koehler sos 16SPRINGFIELD – The hard work of Peoria-area college students from Spoon River College and Illinois Central College to Bradley University may finally be rewarded as it should be thanks to nearly $400 million in MAP grant being freed by the legislature today.

Passing through the House and Senate this morning, the legislation now only has the final hurdle of the governor’s desk to jump through before students can finally feel the financial relief of these crucial dollars. It is unclear whether the governor will sign the legislation into law.

“Low-income students should be able to pursue higher education without the burden of extreme debts or the fear that they might not be able to afford it,” said state Senator Dave Koehler (D – Peoria), co-sponsor of the legislation.

The $32 million increase in funding over last year’s allocation could stand to benefit an additional 15,000 students across the state, including many in the Peoria area.

Community colleges, without the benefit of a higher influx of tuition dollars, have been hit by the budget impasse particularly hard. Therefore, SB 2043 also provides over $260 million for operational costs at community colleges throughout the state.

Category: Press Releases

Koehler House Bill 3599SPRINGFIELD – Students returning to college in a few weeks will have the authority to empower their university to share mental health information with their parents.

The new law, House Bill 3599, was inspired by the Predmore family of Bartonville, who tragically lost their son Chris to suicide last year. Under previous Illinois law, his college could not talk to his parents about his mental health struggles.

“It is my hope that this new law will help prevent tragedies like this from occurring,” said Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), who sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate. “College is a time when many students show signs of mental illness, and they will now be allowed to choose whether or not possibly crucial mental health information is shared with their parents.”

A number of recent studies indicate that psychological problems are a growing issue on college campuses. For example, a survey found that that 70 percent of college counseling center directors believe that the number of students with severe psychological problems has increased in recent years. Surveys of college students themselves have shown that depression and anxiety have skyrocketed over the past several decades – perhaps as many as a quarter or a third of students meet criteria for anxiety or depression during college.

The new law not only gives newly-enrolled college students the opportunity to authorize the university to share mental health records with their parents, but other trusted adults as well. Universities will only share information when students are found to be a danger to themselves or others.

House Bill 3599 is effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Category: Press Releases

SB 2039 PhotoSPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) voted today to release $3.1 billion in funding that has been held up by the budget impasse.

“Today’s action was positive,” Koehler said. “I’m glad a compromise could be agreed to that authorizes spending for winter road maintenance, 911 emergency services, home heating bill assistance and other essential programs.”

The package includes local shares of motor fuel tax revenues and ensures the lottery can pay all prize winners.

“Authorizing dollars to be passed from the state to local governments so they can provide core services is particularly important,” Koehler said. “Local officials in central Illinois have expressed their concerns to me regarding the uncertainty of what funding they will receive from the state this year. Thankfully, once this is signed into law, they will have clarity.”

The legislation frees up gas tax money for communities in Peoria, Tazewell and Fulton Counties that can be used to patch potholes and prepare for winter storms.

State transportation officials haven’t provided exact numbers on how much communities are owed. Last year, though, across Peoria County local governments received more than $6.9 million in gas tax money. Throughout Tazewell County, local governments received more than $5.7 million last year, and in Fulton County they received more than $2.3 million.

Dollar amounts for key components of Senate Bill 2039 are below.

•$582.5 million to IDOT for local governments share of motor fuel gas tax revenues.

•$77 million for 911-related costs.

•$31 million to IDOT to purchase road salt.

•$1 billion to the Lottery for prizes.

•$43 million to the Community College Board for career and technical education activities.

•$45 million to the Dept of Revenue so local governments can receive their share of video gaming proceeds.

•$2.5 million for breast cancer services and research.

•$28 million for nursing home licensing and inspections.

•$165 million for home heating bill assistance.

•$3.1 million to the Illinois Department of Public Health for the Tobacco Quitline.

The House approved House Amendment 4 to Senate Bill 2039 last week, and the Senate, with Koehler’s support, approved it today. Now it’s up to the governor to sign it into law.

Category: Press Releases

gas taxPEORIA – Every year, central Illinois motorists pay millions of dollars in state gas taxes, but Springfield is keeping the money rather than sending it back to help pay for road salt, snowplow repair, patching potholes and other road projects and maintenance.

“It’s not right,” said State Sen. Dave Koehler, a Peoria Democrat. “This is your money. State government is supposed to simply collect it and send it back.”

The problem, Koehler explained, is that the money can’t be sent to the communities without some kind of official authorization. In May, the Senate approved legislation containing that authorization. Gov. Rauner vetoed it. The system has been at a standstill ever since.

In 2014, Peoria received more than $2.8 million in gas tax money. Across Peoria County, local governments received more than $6.9 million in gas tax money last year. Throughout Tazewell County, local governments received more than $5.7 million last year, and in Fulton County they received more than $2.3 million.

Other area communities received the following amounts in 2014:

•East Peoria    ($579,362)

•Pekin             ($844,063)

•Canton          ($364,026)

•Lewistown     ($59,020)

Additional information about how much local communities are owed in gas tax money is available here.

The Senate twice approved plans that would have provided the authority needed to get gas tax money back to local communities. The first was vetoed by the governor. The second remains pending in the Illinois House.

Category: Press Releases

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Springfield Office:
M113 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
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