Holmes speaks on the Senate floorSPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, issued the following statement after voting in favor of Senate Bill 2043, which, among other things, funds grants for college students that went unfunded over the past year.

“This should have been done a long time ago,” Holmes said. “Failing to deliver on these grants has been harmful to students who are working toward a better education.”

“I urge Governor Rauner to do the right thing by businesses and the next generation of workers who will make them strong: Sign this funding into law.”

Senate Bill 2043 appropriates $397 million for MAP grants and $324 to the Illinois Community College Board for funds that include operations and adult education and literacy programs.

Having passed both chambers of the General Assembly, it awaits the governor’s signature to become law.


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SPRINGFIELD — State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address Wednesday.

“As Governor Rauner spoke about our state’s accomplishments this past year, he left out that it was a disaster for everyone who looks to government for crucial aid, from children who need daycare to seniors who need food,” Holmes said. “I agree with his calls for government consolidation on the local level and even served on the task force that explored those issues, but I’m disappointed that he’s married these ideas to his anti-union agenda. I am ready to make 2016 the year we set aside these politicized issues and do the work of the state.”


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CHICAGO – State Sen. Linda Holmes, a member of the Lt. Governor's Task Force on Consolidation and Unfunded Mandates, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner's Monday unveiling of the task force's findings.

"It is unfortunate Gov. Rauner has chosen to inject highly politicized items like repealing prevailing wage and making collective bargaining optional for local governments into the discussion of these other common sense approaches to spending reductions," Holmes said. "I worked with Lt. Governor Sanguinetti to put forth a number of other proposals that could benefit taxpayers, such as granting the power to consolidate units of government with careful local input and examining the unfunded mandates state government imposes on local government. These other items reflect the governor's continued insistence on an anti-union and anti-middle class agenda."

Holmes was one of several members of the task force. She has repeatedly voiced her support for more government consolidation powers to be given over to local governments with proper oversight and taxpayer input. She voted against the task force’s recommendations on the prevailing wage repeal and collective bargaining changes. Unfunded mandates are laws or rules that require local units of government to perform services or meet regulatory standards, but do not provide the funding to do so. Holmes, D-Aurora, will file legislation that would review such mandates on local government.

The commission's full report can be read here.

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Automation World - Dec. 9, 2015 | Original article

By Aaron Hand

Asked recently how he can continue to develop beneficial programs while his dashboard lights up with the destructive dark side of crises, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted that any challenge must be seen as an opportunity to move forward. That was a few days before Thanksgiving, before he found himself under fire—people calling for his resignation because of the way the city and police department handled the police shooting of black teen Laquan McDonald a year ago.

Nonetheless, during his time as mayor, Emanuel has looked at the challenges facing his city and developed programs to turn those challenges around. One of those challenges was what he saw as an education system that was not preparing the workers of tomorrow for an ever-advancing manufacturing industry.

Emanuel is concerned that the U.S. as a country has not updated its education or infrastructure to adapt to a changing world. “Our educational system stops at 12th grade, and yet the jobs of tomorrow require a minimum of two years beyond,” he said during an event just before Thanksgiving called Bold Bets: Future of Manufacturing.

Emanuel is trying to create a city with the best-trained, best-educated workforce. Making reference to a federal system of job training programs that has not only been confusing but has led local systems to be similarly confusing, Emanuel said Chicago set out to systematically consolidate its programs—to “make it easy, make it simple, make it relevant.”

Chicago has seven community colleges—the second most in the country. Each school is focused on the most promising areas for jobs, Emanuel said, and they’ve asked the related industries to help design the curriculum to teach what they need.

A high school degree might’ve gotten you somewhere in your career 20 years ago, but that’s not the case today, Emanuel said. “It’s clear today that everybody is going to need two years of post-high school education.”

That’s what Chicago is trying to address with its Chicago Star Scholarship, which aims to ensure the city’s workforce has at least a 14th-grade education. “We will always go right if we invest in our people,” Emanuel said.

Through the Chicago Star Scholarship, which was launched a little over a year ago, City Colleges of Chicago provides tuition, fee and book waivers to qualifying high school graduates to help them get an associate degree with no out-of-pocket costs.

“You get a B average in Chicago public schools, and community college is free. Cost will not be a prohibitive factor,” Emanuel said. “We’re going to a pre-K to college model. If we can be a city where everybody has a minimum of 14th-grade level, Chicago will win. There’s no way China or India or Germany will beat us.”

Emanuel—who had just returned from a quick trip to Guangzhou, China, where he attended the annual forum U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade—had some insights into the challenge of losing jobs to developing nations like China.

“At one level China is a competitor, but there’s nothing that they’re doing that if we don’t do it right here, we can not only compete, but win,” Emanuel emphasized. “China won’t eat our lunch if we do our homework right. But if we don’t do our homework, there’s no guarantee.”

Chicago is working to get it right, developing programs to help fill the skills gap so often referenced in the manufacturing industry. Aurora University, for example, in the Chicago suburbs, created a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program to get kids interested at a younger age, noted Illinois state senator Linda Holmes, also during the Bold Bets event in Chicago.

Aurora University created a STEM partnership school—a “completely new concept,” Holmes said—to help bridge the obvious disconnect between students unable to find jobs and employers unable to find qualified workers. The John C. Dunham STEM Partnership School, located on the university’s campus, is for students in third through eighth grades. It develops not only the students, but also the teachers. The school is staffed through a professional development strategy that has teachers from the partner districts as faculty while they complete Aurora’s graduate coursework in math and science education.

“The school then pairs up with local businesses. The businesses not only help the school in the financial aspect, but also create the curriculum,” Holmes explained. “Now the students are actually learning the skills they need for jobs. I think it’s very promising.”

There are too many students finishing high school who are not properly prepared to start college, and that’s a problem Chicago and the country as a whole needs to acknowledge, said Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Ramirez described a Chicago-area high school program aimed at better preparing students for success in college and career opportunities. Created in a high school that had closed on Chicago’s west side, Austin Polytech Academy (APA) was founded by Chicago Public Schools and the Chicagoland Manufacturing Renaissance Council about eight years ago. The school works with Manufacturing Connect on engineering and machining courses to help students apply their skills to real-world work experiences with local manufacturers.

The students are getting their high school educations, but also NIMS certification, Ramirez pointed out. To top it off, the school is also in session at night to help train parents to better compete in the workforce as well. “This is working. The scalability is completely possible,” he said. “This is going to come down to political wherewithal.”

The discussion at the Bold Bets event also turned to the increasingly technical nature of manufacturing. The days of just making widgets are over, Emanuel said, and manufacturing has become not just a job, but a career. “We need to prepare the city to advance in advanced manufacturing.”

He pointed in particular to UI Labs, a research and commercialization collaborative that has set up its headquarters on Chicago’s Goose Island. “It makes Chicago the center of digital research,” Emanuel said. “It’s going to create a backbone of research.”

Manufacturing generates more data than any other sector of the economy, according to Bill King, Andersen chair in engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and co-director of the Illinois Advanced Manufacturing Institute. “When we talk to manufacturing leaders and ask them how much of their data they use, it’s very little of it—1 or 2 percent,” said King, who was also the founding CTO at UI Labs’ Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII). “This is a huge opportunity for data as an asset.”

It also means that—despite the idea that robots are taking away U.S. manufacturing jobs—the workforce is as relevant as ever. “Manufacturing digitization makes knowledge workers more important,” King said. “It is a really exciting time to be a technology person. We know what it looks like when there’s a sector of the economy that becomes digitized. They’re very excited to bring new technologies and new business models to bear.”

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