School Funding Commission MartinezSenate Democrats who long have insisted that Illinois’ flawed school funding formula is causing a crisis in classrooms across the state agreed last week to participate in the governor’s bipartisan panel to study the issue and report back with findings.

Five Senate Democrats were appointed to the commission: Senator Kimberly A. Lightford of Maywood, Senator Iris Y. Martinez of Chicago, Senator Daniel Biss of Evanston, Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant of Shorewood and Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill.

Manar, who has been leading a statewide discussion about overhauling the state’s worst-in-the-nation school funding formula, said that bringing lawmakers from both parties together is a good thing.

“I’m of the belief that anytime there can be a public conversation between Republicans and Democrats representing all geographic areas and school districts in our state, that’s a step in the right direction,” Manar told a reporter with the Bloomington Pantagraph.

School funding reform is a priority for Senate Democrats, who have put forth proposals to overhaul the nearly 20-year-old formula and have called for Gov. Bruce Rauner to show leadership on the issue because of the educational disparities it creates statewide, particularly in school districts with high rates of poverty.

• Crain's: Democrats agree to join reform panel

• Chicago Tonight: New commission forms to solve old problem



Category: In The News

TVDL Press ConferenceMajority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) joined Secretary of State Jesse White, members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus and partner organizations this week to discuss a positive update being made by Secretary of State (SOS) facilities for Temporary Visitors Driver’s Licenses (TVDLs).

Starting July 1, 2016, all SOS facilities, with the exception of Chicago North and Chicago West, will be able to process TVDLs without requiring an appointment.

“I’m grateful to Secretary White and his staff for establishing more customer friendly procedures for immigrants wanting to obtain a TVDL,” said Martinez, a champion for the immigrant community. “Now, instead of having to go through the extra step of having to schedule a meeting, all someone has to do is come to an SOS office at a time that is convenient for them.”

In 2013, a law was approved that enabled undocumented immigrants in Illinois to obtain a TVDL.

Prior to the initiative, many undocumented immigrants were driving to places like school and work without having car insurance and being trained on the rules of the road.

Since then, SOS has issued 175,000 TVDLs, which has helped create safer roadways for all Illinoisans by ensuring that more drivers have passed road safety exams and are insured.

Anyone wanting more information on how to acquire a TVDL can go to SOS’s website or contact their local SOS Office.

Listen to Sen. Martinez's remarks at the press conference.

Category: In The News

Latino Caucus Press ConferenceMajority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) joined members of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus at a press conference to discuss the negative impact the governor’s failure to approve a budget is having on Latinos.

“I’m frustrated by how many children, families and college students are being hurt by the budget impasse,” Martinez said. “I call on the governor to work with us in a bipartisan manner to put a stop to this.”

Latino college students are feeling the brunt of the governor not authorizing a higher education budget. Students across Illinois rely on the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP) to pay for college and are now worried whether or not they can afford to continue their education.

Latino human services organizations have also been harmed, leaving youth, families and immigrants uncertain of where to go for help.

The state has gone seven months without a budget due to the governor vetoing the legislative budget that was sent to his desk.

“You know we have a problem when the governor gives the State of the State address, and we don’t have a budget in place,” Martinez said.

Category: In The News

Martinez SEIU Press Conference


Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) joined her colleagues as well as child care and home health care providers to discuss the damage done to Illinois during Gov. Rauner’s first year in office and the need for a new direction.

As a result of the governor’s failure to approve a budget, vital human service programs aren’t being funded and public universities and college students aren’t receiving state aid. Child care eligibility changes that were initiated by the governor have also limited the number of children eligible for the state’s child care program.

Click here to listen to Martinez’s comments from today’s press conference.

Category: In The News

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