It has again come down to a deadline. After two years of harsh fighting over a budget, I share the exhaustion, the worry and the outrage my constituents and their teachers feel as the governor has declared he will veto school funding. As with the budget impasse, this avoidable fight appears to be largely over marginal details.

At issue now is Senate Bill 1 – a long-in-demand reform of school funding that is the result of years of study, bipartisan negotiation and legislative trial-and-error in the General Assembly. I am a proud chief co-sponsor of Senate Bill 1 because it’s the closest we’ve gotten in more than 20 years to sending a bill to the governor’s desk to fix our abysmal funding model here in Illinois. Part of the budget agreement reached earlier this month hinged on such reform becoming law.

Senate Bill 1 ensures no school districts lose any funding, while also smoothing out the unfairness that has existed in the state’s formula for decades. That inequity has led to massive student achievement gaps and gross disparities in funding for school districts. It has led to students mere miles away from one another attending schools with facilities that seem like they are in different countries. How we can look students in the eye and tell them we value education under the status quo is a mystery.

Crain’s has declared Senate Bill 1 a necessary reform for Illinois schools. School superintendents across the state have given it their vocal support. And even Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he supports 90 percent of the plan, and publicly stated in a recent press conference that with only minor tweaks, it would be acceptable. Why he chooses to veto it rather than accept it as a compromise – arrived at after numerous rounds of bipartisan negotiation and with broad public support – is deeply frustrating.

I became chief co-sponsor of this legislation because I believe in fair funding for Chicago and for all Illinois schools. I urge you to learn more about the plan by visiting fundingilfuture.org, the website for the independent coalition of more than 200 superintendents and advocates who support school funding reform. And I also urge you to call Gov. Rauner’s office at 217-782-0244 and tell him to sign Senate Bill 1 when he receives it.

Category: Latest

03142017AM4663Earlier this month, I joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers to end two years of uncertainty, instability and damage to our state that have harmed the most vulnerable citizens. I voted to override the governor's veto and pass a complete, responsible and balanced budget. I want to take this opportunity to talk to you about what that means, now and going forward.

Nobody, anywhere, ever wants their taxes to go up. This was a hard vote, for me and for every member of the General Assembly, including the Republicans who did the responsible thing and crossed party lines to make this a balanced budget. Even with this tax increase, the budget makes $3 billion in cuts, including 10 percent to our state colleges and universities. Such a deeply painful set of measures are only necessary because the fiscal ship of Illinois has been sailing on stormy seas for decades. Governor Rauner has picked the worst time to starve our social safety net, our mental health services, our domestic violence shelters. To support these vulnerable Illinoisans, to save the state from junk bond status and to hold down our rising debt – all things that in the end would mean more burden for taxpayers in the long run – we took action.


A balanced budget is more than just a political talking point. It is a moral statement. It answers the question: What things – and whom – do we consider to be of worth, and what are we willing to do to pay for them? Governor Rauner's budget proposed $37.3 billion in spending, but included no revenue increase. In other words, he proposed a budget but had no true way to pay for it. The bipartisan plan I supported spends a billion less than the governor's plan, and $3 billion less than if we continued with no budget in place, as we have been doing since Governor Rauner took office. And it is fully funded. It's a balanced, honest budget.


The budget passed this month restores a portion of the income tax rate in effect from 2011-2015, and will go from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent for individuals, with a similar increase for corporate taxes. It contains spending cuts of $3 billion in several areas and closes numerous corporate loopholes. The budget will increase funding for K-12 education over FY17 levels by approximately $700 million, relying on a more equitable school funding formula that benefits low-income school districts like CPS.


That is to say, the budget both cuts spending and increases revenues. It does not privilege the rich over the poor, the corporation over the individual, or private sector largesse over real public needs like education.


Even with the increase, our average income tax rate will be less than Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and Ohio. When held against other states, we are realistically neither a “high tax” nor a “low tax” state. And Illinois still does not tax retirement income or services, as the majority of other states do. We remain one of the few states with a flat tax – meaning a billionaire and a janitor both pay the same rate on state income taxes.


