SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate today passed a series of bills establishing a budget for the 2020 fiscal year. State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) voted in favor of these bills, passing a balanced budget during his first session in Springfield.

“This budget is another step on a path to stability, and will provide much-needed services to the people who rely on them the most,” Peters said. “The state budget should be a tool to help those in need, and I’m proud to have been a part of ensuring that this year’s is.”

The 2020 Fiscal Year budget provides funding increases to many services across the state, including the Department of Children and Family Services. It also increases funding for various educational programs, a detail Peters noted as being very important to him.

“I’m particularly pleased to see how much more we’re investing in education,” Peters said. “The strength of a society can be measured by how well it looks out for future generations, and I think this makes us look pretty strong. We’re fulfilling our promise to invest in education.”

The budget allocates $375 million for the evidence-based model of educational funding, surpassing the original estimate by $25 million. This includes $50 million in additional property tax revenue. In a separate provision, early childhood education will also receive an additional $50 million.

“From preschool to college, this budget gives working and middle class families a way to pay for the education their children need,” Peters said. “Schools in black and brown communities have been struggling for decades, and I’m thrilled that this budget addresses some of that concern.”

Peters also called attention to the funding the budget provides for DCFS and DHS programs and employees.

“We’ll be investing $100 million to DCFS to allow that department to not only hire and train over 300 new employees, but also to provide wage increases to the folks who do these jobs,” Peters said. “They do some of the hardest and most necessary jobs in the state, and I’m happy that this budget provides them with a way to make it easier for them to pay their bills.”

The budget also allocates some funds for violence prevention methods.

“It takes more than just an increased police presence to help prevent violence. It also requires financial investment to treat the cause of the violence at its source,” Peters said. “I’m glad this budget recognizes this and provides effective means of keeping our communities safe.”

The budget must be approved by the House of Representatives before being sent to the governor. With the governor’s signature, the budget approved by the Senate today would take effect July 1.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Senate today approved the Reproductive Health Act, which establishes the fundamental right for individuals in Illinois to make their own decisions regarding reproductive health care.

Following the historic vote, State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) issued the following statement:

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive health rights from several states across the country. These attacks are targeted and regressive, meant to secure patriarchal power against women, queer folks, and people of color.

“These states are sending a clear message that the health of women, trans men, non-binary people, or anyone whose health relies on the safeguarding of reproductive rights, does not matter to them. I’m proud to have stood with my colleagues in the Senate today to declare that Illinois does not share that belief.

“Reproductive rights are human rights, and so long as I have the power to do so, I will defend reproductive health rights, so that people in this state aren’t forced to return to the days of coat hangers in a dark alley. Safe, legal abortions are a fundamental right and I will always protect a person’s ability to make that decision themselves.

“Anti-women, anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-choice rhetoric is becoming alarmingly more and more mainstream over recent months. We need to stand up and reject that rhetoric. I did so in the past by signing on as a cosponsor to the Reproductive Health Act and advocating for its passage, I did so today by voting for bill, and I will continue to do so going forward by defending reproductive rights whenever they come under attack for as long as I am able.”

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Adults 21 years of age or older will be able to possess and consume recreational cannabis under a bill passed by the Illinois Senate and House of Representatives. State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), who voted in support of the bill, issued the following statement:

“This bill is long overdue. It is a historic vote that addresses many of the policy failures of the past, and I’m happy to have helped pass it through the Senate. I’m also glad the bill includes provisions to ensure equal opportunities for people of color in terms of licensing within the cannabis market.

“I want to commend the sponsors, Senator Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for the years of hard work finally resulting in the passage of this legislation. I want to thank Senator Toi Hutchinson, Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Dep. Gov. Christian Mitchell, and the many organizers who have spent years if not decades fighting to bring about this change.

“Communities of color have always been disproportionately affected by the so called ‘war on drugs’. I’m glad this bill included the means to expunge records, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. This is a good victory in a much larger battle to reduce the population of incarcerated black and brown folks in this state. We will continue to organize in the future around this and other equitable fights.

Category: Press Releases

SPRINGFIELD – Formerly incarcerated people will no longer be liable to reimburse the Department of Corrections for the cost of their incarceration under a new bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago).

“‘Pay to stay’ is morally wrong,” Peters said. “These folks are already being punished for their crimes by being locked up. It’s unconscionable that we would place them into indentured servitude upon their release.”

House Bill 900 restricts the Department of Corrections from suing formerly incarcerated people for costs associated with their incarceration. This restriction already exists in certain jurisdictions in the state; the bill extends the restriction statewide.

Peters also noted the structural disadvantages that the “pay to stay” system reinforces.

“‘Pay to stay’ disproportionately affects people of color, who are already at a disadvantage from the moment of their birth because of the systemic biases that exist in our society,” Peters said. “‘Pay to stay’ is regressive and harmful and it has no place in our modern world.”

The bill passed the Senate and the House of Representatives, and will be sent to the governor’s desk for approval.

Category: Press Releases

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