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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) once again demonstrated his support for education by voting for a preservation budget Saturday, which fully funded education at all levels.

“The state’s budget has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, and we’re facing incredibly difficult financial times,” Bennett said. “Planning for an economic recovery will depend greatly upon education and workforce development. That’s why I voted for a budget that will improve the quality of life for the people across the state.”

This budget preserves P-12 education funding, ensuring that this pandemic does not strip students of the opportunity to succeed in the future. The plan provides $12.6 billion to P-12 education and $7.2 billion specifically for the state’s evidence-based funding model.

The plan also represents level funding for higher education and MAP grants, which many college students depend on to fund their education, as well as $35 million for the AIM HIGH Pilot Program, which provides additional assistance to Illinois students to remain in the state and attend public colleges and universities.

Bennett emphasized that the funding for state colleges and universities was held flat, helping protect them from destructive budget cuts.

“I’m grateful for the hard work that was put forth to negotiate a budget that prioritizes education even in these difficult economic times,” Bennett said. “That said, this budget gives certainty to the University of Illinois, Parkland College and Danville Area Community College.”

The budget will fund state government for Fiscal Year 2021, beginning July 1, if approved by the governor.

unnamedCHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is confident in the state’s cautious approach to reopen child care centers when the Central Region enters phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan, likely next week.

“As businesses begin reopening and Illinoisans prepare to return to work, child care is a top priority for many families,” Bennett said. “The availability of child care that enables them to go to work is crucial. New guidelines have been put in place for child care centers to plan and prepare for a safe reopening.”

The Stay at Home Order issued on March 20 and amended on April 20 closed all child care programs, later establishing an emergency childcare structure to provide care for essential workers.

Under phase 3 and 4 of the governor’s reopening plan, all child care facilities will be able to open, as long as they create their own reopening plan that keeps both children and staff safe and healthy, and adhere to the guidelines set by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

That plan must include what to do if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, daily symptom checks and a face covering requirement, among other things.

Under the governor’s plan, no more than 10 children will be allowed in a classroom at a time for four weeks. After that, if the center has met proper health, social distancing and sanitation requirements, it will be able to expand to larger group sizes.

Additionally, child care programs that have been open since the start of the Stay at Home Order will be allowed expand capacity as their region enters phase three.

“Reopening child care centers will not only relieve parents when they return to work, but it will also give children access to educational resources in a safe learning environment,” Bennett said.

All regions of the state are on track to move to the next phase as early as May 29.

IMG 9631 1SPRINGFIELD – Students and educators have faced tremendous barriers with COVID-19, which has impacted every classroom in Illinois. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) recognized the challenges they face and favorably voted for an education package to make a high quality education available for students at all levels, whether it be in-person or remotely.

“It is imperative we continue to invest in our education system, especially in these unfortunate times,” said Bennett, a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “I have always prioritized education during my time in the General Assembly, and I believe people will need higher education and job training more than ever after this pandemic.”

In terms of higher education, the package – Senate Bill 1569 – allows for any grade of “pass,” “credit,” or “satisfactory” during the public health emergency to be transferable and to fulfill prerequisite requirements for more advanced courses.

The package also assists students participating in the AIM HIGH program, a tuition grant program that provides additional financial aid to incentivize Illinois students to remain in the state and attend public colleges and universities. Under the measure, the income of a student when entering the program will be the income of the student for the life of the program.

“This package is sensible and shows our continued support for our students and educators during this health crisis,” Bennett said. “A lot of students that began the semester under normal circumstances faced grave changes. We have to ensure they are well-equipped for continued success.”

Senate Bill 1569 passed the Senate 42-13 and goes to the governor for final approval.

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CHAMPAIGN – As the state is on track to move to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan May 29, all state parks will be able to reopen, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) announced Thursday.

At a May 20 press briefing, the governor reported all state parks that have not already reopened will be allowed to do so when the state moves to the next phase, and all concession stands at those parks will be permitted to reopen, with safety measures in place.

“This decision is the latest sign that Illinois is progressing forward,” Bennett said. “I understand that this has been a challenging time for residents that enjoy our state parks on a regular basis. As warmer weather approaches, I’m happy more people will be able to have opportunities for recreation and exercise.”

Bennett is also stressing the importance for visitors to follow the safety and social distancing guidelines recommended by public health experts.

Health and safety guidelines from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources include:

  • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others;
  • Stay home if you are sick or feeling any symptoms, such as fever, coughing, troubled breathing, and/or other flu-like symptoms;
  • Visit alone or with members of your household;
  • Stay local; visit parks that are closest to where you live;
  • If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, please move to another area or return another time/day to visit; and
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm/elbow.

“For our physical and mental health, it is crucial that our communities have access to parks and outdoor spaces,” Bennett said. “We’re making strides in the right direction and I will continue to keep up that momentum as we approach Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan.”

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