SPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement after voting to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, an evidence-based school funding reform measure:

“Gov. Rauner’s changes to Senate Bill 1 attempt to protect a system in which there are clear winners and losers in education.

The governor’s plan would take nearly $500 million away from the hundreds of thousands of students in Chicago Public Schools who deserve the same chance at a quality education as every other child in the state.

I voted to uphold Senate Bill 1 today because it is the only plan that ensures fair funding for all Illinois students and takes steps to end the apartheid in our education system.”

011516CMPAN2 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) issued the following statement after the Senate voted to pass a balanced budget:

“I was proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle today and vote for a balanced budget that will at long last restore stability to our state and bring the certainty that comes from paying our bills on time.

I call on Governor Rauner to put the people of Illinois above partisan politics and re-election campaigns and sign this budget into law.”

SB1722 signing rA comprehensive criminal justice reform measure sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) was signed into law today by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The measure is aimed at reducing the unacceptable gun violence in Chicago and across the state.

“This law is a continuation of my record of criminal justice reform efforts focusing on individualized treatment of offenders,” Raoul said. “It is vital that we distinguish between repeat offenders who are more likely to be shooters and first time offenders who may be better candidates for diversion.”  

The measure is targeted toward repeat gun offenders, recommending that judges sentence them on the higher end of the existing sentencing range. It does allow judges to deviate from the higher sentencing recommendation if they find circumstances indicate departure is appropriate.  

Raoul collaborated with House sponsor Rep. Jim Durkin (D-Western Springs) to include a provision in the bill creating a diversion program in lieu of sentencing for first-time offenders under the age of 21.

The legislation also puts in place a series of criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the prison population and providing low-risk offenders with better access to rehabilitation programming and opportunities after release. These reforms include:

 

    • Increases access to educational, vocational and re-entry programming for individuals incarcerated for truth-in-sentencing offenses, allowing eligible individuals to reduce their sentence up to 15 percent.

 

    • Reduces the protected area for drug crimes from 1,000 to 500 feet, removes public housing as a protected area and requires prosecutors to prove a connection between the crime and the protected area before a felony can be enhanced.

 

    • Expands the eligibility for the Offender Initiative Program, Second Chance Probation and all other drug probation programs.

 

      Allows the Prisoner Review Board to terminate a person’s mandatory supervised release if a risk assessment tool determines that the person is considered low-risk and need.

 

Among supporters of the measure was Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who testified twice in its support during the legislative session.

“Those numbers represent multiple generations of young black men who never have a chance to make something of their lives because of illegal guns and criminals willing to pull the trigger,” Johnson said during testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee in May. “Quite frankly, as an African American leader, I’m disgusted, and as a cop, I’m angry.”

SB 1722 takes effect Jan. 1, 2018.

05312017CM1513 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement on Governor Rauner signing the Bail Reform Act into law:

"It is unjust for someone’s wealth to determine whether they stay in jail while awaiting a trial, rather than the nature of their alleged crime.

The cash bond system disproportionately harms lower-income offenders, often leaving low-risk offenders in jail and contributing to the overcrowding of the prison system. The legislation that becomes law today will ensure that a person’s threat to public safety determines their potential release, not the amount of money in their bank account."

05312017CM0211 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) today secured passage in the Senate of a measure allowing for the election of the Chicago Board of Education starting in 2023.

Before this legislation, the Chicago Public School district was the only school district in the state without an elected school board.

“It’s important that Chicago stay on par with the state, not only with funding but also with democracy,” Raoul said.

Similar legislation passed the House in 2016 but did not advance in the Senate. The measure passed today sets the size of the elected board at 15 members and establishes a redistricting commission to draw districts for board members.

“We amended the legislation to make sure the legislature was not drawing districts but that redistricting was done by people within the city of Chicago,” Raoul said.

Currently, the Chicago Board of Education is composed of seven members appointed by the mayor of Chicago.

HB 1774 passed the Senate 53-2 and heads to the House for a concurrence vote.