HarmonSquareSPRINGFIELD — School districts from Oak Park to Addison stand to receive more than $15 million in additional funding under a bipartisan budget proposal to be voted on when senators return to Springfield this week.

The education funding bill is part of a broader series of measures to keep the state running as the current budget year winds down. State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) noted that the measure clearly establishes education funding as a top priority for the state.

“This is the clean education bill that the governor wanted.” Harmon said. “We have listened to his feedback regarding earlier proposals. I hope the governor will sign this bill into law as soon as possible so that our schools open on schedule and teacher and administrators have time to plan for the year ahead.”

Under the proposal, $760 million in additional money is provided so that every school in the state receives state foundation level funding. As it stands, that means several school districts in the 39th District will receive more than $1 million in additional funding for the upcoming school year, and every school in the district will receive more this year than they did last year.

“This is a great step forward. With increased support and certainty from the state, every single student, no matter the ZIP code, will have a better chance of receiving a quality education,” Harmon said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

The Illinois Senate returns to Springfield on Wednesday.

Category: News

WeAreOrlandoDear friends,

I cannot stop thinking today about the dozens of men and women, mostly young people with a lifetime ahead of them, who were gunned down this past weekend in a vicious and hate-fueled massacre at an Orlando nightclub.

I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community as it searches for answers and compassion in the aftermath of such horror. Like so many parents across the country, I will struggle – yet again – to find the words to explain this kind of violence and hatred to my children.

We will mourn and pray together as a nation that this senseless violence does not happen again. We will offer support and love to the people of Orlando.

But we also must take action. We must do more to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of people who seek to kill others.

We must continue to pressure lawmakers, including those here in Illinois, to put sensible gun-safety laws on the books, even in the face of condemnation by those who go to great lengths to quell national and statewide conversations on this matter.

And we must do more to enforce the laws that already exist, while ensuring that we provide funding for the types of services, screenings and education that will help to create a safer Illinois.

As we now deal with the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting on U.S. soil, my hope is that we can find a way to talk to each other, not past each other, so that we may work toward putting an end to the shooting massacres and gun violence that have become all too common in this nation.

I invite the community to join me and other government and faith leaders for a solidarity and prayer vigil for the Orlando shooting victims. The vigil will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at Scoville Park, 800 Lake St., Oak Park.

Please feel free to contact me at 708-848-2002 with any comments or suggestions about what more we can do to come together and to demand change.

Category: News

Senator Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s decision to veto another appropriations bill from the Legislature:

“Gov. Rauner’s stubborn refusal to propose a balanced budget – a duty outlined in the Illinois Constitution – has left Illinois to drift like a ship with no captain.

“In the absence of actual leadership from the governor’s office, the General Assembly for months now has been forced to act unilaterally as we try to propose budget bills that the governor might sign to help residents who have been left to suffer without the state’s assistance. It’s a frustrating exercise.

“Given Gov. Rauner’s baffling choices about what he will sign and what he will veto, it has become exceedingly difficult to predict how he will react to legislation we send him on behalf of the people we represent, including those who rely on human service providers and college tuition assistance.

“At this point, all I can say is that I hope that Gov. Rauner will sign Senate Bill 2038, a clean human services stopgap that was sent to his desk with overwhelming bipartisan support. These service providers have gone nearly a year without payment from the state.

“Unfortunately for the people of Illinois, what our captain will choose to do is anyone’s guess.”

Category: News

Harmon05312016Children and adults with autism would benefit from two measures that passed out of the Illinois Senate with the support of Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park).

Senate Bill 345, which Harmon sponsored, acknowledges that autism is a whole-body disorder that affects more than simply a person’s neurology and behavior. The legislation would empower physicians to approach their diagnoses more effectively and would prohibit health insurance companies from restricting covered treatments for patients who have autism.

Studies have shown that medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal and immunodeficiency problems, commonly occur in people on the autism spectrum. When properly diagnosed and treated, not only do these medical conditions improve, so, too, do the autism symptoms.

“It is not uncommon for medical providers to dismiss underlying medical symptoms simply as 'autism' and miss the opportunity to adequately evaluate and treat patients,” Harmon said. “Senate Bill 345 eliminates a bureaucratic barrier and encourages providers to be more thorough with their medical evaluations and recommendations for treatment.”

The legislation creates the Autism and Co-Occurring Medical Conditions Awareness Act. It passed unanimously in the Senate and in the House. It now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner to be signed into law.

Laura Cellini, a parent advocate from Springfield, supports the legislation. She noted that people with autism have a mortality rate that is 10 times that of their peers of the same age.

“Often this is due to their inability to receive accurate diagnoses and treatment for their underlying health issues,” she said. “That is why this legislation is so critical to improving health outcomes for people with autism.”

In addition, Harmon supported House Bill 4257, which would allow people on the autism spectrum to be issued state-issued wallet cards that identify them as autistic. The cards can be shown to police officers, firefighters and others during high-stress encounters in which the cardholder is unable to communicate effectively.

Individuals with developmental disabilities, autism and mental illness can have difficulty communicating with other people, especially during heightened situations, prompting law enforcement professionals and others to mistake them as simply being difficult or defiant. The wallet card would be a signal for authorities to de-escalate the situation.

The cards would be issued by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

The legislation was sponsored by Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) and Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego). Harmon was a co-sponsor in the Senate.

“As we continue to learn about the causes and symptoms of autism – a disorder that affects thousands of Illinois families and individuals every day – it is critical that we do whatever we can to offer people the kinds of resources they need to thrive,” Harmon said. “Ensuring they are not denied needed medical treatment and giving them the ability to communicate effectively when the stakes are high are just two ways we can help.”

Category: News

FarmersMarketFresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables could make their way to more kitchens and family dinner tables under a measure overwhelmingly approved by the Illinois Senate on Monday.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) would enable low-income Illinoisans to purchase fresh, healthy food at more local farmers markets using their government nutrition assistance benefits.

“People all over Illinois are trying to achieve healthier lifestyles and discovering the value of farmers markets as a resource for fresh, locally grown food. Means should not be a barrier to this alternative,” Harmon said.

“This change will encourage more people who must stretch their food dollars as far as possible each month to look to the local farmers market as an option for discovering affordable, healthy food for themselves and for their families.”

House Bill 6027 would create the Healthy Local Food Incentive Program and would enable SNAP benefits to be accepted more widely at farmers markets across Illinois. It also would enable the state to leverage matching federal dollars for the program.

The legislation has the support of numerous advocacy organizations that promote healthy lifestyles, including the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Illinois State Alliance of YMCAs, the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity and more.

Several well-known Chicago chefs, including Rick Bayless, Jason Hammel, Paul Kahan and Matthias Merges – each of whom showcase local produce on their menus and encourage home cooks to do the same – have expressed support for the initiative, too.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2014 National Farmers Market Directory, Illinois ranks fifth for the number of farmers markets that can be found in communities around the state.

The Illinois Senate passed the measure 51-0 Monday. The House unanimously approved it in April. It now goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner to be signed into law.

Category: News

Contact Me

Email Senator Harmon

Springfield Office:
329 Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(p) 217.782.8176
(f) 217.558.6013

Oak Park Office:
6941-B W. North Ave.
Oak Park, IL 60302
(p) 708.848.2002
(f) 708.848.2022

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