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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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“This impasse has created a scenario where dentists are unwilling to see patients using state health insurance without an upfront payment because they know they will get stiffed by the state. This legislation will guarantee dentists get paid without forcing patients to front the cost.” - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Dentists doing business with the state will now be able to get some of the money they are owed under legislation that passed the Senate today. Senate Bill 634 allows the state establish a vendor payment program for dentists that provide services to state employees.

In the two-year budget impasse, dental providers have not received payment for services they provide to the state, and as a result have been hampered by late fees along with accrued interest.

Under the new legislation, qualified buyers will be allowed to purchase the rights to backlogged bills owed to dentists. For the purchase, the dentist will transfer all rights concerning the payment. Dental providers will be able to use the program until a budget funding state employee dental benefits is passed.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), whose district includes thousands of employees of the University of Illinois with state employee health insurance, sponsored the legislation.

“Dentists as a whole are owed hundreds of millions of dollars by the state because of a lack of budget,” Bennett said. “This impasse has created a scenario where dentists are unwilling to see patients using state health insurance without an upfront payment because they know they will get stiffed by the state. This legislation will guarantee dentists get paid without forcing patients to front the cost.”

The measure passed the Senate unopposed and now goes to the House of Representatives.

Category: Press Releases

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“Freeing up these funds for museums that keep the exhibits from the old Chanute Museum will preserve the heritage of the base and keep Chanute alive in our memories for generations.”- State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign)

SPRINGFIELD – Rantoul-area museums displaying exhibits from the closed Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum will have access to funds purposed for the exhibits under a law passed by the Illinois Senate today.

Champaign County was previously home to Chanute Air Force Base until 1993. Originally opened in 1917, the base was one of the Army Air Corps’ original training schools for pilots. The site was chosen due to its close proximity to the Illinois Central Railroad and the University of Illinois.

During World War II the base, then called Chanute Field, was home to the first training classes for the officers of the 99th Pursuit Squadron. The squadron was an all-black unit that would eventually be known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

After the base was closed in 1993, the Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum was opened and housed more than 40 aircraft including military fighters, bombers, rescue, reconnaissance and cargo aircraft. A special license plate helped fund that museum until its closure in 2015.

State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) sponsored legislation freeing up the funds so museums currently housing those aircraft may use them.

“The Chanute Air Force Base was an important part of central Illinois both in terms of the economic impact and as a source of pride,” Bennett said. “Freeing up these funds for museums that keep the exhibits from the old Chanute Museum will preserve the heritage of the base and keep Chanute alive in our memories for generations.”

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives.

 

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