051915 js 0211.resizeVILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is gravely disappointed with the governor’s decision to veto legislation that would help caregivers for the developmentally disabled.

“The governor continues to stress the importance of a kind and compassionate Illinois, however, I fail to see how we are being kind or compassionate when we don’t pay direct service personnel a fair wage,” Cullerton said.  “We all know that you don’t enter into this profession for the money. However, it’s important that we allow these workers the ability to support their families.”

The initiative, House Bill 5931, would have raised the minimum wage for direct service personnel to $15 an hour. These higher wages would have allowed DSPs to stay on the job with many families instead of leaving to find work that allows them to provide for themselves.

“Any time we can pass legislation to help our developmentally disabled population, it makes us a stronger and better state,” Cullerton said.

Cullerton recently pushed legislation that would help those struggling with developmental disabilities, including adding length of time as a factor to determine need for those on the Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS).

“The DSP workforce crisis is the sad and frightening reality of the 27,000 people with developmental disabilities served in the Illinois system.  Our service system is crumbling,” said Kim Zoeller, President & CEO of the Ray Graham Association. “With the average wage of $9.35/hour, providers like Ray Graham Association struggle to recruit qualified DSPs.  The work is physically demanding, emotionally draining and includes working with challenging and sometimes destructive behaviors.”

Illinois ranks 45th out of 50 states in spending on community services for people with developmental disabilities.  The workforce crisis is so serious that a federal court monitor has found Illinois to be out of compliance with the federal Ligas Consent Decree that is in place to ensure access to appropriate services.

“It’s our duty to take care of those who provide vital services for our most vulnerable population. They should be compensated fairly,” said Cullerton. “By vetoing this legislation, the governor is working against the best interests of Illinois’ disabled population.

Category: Press Releases

tc police dogs signed 081316RsVILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton’s initiative to keep retired police dogs with their handlers was signed into law Saturday.

Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed Senate Bill 3129, which creates the Police Dog Retirement Act.

“Our family dog Brenna is a part of our family. These police dogs become a member of the officer’s family,” Cullerton said. “The special connection formed between an officer and their dog should be honored. We should want to give retiring police dogs a loving home.”

Senate Bill 3129 requires a retiring police dog to be offered to the primary handler of the dog. If the officer doesn’t wish to keep the dog it can be offered to another officer or employee, a nonprofit organization or a no-kill animal shelter.

“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to protect the special bond formed between an officer and their police dog,” said Michele Kasten of the Illinois Federation of Dog Clubs and Owners.

Cullerton believes this is not only a way to honor the service of Illinois police officers but also a cost-effective way to give police canines a safe and responsible home.

Senate Bill 3129 was signed into law Saturday.

Category: Press Releases

“Any time we can pass legislation to help our developmentally disabled population, it makes us a stronger and better state.” State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park)


081915CM0995RTrsVILLA PARK – State Senator Tom Cullerton’s initiative to help nearly 20,000 Illinois families on waiting lists for developmental disability services was signed into law today.

House Bill 6086, sponsored by Cullerton in the Senate, will require the state to take certain factors into consideration when determining which individuals will receive services, such as the amount of time spent already on a waiting list.

“Any time we can pass legislation to help our developmentally disabled population, it makes us a stronger and better state,” said Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat.

House Bill 6086 is an initiative of Autism Speaks. The organization approached Cullerton for assistance because of the difficulty that families face when they spend a significant amount of time on the state’s Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) waiting list to receive services for developmentally disabled family members.

“I would like to thank Senator Tom Cullerton and Gov. Rauner for being supportive of House Bill 6086,” said Mike Baker, volunteer state advocacy chairman for Autism Speaks. “I hope that it will be the first of many steps to expand and improve services for people with autism and all developmental disabilities in Illinois.”

PUNS is a statewide database with information about individuals with developmental disabilities who seek state services. The database does not function as a first-come, first-served service; enrollments are categorized by need, and families with immediate needs are served first.

House Bill 6086 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

Category: Press Releases

tcullerton 053116VILLA PARK – Between 2010 and 2014, 11 of Illinois’ 15 major government pension funds made $2.2 million in payments to more than 1,000 dead people.

State Senator Tom Cullerton’s initiative to eliminate government waste, House Bill 6030, was signed into law Friday, which will require state pension funds to develop and implement a process to identify deceased pension recipients each month.

“We can’t afford to waste taxpayer dollars,” said Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat. “This simple step will reduce waste, fraud and abuse.”

Retirement systems do not know a definite amount of pension payments made to deceased annuitants because each pension fund tracks death-related overpayments differently.  

This new law will give state pension funds until Jan. 1, 2017, to implement a process to identify deceased recipients at least once a month. The process can include using a third-party company, Social Security Administration data or other available data, as well as any other method that is commonly used by other state retirement systems.

The Better Government Association, a Chicago-based government watchdog organization, expressed support for the new law.

“With this new law, Illinois has taken a strong step toward eliminating abuse and reducing fraud,” BGA policy coordinator Judy Stevens said. “By requiring state funds to regularly identify pension recipients who have passed, the law could ultimately result in saving millions of dollars for Illinois woefully underfunded retirement systems.”

The law goes into effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

Petition: Do Not Tax Retirement Income

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Welcome to the official website of Senator Tom Cullerton. Please fill out our contact form to contact Senator Cullerton directly or you may call either of our offices. We look forward to hearing from you.

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