wave usa flag 1383225090826DANVILLE- State Senator Scott Bennett passed House Joint Resolution 99 to rename a section of Illinois Route 1 that runs from the south end of Westville to Georgetown the “Sergeant Kenneth R. Nichols, Jr. Memorial Highway.”

“This resolution honors Sergeant Nichols, a proud son of Vermilion County, who gave his life in service to our country,” Bennett said. “This designation serves as a way to honor both the life and sacrifices made by Sergeant Nichols and his family.”

Sergeant Nichols is survived by his wife, Lexi; his four children, Brhyleigh, Kenneth III, Braden and Pailynn; his father, Kenneth R. Nichols; and two sisters, Lisa and Cindy. Sgt. Nichols was a 2000 graduate of Georgetown-Ridge High School.

Sergeant Nichols was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado and was serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

House Joint Resolution 99 was approved by the Senate on Jan. 13 with a 48-0 vote. A highway dedication ceremony will be announced in the coming weeks. The legislation was sponsored in the Illinois House by State Rep. Chad Hays (R-Catlin).

011316CM0891 RSSPRINGFIELD- Without a state budget for need-based state financial aid in place, Illinois’ public universities and community colleges paid roughly $182 million to allow students to continue their education last semester. However, half of the state higher education institutions will no longer be able to cover the costs for the spring semester.

Senate Higher Education Chairman Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) introduced Senate Bill 2226 to help alleviate some of the uncertainty for state universities.

“Governor Rauner has shown he values pre-K education by rolling back his changes in Child Care Assistance Program rules. He has shown he values K-12 education by signing that original appropriation bill,” McGuire said. “Senate Bill 2226 now gives the governor the opportunity to show he values post-secondary education."

Senate Bill 2226 allocates funds to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission for MAP funding to cover claims made during the fall semester.

“Without crucial need-based funding, students will either be forced to drop out of school or consider expensive loans, said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign).

“Without MAP grant funding, some students will be forced to either graduate with mountains of debt or lose out on valuable opportunities. There needs to be a budget in place to guarantee students have the services and support they need to be successful.”

State Senator Bill Cunningham (D-Chicago) believes state universities and community colleges drive economic development across Illinois. Last year, both the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign and Chicago campuses produced an $8.5 billion impact on the state’s economy.

“We need to consider the economic impact this has on institutions and the economy,” Cunningham said. “The longer these schools go without MAP grant funding, the more likely potential layoffs and pay cuts become. Some colleges and universities are economic drivers, and yet the governor decided to let them go without, which only multiplies the damage done to our state.”

The Senate passed MAP grant funding and is awaiting a vote in the House.

CommitteeHearing5.19.15.3SPRINGFIELD- Soon local municipalities across Vermilion and Champaign counties will receive their overdue gas tax money to help prepare for winter storms and patch pot holes.

State Senator Scott Bennett (Champaign) passed Senate Bill 2039, which would free up gas money for local municipalities. State transportation officials haven’t provided exact numbers on how much these communities are owed, but last year, Champaign, for example, received more than $2 million in gas tax money.

“This is local money that needs to be in the hands of local people,” said Bennett. “This compromise is an important step in bridging our current budget stalemate. We need to continue to work together to pass a responsible budget that fulfills our responsibility to the people of Illinois.”

Other Champaign and Vermilion County communities received the following amounts in 2014: Urbana, more than $1 million in funds; and Danville, $817,647.

Additional information about how much local communities are owed in gas tax money is available at www.IllinoisSenateDemocrats.com.

Bennett says while Governor Rauner has said he supports this compromise, the budget impasse began when he vetoed similar proposals back in June.

SB 2039 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support and now moves on to the governor’s desk.

SPRINGFIELD- Illinois students work hard to attend our state’s public universities and community colleges. Many students like Trisha Rodriquez, a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from Belvidere, worked 30 hours a week at Kmart throughout high school saving up to pay for tuition.

As students begin to wrap up finals and head back home for winter break, students like Rodriquez aren’t sure what the future of their college education will look like without need-based state financial aid.

“MAP grant funding is crucial in ensuring more first-generation Illinois students have the same opportunities I have to obtain a higher education,” said Rodriquez. “Lawmakers need to reach a compromise because without a compromise, students like me and my friends don’t know if they have enough money to go back to the schools we love next semester.”

The Senate did pass Senate Bill 2043, funding for the state’s financial student assistance program, the Monetary Award Program (MAP). However, the House has yet to approve the funding. Without crucial funding, students will be forced to take out more expensive loans.  

120715CM0773RT“Students like Trisha are the future leaders of our state. Without MAP grant funding some students will be forced to turn to more expensive loans and end up graduating with mountains of debt,” said Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). “It’s heartbreaking to hear students’ struggles as they work toward meeting their tuition costs. We need to put a budget in place to guarantee students have the services and support they need to be successful.”

In the spirit of compromise, the senate approved legislation today that would free up gas tax money for local municipalities. Stadelman hopes the general assembly and governor will continue to work together to put a responsible budget in place.

“It is time to stop playing political games with the futures of Illinois students. The legislative leaders and governor need to come together to craft a solution to provide security for students like Trisha, who have already taken on thousands of dollars of debt to better themselves through education,” Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) said.


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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