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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted for progress for the second year in a row Saturday, passing a balanced budget that invests in public education at all levels and supports our most vulnerable Illinoisans.

“I’m grateful for the hard work that’s gone into putting forth a State budget that focuses on the things that will keep Illinois moving forward,” Bennett said. “Under this budget, we are increasing educational opportunities and strengthening social infrastructure for families and communities throughout the state.”

The approved budget appropriates $375 million in additional funding for K-12 education, $25 million more than required by the evidence-based school funding formula. It also includes $50 million in new funding for early childhood education programs.

The plan also invests a five percent funding boost to higher education, including $35 million for the AIM High tuition grant program that provides additional assistance to Illinois students to remain in the state and attend public colleges and universities. MAP grants, upon which many college students also depend to fund their education, will also receive $451 million in funding.

“From pre-school through college, this budget reflects the importance of educating our children and supporting them on their way to bright futures and lasting careers,” Bennett said.

Bennett also voted to continue to rebuild the state’s critical human service network. Full funding for child care assistance program, homeless prevention services, autism program, addiction treatment and prevention services, the senior-based Community Care Program, youth employment services and several other necessary services are included. Additionally, a $12 million grant will also go to communities throughout the state for violence prevention programs.

“Over the past few years, Illinois has balanced its budget by cutting critical funding for social services and it’s had a detrimental impact on how human and health services are delivered in this state,” Bennett said. “With this plan, we are prioritizing the most vulnerable in our state: children, families, and individuals living with developmental disabilities or mental health issues and seniors.”

The budget will fund state government for Fiscal Year 2020, beginning July 1.

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SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) voted today to allow adults over the age of 21 to legally purchase and possess cannabis in Illinois.

“There are thousands of Illinoisans who are already using cannabis recreationally,” Bennett said. “This is an opportunity to bring existing illegal sales into the light where they can be taxed and regulated to ensure that adults are using a safe, reliable product.”

Under House Bill 1438, Illinois residents would be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product. The legal cannabis market will be based on Illinois’ medical cannabis system, one of the most well-regulated in the country. Cannabis products will be tested extensively to ensure their safety, and businesses will be required to label products with test results and product warnings to inform individuals of potency and serving size.  

The legislation also includes provisions affording local control to towns and municipalities to allow local governments to limit the operation of cannabis businesses in their communities or choose to prevent these businesses from operating altogether. They are also permitted to enact ordinances restricting or allowing public consumption.

Additionally, revenue from taxes on recreational sales would be earmarked for law enforcement, public education campaigns, substance abuse treatment and other programs to help communities affected by the war on drugs.

“I am encouraged that this proposal recognizes that every community is different and will allow local governments to tailor the legalization process to better meet the needs of their communities, residents, and businesses,” Bennett said.  

The legislation will now move to the House for concurrence.

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SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) to provide Illinois communities the protection they need from toxic coal ash pollution passed the Illinois House of Representatives this week.

“After years of inaction, Illinois is finally taking steps to protect public health and the environment from toxic coal ash,” Bennett said. “This is a powerful victory for everyone who fought to keep our rivers, streams and lakes clean. An entire coalition across the state came together to protect Illinois communities and waterways from for future generations.”

The measure addresses the closure of waste pits across the state filled with coal ash, a toxic byproduct of burning coal. Senate Bill 9 creates a regulatory framework to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for needed closure and cleanup, guarantees public participation and transparency around cleanups for affected communities and provides Illinois EPA the funds it needs to properly oversee closure and cleanup. 

State Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Champaign) and State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Danville) carried the bill through the House and a large coalition of activists from around Illinois championed the legislation including: Central Illinois Healthy Communities Alliance, Citizens Against Longwall Mining, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, Clean Power Lake County, Earthjustice, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Faith in Place Action Fund, Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois People’s Action, Metro-East Green Alliance, Prairie Rivers Network, Protect the Middle Fork, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, and Springfield Clean. 

Senate Bill 9 now awaits the governor’s signature.

Bennett June Town Halls

CHAMPAIGN – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) will host town hall meetings in Champaign and Danville early next month to recap the spring legislative session in Springfield.

Bennett will update constituents on the budget status, legislation he worked on and answer questions.

“In-person town hall meetings are a fundamental way to get feedback from the constituents I represent,” Bennett said. “I’ve always believed that government works best when there is constant and open communication between legislators and local residents, and I look forward to hearing input on how we can move our state forward.”

Area residents can stop by to receive assistance and share concerns on local and state issues.

Champaign Town Hall:
Wednesday, June 5
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Cityview Banquet & Meeting Center (45 E. University Ave, Champaign)

Danville Town Hall:
Thursday, June 13
5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Danville Area Community College, Vermilion Hall, Room 306 (2000 E. Main, Danville)

Media Contact: Julianne Micoleta (217) 782-3012 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information: Call (217) 355-5252 or visit www.SenatorBennett.com.

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Office Info

Champaign Office:
45 E. University Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
P: (217) 355-5252

Danville Office:
201 N. Vermilion St. Suite 323
Danville, IL 61832
P: (217) 442-5252

Springfield Office:
311C State House
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-2507