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SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett clarifying Illinois’ complex court fee system cleared the Senate State Government Committee Wednesday.

The proposal, Senate Bill 2557, specifies funds collected by county clerks from fees, assessments and fines are to be transferred to the State Treasurer to be deposited into the appropriate fund.

“The purpose of this legislation is to ensure court fines and fees are streamlined so that it’s easier for the clerks to administer,” Senator Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “This bill creates a more coherent system that will increase efficiency.” 

According to the Illinois State Police (ISP), a proponent of the legislation, some County Clerks across the state have been sending funds from court fines and fees directly to ISP instead of the State Treasurer to be deposited into the proper ISP fund. This requires ISP to remit these funds to the State Treasurer to be deposited in the appropriate fund instead of County Clerks sending directly to ISP.

If this measure continues forward, it would also extend the sunset date of the fines and fees reforms made under PA 100-987 to Jan. 1, 2021 to Jan. 1, 2025.

Bennett’s proposal passed the committee 8-0 and heads to the Senate Floor.

Bennett2015cSPRINGFIELD – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s budget address Wednesday, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) expressed his support of the governor’s plans to progress funding for state colleges and universities.

Pritzker’s proposal built on the progress that Illinois has made over the past year. Senator Bennett, who is best known for his efforts to make higher education more accessible, was thrilled to hear the governor prioritize college affordability.

“If we want to continue to grow as a state, we need to continue to make investments in opportunities for our children,” Bennett said. “The governor’s budget proposal focuses on keeping our best and brightest in Illinois.”

The governor’s proposal increases Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, which provides financial assistance to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges. The proposed budget also continues investing in innovative research facilities through Discovery Partners Institute and Illinois Innovation Network.

In addition, the budget offers proactive solutions to our inherited debts by proposing to proactively stabilize College Illinois! – a prepaid tuition program that was established to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students and families.

“I’ve always believed that higher education is the best and smartest investment that a state can make,” Bennett said. “I look forward to working toward a budget that achieves stability and certainty for the University of Illinois, Parkland College and Danville Area Community College.”

Wednesday’s proposed budget is the beginning of the fiscal process, not the end. Bennett looks forward to bipartisan negotiations this session to construct a balanced budget to provide stability and functionality for the state.

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CHAMPAIGN – Champaign-area residents concerned about rising prescription drug prices will have an opportunity to become educated at a town hall on Monday, March 9th, presented by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) and State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).  

This is the first of a series of town halls that will be held across the state to discuss a package of bills to combat high prescription drug prices. 

“We in the General Assembly are aware of the growing difficulty Illinoisans are encountering regarding prescription drug prices,” Senator Bennett said. “Senator Manar and I would like to reach out to all who need our assistance, as this is just one of the many important health care issues that Illinois residents are facing today.”  

After Gov. JB Pritzker signed Manar and Bennett’s historic legislation to cap co-payments for insulin to $100 per month for all patients into law last month, thetwo legislators gained momentum to continue taking serious action to tackle high prescription drug prices and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable.

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SPRINGFIELD – Senate Agriculture Chairman Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) introduced a resolution to add farming to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program Wednesday.

Student loan debt is on the rise, totaling more than $1.5 trillion, creating an additional barrier for young farmers to make a living. This is causing young people to steer away from farming as a profession.

Bennett urges U.S. Congress to expand the PSLF program so that it includes farming as an applicable career for loan forgiveness.

According to the Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, the PSLF program forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after you have made 120 (10 years) qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.

“It is critical that beginning farmers have resources to help them get started in the industry,” Senator Bennett said. “Adding farmers to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program will create a pathway for young people with student debt to succeed in agriculture.”

Senate Resolution 992 awaits consideration in the Illinois Senate. Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Springfield Feb. 18.

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