Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s role in implementing the package of bills considered today by the Illinois Senate:

“Gov. Rauner expects lawmakers to give him unchecked freedom to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program that insures the poorest Illinois children and senior citizens, but he’s given us absolutely no reason to trust his judgment about what’s best for the people of Illinois.

“Gov. Rauner has refused to do his job and introduce a balanced budget and instead has claimed in public to support bipartisan Senate negotiations while secretly torpedoing that same work. We have no reason to trust him with carte blanche authority to destroy our safety net and punish the most vulnerable.

“I am not willing to give Gov. Rauner emergency rulemaking authority to implement Trumpcare in Illinois or cause undocumented children to lose coverage.

“In the meantime, Gov. Rauner is doing his best to dismantle the Community Care Program that tens of thousands of seniors rely on to live in dignity in their homes, and I cannot support a budget that facilitates his efforts to do just that.

“Our state urgently needs a budget, and I will continue to do all I can to move us toward a fair budget resolution that adequately funds our priorities. I stand ready to work with anyone toward that goal, and I am prepared to compromise.

“But I will not accept the premise that we must balance our budget on the backs of senior citizens and the poor.”

Category: Press Releases

Measure would amplify ordinary people’s voice in government

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Daniel Biss’ measure to bring small donor matching to Illinois to ensure government better reflects the people it serves advanced out of the Illinois Senate Tuesday.

“Everyone who is frustrated today by the influence that corporations and billionaires wield over politicians and the policy decisions they make should support the concept of small donor matching,” said Biss, an Evanston Democrat.

“This is one way we can restore the balance of power in government and ensure that average people – those who represent Main Street America and middle-class values, not Wall Street and the corporate class – have greater influence over the decisions that are made in Springfield and elsewhere.”

Senate Bill 1424 would establish a small donor matching system for statewide races in Illinois, including governor, attorney general, comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, state senators and state representatives. The system empowers ordinary people to compete financially and ideologically with special interests and wealthy donors. It also opens up the playing field to more diverse candidates for office and leads to more options at the ballot box.

Senate Bill 1424 would weaken the influence of money in Illinois elections by doing the following:

  • Contributions between $25 and $150 from local donors would be matched 6:1 by public funds.
  • Limits would be set on the amount of public funds available to each candidate.
  • Candidates would not be able to accept contributions of more than $500 from a single donor.

Under the legislation, the General Assembly could appropriate money to a special fund in the state treasury. The funds would be either $1 per Illinois resident or 1/20th of 1 percent of the state’s annual budget, whichever is greater.

“It’s time for Illinois to step up to the plate and implement this important reform, which would ensure that the voices of local donors are amplified in Illinois elections,” said David Melton, senior advisor to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, which supports the legislation. “Everyone should have an opportunity to run for office and participate in the political process.”

Proponents from Common Cause Illinois said fair-election initiatives like small donor matching are gaining momentum all over the country. Such efforts are borne of people’s frustration with the growing influence of wealthy special interests in government and the political system. Illinois is no exception, said Jay Young, political director with Common Cause Illinois.

“During the last election, we watched campaign spending in this state spiral out of control with nine local statehouse races exceeding $2 million in contributions,” Young said. “Proposals like Senate Bill 1424 provide candidates with the option to break the cycle of chasing larger and larger checks.”

Biss added that Illinois can’t afford not to pursue small donor matching, particularly in light of the state budget stalemate and the harmful influence of the corporate class at the highest levels of state government.

In 2014, Illinois saw the highest percent of total contributions from large donors in the United States, with $108.8 million from just 21 donors. Fifty-one percent of total candidate contributions were from donors who gave over $1 million in that election cycle.

“This is a structural reform that everyone should be able to agree is good for Illinois and its future,” Biss said.

Category: Press Releases

Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) discusses Senate Bill 1351, the student loan bill of rights, which would help to protect Illinois students from predatory college lenders.

"The terrible news here is the federal government is not doing its job," Biss said. "Under President Trump, the U.S. Department of Education is now rolling back consumer protections, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is under significant threat. And so the states have no choice but to step in."

The legislation passed in the Senate Wednesday and now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: Latest

Biss05052017As the White House rolls back federal protections for student loan borrowers across the nation, the Illinois State Senate sent a clear message Wednesday that it won’t succumb to pressure from loan services and their lobbyists.

Legislation sponsored by Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) that would establish a student loan bill of rights in Illinois and help to protect students from predatory college lenders passed in the Senate Wednesday.

“The fact that the student loan industry sent high-powered lobbyists to Springfield to fight against these practical, commonsense protections for middle- and low-income families tells me that we’re on the right track with this legislation,” Biss said.

“Students are drowning in debt the second they complete their education. It can take decades to dig out from that kind of financial burden, and quite often students quickly fall behind on their payments or end up in default. This is no way to start a life, a career or a family.”

Senate Bill 1351 establishes the Student Loan Bill of Rights in Illinois to provide as much protection as possible for student borrowers, a population that frequently is targeted by bad actors in the student loan industry.

The measure would help to ensure students and their families receive clear information about the money they borrow for higher education and how their student loans are serviced. Among the protections offered in the legislation:

  • Creates a student loan ombudsman in the office of the attorney general to assist borrowers with student loans.
  • Requires student loan servicers to provide specialized employees to assist borrowers with questions about loan payments, explain repayment options and evaluate a borrower’s financial situation to determine which payment plan is appropriate.
  • Requires loan servicers to give borrowers accurate information on billing statements and properly process borrowers’ payments, and bars servicers from charging unreasonable fees.
  • Requires loan servicers to tell borrowers when and how their federal loans may be discharged due to a borrower’s disability or a problem with the school the borrower attended.
  • Requires loan servicers to provide information so cosigners know the conditions of being released from their obligations.
  • Requires servicers to follow procedures when a loan is transferred to a new servicer to ensure continuity and ensure borrowers’ payments are properly handled.
  • Ensures borrowers have the right to request information and file account disputes with their servicer and appeal any servicer determination.
  • Establishes a student loan servicing license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to qualify, oversee and discipline services for violating the Student Loan Bill of Rights.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has investigated abuses in the student loan industry and filed a lawsuit against Navient, one of the largest student loan servicing companies in the nation. She said she supports Senate Bill 1351 because it would reform the student loan industry to better protect borrowers from rampant student loan abuses.

“My investigation revealed Navient boosted its profits by unfairly putting struggling student borrowers into plans that allowed its operators to get off the phone faster and added on millions of dollars in unnecessary debt for borrowers,” Madigan said.

“Further, U.S. Education Secretary (Betsy) DeVos has abandoned student loan borrowers and their families by revoking reforms designed to rein in the widespread abuses revealed in my investigation, making it critical to set standards at the state level for borrowers to get the proper assistance to repay their loans.”

Additional supporters of the legislation include the Woodstock Institute and Illinois PIRG.

Senate Bill 1351 passed in the Senate 34 to 15. It will move to the Illinois House for consideration.

Category: Latest

Contact Me

District office:
3706 Dempster St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 568-1250
(847) 568-1256 FAX

Springfield office:
417B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

Email:
biss@senatedem.illinois.gov

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