked with Manar to determine how many workers are still owed back wages.

The largest amount, nearly $41 million, is owed to workers with the state department of corrections, followed by the department of human services, which owes more than $17 million to its employees.

“Thanks to Senator Manar’s leadership, thousands of state employees are one step closer to being paid the wages they were promised and earned,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said.

“State government’s oldest unpaid bill is for these wages that since 2011 have been wrongly denied to workers who care for the disabled, keep our prisons safe, protect public health and more. AFSCME won’t rest until every employee is paid what they are owed.”

This is the latest of numerous attempts in the General Assembly to appropriate the back pay to state workers. The measure will advance to the full Senate for approval.

 

Category: Latest News

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Springfield Office:
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