“Step Up, Get Tested” event also unveils new Red Ribbon Cash scratch-off ticket

Red Ribbon Cash and testing dayCHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th), was present at last week’s unveiling of the new Red Ribbon Cash scratch-off lottery ticket, which supports HIV/AIDS services, and observed National HIV Testing Day by reminding Illinoisans that while new diagnoses have increased among at-risk, predominantly minority populations, there is hope for those who know their status and take control of their health.

“While our efforts to prevent the spread of HIV have resulted in dramatic declines in new infections since the epidemic’s peak, rates remain unacceptably high among young, Black, gay and bisexual men,” Collins said. “On National HIV Testing Day and throughout the summer, we are working with our valued community partners to make sure all Chicagoans — especially members of at-risk populations — have access to testing, services and hope.”

Nationally, newly diagnosed cases of HIV among men with male sex partners dropped from 75,000 per year in the mid-1980s to only 18,000 in the early 1990s but have now risen to 30,000 annually. Chicago saw a 76 percent increase in new infections among gay men younger than 30 between 2000 and 2011, and African American men accounted for most of the jump. Chicago will be the site of a new five-year study, conducted by Northwestern University and funded through a National Institutes of Health grant, of the reasons behind this disturbing trend.

“The Quality of Life program and the Red Ribbon Cash ticket have generated a vital stream of revenue for HIV/AIDS prevention, testing and services during a time when state public health funding has been scarce and the struggle against HIV, particularly in communities of color, is often ignored,” Collins said. “I want to personally urge anyone who may be at risk to step up and get tested, and I also urge all our city and state leaders to step up, spread the word and fund the fight.”

Category: Press Releases

Juvenile expungement signingCHICAGO - Sen. Collins attends a bill signing with her mentee, Avery Bolden. On Saturday, Gov. Quinn signed a new law that will automatically expunge most juvenile arrest records (when the arrest did not lead to charges) for youth who have turned 18 and have not been arrested during the past six months. Until now, the procedure for asking a court to order these records expunged was so complicated that of 21,000 minors arrested in Cook County in 2013, only 400 successfully petitioned for expungement. When young people have a second chance to find employment or continue their education, communities thrive and our future looks brighter.

Category: Press Releases

052714CM0870SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) noted that 14.2 percent of Illinoisans lack consistent access to food and called on six groups to combine forces to end hunger and food insecurity in the state. The Senate adopted her resolution urging the governor to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat hunger using the existing resources and expertise of these organizations and commissions.

“Hunger is a multifaceted problem, and ending it will require the combined and focused attention of government, schools, food banks, non-profits, the business community and the faith community at every level,” said Collins, who has championed efforts to bring fresh, nutritious foods into “food deserts.”

Collins’ resolution recognizes the ongoing and potential contributions of the following groups to the fight to connect all Illinois residents to healthy foods:

  • The Illinois Commission to End Hunger, which encourages partnerships between food pantries and farmers’ markets
  • The Greater Chicago Food Depository, which supplies food to 650 food pantries and soup kitchens across Cook County and is pioneering an urban agriculture and employment initiative
  • The Illinois Local Food, Farms and Jobs Council, created by legislation Collins sponsored in 2009, which supports the consumption of locally grown foods throughout the state
  • The Serve Illinois Commission, which encourages volunteer service and engages local food projects in building a strong volunteer infrastructure
  • The Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Enterprise, which works at the intersection of social and economic progress
  • The Illinois Business Development Council, which is developing a state business plan that prioritizes areas of high poverty and low employment

 

“To alleviate hunger and poverty, we must harness the power of existing resources, not create yet another stand-alone task force,” Collins said. “I know that applying dedicated talent and grassroots innovation from around the state to the unacceptable reality of hunger in our communities will bring about change.”

 

 

Category: Press Releases

052814CM0013SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on her support of education funding reform and a ballot referendum on raising the minimum wage:

Public servants have an obligation not only to provide short-term relief and assistance to people in need, but to bring an end to the generational poverty that traps so many of our neighbors in a cycle of hopelessness persisting through good times and bad. Those caught in the cycle are disproportionately men, women and children of color. Yet whatever their race, national origin or zip code, they are crushed by the same appalling yet familiar litany of wrongs: few jobs, unfair pay, underfunded schools, subpar housing, predatory loans, decaying blocks and unsafe streets.

This week, I was proud to support two legislative measures with the potential to attack the root causes of generational poverty. One will let voters in this November’s election tell legislators whether or not they support raising the minimum wage — a policy popular in all regions of the state and among people of all political persuasions. No one who works full-time should live in poverty, unable to provide for his or her family.

The other would radically reform Illinois’ broken and unjust education funding system. Because of the inequitable way state funds for public schools are distributed in Illinois, poor communities tax themselves at high rates yet struggle to provide a barely adequate education for their young people, while wealthier communities pay far lower property tax rates but can afford luxuries. Senate Bill 16 would base state aid on a combination of local resources and student need, acknowledging that more resources are needed to overcome barriers to learning in communities with higher concentrations of poverty.

High-quality education and fair pay are essential to lifting families and communities out of generational poverty. I commend my colleagues for letting voters’ voices be heard on the minimum wage. I urge members of the House to follow the Senate’s lead on school funding and not turn their backs on children who could not choose where they were born but with a world-class education can choose a better future.

Category: Press Releases

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