Senate Week in Review: July 10-14, 2023

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has released its newest Multi-Year Program (MYP) plan containing $41 billion in road construction and improvement projects.

In other news, state-run facilities for persons with developmental disabilities are back in the news cycle as recent investigations have revealed staggering instances of abuse and neglect within the system.

Also, Illinois is launching a new student loan program with the nonprofit ISL Education Lending program to encourage more residents to graduate from college.

IDOT’s Fiscal Year 2024-2029 plan released

IDOT’s newest MYP will cover the next six years in transportation infrastructure repairs and updates, lasting through fiscal year 2029, and will invest $41 billion collectively over the course of that period in a variety of projects. This money will come from a combination of federal, state, and local funds.

In this annual update to the MYP, roughly $27 billion is earmarked for roads and bridges, while the remaining $14 billion is for public transit, rail, aviation, ports, waterways, and other projects. This program will also support upgrades for broadband access, state colleges, and universities.

Information about the MYP plan can be found on the IDOT website.

Investigations reveal serious issues at state facilities for developmentally disabled

In September 2022, Choate Mental Health and Development Center in Union County came under fire after a controversial report detailed complaints of abuse and neglect, according to State Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy). In response, the state announced in March that it would downsize the facility and move approximately half of the residents to the other six developmental centers run by the state.

Another report released by ProPublica this week details continued issues of abuse and neglect at Choate as well as similar issues at other state-run facilities.

The report shows that since 2012, Illinois State Police have opened 200 investigations into employee misconduct at the state’s seven developmental centers, which are responsible for taking care of roughly 1,600 individuals. Allegations of physical abuse and criminal battery are cited in 161 of the cases, 25 cases pertain to accusations of sexual assault and custodial sexual misconduct, and 10 cases allege criminal neglect. Four of the investigations were related to the death of a resident.

In February, every Republican lawmaker in the Senate and House of Representatives signed a letter calling for public hearings on the situation at Choate. This week, Republican legislators issued another request for open hearings, this time to learn more about the continued issues at all the state’s facilities for persons with developmental disabilities.

Tracy said the Governor’s Administration has repeatedly failed to properly prioritize the state’s developmentally disabled community, including failing to adequately fund services and address abuse and neglect.

Illinois nonprofit opens applications for student loan program

As the start of the school year approaches, Illinois is joining forces with ISL Education Lending to launch the Illinois Partnership Loan Program, a lower-priced undergraduate and graduate student loan program for Illinois residents studying at qualifying Illinois institutions.

The program is designed to supplement other sources of financial aid for colleges, so students should seek out and exhaust all sources prior to seeking a Partnership Loan.

Applications are currently open, and more information is available online.

To be considered, students must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident currently residing in Illinois who is accepted, enrolled, or attending on a least a half-time basis a nonprofit, Title IV eligible, degree-granting, accredited Illinois college or university. Students can also apply with a co-signer and are eligible to borrow up to the cost of attendance minus other aid each year, as certified by the school. Interest rates are dependent on the applicant’s credit score.

Jil Tracy

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