Some far-right ideologues repeatedly have stated that cuts alone could balance the budget. Perhaps they could if we were willing to throw the elderly off of Medicaid, the violent out of prisons, the promising but poor high school graduates out of tuition assistance programs. The majority of discretionary state spending goes to health care, social services, education and public safety. And polling conducted by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute showed, definitively, that Illinoisans are not willing to short any of those crucial services. I think they don’t because they care about their fellow countrymen.


There are still hurdles to jump. School funding, under this plan, is contingent on the adoption of an evidence-based funding model like the one passed by the Senate earlier this summer. Governor Rauner has declared he will veto it, as he vetoed every other portion of this balanced budget, including the tax increase he once said he’d be willing to support.


Now, more than ever, I want to know your thoughts, your concerns, your stories. Please reach out to my office and follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed.

Collins 2016

State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins, 16th Illinois Senate District

Category: Latest

preferred3The Chicago Citizen, May 10, 2017 | Original article

SPRINGFIELD – To ensure continued funding for two programs aimed at addressing the aftermath of the recession on the housing market in Illinois, State Sen. Jacqueline Collins successfully argued for the passage of legislation in the Senate recently.

“Historically, we know that the stability of the housing market has been crucial in leading the broader

economy out of recessions,” Collins said. “Abandoned properties, left unsecured and unmaintained, destabilize families, decimate communities, and destroy any hope of future economic development. That is why extending these programs is important.”

The Abandoned Property Program and the Foreclosure Prevention Program are both funded through filing fees levied on lenders.

The Abandoned Property Program provides funds to local governments for the purposes of demolishing or rehabilitating such homes, while the Foreclosure Prevention Program provides counseling and other services to help families at risk of foreclosure to gain firm financial footing and stay in their homes. Both fees are structured to exact the highest costs on the institutions which deal in the most foreclosures.

“Something is amiss in society when we continue to reward, to the tune of millions of dollars, the failure of the financial elite who brought our economy to the brink of disaster,” Collins said. “It’s time for relief for the hardworking taxpayers and homeowners who bailed out these banks.”

Read the original article at the Chicago Citizen.

Category: Latest

03072017CM1130bw3Chicago Sun-Times, March 15, 2017 | Original opinion piece

By Mary Mitchell

We’ve all had bad days.

But what about those periods when it seems like all of the troubles of the world have landed on your doorstep?

Unfortunately, all too often the person walking under this kind of cloud has nowhere to turn. That sense of isolation is even more dangerous when a gun is close at hand.

A bill that would make it easier for family members and police officers to intervene in such a mental health crisis passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

HB 2354 and SB 1291 would create a “Lethal Violence Order of Protection,” similar to an order of protection in domestic violence cases.

“The heart of this is looking at the intersection between mental illness and gun violence,” said Colleen Daley, executive director of the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Coalition.

Under the proposed legislation, a petitioner could file an affidavit alleging that the gun owner poses an “immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another possessing or receiving a firearm.”

The duplicate bills are the initiative of the Coalition and the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence and are opposed by the National Rifle Association.

Among other things, the proposed law would allow an immediate family member of a law enforcement official to petition the court for an order of protection. The court also would be allowed to restrain an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm for one year.

Anyone filing a false petition could face criminal penalties.

A gun owner would have the right to appeal the court’s decision once that year, and then get their guns back, if successful in their petition.

Under current federal law, a person who involuntarily goes into a mental health facility is prohibited from owning a firearm. In Illinois, if someone voluntarily goes into a mental health facility, that person is prohibited from owning a firearm for five years.

“This is an alternative. A person could get treatment and not lose their right [to own a gun] for that long,” Daley said of the proposed legislation.

State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago) is one of the chief sponsors of the Senate bill.

Read more: Sun-Times: Bill aims to address mental health crisis and guns

Category: Latest

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