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“A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.” - 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 passed 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.

“This legislation allows schools to take steps to use existing funds to help these students add some stability to their lives,” Bennett said. “A student whose family is going through tough circumstances should be able to stay in their school, which will provide stability.”

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 39-15.

Category: Press Releases

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“This balanced budget funds the most critical services our residents need and provides the stability and certainty needed to move our state forward.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Courage Connection, the Champaign-based domestic violence shelter devastated by the state’s budget impasse, would be funded under the budget plan passed by the Illinois Senate this week.

Originally opened in 1971, the shelter is considered to be the first domestic violence shelter in the nation. Since then, the shelter has helped tens of thousands of people find a safe place to stay for the night.

Courage Connection includes four facilities that provide a safe haven for victims of domestic violence, allowing them to focus on rebuilding their life.

During the budget impasse, the state stopped making payments to the shelter, forcing dangerous cuts, putting thousands at risk.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) made funding for domestic violence shelters like Courage Connection a top priority.

“The unintended consequences and instability caused by the budget impasse has gone on for far too long,” Bennett said. “This balanced budget funds the most critical services our residents need and provides the stability and certainty needed to move our state forward.”

The Senate’s budget passed after months of negotiations. The legislation is now in the House of Representatives.

Category: Press Releases

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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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