- Supporting childhood literacy programs
- Firefighter tax credit
- Improving ethics
- More news
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Speaking up in support of childhood literacy
This spring I have been honored to be a member of the Literacy Improves Future Endeavors (LIFE) working group in the House of Representatives. We have been working for several months to develop legislation to help Illinois parents be more involved in their children’s education and to help our schools promote childhood literacy. A few days ago we rolled out our plan at a Capitol press conference.
Many Illinois students fell behind during the pandemic lockdowns, especially younger students who were just learning to read. Our legislation will help close these learning gaps.
Among the bills we have filed are legislation which requires the State Board of Education to develop a comprehensive state literacy plan. That plan must include class size goals, a comprehensive reading teacher content area test, a grant program for districts to hire reading and literacy specialists and bonuses for teachers who receive a reading teacher endorsement on their current license. We have also proposed a resolution to declare this week as Read with Your Child Week in Illinois.
Find out more here.
Support for firefighter tax credit
This week I was proud to join in calling for the inclusion of a $500 volunteer firefighter tax credit into the state budget. Any volunteer firefighter would be eligible for the credit if he or she serves at least nine months during the year and does not receive more than $10,000 compensation for their services.
Throughout Illinois there is a shortage of volunteer firefighters. Meanwhile, the number of emergency calls to fire departments has greatly increased. Around seven out of every eight fire departments in Illinois relies on volunteers. These volunteers provide an invaluable service to our communities and they save state and local governments millions every year.
This tax credit would be another way of thanking them for the service they provide, and a way of recruiting more much-needed volunteers into the fire service.
Lyme disease awareness month
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can cause long lasting and severe symptoms. It is especially prevalent at this time of year when more and more people are spending time outdoors and in wooded areas where the ticks that spread the disease are commonly found. There are treatments for Lyme disease, but the best weapons against it are education and prevention.
To help raise awareness of Lyme disease and to help prevent it, I am sponsoring a resolution to declare the month of May as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Having this month dedicated to awareness and prevention will give us an opportunity to make more people aware of how to avoid the ticks which spread the disease, and what to do if you are bitten.
Improving state government’s ethical climate
Last week we saw a federal jury in Chicago find four politically-connected utility company executives guilty in a bribery scheme tied to the House of Representatives. The executives were found guilty of hiring people connected to former House Speaker Mike Madigan in exchange for Madigan’s help with their legislation. Madigan has also been indicted and will stand trial next year.
Illinois has been through too many of these corruption scandals, and yet nothing ever seems to change. A few years ago the General Assembly passed legislation which it claimed was ethics reform, but it was so weak that the top ethics watchdog in state government resigned in protest. We need to do better. We have to do better.
House Republicans have proposed a long list of ethics reforms which need to be enacted if we are ever going to clean up Springfield. Click here to read the ethics proposals and then take our survey to let us know what you think.