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

IVH350SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar and state lawmakers are pressing for an audit of the Rauner administration’s handling of a deadly disease outbreak at the state-run veterans home in Quincy.

The administration has been reluctant to voluntarily produce documents and other information requested by lawmakers that would shed light on the response to a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that killed 13 people at the Illinois Veterans Home since 2015.

The materials could help guide the General Assembly in setting policy and passing laws to protect veterans and employees at the facility and other state buildings where the Legionella bacteria has been detected.

“By refusing to be cooperative with lawmakers, the Rauner administration has left us with no choice but to seek an audit that will produce the kind of information we need,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations II Committee.

“Our job is to protect our constituents and to act in the best interest of the people of Illinois. Until we can properly assess how this crisis developed and how it was handled, we won’t know what we can do to help prevent more deadly outbreaks in the future.”

Manar is chief co-sponsor of Senate Resolution 1186, which was adopted by the Senate Thursday.

Read more: Manar urges formal audit of response to veterans home deaths

Governor vows to balance budget on backs of retired teachers, schools, public-sector employees

02142018ManarSPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), chairman of the Senate Appropriations II committee and sponsor of Illinois’ landmark school funding reform overhaul, issued the following statement reacting to today’s budget address by Gov. Bruce Rauner:

“Gov. Rauner’s budget proposal is another thinly veiled attack on public education, public-sector workers and downstate families. It’s not the first time he’s proposed gutting health care for retired teachers, prison guards, veterans home workers, child welfare specialists and thousands of other public employees in central and southern Illinois.

“The governor relies heavily on shifting costs from the state to local government to make his math appear to add up. Here’s the problem: when you look at the combined effect of his proposals, it would result in a net decrease in state support for Illinois public schools – to the tune of nearly $1 billion less.

“For a man who seized upon school funding reform as his greatest accomplishment as governor, he certainly does not seem inclined to make sure the new formula is given a chance to work.

“If there’s a silver lining, it’s that this is more of a budget proposal than Gov. Rauner has ever given us. Now we can roll up our sleeves and begin negotiations. Lawmakers laid the groundwork for financial stability last year, and the governor chose to sit on the sidelines. This year we must continue to push for stability, and I hope he will join us, not work against us.”


The following letter by Senator Andy Manar was published Sunday, Feb. 11 in The (Springfield) State Journal-Register.

On Wednesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner will present to the General Assembly his plan for dealing with a $9 billion state budget deficit.

This is not a figure I’ve pulled out of thin air. The governor’s budget director, Hans Zigmund, on Feb. 7 confirmed to members of the Senate that there is a $9 billion shortfall in the budget. A significant portion of that is the state’s $8.3 billion in unpaid bills, including $1.1 billion in what he termed “unappropriated liabilities” — money the governor’s administration spent on its own without authorization from lawmakers.

Gov. Rauner has said he intends to finally propose a balanced budget to the General Assembly during his Valentine’s Day budget address — one that includes rolling back the bipartisan tax increase that was passed last summer to get the state out of the crisis it had been operating under for two years. He also pledged to fully fund Illinois’ public schools under the new formula that lawmakers of both parties approved.

It doesn’t take a math whiz to see there’s a problem with the governor’s rhetoric. How will he balance the budget, plug a $9 billion deficit and at the same time scale back revenue? Spending cuts will only take him so far.

I look forward to hearing Wednesday how Gov. Rauner plans to do all of this. He has an opportunity to hit the reset button. Illinois desperately needs him to start things off on the right foot this year.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill

Chairman of the Illinois Senate Appropriations II committee


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