05312017CM0529RSSPRINGFIELD  –  Gov. Bruce Rauner will soon have an opportunity to sign legislation that mandates transparency from his own office and from future governors in their budget proposals

State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) passed House Bill 5814, which forces the governor’s office to record late interest payments as a separate line item in its appropriations to state agencies. This paints a clearer picture of the state’s funds and slows the depletion of funding needed to run those agencies.

“Utilizing responsible accounting practices to generate a responsible state budget allows Illinois citizens to know how and where their valuable tax dollars are spent,” Cullerton said. “As legislators, we can’t negotiate a proper budget when we don’t know how much money is owed or where it is going.”

Currently, most late payment interest penalties accrue at a rate of 12 percent per month for bills unpaid after 90 days, while healthcare bills accumulate interest at a rate of 9 percent after 30 days.

The interest penalties are paid from the same appropriation line, depleting the amount a state agency can spend for its operations. Cullerton’s bill forces the governor’s budget to include separate line item requests for prompt pay interest payments.

“For far too long Gov. Bruce Rauner has hidden behind phony numbers,” Cullerton said. “This new measure will force all future governors to be more realistic when presenting a budget to the general assembly and public. We need to make sure governors – whether republican or democrat – do not attempt to hide behind deceptive numbers.”

This bipartisan measure is an initiative of Comptroller Susana Mendoza and is supported by the Better Government Association.

“The bill backlog more than tripled under Governor Rauner. The state fell far behind on paying its bills and that cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in late payment interest penalties,” Comptroller Mendoza said. “In fact, in the past two and a half years, the state incurred more interest penalties than in the previous 18 years combined, yet the Governor hasn’t had to account for those penalties in any of his budgets. That’s not right. Governor Rauner should sign this bipartisan, transparency measure so taxpayers can know how he and future governors plan to pay interest penalty costs.”

The comptroller’s January 2018 Debt Transparency Report confirmed that taxpayers owe approximately $887 million in late payment interest penalties — despite the fact that over $140 million in interest penalties was paid out in calendar 2017.

04192018CM0592SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to advance legislation that would prevent the penalization of police officers for seeking mental health services.

Cullerton’s House Bill 5231 would clear the way for officers to remain employed if they have been a patient in a mental health facility but not been determined to pose a clear and present danger to themselves or others.  It would do so by removing a FOID card as a condition for employment.

“We want officers who have endured traumatic experiences to seek medical assistance without fear of losing their jobs,” Cullerton said.
Although the legislation protects officers that seek mental health services, it does not prohibit an employer from determining an officer's fitness to serve.

“Our law enforcement officers keep us safe. In doing so, they experience disturbing situations that may warrant their use of mental health services. This makes them human,” Cullerton said. “We are all safer if we make sure these officers have access to the proper mental health services to deal with the traumas they routinely face.”

The measure is an initiative of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, which said requiring a FOID card for law enforcement officers – many of whom are active service members and veterans of the armed forces – creates an unnecessary obstacle to receiving mental health treatment.

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 22 veterans commit suicide every day in the U.S. Cullerton, Chairman of the Illinois Senate Veterans Affairs Committee who served as an infantryman in the Army from 1990 to 1993, continues to work toward eliminating the veteran suicide epidemic in Illinois.

“Our veterans have taken care of us. Now it is our time to take care of them,” Cullerton said. “We should remove all obstacles to mental health treatment for our military veterans and public safety personnel.”

House Bill 5231 passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

02072018 RSSPRINGFIELD – Two measures taking aim at sexual assault in government by promoting transparency and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars are headed to the governor’s desk thanks to State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park).

The first, House Bill 4243, prohibits any public funds – including money that is appropriated for office allowances – from being paid to any person in exchange for his or her silence regarding an allegation of sexual harassment against an elected official.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used as ‘hush money’ by disgraced elected officials who have betrayed the public’s trust,” Cullerton said. “Our goal is to let government officials know that we have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.”

Cullerton also passed House Bill 4242 which aims to stop the use of taxpayer dollars to settle sexual harassment claims by requiring taxing bodies to notify the public if they enter into a severance agreement with an employee or contractor that has been accused of sexual assault or discrimination.

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay off administrators and employees who are guilty of committing sexual harassment or discrimination,” Cullerton said. “The Me Too movement is an essential effort to push workplaces and society toward a zero-tolerance atmosphere and this is a good step to move Illinois in that direction.”

The bill requires the taxing body to notify the public within 72 hours of their entry into the agreement. The notification would include the name and title of the person receiving the payment, the amount of the payment, and whether the reason for the severance was for alleged sexual harassment or sexual discrimination.

The bipartisan measures were sponsored in the house by State Representative David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills) and are headed to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Bill would create alert system for missing veterans


american flagSPRINGFIELD – The State of Illinois currently does not have a procedure in place to alert police and emergency professionals of missing veterans, but State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is working to change that.

Cullerton passed House Bill 4212, which expands the use of the Endangered Missing Person Advisory system—also known as Silver Alert – to veterans who are believed to have physical or mental conditions related to their service.

Similar to the circumstances that lead to employment of an Amber alert, the public would be notified when a high-risk veteran goes missing in an effort to quickly locate them.

“Our servicemen and women have made great sacrifices to protect our freedom and democracy,” Cullerton said. “When they return home, it’s our job to look out for them. Every life we can save is priceless.”

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes.

Cullerton created and served as a chairperson on the Illinois Veterans Suicide Taskforce to help address the veteran suicide epidemic in Illinois. This is another step to help ensure veterans receive the vital resources when they return home.

“This measure puts protocols in place to help immediately notify authorities and emergency networks to bring our veterans home sooner,” Cullerton said. “I urge any veteran struggling with suicide and depression to take advantage of available, free, state resources. No one expects you to tackle these internal struggles alone. There is help out there”

Cullerton, a veteran himself, served in the Army from 1990 to 1993 as an infantryman.

Last General Assembly, Cullerton passed a series of laws to help his fellow veterans combat the veterans’ suicide epidemic in Illinois including Senate Bill 866 which will help expand the use of service animals to veterans to help them cope with PTSD.

Cullerton urges veterans and their loved ones to call the confidential and toll free hotline, 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, if they need support.

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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.

District Office
338 S. Ardmore Ave.
Villa Park, IL 60181
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