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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:48pm
Wed Mar 4

Advocates To Rauner: Reconsider 'Devastating' Budget Cuts To Immigrant Services (VIDEO)

Illinois immigrant advocates are stressing the importance of programs funded through the state's Immigrant Services Line Item (ISLI), which Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to eliminate entirely as part of his proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

At a Chicago press conference Wednesday, leaders with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) released a new report by the group, showing that the line item's elimination could have "devastating effects" on immigrants, service providers and the state's economy.

"We understand the weight of what's going on down in Springfield around the state budget. We know that there are not going to be any easy fixes to this. It's going to require a combination of revenue enhancements, smart investments but also responsible cuts," said ICIRR CEO Lawrence Benito. "Cutting investments which provide five-fold returns is no way to solve a state's problems. It will only exacerbate them. It's pennywise and pound foolish. And so our message to the governor and the General Assembly today is: Latino and immigrant communities are essential to Illinois and moving our economy forward." 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
5:54pm
Tue Mar 3

Environmental, Maritime Industry Groups Sound Off On Federal Ballast Water Bill

Progress Illinois takes a look at the debate over pending federal legislation seeking to streamline regulations governing ballast water discharged by ships.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:58am
Tue Mar 3

Over 1,000 IL Schools Joined Federal Free Meal Program This Year

More than 14,000 high-poverty schools nationwide -- including over 1,000 in Illinois -- adopted a new federal program this academic year aimed at improving access to free meals for students, according to a new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, enables qualifying high-poverty schools to serve no-cost breakfast and lunches to all students. The program, designed to make school meal operations more efficient and help reduce hunger, eliminates the need for schools to collect household applications to determine which students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.

Community eligibility, which began as a pilot program in 11 states, including Illinois, became an option for qualifying schools nationwide this academic year. Illinois was among three states, allong with Kentucky and Michigan, to roll out community eligibility in some schools in the 2011-2012 academic year.

"Community eligibility not only reduces redundant paperwork at high-poverty schools but also makes possible huge gains in meeting vulnerable children's nutritional needs by providing them with a healthy breakfast and lunch at school each day," CPBB's report reads. "Reliable access to healthy meals, in turn, better prepares students to learn. The popularity of community eligibility in its first year of nationwide implementation speaks to schools' desire to improve access to healthy meals while reducing red tape, as well as to the option's sound design."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:19pm
Mon Mar 2

Durbin Calls For Reforms To Solitary Confinement In Prisons

new review of restrictive housing programs used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons makes the case for "meaningful" reforms to solitary confinement practices, says U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).

"The fact remains that the United States holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other democratic nation in the world," the senator said in a statement Friday, when the independent report on U.S. prison segregation policies, conducted by CNA Analysis and Solutions, was released.  

"The findings and recommendations of this report provide further evidence that we must fundamentally reform our approach to solitary confinement," Durbin added.

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