10242017 Manar Retired Teachers of Christian Co 350TAYLORVILLE — Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) joined the Retired Teachers of Christian County for its annual fall meeting Tuesday, Oct. 24.

The group met at the Christian County Extension Center in Taylorville. Manar discussed the state’s new school funding formula and provided an update on the fall veto session and the state budget. He also answered questions about funding for the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program and Gov. Rauner’s efforts to enlist the federal government’s help in weakening unions and pension benefits in Illinois.

Manar is chairman of one the Illinois Senate’s two appropriations committees. He also is a member of the Senate’s education, labor, agriculture and executive appointments committees. He sponsored the landmark school funding reform legislation that was signed into law in August.

Retired Teachers of Christian County is celebrating its 60th year. Its first meeting was Aug. 2, 1957. The organization’s purpose is to work in cooperation with state and national associations of retired teachers to promote the social, professional and economic well-being of retired teachers.

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: Macoupin Promise may help retain college students

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

 

Manar0701SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) responded today to assertions that Illinois’ failure to adopt a right-to-work law factored into a manufacturer’s apparent decision not to site a factory here:

“When you have a governor who spends a significant portion of his time publicly bashing the state he is supposed to lead, it should come as no surprise that manufacturers would look elsewhere for a more stable home for their factories.

“Contrary to what Gov. Rauner and his administration would have people believe, labor unions are not to blame for all of Illinois’ problems. Two years of a devastating budget stalemate under the governor’s watch did nothing to improve the state’s economic outlook or its reputation in the corporate world.

“Turning Illinois into a right-to-work state and lowering wages for our workers does not mean the state suddenly would become an attractive location for manufacturers. Many more factors are considered when companies make these decisions.

“Illinois will become a more attractive site for companies when its state budget is in order; when it can show a record of investing in universities, colleges and public schools; and when its governor stops bad-mouthing the state and its people.”

 

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