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Fw: Senator Stadelman's Weekly Bulletin - February 22, 2019

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Stadelman encouraged by new governor's first budget address
Senator Steve Stadelman expressed optimism over the education focus and inclusion of downstate revitalization in Gov. J.B. Pritzker's budget address Wednesday in Springfield, saying the new chief executive's message signals an end to the partisan stalemate that plagued state government the past several years.

The passage in Pritzker's speech that most impressed Stadelman was: "During times of economic growth across the country, we lost four valuable years because of an ideological battle (in Springfield). That stops now." Stadelman said that work remains over the next three months to balance the budget, but he's hopeful Pritzker "will bring new leadership after years of political gridlock."

Stadelman noted that spending increases called for by Pritzker are mostly confined to education, and additional funds for Illinois' recently reformed school funding formula benefits local classrooms.

"The governor's commitment to put more money into that formula is good news for Rockford and Harlem public schools," he said. "From a long-term perspective, you want investments in education. That's going to help out the state in the long run."

Pritzker's talk of a downstate revitalization plan also piqued Stadelman's interest.

"Obviously, the focus on areas outside of Chicago, including Rockford, Springfield or Peoria, that's good," he said. "I'm looking forward to a specific program and what details may be involved, but anything to foster growth and improve the business climate for areas like Rockford would be extremely helpful."

Stadelman continues to pursue passenger rail to Rockford

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State Senator Steve Stadelman attended a community forum on passenger rail earlier this month and left unshaken in his belief that train service drives economic development. Voter approval of a referendum to restore passenger rail between Chicago and East Dubuque, combined with the election of a new governor, could mean "maybe we'll look at passenger rail service differently and make it a priority," Stadelman said.

Organized by the Region 1 Planning Council in response to the November 2018 referendum, the panel discussion included representatives from Amtrak, Rockford Mass Transit District and Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

Amtrak expressed interest in updating data from 2014, when Gov. Pat Quinn dedicated $223 million to redeveloping Amtrak service between Chicago and Rockford. The project was halted, however, when Bruce Rauner took office in January 2015. In November 2018, two advisory referendums found that most local voters favor resurrecting passenger rail between Chicago and Iowa with a route through Rockford.

"Data and studies have shown that passenger rail goes a long way toward keeping and attracting business and residents," Stadelman said.

In case you missed me on Facebook ...

An educational and emotional Black History Month Program at Veterans Memorial Hall. Several African-American service members shared their unique perspectives on such topics as serving their country and race relations. Also, it was great to meet 8 year old Joc and his family. Joc claims to remember watching me on TV news when he could have only been 1-2 years old at the time.😂

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