After hearing Governor Quinn’s budget proposal, State Senator Dave Koehler said that he thinks the real key to balancing the state budget this year will be bipartisanship.

“Last year, we saw a bipartisan budgeting process in the Illinois House,” Koehler said.  “Democrats and Republicans worked together and made tough choices.  In the Senate, we saw a lot of press conferences, grandstanding, and refusal to compromise.  That can’t happen again this year.  We’re all going to have to work together.”

Koehler believes that the governor’s budget plan can be a starting point for budget negotiations.

“Look, the governor’s plan is always just the starting point for negotiations,” Koehler explained.  “It really is important for us to know his priorities and his ideas, but no governor ever gets exactly what he wants.  Governor Quinn said he’s still waiting to hear back from working groups on Medicaid and pensions, and those are a major part of the state budget.  Still, his budget plan gives us a place to start in important areas like education and human services spending.”

One of the major parts of the governor’s speech was a plan to close 14 major state facilities and dozens of smaller service centers, including a halfway house in Peoria.

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Category: Press Releases

Earlier today, the Illinois State Senate passed a resolution urging Congress to provide more support for local and regional food systems in its forthcoming farm bill.

“My colleagues and I believe that the federal government needs to recognize that helping farmers sell their produce in local markets only strengthens our country,” explained State Senator Dave Koehler, who sponsored the resolution.  “When supermarkets and farmers’ markets sell locally grown fruits and vegetables, it’s a net gain for the local economy and the environment.  When people buy strawberries grown a few miles down the road, most of the money they spend is invested right back into their local community.  When people buy strawberries grown in Spain, their money not only leaves the community, it leaves the country.”

“Illinois has some of the most fertile farm land in the world,” Koehler added.  “Yet, we mostly grow crops to export or feed to livestock.  We have the opportunity to grow so many more fruits and vegetables for the local market.”

The farm bill is a package of federal legislation enacted every five to seven years to set the general direction for America’s farm and food policy.

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Category: Press Releases

Earlier today, the governor signed a new law that will allow police officers who serve on SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) and Tactical Response Teams to possess and use silencers.  These officers are much more likely to fire their weapons than other officers, and they operate in situations where even a few seconds of hearing loss can make the difference between life and death.

“Police officers put their lives on the line to protect us every day, and the members of SWAT teams take some of the biggest risks of all,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria), the law’s chief Senate sponsor.  “Letting them use silencers will protect them, and make it easier for them to protect us.”

Whenever police officers fire their weapons, they experience a few seconds of hearing loss.  SWAT teams operate in tense, dangerous situations like rescuing hostages.  They need all their senses intact to be able to make split-second decisions.  Repeated exposure to gunfire without hearing protection can also lead to long-term hearing loss.

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Category: Press Releases

State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) is proud to announce that the governor’s office has released more than $200,000 to help children who attend LaSalle Elementary School in Creve Coeur get to school more safely.  The money, which comes from the Safe Route to School program, will be spent on crosswalk upgrades.

“The Safe Route to School program benefits our communities on several different levels,” Koehler explained.  “Most importantly, it improves the safety of our children.  However, it also encourages them to start walking and biking at a young age, creating lifelong healthy habits, and it helps parents and schools save money on gasoline.”

Illinois Safe Routes to School is a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. The program is designed to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school. The program also facilitates projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of primary and middle schools.

The governor’s office also awarded smaller grants to Parkview Junior High in Creve Coeur and Bartonville Elementary School in Bartonville to fund safety initiatives.

Category: Press Releases

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