Legislative News from Senator Don DeWitte

Senate Republicans Push Back Against CTU’s Demand for $1 Billion in Additional Funding

Hundreds of members of the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) took a taxpayer-funded day off from their classrooms on May 15 so they could travel to the Capitol and demand $1 billion more in state funding for Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Hypocrisy was on full display as the union’s members took a day away from the classroom and their students, forcing the district to spend significant taxpayer dollars on substitute teachers, while also paying salaries of the CTU members who traveled to Springfield.

I, along with my Senate colleagues Sue Rezin and Seth Lewis, participated in a press conference as the busloads of CTU teachers arrived. We highlighted the special funding CPS already receives that is not made available to other schools in the state, and explained the funding system that was agreed upon through bipartisan discussions that included input from CPS. Click here to view my comments at the press conference, and click here to watch the press conference in its entirety.

Under the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) model, school districts are divided into a four-tier system with Tier 1 school districts being those that have the greatest need for new state funding to adequately educate their students. Tier 1 school districts are located across the state, and we even have a few here in the 33rd District. CPS, a Tier 2 district, does not get to jump to the head of the line.

As mentioned, CPS already receives a disproportionate share of the state’s education resources through special carve-outs and unique grants. For these teachers to come to Springfield and demand even more special treatment, is simply outrageous.

The demands made by the Chicago Mayor and the CTU members are tone-deaf to the fiscal realities Illinois faces in crafting the Fiscal Year 2025 budget. Senate Republicans will continue to stand up for taxpayers as well as for equal funding for schools throughout Illinois.

Household Cleaning Product and Toiletry Drive Underway in 33rd District

I want to thank everyone who came out to the joint Mobile DMV event I hosted on Friday with Representative Ugaste in Elburn. We had a great turnout, and those who attended were able to take care of their driver’s services needs at the event. Many walked away with their new REAL IDs. I also want to thank the mobile team from the Secretary of State’s Office for coming to Elburn for this popular event. Their expertise ensured they event went very smoothly.

My next community outreach event is already underway! The St. Charles (Tri-City) Salvation Army and Food for Greater Elgin have both expressed a need to replenish supplies of household cleaning products and toiletries for those who rely on the pantries for services. This week (May 20-24), my two offices will serve as drop-off locations for donated items. Both offices are open Monday through Friday, 8:30-4:30.

West Dundee Office
641 South 8th Street
West Dundee

St. Charles Office
406 Surrey Woods Drive, Suite A
St. Charles

Suggested donation items include laundry detergent, soap, body wash/shower gel, toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, hand soap, sanitary napkins, razors, infant/adult diapers, wipes, dish soap, all-purpose cleaner, and window cleaner.

The last time we hosted a collection drive like this we had a phenomenal response, and I am hopeful we will once again be able to replenish the pantries’ dwindling supplies. For additional information about this event, please contact my legislative office at (847) 214-8245.

Legislation to Save Money on Local Road Projects and Improve Government Transparency Advances

The General Assembly has passed legislation to require Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) road studies on traffic and environmental impact to be made public, which could potentially provide savings on local projects while improving transparency on state decisions.

House Bill 5138 specifically requires that IDOT make public any study or survey that concerns traffic or the environmental impact of road construction projects.

The legislation, which I was proud to support, passed the Senate on May 16 and now heads to the Governor.

District 33 Chief of Staff Receives LEAP Award from St. Charles Chamber

I am proud to announce that my Chief of Staff Becky Gillam recently received 2024 LEAP Award (Leadership, Excellence, Achievement and Professionalism) at this year’s St. Charles Chamber of Commerce Charlemagne Dinner.

This award is presented annually to an extraordinary woman in the community, who has been of remarkable assistance to other women. All of us on Team 33 could not be prouder of this achievement and recognition of Becky’s hard work and commitment. It was a much-deserved award for one of the hardest-working district office staffers in the General Assembly.

Shown in the photo above (L-R) are: Pat VanDusen of the St. Charles Chamber, Becky Gillam, Craig Gillam.

Illinois Pays Tribute to Fallen Firefighters in Annual Memorial Ceremony

State leaders gathered on May 14 to attend the 31st Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony.  Click here to view a short, moving tribute from the ceremony.

The service and ceremony were held at the Bank of Springfield Center, bringing together scores of firefighters from across Illinois to honor and remember their fallen brothers and sisters.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the toll on firefighters’ lives continues to rise, with 25 casualties recorded already this year in the United States.

Spring Planting Trails Behind Last Year Amidst Seed Inventory Concerns

Spring planting in Illinois is well under way but is currently trailing last year’s pace. However, farmers were able to make recent headway thanks to a spell of dry weather and average soil temperatures. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Illinois farmers have so far planted 42% of their corn acres and 39% of their soybean acres. That’s far behind where they were at the same time last year, when the Illinois corn crop was 81% planted and soybeans were at 74% planted. 

In 2023, Illinois led the nation in soybean production, yielding nearly 649 million bushels and ranked second in corn production, producing more than 2.27 billion bushels of corn. 

Farmers will continue to be on the roadways in the coming weeks, as they finish planting season. Drivers should be aware that most agriculture equipment will be travelling much more slowly than car traffic. 

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