Sen. Bush speaks on the floor of the SenateExaminer.com - Jan. 29, 2016 | Original article

By Darryl Grant

Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in his second state of the state address, on Wednesday, held to the same agenda from the playbook that he has used since his election to lead this solidly blue state. Focused on limits to collective bargaining, workmen’s compensation reform, and a pro business environment, they have little chance of being passed by a General Assembly that is solidly controlled by Democrats.

Rauner faces intense criticism for not agreeing to a budget for this fiscal year, unless his measures are agreed upon, and as a result, has garnered stinging criticism. Two of which are glaring: the state’s largest social services agency, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, is ready to cut over 30 programs that serve 4,700 clients, due to lack of state funds, and 130,000 low-income college students who need tuition money awarded them through a state sponsored program, totalling $370 million.

These, and more unpaid bills, represent a $6 billion dollar deficit, a figure which is 12 percent of state spending, a significant increase from last year’s amount of $4 billion. As CNBC has noted, “Without a formal budget, Illinois has been limping along by extending parts of last year's spending plan, settling on piecemeal appropriations and battling out the impasse in the courts,” a pattern that is unsettling for residents, as well as politicians.

A long standing unfunded pensions deficit of $112 billion --- one-quarter of the Illinois GDP, and nearly three times that of state revenue, also has to be addressed. But, in his thirty minute address Rauner struck the first salvo by saying, "If we don't offer a competitive environment for businesses, pretty soon the unions won't have any more jobs to unionize and the trial lawyers won't have any more businesses to sue."

In a move that some see as stagecraft, or as a way to drive a wedge between the State Senate president, John Cullerton, and the powerful Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, he gave almost voluble support to the former without mentioning the latter. All part of what his staff says is an effort to help the pension deficit crisis.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, of suburban Grayslake, in her statement, using blunter terms, said, “The problem this past year has not been with the governor’s initiatives, but with his actions,” and that “After a year that pulled the rug out from under seniors, children and the needy, I hope his call for cooperation is real. It is time for Illinois to move past partisan bickering.”

Read the original article in full here.

Category: In The News

Senator Bush visits a daycare facility
Lake County News-Sun
, Nov. 5, 2015 | Original article

By Frank Abderholden

Two state legislators from Lake County are pushing a bill to reinstate child care benefits that were curtailed in an emergency executive order signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner earlier this year.

With Senate Bill 570 scheduled for its third house vote next week, state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, and state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, got together in Gurnee on Thursday to sign a pledge in support of the bill.

"You have a single mom going to work doing the right thing, but if she makes minimum wage (during a 40-hour work week) she is making too much money (to receive child care assistance). So what are you going to do?" Bush asked. "She's trying to do the right thing, and we're saying to her, 'Stay at home and collect welfare.'

"We want to be the hand-up and not the hand-out state," added Bush, explaining that about 90 percent of the people who used to be eligible now don't qualify due to the governor's action July 1. "It's a temporary hand-up program, one the Republicans started. You can only receive it for a limited time."

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Category: In The News

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Examiner.com - Sept. 10, 2015 | Original article

By Darryl Grant

In a 44-11 vote Illinois Democrats and Republicans voted Wednesday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of a heroin prevention bill which would expand the use of the state’s Medicaid program to pay for methadone, extended treatment plans, and especially the use of Naloxone (Narcan), a drug that would prevent accidental deaths from overdose.

Rauner cited budgetary strains for the Illinois Department of Health, as the reason for his veto, but did praise lawmakers for their care and thought in crafting the bill, which was a bipartisan effort and had original votes of 114-0 in the House, and 46-4 in the Senate.

State Sen. Melinda Bush said, in part, as the movement for an override began, “This comprehensive plan to reduce addiction and death must not be delayed further. I will cast my ‘Yes’ vote to override this veto and make this the law of the land, and I urge all my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”

Other lawmakers that supported the effort were Sen. Dan Kotowski, who noted that “too many young people have died in our state,” and Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, who previously served as Madison County’s prosecutor stated, “As a former state’s attorney, I know the importance of punishing the dealer and treating the addicted,” Haine said. “This law will address the significant increase in heroin and opioid-related deaths and overdoses that has cost Illinois $4 billion. It will help save lives and make sure addicts receive the treatment they need. This override was a necessary step in the effective handling of a statewide issue,” reported the Belleville News Democrat.

The bill which takes effect immediately, will allow first responders to be able to administer Narcan, in an overdose situation; it also creates a heroin and drug prevention education for schools, requires doctors and pharmacies to document when narcotics have been prescribed, increases penalties for fraudulently acquiring a controlled substance, cuts the “one and done” rule for non-violent drug offenders, and requires them to attend drug court, which has been found more effective at treating drug addicts, than jail time.

It also contains a section referred to as “Lali’s Law,” which “would expand access to heroin overdose antidotes at local pharmacies. The law is “named for Alex “Lali” Laliberte, whose sister Chelsea formed the anti-heroin organization Live4Lali after her brother’s death by heroin overdose in 2008.”Elated by the news she said, "So many lives are going to be saved because of their efforts and the efforts of those who supported and developed this bill. It's been a long road."

Bush, after the override, also expressed her joy, and remarked, “There will be no more delay. This vitally necessary plan to address the heroin crisis in Illinois will be the law of the land.”

Category: In The News

Sen. Bush and Chelsea Laliberte testify on legislation before a Senate committeeLake County News-Sun - Sept. 9, 2015 | Original article

By Jim Newton

With a 44-11 vote by the Illinois Senate on Wednesday afternoon, the General Assembly completed an override of a veto by Gov. Bruce Rauner to enact a sweeping set of measures aimed at helping to reduce heroin and opiate addiction.

"I feel shocked and elated," said Chelsea Laliberte, a co-founder of the Lake County Opioid Initiative, a group that includes medical experts, elected officials and residents.

Laliberte, in Springfield for last-minute lobbying and to witness the vote, said the law will "save so many lives."

The state will have $8.5 billion in unpaid bills by the end of the year. Sept. 9, 2015. (CBS Chicago)

"There will be no more delay. This vitally necessary plan to address the heroin crisis in Illinois will be the law of the land," said state Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, who sponsored a portion of the legislation and voted in favor of the override.

House members had already voted 105-5 on Sept. 1 to override Rauner's veto.

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Category: In The News

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