Members of Illinois General Assembly revive Historic Preservation Caucus to protect state’s heritage

SPRINGFIELD – More than 60 members of the Illinois General Assembly have joined forces to revive the Historic Preservation Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to protecting the state’s historic sites, buildings and artifacts.

The caucus will promote legislation and budgets that ensure the taxpayers of Illinois get the most from their state’s unique heritage. Leading the caucus, which last met in 2010, are Sen. Pamela Althoff, R-McHenry, Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, Rep. Rich Brauer, R-Springfield, and Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton.

“Our history in Illinois is rich, and our sites and structures should be preserved and appreciated,” Althoff said. “The kind of economic development that stems from our historical sites and structures is valuable. The caucus recognizes and will work to promote that.”

Read more: Lawmakers join forces to preserve history

Manar SJR32rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar’s (D – Bunker Hill) push to reform public education funding in Illinois gained the unopposed, bipartisan backing of the Illinois Senate on Tuesday. On a 53-0 vote, the Senate passed Manar’s plan to initiate the first comprehensive review of public education funding distribution methods since the current formulas were implemented in 1998.

“The way we fund public education in Illinois is currently very complex, but one piece of it is very simple: It isn’t working,” said Manar. “The disparity between school districts that have resources and those that don’t is only getting worse, meaning too many children are being denied an equal opportunity for a quality public education.”  

Backed by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association as well as education reform organizations Stand for Children and Advance Illinois, SJR 32 creates an advisory committee to review the current funding-distribution methods for public education in Illinois and make recommendations for a more fair and adequate funding system by Feb. 1, 2014.

Read more: Manar's push for education funding reform advances

Manar Jennifer WatsonrSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) is calling for the creation of a task force to address the growing problem of heroin use among teenagers in Illinois.

“There has been a recent upward trend in heroin use in the last decade, especially among young, rural teenagers,” Manar said. “This alarming pattern needs to be addressed.”

Macoupin County State’s Attorney Jennifer Watson indicated that she has seen a staggering increase in heroin use over the past two years.

Read more: Manar sponsors measure to address rising heroin use

Manar SB1880 Senate FloorrSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) passed a measure in the Senate Thursday that would award a tax-equivalent grant to the Springfield School District to make up for lost property tax dollars from state government-owned properties.

“Springfield is unique because of the large number of government-owned properties scattered throughout the city,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes much of Springfield School District 186. “This unique situation required a unique solution.”

Government-owned properties such as the Capitol, Supreme Court building and the State Library are exempt from property taxes, which impacts the general state aid formula used to determine how much money Springfield schools receive from the overall education funding pot. So the decreased property taxes means Springfield receives less money from the general state aid formula.

Read more: Manar passes measure to address education funding inequality

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