001collinsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) issued the following statement on the governor’s budget proposal, which cuts more than $300 million in funding from primary and secondary education.

We must not allow our children to become sacrificial lambs on the altar of pension inaction. As a legislator, I must be their advocate and voice to fight for adequate and equitable school funding.

If Illinois approves these drastic cuts to education in order to pay our ever-increasing pension liability, we will have won a Pyrrhic victory. Without educated citizens and an educated workforce, we cannot move forward as a nation, and our children will not be able to compete in the global economy.

Further cuts to General State Aid – the mechanism the state uses to try to equalize opportunity for children in property-poor districts – will disproportionately punish Illinois’ most vulnerable children, the ones who most desperately need the promise of public education. For these children, education can mean the difference between a life of success and giving back, and a life of poverty and crime. Lives hang in the balance. Our children are waiting for us to act.

CollinsFloorShot1SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) issued the following statement on the Senate’s passage today of legislation she co-sponsored to extend Medicaid benefits to low-income adults not currently eligible for medical assistance:

Last year, low-income seniors and other vulnerable people were asked to bear the brunt of devastating Medicaid cuts. The 2012 Medicaid reform package ended the Illinois Cares Rx program, eliminated all routine adult dental care and undermined previous agreements about nursing home staffing. The law limits the number of prescriptions clients can have filled each month, and the process for obtaining an exemption from the limit is still unclear. Even now, we do not know the full impact the weakening of the health care safety net will have on our state, particularly the very poor and communities of color.

But today I was proud to cast my vote for quality, coordinated medical care with full federal reimbursement for people who previously had no options other than the emergency room. Accepting the federal funds will save the state more than $100 million each year, and we can and should invest the savings back into existing state medical assistance programs. Medicaid expansion will also create much-needed jobs in the health care sector, support hospitals that currently go uncompensated for many of the services they provide and boost the economy. Finally, we’re taking a giant step in the right direction on Medicaid.

Senate Bill 26 passed the Senate by a vote of 40-19 and will next be considered by the House.

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CHICAGO – On Saturday, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) attended a celebration in remembrance of civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, born one hundred years ago this month, and presented a resolution she sponsored declaring February 2013 “Thirteenth Amendment Ratification Month.” John Paul Jones, one of Collins’ constituents and president of the Sustainable Englewood Initiatives, had asked her to find a way to publicly acknowledge Illinois’ status as the first state to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States and formally freed all slaves still in bondage in 1865.

“Illinois’ prompt ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment is something we can all be proud of today, nearly 150 years later,” Collins said. “I sponsored this resolution because it’s important for our children to know about the significance of this moment in history – the beginning of a road that has stretched from Jim Crow to Brown v. Board to Selma to our nation’s first Black president and beyond. This part of our journey started with the legal, constitutional right to be free.”

The Illinois General Assembly ratified the Thirteenth Amendment on February 1, 1865, mere hours after the U.S. House of Representatives approved it. Governor Richard J. Oglesby informed the legislature of the amendment’s passage and urged immediate ratification on the grounds that outlawing slavery was both “humane” and “just.” Senate Resolution 65 also acknowledges this year as the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in areas occupied by the Union Army.

“Moviegoers who saw the film ‘Lincoln’ last year learned about the great political struggle to secure congressional approval of the Thirteenth Amendment,” Collins said. “The other part of the story is its ratification by the states and the fact that Lincoln’s home state of Illinois led the way.”

The Rosa Parks celebration took place at Gifts from God Ministries Church on West 74th Street. Organizers presented awards to three outstanding women in the community, and attendees enjoyed refreshments and an African bazaar.

PHOTO: from left to right, Sen. Collins stands with award recipients Evelyn Johnson, Josephine Robinson and Pamela Dominguez and Pastor St. John Chisum and Co-Pastor Gay Chisom of the Gifts of God Ministries Church, which hosted Saturday’s Rosa Parks celebration.

Measure also funds foreclosure counseling for 18,000 households

SPRINGFIELD, IL – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-16th) thanked housing advocates, financial institutions and the Quinn administration for working together on a new strategy to address the glut of abandoned residential properties clogging the court system. The governor signed Senate Bill 16 today at a ceremony also attended by homeowners able to stay in their homes after receiving foreclosure counseling.

“Restoring stability to the housing market is critical to leading the broader economy out of recession. Our strategy grapples with the continuing foreclosure crisis on two levels: first, by clearing out the court logjam of foreclosures on truly abandoned properties; and second, by empowering communities to rehabilitate unsightly and dangerous vacant houses and lots,” said Collins, the measure’s sponsor. “It will also fund foreclosure counseling, a proven method of keeping people in their homes.”

This legislation creates a fast-track process for foreclosures when the property in question has been abandoned, shortening the total time from more than 500 days to approximately 100 days in such cases. It safeguards the rights of homeowners and legitimate occupants by establishing notification requirements and a strict definition of abandoned property. The law also increases the foreclosure filing fee. The proceeds will go to the Foreclosure Prevention Program Fund for homeowner counseling grants — funding counseling for an additional 18,000 households — and the Abandoned Residential Property Municipality Relief Fund, which will award a projected $28 million in grants to counties and municipalities to maintain, renovate or demolish abandoned properties.

“I am so glad I learned about homeowner counseling when I did,” said Mary Edmonds, a homeowner who obtained help from a foreclosure prevention grant recipient and spoke at the bill signing. “I had been in my home for 20 years when I lost my job and my mother became ill and passed away. With unemployment benefits running out, my only source of income was from a seasonal tax preparation job. By working with Neighborhood Housing Services, I was able to receive a reinstatement and monthly mortgage payment assistance.”

“Neither homeowners nor communities nor lenders benefit from a drawn-out foreclosure crisis that keeps the market sluggish and neighborhoods riddled with abandoned homes,” Collins said. “We know what works – counseling and community empowerment – and we’re emphasizing those tactics in our overall strategy.”

PHOTO: From left to right, Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, Adam Gross with Business & Professional People for the Public Interest, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, State Senator Jacqueline Collins, State Senator John Mulroe along with other activists.

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