Illinois Public MediaCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Campaign) is excited to announce that the Illinois Arts Council awarded the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign a grant of $16,200 for broadcast operations at WILL radio and television.

Illinois Public Media will use the grant to serve communities in Central Illinois with quality, commercial-free educational programming.

“I am thrilled that this grant will allow Illinois Public Media to continue to break new grounds and bring news every day to families in Central Illinois,” Bennett said. “WILL has always done an excellent job keeping citizens informed and engaged with the issues that matter in our communities. Their broadcasting consistently provides knowledge for political action, fosters talk that leads to solutions and inspires cultural and local engagement.”

CPDCHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is excited to announce that families in Champaign will soon have a brand new park equipped with soccer fields, a multipurpose field, a multi-purpose path and parking.

Champaign Park District was awarded $137,000 through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ National Park Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“Local parks are an essential part of a happy and healthy city,” Bennett said. “I’m thrilled that this grant will provide more beautiful green spaces and great community programs for my family, friends and neighbors.”

Champaign Park District will be using the grant for the acquisition of Human Kinetics Park, a 5.6 acre park that is privately owned but currently leased to the park district.

The LCWF grant program, administered by the state’s Department of Natural Resources, provides up to 50 percent of the cost of projects to help purchase land to be used for public access and recreation.

The LWCF grant program began in 1965 and, prior to this year, awarded more than $126 million 733 park projects in Illinois.

ScottBCHAMPAIGN – Last week, the United States Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of the tax code that will touch almost every corner of the economy, affecting families, small business owners and teachers in the 52nd district.

“This is the federal government’s biggest tax rewrite in decades. And who will it help? Corporations and the one percent,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). “The biggest benefits of this tax plan are going to flow to the wealthiest at the expense of hardworking Illinois families and that is unacceptable.”

Under the tax plan, Republicans in Congress are slashing the tax rates of those who can afford to pay them. They are also debating to eliminate a $250 tax credit that allows teachers, principals or teachers’ aides to write off classroom supplies that they buy with their own money.

According to Bennett, this is especially concerning because a 2013 study by the National School Supply and Equipment Association found that 99.5 percent of teachers use their own money on school supplies, spending $485 on average in one school year.

“If they remove this tax credit, Washington will be sending a slap in the face to Illinois teachers who work tirelessly every day to educate our children,” Bennett said. “We need to be finding more ways to show our support to teachers, not taking away the small token of appreciation that we have to give them.”

The tax plan now heads to a Congressional conference committee. Bennett is urging members of Congress to vote against this proposal.

Scott BennettSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted today to give Illinoisans more transparent and up-to-date reports of the state’s financial picture.

The Illinois Senate voted to override the governor’s veto of The Debt Transparency Act. House Bill 3649 would require state agencies to report on a monthly basis to the comptroller’s office the total amount of unpaid bills they’re holding and estimate how much interest is owed on those bills.

“This is a commonsense reform that will ensure the government is being transparent with its taxpayers,” Bennett said. “In order for Illinois to become more fiscally sound, we need real-time, accurate information of the state’s financial status, and this bill is a good first step in achieving that.”

In the past two years, the state’s bill backlog has nearly tripled, making it all the more urgent that lawmakers receive timely reporting of the consequences of not having a budget.

Current state law only requires agencies to report on Oct. 1 of each year the aggregate amount of bills being held on the previous June 30. However, this information is outdated by the time it is sent to the comptroller. Presently, agencies already have the personnel and infrastructure in place to compile the data.

“Good government begins with accountability and transparency,” Bennett said. “Taxpayers absolutely deserve to know how their money is being spent. At the same time, we in the legislature need to know the vital information this bill will provide before we’re making critical budget decisions.”

House Bill 3649 will go into effect immediately.

 

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