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“The best way for the state to guarantee at-risk youth have a future chance at success is to invest in programs like the ChalleNGe Academy that give them the necessary skills to do so.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – The budget passed by the Illinois Senate includes funding for a popular program put on by the Illinois National Guard, according to one Illinois Senator.

The Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy, which is officially funded through the Illinois Department of Military Affairs, is a youth intervention program based out of Rantoul. The academy seeks to help high school dropouts gain job and life skills that will lead to a brighter future.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) represents Rantoul and voted for the budget in large part to keep programs like the ChalleNGe Academy open.

“Some of the kids who go the Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy just need a second chance,” Bennett said. “The best way for the state to guarantee at-risk youth have a future chance at success is to invest in programs like the ChalleNGe Academy that give them the necessary skills to do so.”

The Lincoln ChalleNGe Academy was started as a pilot program after the passage of the 1993 National Defense Reauthorization Act. Currently, 29 states have ChalleNGe Academies.

The Rantoul-based facility will also receive funding to prevent another shutdown of their facility upgrade, saving taxpayers the expensive costs of restarting the project. The academy employs a considerable amount of people in Rantoul.

Category: Press Releases

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“I urge the governor to sign this beacon of hope for survivors as soon as it arrives at his desk.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Survivors of sexual abuse will no longer have to worry about deadlines to bring their attacker to justice under new legislation that waits for the governor’s signature.

Senate Bill 189, an initiative of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, would eliminate the statute of limitations for certain sex crimes committed against minors. According to many victim advocates, many victims do not come to terms with their assault until after the statute of limitations runs out.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), the legislation’s sponsor, drew on his past experience has an assistant state’s attorney in Champaign County when advocating for the new law.

“Survivors of these heinous crimes should be able to come forward when they are ready to seek justice without arbitrary deadlines preventing them,” Bennett said. “I urge the governor to sign this beacon of hope for survivors as soon as it arrives at his desk.”

Scott Cross, brother of former House Minority Leader Tom Cross, worked with Senator Bennett and Attorney General Madigan to pass the legislation. Cross was one of the many victims of disgraced U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

The legislation passed both chambers without opposition.

Category: Press Releases

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“A student should be focused on learning and growing as their reach toward a better future." - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – School districts will now be allowed to help students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless under a plan currently in the Illinois Senate.

Under House Bill 261, schools will have the option to use their own transportation funds to provide housing assistance to students in need if they determine it will be more cost-efficient.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is the legislation’s sponsor in the Senate.

“A student should be focused on learning and growing as their reach toward a better future,” Bennett said. “If providing those students in need with stability in housing helps them realize their dreams and is a better alternative for the school, then we should allow schools to adopt necessary measures to do so.”

The Regional Office of Education serving northern Cook County says they spent nearly $1 million in northern Cook County alone on transporting homeless students. Those same funds, they contend, could house up to 40 families.

Finding ways to help students in need has been an issue of great importance in the Champaign-Urbana area. Urbana Public Schools recently announced they would continue free lunch programs through the summer ensuring students are getting the meals they need.

The measure passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and now goes before the full Senate for a vote.

Category: Press Releases

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“We need a new funding formula that fairly funds our schools to jump start the economy, but that is not what the governor is offering.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Rural schools in downstate Illinois need a new school funding formula, and one state senator says the governor needs to finally deliver for the schools, students and taxpayers.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) represents downstate communities such as Danville and Rantoul that would benefit greatly from new formulas that have already been introduced in the legislature.

“Downstate Illinois school districts, particularly rural districts, have struggled for decades because our current funding formula favors wealthy districts,” Bennett said. “With the current state funding formula rigged against kids in poorer ZIP codes, even an enormous funding increase would mean little to the children, parents and property tax payers in our area. We need to fix the formula and not just throw money into a broken system that is rigged for the wealthy.”

Bennett says that while he appreciates the governor visiting schools and hearing firsthand why a formula change is needed, he considers the rhetoric to be an empty promise given that the state is on the verge of entering a third year with no budget under Rauner.

“Some of these downstate communities never recovered since the manufacturing jobs started leaving in the ’80s,” Bennett said. “We need a new funding formula that fairly funds our schools to jump start the economy, but that is not what the governor is offering.”

The plight of schools is expected to get added attention this week when a massive fair-funding rally is planned at the Capitol. A school funding task force appointed by Rauner last year was supposed to come up with a plan to fix this lingering problem with public education but failed to do so.

Senator Bennett has voted for new school funding formulas in the past that would bring more money to downstate schools in places like Rantoul and Danville. Those measures passed the Senate but failed to move in the House.

Category: Press Releases

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Office Info

Champaign Office:
45 E. University Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
P. 217.355.5252

Danville Office:
101  W. North Street
Danville, IL 61832
P. 217.442.5252

Springfield Office:
218B State House
Springfield, IL 62706
P. 217.782.2507