0301213br0033rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement on Governor Rauner’s interference with the grand bargain budget deal:

After weeks of bipartisan effort to end this historic budget crisis that has put our state $11 billion in debt, the Senate has once again been undermined by Governor Rauner. As soon as the grand bargain began to gain momentum with successful votes on some measures in the package yesterday, the governor’s office took swift action to deter Republican members from voting favorably on some pieces of legislation.

As always, I commend Leader Radogno for her willingness to negotiate in good faith, and I am sorry that the governor has sabotaged her work. I also applaud my Democratic colleagues for taking on difficult votes in an effort to move the state forward.

It is unconscionable and immoral for the governor to interfere with bipartisan cooperation when the budget crisis has real consequences for citizens in need of human services, businesses dealing with the state, and medical providers having to turn away patients. Additionally, this action allows for the continuance of an apartheid in our education system.

The governor’s actions are not those of a true leader. The people of Illinois elected a governor, not a king.

Raoul headshot 2015 webState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement today in response to Governor Rauner’s budget address:

Today, Governor Rauner said he proposed a budget, but I looked all around the Capitol, and I couldn’t find it. The governor instead continued to undermine the Senate’s bipartisan efforts and once again failed to fulfill his constitutional obligation to present a balanced budget.

During his address, Governor Rauner presented a laundry list of goals with no details on how to pay for them. He suggested that he knows what job creators want. I can tell you that what they want most is the stability that comes from paying our bills on time. Before Governor Rauner took office, we had made great progress in paying down our backlog. Now, we have accrued more than $11 billion in unpaid bills. The only difference between then and now is who is in the governor’s mansion.

I continue to be proud of my colleagues in the Senate, particularly President Cullerton and Leader Radogno, for working tirelessly to propose a budget that will finally offer relief to the people who have been suffering for nearly two years as essential services and providers are stretched to the limit. Although the governor did not do his job today, we will continue to push for a solution that provides for the people of Illinois.

Raoul ILBC presser rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement today in response to Governor Rauner’s State of the State address:

While I appreciate the governor calling attention to some serious issues within our criminal justice system, we need to recognize that real change will only come about if we invest in our neighborhoods. I recently passed legislation in the Senate that offers comprehensive trauma recovery services in communities with high levels of violent crime. If Governor Rauner is serious about ending the cycle of violence, I hope he will approve this measure.

Additionally, the governor has let another year go by without a plan to provide state services to people with disabilities, mental health issues or addiction. Every day without a budget is a day that some of our most vulnerable citizens lack access to the help they need.

As we reflect on the state of our state, we must recognize how much worse our financial situation has become under Governor Rauner’s leadership. Before the governor took office, we had paid down our backlog to a 30-day cycle. We now have an unprecedented $11 billion in unpaid bills. It is not hard to see that the difference between then and now is who is sitting in the governor’s office.

We must make it a priority in the coming days and weeks to end this stalemate. I am ready to work with anyone who comes to the table with real solutions and a willingness to compromise.

SPRINGFIELD — State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) reminded Illinoisans that the start of the new year will bring sweeping, positive changes to the way law enforcement and the criminal justice system accomplish their vital work. On Jan. 1, 2016, several landmark justice measures, including long-awaited standards for the use of police body cameras, will take effect.

“For far too long, our criminal justice system has reinforced racial disparities and provided poor outcomes for taxpayers, ex-offenders, families and communities alike,” Raoul said. “We are finally seeing a bipartisan movement to examine and, when necessary, overhaul law enforcement, sentencing and corrections practices so they’re fair and they work.”

Raoul sponsored and secured passage of a major policing reform measure in May. Changes in the law that take effect in the new year include

  • Establishing minimum policies and standards for the use of body cameras by law enforcement agencies that choose to deploy the uniform-mounted devices
  • Requiring an independent investigation of all officer-involved deaths and creating a mechanism for the appointment of a special prosecutor in sensitive cases, including alleged police misconduct
  • Prohibiting the use of chokeholds by police
  • Expanding mandatory law enforcement officer training to include cultural competency, implicit bias, the proper use of force and interacting with sexual assault victims and persons with disabilities
  • Requiring officers to issue a “stop receipt,” including the officer’s name and badge number, to a pedestrian stopped for any reason
  • Creating a database of officers who have been dismissed due to misconduct or resigned during a misconduct investigation, so rogue cops aren’t hired unknowingly by other departments

On Jan. 31, 2016, a task force assembled under the new law is scheduled to submit its recommendations on licensing police officers in Illinois for added accountability.

Raoul, who serves on the governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, also sponsored two important juvenile justice laws that will take effect Jan. 1.

One will eliminate all automatic transfers of children charged with crimes from the juvenile system to adult criminal courts and give judges greater discretion to decide the best setting for trying and sentencing minors based on the particulars of each case. Another will prevent juveniles from being committed to Department of Juvenile Justice facilities for misdemeanor offenses. It also ensures that no minor will be confined to a DJJ facility for longer than an adult would be incarcerated for the same offense.

“Whether it’s a young African-American man encountering a police officer on the street, a mother concerned about her children’s safety on the walk to school or an ex-offender trying to turn his life around and support his family, we are working hard to achieve the American dream of equal access to safety, security and justice,” Raoul said. “As the Commission continues its task and as both lawmakers and the public become more aware of the disparities and shortcomings in our criminal justice system, I’m confident we’ll see additional policies enacted to supplement the major reforms poised to take effect.”

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When I learned that a video of Laquan McDonald’s final moments was to be released to the public, I knew that many would fear its impact, remembering the self-destruction oppressed communities elsewhere have experienced following acts of police brutality and excessive force.

I believe we can do better in Chicago. But I am not calling for calm. There’s nothing to be calm about. Instead, I’m calling for sustained, focused, constructive outrage that demands full accountability but doesn’t destroy community.

Because of legislation I advanced earlier this year, we now have legal protocols in place that mandate independent investigations of police-involved deaths, expose the misdeeds of rogue cops so they don’t quietly move from one department to another, require improved officer training on bias and the use of force and establish funding and standards for the use of body cameras.

But I know it’s not enough.

Everyone responsible in this atrocity – not only Officer Van Dyke, but any individual who participated in a cover-up that delayed justice for Laquan McDonald and his family – must be held accountable. We should direct our outrage toward asking our local prosecutor whether it would have taken 13 months to resolve this case if the video had shown a civilian committing the same act. We should ask why Office Van Dyke was still on the beat after 17 public complaints were filed against him and the City paid half a million dollars to settle allegations that he had used excessive force. We should question the ability of Chicago’s independent police review authority, which has recently come under scrutiny from the Better Government Association, to do its job with integrity. And as we call on our neighbors to abandon the no-snitch code, in our outrage we demand the same of law enforcement.

Watch the video. Don’t be destructive. But don’t be calm.