Latest News

Local fire departments receive state grants
The Office of the State Fire Marshal has announced that five local fire departments have received funding under the Small Equipment Grant Program. In all, more than 100 departments statewide were awarded a share of the $2 million in grant funds which were announced this week. The grant program is intended to help fire departments and not-for-profit ambulance services with purchases of small firefighting or ambulance equipment.

Governor signs teacher licensure bill into law
Governor Rauner has signed into law my bill to help ease Illinois’ teacher shortage. The legislation, House Bill 5627, makes it easier for teachers who hold out-of-state teaching licenses to become teachers in Illinois as well. It also eliminates a requirement that someone who already holds a teaching license in Illinois must go through the long and costly process of getting a separate license to become a substitute teacher.


Plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals approved
The federal government has approved Illinois’ plan to protect safety net and rural hospitals while ensuring continued federal support for quality healthcare to more than three million Illinoisans.


PONTIAC – State Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) recently expressed his appreciation for the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) inclusion of more than 40 local road projects in its multi-year improvement program.


Soil and Water District Funding released
Soil and water districts, as well as county fairs, agriculture societies and the University of Illinois Extension will be receiving $16 million in state funds which were released last Friday. The funds come from the current year state budget and will serve the important programs these agencies operate. I was honored to join the Governor, Illinois’ Secretary of Agriculture and legislators from both parties at the announcement on a farm near Springfield.


Partial pension reform passed on final day of session
One of the largest long-term challenges state government faces is the large unfunded pension liabilities in state-managed pension funds. These include the systems which cover pension payments promised to teachers and other public-sector professional workers. We cannot even determine the exact size of these liabilities because they are based on future interest rates and estimated future rates of return on the funds which have already been invested. The current estimate of the unfunded pension liabilities stands in excess of $130 billion, with the largest portion being the $71 billion of commitments made by the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).

Bill to address teacher shortage headed to the Governor
A bill I sponsored which would make to hire classroom teachers and substitute teachers has passed both houses of the legislature and is on its way to the Governor. Under House Bill 5627, Illinois would recognize out-of-state teacher licenses, allowing licensed teachers from out-of-state to teach in Illinois without meeting additional requirements. The bill establishes a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License and sets out the qualifications for obtaining one from the State Board of Education. It also allows an educator with a Professional Educator License or Educator License with Stipulations to work as a substitute teacher without having to obtain a separate substitute teacher license.