040722HAO00427CHICAGO – Thanks to a new law supported by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Illinois will take a hard look at addressing rising rates of crime in the state.

“The root causes of violence do not have just one fix,” said Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Having a diverse set of participants, including justice-involved members of the public, people from civil liberties and domestic violence prevention organizations and more will give survivors of violence a true seat at the table in addressing violence in our communities.”

The Crime Reduction Task Force will be made up of a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, alongside law enforcement, advocates, legal and criminal justice professionals and survivors tasked with exploring ways to reduce crime in Illinois and presenting a report to the General Assembly and governor with their findings.

Additionally, the new law signed Tuesday will create a Violent Crime Witness Protection Fund to give greater protections to victims and witnesses of crime. It will also create the Co-Responder Pilot Program in multiple downstate and suburban cities to prioritize crisis intervention, trauma-centered support and case management when it comes to preventing crimes.

“Everyone in every zip code should feel comfortable being able to walk down the street,” said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago), sponsor of the new law. “No matter where you are, who you are or where you live, you should deserve to feel comfortable and safe. This measure does that by expanding witness protection and by incorporating the voices and needs of stakeholders and survivors.”

The task force’s recommendations will be presented to the General Assembly and the governor by March of 2024. The law goes into effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

CHICAGO – State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) released a statement following a recently published report revealing the Supreme Court is considering overturning the historic Roe v. Wade case:

“As the chilling news broke last night about a draft majority opinion to overturn the precedent of self-determination for generations of women and people assigned female at birth, I know many, including myself felt nothing short of devastated.  

“Reproductive rights and bodily autonomy are the most basic and fundamental human rights. This is not a drill, nor a test, nor a dress rehearsal—this moment is a rally cry and a defining time that draws a line in history. We have seen this all before, with the assault on Black lives, immigrants, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, LGBTQ+ rights and disability rights.

“Should the leaked draft be the final opinion, we are obligated to demonstrate relentlessly at every corner of federal government and lock arms with our sisters and siblings to deliver the codification of Roe v. Wade and demand the end of the filibuster. It is up to us to do the organizing work and apply the pressure, because lives are literally on the line. 

“We have a responsibility to locally coordinate life-saving mutual aid that includes abortion funds, transportation and hospitality for anyone living in and traveling to Illinois who needs access to a safe abortion. Where the Supreme Court has failed reproductive justice, Illinois has not and will not. Where the forces of reactionary, patriarchial, racist and classist backlash attempt to knock us back, Illinois will continue to push forward. 

“I make that commitment today here with the power of women across the state—those who raised us, those who we are raising, and those who we have yet to know. This work is intergenerational, intersectional and imperative. The implications are especially great for women of color, people with limited access to economic resources and transgender or non-binary people. 

“I am grateful to be standing in solidarity with leaders across the state, including the governor, with full knowledge that, although the post-Roe world has not quite arrived, the assuredly successful fight against that world starts now. 

“No court, no man, and no force can hold back the freedom of our bodily autonomy and self-determination. They may attempt to delay, but they cannot hold us back.” 

Category: Press Releases

TeacherAidSPRINGFIELD – Paraprofessionals in schools help provide students with one-on-one or small group assistance and support teachers in the classroom. Thanks to a new law sponsored by State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago), more paraprofessionals will be able to get into classrooms earlier.

“With more than 2,000 unfilled teacher aid and paraprofessional positions, it’s critical we open the door to this profession to as many qualified candidates as possible,” Pacione-Zayas said. “By lowering the required age for this profession in some classrooms, we can help students get the individualized assistance they may need.”

The new law, formerly known as Senate Bill 3988, lowers the age for paraprofessionals in Pre-K through eighth grade classrooms to 18 years old. People applying for these positions must still meet all other qualifications, including education requirements and passing a paraprofessional competency test. 

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the number of unfilled paraprofessional positions in school districts across the state nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022. There were 1,237 unfilled positions last year compared to 2,397 this year, making this legislation more important than ever.

“The majority of schools are reporting a lack of qualified applicants as the primary cause for these vacancies,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Allowing more people to apply for these positions will inevitably lead to more qualified candidates, which is vital to getting paraprofessionals into classrooms.”

The new law was signed Wednesday, and it goes into effect immediately.

Category: Press Releases

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2023 budget and a new tax benefit plan which will help families and their children as well as communities as the state continues to gain more stable financial footing. State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago) supported the budget and plan during Saturday’s vote. 

“These past few months as budget discussions were underway, I heard from constituents looking to stabilize their households,” Pacione-Zayas said. “After a year of our state getting on a path of stronger fiscal footing, I am pleased to see the important investments under this budget.”

The tax relief plan responds to the call to permanently expand the Earned Income Tax Credit from 18% to 20% and expands accessibility to taxpayers 18-24 years of age, 65 and older, and taxpayers who use an individual taxpayer identification number. It also includes a property tax refund up to $300, funding for a one-time direct tax refund check to more than 95% of Illinois taxpayers, pauses the 1% sales tax on groceries and includes a sales tax pause on back-to-school supplies from Aug. 5 to Aug. 14 to provide some relief across Illinois households.

Pacione-Zayas, a strong advocate for early childhood education, is also pleased to see that the budget includes more than $592 million going toward that sector. It restores funding for Early Intervention for children with developmental delays and disabilities and increases funding for home visiting. Additionally, it includes an additional $350 million to fund K-12 student success through the evidence based funding model.

“Ongoing stresses of the pandemic have highlighted the need for strong community investment,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Violence prevention starts at the hyperlocal level, and investing money into early childhood education, after school programs and higher education assistance will help address root causes of violence while improving health and educational outcomes for our children.”

Pacione-Zayas is also proud to see millions of dollars for seed deposits for Child Savings Account to help families establish college savings for their children.

The budget also includes funding for programs like Teen REACH After School program, the Child Care Assistance Program, Redeploy Illinois, Monetary Award Program grants and more. 

The budget passed the Senate Saturday, and if signed by the governor, will go into effect on July 1.

Category: Press Releases

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