McGuires speaks about urgency of higher ed funding, July 1, 2017.If the budget impasse continues beyond July 1, the state’s colleges and universities face dire consequences said Senators Pat McGuire, Iris Martinez, Bill Cunningham and Scott Bennett at a press conference in Springfield this week.
 
“Every sector of Illinois higher education is being damaged by the absence of a budget, from our flagship universities to our public community colleges,” said McGuire, D-Joliet, chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “We haven’t had MAP grants throughout the last academic year. Our regional public universities are suffering and have had to cut jobs and programs, and their enrollment has declined because there is no stability in higher education.”
 

 
McGuire said the failure of the state to fund local community colleges also means students and local property taxpayers are picking up the slack. McGuire urged the General Assembly and the governor to adopt a balanced budget for fiscal year 18 and also a supplemental appropriation for the fiscal year now ending that will address these concerns.
 
Southern Illinois University President Randy Dunn also spoke, saying that the federal Higher Learning Commission has clearly announced that Illinois universities and colleges could lose accreditation status if the impasse continues – effectively rendering a degree from the schools worthless.
 
“We’ve seen a rush to the exit for students to look at enrollment in other states, and with that we’ve lost faculty and staff who are losing confidence in the state of Illinois’ willingness to fulfill its role to create a higher education system,” Dunn said.
 
Dunn said federal accreditation includes universities’ ability to qualify for federal funding and aid for students, and that their ability to do so is now at risk due to the impasse.
 
“If our universities lose accreditation, they will shut down,” Martinez said. “What I’m trying to understand is, how serious is our governor and the administration about this crisis? This should have ended May 31. Governor, if you are serious about education, show us that you are.”
 

 
Bennett, whose district includes the University of Illinois, said the impact will also be felt in communities where colleges and universities are located.
 
“I don’t know what happens to those communities if those universities aren’t there. We have the best universities in the country. It took us 150 years to get to that point, and sadly, only a year or two to threaten the entire investment we’ve made. We’re not crying wolf. This is the time to act, or we risk everything we’ve built in 150 years.”
 
Cunningham said another risk of losing accreditation is gaining it back is not easy.
 
“We could pass a budget a couple months later and it really isn’t going to undo that damage,” Cunningham said. “When universities aren’t accredited, there is no reason for a student to enroll there. This is something we have to do now.”
Category: News Releases

Deck of Jefferson St Bridge Joliet IL 2012With a June 30 deadline looming, the Illinois Department of Transportation has stated it will be unable to pay road contractors come July 1 without an approved state budget. State Sen. Pat McGuire said that means it is imperative a budget be passed before the deadline.

“The Joliet area accurately is called the crossroads of the Midwest. Everyone's safety depends on the safe passage of cars and trucks on I-55, I-80, Rt. 6 and other local roads. Badly-needed roadwork must continue without interruption,” McGuire said. “I come from a family that depended on road construction jobs. Long days of hot work put food on the table and enable mom and dad to take the family out for a root beer. A halt in road projects will mean hard times for many area families.”

Included in projects slated for the upcoming fiscal year in the Joliet area are safety improvements such as interchange improvements to U.S. 6, bridge repairs at Hickory Creek south of I-80 and at the Des Plaines River in Joliet, and millions of dollars in maintenance to I-55, among many others. To see a full listing of scheduled road construction projects in the 43rd Senate District, visit the Illinois Department of Transportation’s website here and select “Lists” to search by Senate District.

Category: News Releases

McGuire: Rauner administration gives “No answer” on staffing shortages.

The Illinois Senate with State Sen. Pat McGuire’s strong support yesterday moved to fix dangerous staff shortages in group homes for the developmentally disabled caused by inadequate staffing pay of $9.35 per hour.

Speaking from the Senate floor, McGuire told of Joliet human services providers Cornerstone, Trinity Services and Easterseals losing “experienced, compassionate, skilled caregivers to local distribution centers which pay a starting wage of $15 per hour.” Senate Bill 955 would increase the state-supported starting pay of caregivers to $15 per hour.

Governor Bruce Rauner eight months ago vetoed a measure similar to the one passed today. McGuire told of repeated attempts since then to learn the Rauner administration’s plan to address “this truly life-and-death situation.” Noting “No answer” from top Rauner aides, McGuire declared: “Inaction increases risk.”

Senate Bill 955, of which McGuire is the chief co-sponsor, passed. The legislation passed the Senate 36-20 and now moves to the House. Should it pass there, the measure will await Gov. Rauner’s signature.

Category: News Releases

2017.05.03 McGuire Approp committee DCFSIn the wake of the tragic death of a 16-month-old girl 33 hours after a state inspection found no reason to remove her from her home, State Senator Pat McGuire, D-Joliet, asked the director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services what is being done to investigate the death.

Semaj Crosby was found dead April 25 under a couch in a home in unincorporated Joliet Township. She had been reported missing just hours after the state inspector’s visit, triggering a search by scores of first responders and volunteers.

In responding to McGuire's questions, DCFS Director George Sheldon said the department will work quickly to investigate the case and release a quality assurance report detailing where and how the department might have erred. He also pledged transparency to the public in the matter.

“Today’s hearing begins the process of getting answers to our community’s questions,” McGuire said. “Investigation. Cooperation. Prevention. Protection. We must keep every child safe.”

Category: News Releases