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"We have a real opportunity to end this historic impasse and move Illinois forward by investing in higher education and growing our economy.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD- Members of the General Assembly heard the governor’s third budget address today. According to the Illinois Constitution, the governor is required to submit a balanced budget to the General Assembly each year.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is hopeful that the governor will help put an end to the current budget impasse.

“In the past, the governor has neglected to send the General Assembly a true balanced budget,” Bennett said. “Now with the grand bargain package forming in the Senate, we have a real opportunity to end this historic impasse and move Illinois forward by investing in higher education and growing our economy.”

Illinois has been consumed by two years of bitter political stalemate that has caused several credit downgrades, staffing cuts at social service providers and chaos at state universities.

Category: Press Releases

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“Allowing voters to consolidate local governments and freeing the University of Illinois from bloated bureaucracy will help revitalize our state and put us on the right path forward.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Senate passed parts of its negotiated grand bargain plan today. The measures that were put up to a vote included local government consolidation and procurement reform. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted for the measures.

“These reforms will streamline government and save money,” Bennett said. “Allowing voters to consolidate local governments and freeing the University of Illinois from bloated bureaucracy will help revitalize our state and put us on the right path forward.”

The negotiations of the bipartisan grand bargain package have been ongoing for months between Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno. The remaining pieces of legislation are still under negotiation.

Category: Press Releases

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“This could be a much-needed infusion of jobs for both the construction and operation of the Danville casino.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate heard testimony today regarding a plan that would expand gaming in Illinois with one casino headed for Danville. The measure, Senate Bill 7, is a part of the Senate’s grand bargain package. State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) represents Danville and sits on the Senate Gaming Committee.

“A casino and the development that comes with it could really give a boost to the Danville community,” Bennett said. “This could be a much-needed infusion of jobs for both the construction and operation of the Danville casino.”

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer of Danville was also at the hearing, giving testimony about how the plan would affect the Danville community.

“This is really about job opportunities for communities like Danville,” Eisenhauer said. “The total amount of construction jobs would be 600 and the total number of permanent jobs would be 800.”

The package of bills being debated as a part of the grand bargain includes funding for MAP grants, funding for higher education and a property tax freeze.

Category: Press Releases

CHAMPAIGN- A survey released by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) illustrates a real picture of the state budget impasse’s impact on college students.

campuswalkingState Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is outraged that some state community colleges and universities are requiring students to pay back their need-based state tuition assistance to continue their education and  receive their transcripts.

“The goal of MAP grants is to alleviate financial need to give students an opportunity to succeed at our state universities and community colleges,” Bennett said. “However, now that the state is not meeting their obligation, we are taking away opportunities from Illinois students and hindering their ability to succeed.”

Students were encouraged to submit a written comment along with their survey results. A student responded, “I had to take a year off because I couldn't afford school anymore. So I’m working three jobs to pay back my school to get my transcripts. I can't afford to go to any university without the MAP grant. I cried myself to sleep because I had to see everyone leave for school.”

Bennett introduced Senate Bill 1841 which would prohibit a public university of community college from denying a student from registering for classes, or refusing to issue a student transcript if the student was awarded a MAP grant.

He didn’t move forward with this initiative since the General Assembly passed a bipartisan stopgap measure last spring to help continue MAP grant funding at the state’s higher education institutions.

“Our students’ opportunities shouldn’t be delayed while the state works toward a bipartisan compromise,” Bennett said. “However, it is now evident that as the budget impasse lingers the necessity for this precaution to prevent harm to students at our state universities and community colleges grows. We need to return to Springfield to stop problems like this.”

Here are some concerning findings from ISAC’s survey:

•    Forty-six percent reported they took out student loans, or more student loans, to cover the lack of MAP funding
•    Twenty-three percent indicated they took fewer credits this term because they couldn’t afford full tuition without MAP funding
•    Seven percent indicated they transferred to a less expensive school in state or out-of- state because they could not afford tuition without MAP funding.

The General Assembly will reconvene in January. Bennett hopes legislative leaders will work together to develop a complete and balanced state budget to end the impasse.

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