koehler committee april2016SPRINGFIELD – This week, Governor Rauner released an education funding proposal that, according to critics, does not go far enough in helping Illinois students across the state. Even though the governor’s plan fully funds education at the current foundation level, it still leaves 35 percent of districts as financial “losers” for the upcoming fiscal year. In response, state Senator Dave Koehler (D – Peoria) released the following statement.

“The governor’s education funding proposal fully funds the current foundational level, and it also fully embraces an unfair education system that abandons the very students that need the most financial help.

“Wealthier, growing schools stand to gain money from the governor’s proposal, while poorer, shrinking schools throughout the Peoria area would see stark decreases in funding in the hundreds of thousands of dollars when they can ill afford it.

“Providing a little more funding for some schools, while completely disregarding the disparity in property tax revenue for the poorest districts, is a travesty and must be reformed immediately. This is why Sen. Manar’s need-based education reform plan that would dole out more state money to the districts with lower-income families is so crucial. The well-being of every student, every school and every district must be taken into account, or as a state, we all suffer.”

Sen. Manar has been working on education reform and has yet to receive any numbers on the effect of his reform after repeated inquires to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Category: News

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

floor speakingSPRINGFIELD – Having already shutdown the state budget process, Gov. Bruce Rauner is now walking away from labor talks with the state’s largest employee union.

On Friday, his office said there is an impasse in negotiations, even though labor groups claim they are willing to keep working toward a compromise.

“The Governor's asking for an impasse to be declared by the labor board is disappointing. If this is a step to force a last and best offer on state workers, it will add even more chaos to state government,” said State Senate Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “This is why I supported SB1229 – to engage both sides into interest arbitration as a way to settle the labor contract with AFSCME. Interest arbitration has been used successfully with police and firefighters in Illinois for many years, and would offer a reasonable way to end this dispute.”

Though the Rauner administration has contended it has reached settlements with all other unions representing state employees, in fact, no settlements have been reached with the six other unions representing more than 25,000 state employees, including state troopers and thousands of child and home health care providers.

“What we don't need is to force state workers out on strike. The situation with not having a budget is bad enough. Let's not make things worse,” said Koehler. “Compromise is hard work. I urge all involved to look for ways either through arbitration or mediation, to resolve the differences between the administration and the union.”

According to AFSCME, this past week, the union presented three separate proposals to the State, in which wages and health care were modified to better align with the administration’s framework, and an IDOC proposal was altered to create a joint labor-management committee to improve rehabilitative opportunities for inmates.

Category: Latest

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

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Contact Info

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

Peoria Office:
400 NE Jefferson, Suite 200
Peoria, IL 61603
(309) 677-0120