Family working from homeSPRINGFIELD –State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) traveled back to Springfield to help pass a budget that will support working families, small businesses, and immigrant communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This budget isn’t perfect, but we needed to pass a responsible plan that preserves key funding for essential services and provides relief for businesses to help them stay afloat until it is safe to reopen our state,” Villivalam said. “Additionally, there is no question we need further assistance from the federal government. The state of Illinois already sends more dollars to the federal government than it receives prior to the pandemic. We need them to step up.”

The new budget addresses key priorities including:

  • Providing more than $600 million in funding for businesses impacted by COVID-19
  • Preserves $12.6 billion in P-12 education funding
  • Providing an additional $400 million for local health departments
  • Providing $32 million in funding for immigrant welcoming centers to help recent immigrants get the COVID-19-related help they need
  • Providing IDES with nearly $60 million in additional funding to address challenges with the unemployment system

“This pandemic has shown us that we were not prepared to handle a crisis of this magnitude,” Villivalam said. “It is more important than ever to make sure we support struggling Illinoisans in any way we can, and this budget will at least provide some stability for the foreseeable future.”

Senate Bill 264 passed the Illinois Senate 37-19. 

Category: Press Releases

State Senator Ram VillivalamCHICAGO – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) has chief co-sponsored legislation to ensure that Illinoisans will be able to safely cast their ballots in the November election. The new elections safety package – a part of Senate Bill 1863 – will have expanded access to the state’s vote-by-mail program, early voting, and election day voting. 

“This package is in large part a culmination of several pieces of legislation I introduced last year. It is simply unreasonable and unsafe to force voters, many of them seniors, to congregate in enclosed spaces, stand in long lines for hours, and risk their health simply to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Villivalam said. “We can’t cancel a presidential election but we can make voter safety a priority, which is what we have done.” 

Last year, Senator Villivalam introduced Senate Bills 1253, 1254, 1267, and 1237, which all expanded voter access.  

Once the measure is signed by the governor, those who voted within the last two years will be receiving an application for a vote-by-mail ballot. Additionally, anyone who registered to vote after the 2020 primary election will receive an application. 

People who aren’t automatically sent an application will still be able to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot through the State Board of Elections’ website. 

“Allowing people to vote by mail is a crucial way to keep older Americans and those with increased health risks engaged in elections and to combat voter suppression during this pandemic,” Villivalam said. “I hope our actions today help assure Illinoisans that are putting their health and safety first while still allowing them to actively participate in our democratic process from the comfort and safety of their homes.” 

The measure now moves to the governor.

Category: Press Releases

 

State Senator Ram VillivalamCHICAGO– State Senator  Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) testified on Monday, May 11 to the Chicago City Council’s Committee on Workforce Development, urging it to support his proposal to enshrine the right to unionize in the Illinois Constitution.
 
“We hear the term ‘backbone of the economy’ all the time,” Villivalam said. “This amendment to the Illinois Constitution would protect the real backbone of our economy: the women and men who work the everyday jobs that keep all companies, big and small, in business.”
 
Villivalam’s legislation would create constitutional protections for workers’ rights to collectively bargain over wages, hours, terms, and conditions. Though these rights are currently protected by Illinois law, there have been efforts across the country to weaken union bargaining rights.
 
In his remarks to the committee, Villivalam acknowledged that the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for businesses and workers alike, but he believes this is exactly the time we need to be talking about workers’ rights.
 
“As our economy recovers, I want to see businesses succeed and prosper,” Villivalam said. “But, I also want to make sure that Illinois’ workers have a significant seat at the table as we rebuild our economy so that our recovery benefits everyone – not just the CEOs.”
 
Villivalam’s legislation is Senate Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 23, which will be read into the record when the General Assembly returns to Springfield. If approved by the legislature, voters would have the opportunity to approve it during the next eligible General Election.
Category: Press Releases
CHICAGO — With workers at nearly 70 nursing homes across the state planning to go on strike because of unsafe working conditions, several Illinois Senate Democrats wrote a letter to the Illinois Department of Public Health and many local health departments Tuesday requesting to know the amount of Personal Protective Equipment that has been distributed to those nursing homes and the process by which it was distributed.
 
“The hardworking people who put their own health on the line to care for our state’s most vulnerable population should not have to do so without proper protection,” said State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago). “Workers shouldn’t be left wondering when and if they’ll get more supplies, and management shouldn’t have to find and pay for most PPE that is needed out of its own pockets.” 
 
The request comes from members of the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus who have at least one nursing home in the district they represent where management received strike notices last week. Employees of 64 nursing homes across the state sent strike notices to management, saying facilities do not have enough PPE, safety protocols, and adequate hazard pay. 
 
In an effort to stand up for those workers in their districts, the group sent a letter to IDPH and local health departments to ask how facilities are chosen to receive PPE and how much PPE these nursing homes have received since the start of the outbreak.
 
"When our nursing home staffs aren't afforded adequate PPE, that puts worker and resident lives in danger," said State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview). "PPE is scarce right now, but our frontline workers need these supplies in order to continue caring for those who need it the most.”
 
Late last month, WBEZ — a Chicago-based public radio station — reported 625 Illinois nursing home patients and staff have died from COVID-19. Nursing home deaths make up more than a third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. 
 
“We need to do everything possible to provide a safe environment for our nursing home workers, who day in and day out protect our most vulnerable loved ones,” said State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Schaumburg). 
Category: Press Releases

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