001collinsSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on her vote against House Bill 183, legislation allowing Illinois residents to carry concealed, loaded weapons in public:

Today I voted against legislation making Illinois the 50th state to allow concealed carry. I voted against the idea that the right to carry a loaded weapon in public is among Americans’ constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, against the premise that more guns will make us safer and against the pro-gun lobby’s bid to take away the ability of local governments to enact ordinances that protect their residents.

Despite my opposition to putting more guns on streets, I remained optimistic that we could pass a compromise that would at least respect local control. Instead, we were presented with a measure that under the guise of complying with a court order deprives communities of the ability to regulate guns in some ways that have no relationship to the alleged right to carry a firearm in public.

Our parents, teachers and mentors are attending wakes and funerals when they should be celebrating graduations and weddings. Young people who should be selling drinks at lemonade stands are buying and selling guns from the trunks of cars. As an elected representative of violence-plagued communities, I work hard every day to put an end to the bloodshed. The last thing we need is a law that satisfies the demands of a special interest group at the expense of public safety by stripping communities of their means of fighting back against the crime that holds our people hostage.

HB 183 passed the Senate by a vote of 45-12. The House will likely consider it later today.

CollinsFloorShot10SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on the Senate’s passage of a balanced budget that pays long overdue bills and averts education cuts:

Budgets are moral documents that show us where our priorities lie. This year I am proud to vote for a budget that places value on education, violence prevention and human services providers.

In allocating $650 million to pay providers what the state owes them – including $350 million for developmental disabilities providers – this budget reflects the value of the dedicated individuals who care for our most vulnerable residents. In fully funding the Community Care Program and beginning to repair our torn safety net, this budget reflects the values of compassion and justice. And in restoring all of the money the governor’s proposal would have cut from K-12 education, this budget reflects the value we place on our children and their future opportunities.

Together with expanded Medicaid eligibility that will bring $12 billion in federal funding and tens of thousands of jobs to Illinois in the next seven years while providing health care to nearly 350,000 people, this budget puts us back on the right track. I am also pleased to announce $10 million for new competitive after-school program grants. These will help non-profits reach youth in low-performing schools in high-crime areas.

The reduction in the overall human services budget is disappointing. We have far to go to meet the needs of all our residents. This year’s budget is an encouraging start, and I will continue working to build a stronger Illinois that uplifts vulnerable people and struggling communities.

Senate and House Democrats worked together this year on a budget designed to address the state’s liabilities while funding core services.

Resolution establishes task force to study truancy and its prevention

CollinsFloorShot9SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) called on her colleagues yesterday to establish a task force to study the truancy and absenteeism crisis in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The Senate adopted a resolution creating the group and instructing it to hold public hearings and report its findings to the General Assembly by the end of this year.

“Chronically absent children are not learning and preparing; they also may be in unsafe situations,” Collins said. “Truancy can be caused by factors such as poverty, crime, abuse and neglect, substance abuse and poor health, and we cannot ask teachers and principals to solve this problem alone.”

In 2012, a Chicago Tribune investigation found that nearly 1 in 8 CPS students in grades K-8 missed four or more weeks of class during the 2010-11 school year. Nine percent of kindergarteners were classified as chronically truant. More than one-fifth of black elementary school students and 42 percent of students with special needs were absent four or more weeks during the same time period.

“The need to keep our children in the classroom is an urgent one, especially as missed days cause our youngest students to fall farther behind in reading and basic math,” Collins said. “Empty classroom seats also cause CPS to lose state education funding based on attendance; if we could increase the attendance rate in CPS by just one percent, our schools would gain $9 million each year.”

The legislature is already taking steps to help school districts address truancy. A measure Collins co-sponsored will lower the age at which a child must begin attending school from seven to six. This will allow districts to better identify chronically truant younger children and obtain resources to help their families get them to school.

CollinsFloorShot1SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins issued the following statement on House Bill 494, a one-year moratorium on new or expanded virtual charter schools in Illinois. The legislation, which she co-sponsored, passed the Senate today by a vote of 46-7 and now awaits the governor’s signature.

"Given the concerns that parents and taxpayers in a number of communities have expressed, I believe taking a year off to examine the virtual charter school concept is fair and sensible. I am troubled by the State Charter School Commission’s mandate to force local school districts to accept untested charter schools and to override the judgment of elected school boards.

Today’s vote affirms the importance of local control in education and recognizes that charter schools do not always offer our children better opportunities or a higher level of academic excellence. Like traditional public schools, they must submit to sober, objective scrutiny unmoved by blind faith in reform for its own sake.

As we evaluate proposals to expand charter education in our state, enthusiasm must not replace evidence as an indication of student success and wellbeing. I welcome this yearlong opportunity to research virtual charter schools and what they can offer, and I applaud the Senate’s wisdom in deferring to local concerns on this question."

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Chicago Office:
1155 W. 79th St.
Chicago, IL 60620
(773) 224-2830

Springfield Office:
M114 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-1607

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