SPRINGFIELD - Statement by Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton regarding the governor’s budget address:

“I want to focus on the positive, so I’m going to applaud the governor for making education a priority. We all know our current school funding system is broken. Now we need to summon the courage to fix it. The governor can be a vital ally in resolving what’s become the defining crisis of our time. But reform won’t come by simply throwing more money at the existing system. We need a complete overhaul.

However, while I welcome his interest in education fairness, I am troubled by proposals that would appear to return to the days of skipping pension payments and raiding local funds to prop up state spending. That won’t help our state and it won’t help our local communities.
And with all due respect to the governor, his budget speeches don’t help Illinois. At this point the courts are running more of the state than our governor. It’s going to require real plans and real action on his part to resolve the impasse he created. I want to work with him to find practical solutions to our problems because nothing Governor Rauner did in his first year worked for anyone.”

Earlier on Wednesday the Senate President appeared on IL Lawmakers.  You can listen to audio from that appearance here:

CHICAGO - Statement by Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton regarding President Obama’s return to the Illinois Capitol:

“Twice this man has rallied the country to dare us to see a better future and invigorated the American spirit. I have had the honor of a front-row seat to witness my friend’s personal and professional growth from a colleague here in the Illinois Senate to leader on the world stage.

I’ve watched a consistency of character guide him in his challenge to improve the lives of the people he represented first in Chicago, then this state and ultimately across our country. Along the way, he has challenged each and every one of us to be the solution, to rise above rhetoric, refuse to be so easily divided and recognize avenues for agreement even among those who disagree.
As this chapter in his uniquely American story begins to draw to a close, I am left inspired by a message I first heard from a young community organizer seeking a seat in the Illinois Senate: that if we are to have a better country, we must never stop believing in a better country.”

CHICAGO - Senate President John Cullerton issued the following statement regarding the governor directing the Illinois State Board of Education to explore a state takeover of public schools in Chicago:

"I thought we’d already addressed this. The law doesn't allow him to do that. So it’s not going to happen.”

CHICAGO - Senate President John Cullerton issued the following statement regarding the status of SB2043:

“Thousands of students across Illinois rely on the Monetary Award Program to be able to attend college and pursue degrees. This year, the state isn’t honoring its commitment to them. The governor already vetoed funding once and now is threatening to do it again even before we’ve sent the proposal to his desk.

I would urge the governor to rethink his position, reconsider his priorities and not act rashly but rather in the best interests of these students, their futures and the future of Illinois.

We’re going to give him time to do just that. The Senate will send Senate Bill 2043 to the governor on Tuesday, Feb. 16. That gives him two weeks to ponder whether another veto is the best approach.

I hope the governor uses the time to rethink his veto announcement. And I hope those who understand the importance of the state’s student aid program will use the time to help convince the governor to do the right thing.”

MAP background:

What is MAP?
The Monetary Award Program is the state’s leading financial aid program for college students. It provides grants, which do not need to be repaid, to Illinois residents based on their financial need so they can attend approved Illinois colleges and universities.

MAP timeline:
HB 4146 was a standalone proposal providing the governor with spending authority to award MAP grants during the budget year that began July 1. It provided $397 million for MAP, an 8.8 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2015 levels. The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) estimated the increase would serve an additional 15,000 students with MAP grants.

May 28, 2015: Illinois Senate gives final approval to HB 4146.
June 17, 2015: Senate officially sends HB 4146 to the governor’s desk.
June 25, 2015: Gov. Rauner vetoes HB 4146.

July 1, 2015: The state starts the budget year with no funding for MAP even though the governor’s administration continued accepting applications.
August 2015: No funding is in place for the state’s leading financial aid program as students prepare to return to campus. Many schools agree to front students the money during the impasse so they can continue their studies.

Aug. 19, 2015: Illinois Senate approves a new MAP budget -- SB 2043 -- and sends the proposal to the Illinois House. The funding level was consistent with the amount the governor requested in his budget proposal at $373 million.

Jan. 7, 2016: Illinois Student Assistance Commission releases a survey showing nearly half of the colleges and universities responding won’t continue to front the money to students.

Jan. 28, 2016: Illinois House approves MAP budget. Returns proposal to Senate.
Jan. 28, 2016: Illinois Senate accepts changes and gives MAP budget final approval.
Jan. 28, 2016: Gov. Rauner’s spokeswoman says governor will veto it.