SPRINGFIELD – In response to President Donald Trump’s recent actions on climate change, State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, joined dozens of state elected officials in signing a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner inviting him to stand with them in support the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We are calling on Governor Rauner to stand with us against global warming, rising sea levels and other preventable catastrophes,” Holmes said. “Illinois can and should continue to lead the way on environmental protection by working toward the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

President Trump withdrew support for the international agreement last week. The Paris Climate Agreement is a United Nations initiative that aims to manage the global average temperature, improve ability to adapt to climate change and increase investment in green technology. So far 148 of the 197 parties to the convention that drew up the agreement have ratified it.

Those who signed the letter to Gov. Rauner call on him to join the governors of 12 other states including Washington, California and New York in continuing to work to limit carbon emissions.

“Fighting climate change is especially important in a state like Illinois, where agriculture is so important to our economy and our communities. We should join states like Washington, California and New York in protecting the environment, as the president refuses to do so,” Holmes said.

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SPRINGFIELD – In response to the Illinois Senate passing a property tax relief package, State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, released the following statement:

“It is important that we offer the people of Illinois some tax relief in such difficult financial times. As a homeowner in this community, I have seen my own property taxes rise at an unsustainable rate. This plan would institute two years of property tax relief to help make Illinois more affordable for property owners and ensure a good deal for taxpayers.”

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SPRINGFIELD – A measure sponsored by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, that would give local school boards the final authority to approve new charter schools has advanced out of the Illinois Senate.

“Much of what I do in Springfield is based on the notion that local governments know what is best for the communities that they serve,” Holmes said. “Local school boards will always know better than the State Charter School Commission what the community needs to properly educate students.”

Current law allows the State Charter School Commission to reverse a local school board’s decision to deny, revoke or not renew a charter. Holmes’ measure would eliminate this provision, giving school boards final approval on decisions regarding charter schools.

Holmes claims that the measure before the Senate is meant to safeguard public school districts against overreach from higher units of government.

“I want the people that we elect to local school boards to make the final decisions in regards to charter schools,” Holmes said. “It is important that we protect local school boards from state and federal overreach.”

House Bill 768 was approved by the Senate yesterday. It now moves to the governor for further review.

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Sen. Holmes defends funding for domestic violence shelter

SPRINGFIELD -- An Aurora domestic violence shelter that has suffered through layoffs and service cuts amid the state’s financial crisis, could finally see stable state funding that could restore vital services to abused women under a plan the Illinois Senate recently approved.

“Mutual Ground and those that they serve have already paid a steep price for inaction and gridlock in Springfield,” said State Sen. Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat. “The plan that I voted for would fully fund Mutual Ground, giving them the certainty that they need to serve some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

The Senate’s balanced budget plan restores funding for human service organizations that have been left guessing as to how much, if any, state funding they will receive the past two years. Mutual Ground, other domestic violence shelters along with programs for breast and cervical cancer screenings, addiction treatment and mental health services have all suffered during the state’s budget impasse.

The breakthrough Senate plan would budget more than $370,000 in state funding to Mutual Ground in the budget year that begins July 1.

Illinois has gone without a full budget since Bruce Rauner became governor in 2015. Mutual Ground did not receive funding in the 2016 emergency budget and has gone two years without any assistance from the state. The Senate, with Holmes’ support, recently approved a balanced budget that relies on a mix of cuts and new revenue to wipe out a more than $5 billion deficit in the unbalanced budget plan Governor Rauner proposed earlier this year.

While the budget stalemate played out at the Capitol over the past two years. Mutual Ground lost 10 staff members to attrition and layoffs. As a result, it was forced to turn people away and do more with less staff, leading to a high burnout rate in an already challenging field.

Mutual Ground is a nonprofit serving the Greater Aurora area, Southern Kane County and all of Kendall County. The mission of the organization is to provide education, awareness and services to empower individuals, families and communities to stop domestic and sexual violence.

“For too long, political games have gotten in the way of progress and Mutual Ground’s struggle illustrates the very real consequences of the budget crisis. The Senate took action to restore stability and end the chaos. I hope that the Illinois House and Governor Rauner will follow our lead and do the same,” Holmes said.

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