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Welcome to my website. I hope to make this site a very interactive tool that allows you, as a constituent, to communicate with me, stay updated on legislation and happenings in Springfield and find resources in our district. Using this site, you can join my email list, read my e-mail updates online, see the latest legislative news, view upcoming neighborhood events and contact me.


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Heather Steans
State Senator
7th District


March 26, 2015


SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) secured Senate passage today of legislation that eliminates the $1.6 billion shortfall in the state's budget for the current fiscal year and ends a child care funding emergency that has left tens of thousands of working parents short on options.

"Without taking on additional debt, this bipartisan solution patches the holes in this year's budget and relieves a significant source of stress on low-income working families," Steans said. "Now we can move forward into a productive conversation about the feasibility and human impact of the cuts the governor has requested in next year's budget."

House Bills 317 and 318 move $1.3 billion in surplus money from dozens of special-purpose state funds to fill critical shortfalls in funding for the Child Care Assistance Program, mental health care, developmental disabilities services, courts and prison guards. The $266 million influx will cover all anticipated costs of the child care subsidy program, which helps parents who are working or attending school, and prevent further closures of child care centers due to delays in state payments. The legislation also includes a 2.25 percent cut to most areas of spending, although nearly $100 million will be set aside to cushion the impact of the reductions on the neediest school districts.

"We knew this year's budget wasn't complete, because we didn't have the votes to put in place the policies necessary to address the state's chronic structural deficit," Steans said. "Today's solution isn't ideal, but it staves off crisis and allows us to focus on next year's budget and what we need to do to meet needs in a fiscally sustainable way."

The House approved the two measures on Tuesday; they will now go to the governor's desk.


March 3, 2015

Approp hearing 3-3-15SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) presided over a Senate committee that took the first step today toward solving the crisis caused when a program that assists working parents with the high cost of child care ran out of money earlier this year.

"Reliable, affordable child care is absolutely essential for parents who are doing their best to participate in our economy and improve their families' prospects," Steans said. "Our solution to the shortfall involves no borrowing and no new revenues, and it is imperative that we move forward immediately to resolve this short-term crisis, which has already shut down child care centers and left working parents without options."

The plan, Senate Bill 274, allows the governor to move $579 million in excess money sitting unused in various state funds to fill gaps in essential areas of spending, including the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income parents who are working or attending school afford care for their young children. The $300 million shortfall in CCAP funding threatens to leave 100,000 families without access to affordable child care. The measure will also provide overtime owed to prison guards and services for people with developmental disabilities. Today, the Senate Appropriations I Committee approved the legislation.

"The governor has sought broad budgetary powers, and we have continued engaging in a dialogue with the governor's office while focusing on giving him the authority needed to keep working parents on the job," said Steans, who chairs one of the Senate's two budget committees. "It's been almost a month since parents who rely on this program came to us with their stories, asking us to support them as they build better lives for their families, and we owe them a solution."

SB 274 now advances to a vote of the full Senate.



Today, the new governor gave us our first good look at his intentions for this year's state budget.


The governor's stated priority is balancing the budget and getting our finances back in order, but he has presented a plan that relies on false savings.


Most notably, crediting $2.2 billion in pension savings to Illinois' account this year is dishonest, with a lawsuit that challenges the 2013 law still unresolved. Pension reform is a complex, long-term process, not a quick fix.


State of the State 2015 webMeanwhile, the governor's extreme spending cuts don't eliminate needs; they simply shift costs elsewhere. For example, cutting one-third of the higher education budget will put pressure on colleges and universities to hike tuition and fees that are already difficult for most middle-class families to afford.


Slashing funding for local governments in half will result in higher property taxes and rent payments.


Gov. Rauner's plan for a slight increase to education funding is positive, but elsewhere in the draft budget, he recommends shifting the cost of health insurance for retired teachers to local school districts, offsetting the benefits of increased General State Aid.


And as we know from experience, Medicaid cuts don't keep people from getting sick; they force them to put off seeking care until their health is in jeopardy and they require much more expensive emergency room or inpatient treatments. Gov. Rauner's proposed reductions to the medical assistance budget total $1.5 billion and include slashing Illinois' provider reimbursement rates (already almost the lowest in the nation) and limiting low-income women's access to treatment for breast and cervical cancer. He also intends to once again eliminate optional services, such as routine dental care, that we tried cutting from Medicaid in 2012 but restored last year because the savings we saw weren't worth the additional costs of emergency care and the impact on the health of low-income and medically vulnerable individuals. It is disappointing and frustrating to see this administration starting back down the same failed path.


Please click here (Budget_overview_memo.docx) to read more about the governor's proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which also includes reductions to funding for mass transit, developmental disabilities, mental health, HIV/AIDS, care for wards of the state and more.


In hearings starting next month, my colleagues and I will thoroughly discuss each agency's needs and where savings can be achieved. But the numbers in today's proposal simply don't add up. I look forward to working with the governor's office on a balanced budget that is realistic and fulfills our responsibilities to our most vulnerable residents.


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