Contributed article by the Illinois Senate Democrats.
SPRINGFIELD – Job creation in downstate Illinois, K-12 and higher education, and responsible spending by state government will continue to be priorities for State Senator Andy Manar, who was sworn in for his third term today at the Capitol.
“It’s a new day in Springfield with fresh faces and new ideas after four years of partisan gridlock,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who was the driving force behind school funding reform and is chairman of a key Senate budget committee.
“I plan to continue pressing for fair school funding, desperately needed job creation in central Illinois and protections for rural health care. And I intend to continue reaching across the aisle to my Republican colleagues so we can make good things happen for downstate residents together.”
Among the highlights of Senate inauguration day was Senate President John Cullerton’s spotlight on a unique workforce training program through Richland Community College in Decatur that’s putting people to work. Courtney Carson, who oversees the program, and Chris Valdez, president of the college, were guests of Manar and the Senate president during the inauguration.
The program, which received a $1.5 million state grant in 2018, aims to give workers specific skills needed by employers, but also the basic, essential skills that workers need to get their foot in the door at good-paying jobs – things like punctuality, appropriate attire for interviews and professional behavior in the workplace.
The program is a partnership among the community college, employers and local and state officials. It is projected to result in 225 new jobs in Decatur. Cullerton called for replicating the program throughout Illinois.
“I want to expand the program statewide. I want to see it work in Danville and Rockford, the Quad-Cities and southern Illinois, Chicago’s West Side and the south suburbs,” Cullerton said.
“I want to see it expand to train Illinois workers for solar, wind and other renewable energy industries. If you want to bring businesses to Illinois, offer them workers who are second to none. And together, they will make Illinois better.”
Manar, a former mayor and elected county board official, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2012. He represents the 48th Senate District, which stretches from the east side of Springfield to Decatur in the north, spanning south into Christian and Montgomery counties and portions of Macoupin and northern Madison counties.