Rebuild IL Announcement2CHAMPAIGN – To address local transportation needs and ensure local governments can continue to invest in infrastructure projects, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Tuesday to announce $250 million in grants through the Rebuild Illinois program.

“This significant investment in new and improved infrastructure will allow our residents to travel safely and draw visitors to our area, allowing our whole community to move forward from the pandemic,” Bennett said. “Continued commitment to our state’s transportation and infrastructure system is critical to jump-starting the economy and putting us back on track.”

Passed in 2019, Rebuild Illinois is investing $33.2 billion into the state’s aging transportation system, creating jobs and promoting economic growth. The landmark capital program is not only the largest capital program in state history, but also the first one that touches all modes of transportation: roads and bridges, transit, waterways, freight and passenger rail, aviation, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations.

“At IDOT, there is no such thing as a federal road, a state road, a county road or a township road. They are all Illinois roads that the public depends on each day,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “Because of the vision of Gov. Pritzker, Rebuild Illinois is making historic investments in our local transportation system. Working together with our partners, we are strengthening all modes of transportation across all jurisdictions.”

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CHAMPAIGN – May is Foster Parent Appreciation Month, and State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is extending his appreciation to those who help enhance the lives of children and youth in foster care, as well as encouraging community members to consider becoming a foster parent.

“May is a great time to recognize the role foster parents play by providing safe havens and stable homes for our youth in need,” Bennett said. “Please take a moment to thank the foster families in our community for a job well done and consider making the commitment yourself to foster a child in need.”

Today, there are just over 21,000 youth living in foster care in the state. Of that number, 8,200 are living with foster families, 11,300 with relatives, and 1,200 in group homes and institutions. The need for foster parents is growing, and there are many types of foster care, including traditional care, emergency/shelter care, medical/therapeutic care, relative/kinship care, respite/short-term care, and tribal care. 

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pexels photo 256468SPRINGFIELD – To help children and families build savings and open the door to college, Senate Higher Education Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) advanced a measure through the committee Tuesday to improve the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program.

“This program gives families the opportunity to start planning for higher education from day one,” Bennett said. “In addition to giving these families a head start on college savings, this legislation gives the Illinois treasurer the necessary tools to implement the program.”

In 2019, the Illinois Higher Education Savings Program, established as part of the Illinois treasurer’s existing Bright Start and Bright Directions programs, was signed into law. Under this law, the treasurer will automatically deposit $50 into a college savings account for every child born or adopted in Illinois after Dec. 31, 2020.

Bennett’s legislation requires the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide the treasurer with information on recent births and adoptions in Illinois for the purpose of enrolling children in the program beginning in 2021. Additionally, the legislation requires the Illinois Department of Revenue to provide the treasurer with information on tax filers claiming dependents or the adoption tax credit for the purpose of enrolling children in the program.

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SPRINGFIELD – To raise awareness and help improve mental health among young adults and middle school students, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is sponsoring legislation that would require school districts to provide contact information for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Crisis Text Line on student identification cards.

“We have great services available to help students who may be struggling,” Bennett said. “Printing this information on student ID cards means the hotline number is always close at hand, and more importantly, can be used as a lifeline for children and their families.”

The legislation, an initiative of the Illinois Education Association, would require the contact information for national crisis hotlines specializing in domestic violence, sexual assault and suicide to be printed on identification badges issued to public middle and high school students in Illinois. School districts that do not issue student IDs would instead be required to publish the information on their websites.

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