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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.

 

I welcome any questions, concerns or suggestions you may have. Please feel free to call my district office at (773) 769-1717 or email your question here. My district office is located at 5533 N. Broadway near Broadway and Bryn Mawr. We are typically open from 9am to 5pm, but please call to make an appointment.

 

Sincerely,
SteansSig

Heather Steans
State Senator
7th District

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.

CTBA news conference Feb 2015 webOn Tuesday, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability released a report showing that ending the temporary income tax increase in January of this year has actually widened the gap between rich and poor in Illinois and is unlikely to lead to economic growth. According to the study, the wealthiest 11 percent of taxpayers enjoy more than half of the total value of this tax relief. A milionaire can expect to pay almost $37,000 less in taxes this year, while a person making minimum wage might pocket $100 more. Because low-income families spend a much higher percentage of their earnings than the rich, who tend to put additional income into savings, and because most economic growth is related to consumer spending, it's unlikely this tax break will stimulate the economy enough to pay for itself. Meanwhile, the working poor suffer when state services designed to give them a hand up and out of poverty are underfunded because of insufficient revenues.

These are the facts we need to face when discussing the impact of our tax policy on the people of Illinois.

I also spoke to WBEZ's Afternoon Shift about the report, our unfair tax structure and the Rauner budget:

 

Kovler Center

The Heartland Alliance Marjorie Kovler Center is a treatment program devoted to the recovery and healing of individuals, families and communities affected by torture. Its comprehensive model of care includes mental health, medical care, case management and interpretation and translation services. The approach is based on the key principles of empowerment, community building and multidisciplinary services. The Kovler Center's staff and network of volunteers provide culturally competent care that enhance the natural resiliency of torture survivors and assists them in rebuilding their lives in Chicago.


Sen. Steans is pictured here with Kovler Center staff members Elizabeth Jones, Martin Hill, Mary Lynn Everson, Marianne Joyce, Katherine Youssouf, Reshad Amini, Flutra Sahatqija and Judith Weinstein.

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago 7th) issued the following statement after chairing a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing this morning on the urgent need to resolve a nearly $300 million funding shortfall in the Child Care Assistance Program:

Losing access to child care is not just a budget crisis; it's an urgent human and economic crisis. Failure to fill the funding gap will force many parents to quit their jobs or put their education on hold, increase reliance on other forms of government assistance and keep at-risk children out of high-quality early learning programs.

There are funds we can move to the Child Care Assistance Program immediately so providers that serve mostly low-income families won't be forced to close their doors due to delayed state payments. I was disappointed that today, top Rauner budget advisers testified they want the General Assembly to give the administration unprecedented emergency budgetary authority before they take action on child care assistance.

I'm participating in the ongoing negotiations in good faith, but I also think the Rauner administration owes the public an explanation of how it intends to keep low-income parents on the job. The possibility of passing narrowly tailored legislation to save CCAP while we have the broader budget conversation is not off the table, and it's one I'll continue to pursue. I certainly hope the Rauner administration does not intend to hold child care assistance hostage in the service of its overall agenda.

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