State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) issued the following statement after today’s bipartisan vote on a balanced budget:

“We’ve been working to reach a bipartisan budget agreement for months. Today, we came together to make important investments in our state’s future by passing a deal that funds critical programs that serve all Illinoisans.

“The package we passed includes funds to education, MAP grants, addiction treatment and childcare services. All of these programs are essential to the lives of our citizens and should not be reduced or cut from the budget.

“The lack of affordable childcare is truly tearing at the fabric of my community. Some mothers are forced to make difficult decisions on how to care for their families while still making an honest living. The governor’s budget proposal slashed the Child Care Assistance Program leaving many mothers few or no options at all for childcare.

“I am pleased that the plan we passed today restores funding the Child Care Assistance Program, which also includes a significant rate increase.

“Those afflicted by the opioid epidemic also remained near and dear to my heart this legislative session as I vowed to support and sponsor legislation to curb the problem. This budget plan puts nearly $2 million toward the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, which will save many lives.

“Again, I think we are on the right track as a legislative body and I was so happy to support a measure that will stabilize the lives of individuals and families in this state.”

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Black Caucus Members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference to highlight how the percent of state business going to minority contractors has fallen significantly under Gov. Bruce Rauner.
 
Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood), who also chairs the joint Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, said: “For Rauner to act like he’s been a champion for our community after the last three years is appalling. Bruce Rauner talks about improving opportunities for minority-owned businesses, but the numbers tell a different story. Under Bruce Rauner’s administration, minority contracting requirements have been waived and the percent of state business going to minority businesses has actually plummeted.”

Records show that in January 2015, Gov. Rauner announced an executive order studying barriers in contracting for minority businesses. Then, in November 2015, the Rauner administration secretly waived minority participation requirements for a $94 million state contract.

Three years later, Gov. Rauner discussed another Executive Order to address these same issues. Members of the Senate and House said they felt this was a political move on the governor’s part.

“Rep. Will Davis and I have been working together on these issues for several years,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) “And, I can’t help but to question the governor’s intention on signing yet another Executive Order. In 2016, we established the Fair Practices in Contracting Task Force. Here we are two years later, conveniently when the governor’s running for re-election, he signs another order to address the same disparities—I’m tired of the political games.”

Read more: Black Caucus holds Bruce Rauner accountable for hurting minority contractors

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 After an increase in hospital visits during what was reported as an extremely harsh flu season, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) increased efforts to provide students and parents research and prevention materials regarding influenza.

“There was a very rapid increase in the number of people going to see their doctors or health care providers with flu related symptoms,” said Hunter. “We have to get in front of this issue by providing children and families the information they need to live healthy lives.”

Senate Bill 2654 requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to develop informational materials about influenza and flu vaccines for school districts. Additionally, school boards would be required to provide that information to parents when notifying them of other health related matters.

“Influenza is a dangerous illness that can have serious consequences, but people can take steps to protect themselves,” Hunter said. “We need to make sure no one ends up severely ill because they lacked information on preventative measures they can take.”

According to reports, there have been, a total of 114 pediatric deaths related to the flu; 30 deaths so far this year. Doctors' offices and emergency rooms experienced visits at levels almost as high as during the 2009 swine flu epidemic.

The bill passed 40-12 and will head the Illinois House of Representative for further consideration.

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demilitarized policing  SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) is strongly urging the United States Congress to reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of military equipment provided to local law enforcement agencies. For the last 20 years, the United States government has used the 1996 National Defense Authorization Act to give local law enforcement agencies access to military equipment at no charge.

“Law enforcement agencies need to be held accountable and provide greater transparency around the flow of weapons into these departments,” said Hunter. “There is little transparency in which departments receive such equipment, and there is even less information provided to the public as to why local law enforcement may need such equipment.”

Militarized policing has deepened the divide between communities and police, reducing public trust in law enforcement officers. The federal government and the State of Illinois have failed to adequately provide reasonable long-lasting restrictions and oversight on the use of military grade weapons by police.

In 2015, then-President Barack H. Obama took steps to demilitarize local police by banning tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers and more. In 2017, President Trump rolled back the Obama-era demilitarization policies, thereby allowing law enforcement agencies access to military equipment, typically used for warfare.

“Over the past few years, we have seen this military grade equipment used in our own backyards —¬specifically on or against black and brown people,” Hunter said. “I have listened to the cries from my constituents as they begged for something to be done. We as legislators need to take the proper steps to ensure safety among all citizens no matter one’s geographical location or zip code.”

Hunter’s Resolution is set to be heard in the Senate State Government Committee.

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SPRINGFIELD – In response to the alarming report released by WBEZ, in 2017, which uncovered that Chicago Public Schools had been intentionally scaling back their special education funding and services, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- Chicago) sponsored legislation to reexamine the school systems approach.

“Children with special needs should have the same opportunities regardless of race or socioeconomic background,” Hunter said. “It is our job as public officials and the mission of CPS to provide an opportunity for every student to reach his or her full potential academically.”

Senate Bill 3514 will require CPS principals and school personnel who are regular members of an individualized education program (IEP) team to determine special education staffing needs. The legislation aims to close disparities in education spending based on race and income. WBEZ found that schools with wealthier student populations spent the most per student while schools with mostly low-income students spent the least. Following the report, the State Board of Education appointed members to a Public Inquiry Team to examine CPS’s special education policy.

“Siphoning money away from special education programs and services to other programs is absolutely unfair to students with learning disabilities,” said Hunter. “We need to make sure that we have fully staffed schools designed to cultivate the talents of special needs students.”

Yesterday, the Public Inquiry Team released a second report which contained 43 findings of systemic problems that ultimately delay and deny special services to these students. One of the problems outlined in the report addresses CPS’s need to authorize individualized personnel teams.

Senate Bill 3514 passed the Senate 51-0 and now moves to the House for consideration.

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