UrbanaSPRINGFIELD – The Urbana Park District is among the 118 recipients of Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grants distributed through the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, State Senator Paul Faraci announced Thursday.

“Investment in our parks and recreation not only enhances community engagement, it promotes physical and mental health,” said Faraci (D-Champaign). “This state money will have major positive impact on accessibility for more families.”

A total of $60 million in state grants are being awarded for 118 local park projects throughout Illinois to help communities acquire land and develop recreational opportunities. The grants represent the largest round of Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grants in the 36-year history of the program.

The Urbana Park Districts plans to use the OSLAD grant to help build a new Meadowbrook Park Playground. The park district anticipates the playground will be removed this winter with new construction beginning in 2024.  The park district will help those wishing to reclaim the "Helping Hands" concrete pavers around the perimeter of the playground. Anyone wishing to do so should call 217-344-9583 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

“This $550,000 grant is tremendously impactful for Urbana. The playground has always been an important play destination, and the next Meadowbrook Playground has been designed by the community for the community,” said Kara Dudek-Mizel, Park Planner. “In 2021-2022, the planning process included over 2,560 engagements via surveys, virtual meetings, open-houses, special events, special recreation engagement, and collaborating with kids in Urbana. With the award of the OSLAD grant, we are excited to begin final design engineering, bidding and construction. I am most excited for the increased physical, mental, social, emotional, and sensory play opportunities, as well as the accessibility and inclusion this project will bring for children and caregivers.”

PUNS1CHAMPAIGN - State Senator Paul Faraci has introduced Senate Bill 1752, which aims to reduce the number of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services database.

The PUNS list currently has 14,806 individuals who want or need Developmental Disability Waiver Services. As funding becomes available, individuals are selected from PUNS to apply for the waiver. However, the demand for these services far outweighs the available funding, leaving many individuals waiting for years to receive the assistance they need.

"The PUNS list has been a concern of mine for many years, and I am thrilled to introduce this bill that will help reduce the backlog of individuals waiting for developmental disability waiver services," said Faraci (D-Champaign). "Every person on the list is someone who needs help, and it's our duty to ensure that they receive the support they require to live a happy and fulfilling life."

Senate Bill 1752 requires the Department of Human Services to reduce the number of individuals on the PUNS database by at least 800 persons by June 30, 2024, no fewer than 1,000 persons between July 1, 2024 and June 30, 2025, and no fewer than 1,200 persons beginning July 1, 2026 and every July 1 thereafter, until the list is exhausted.

The bill will provide relief to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been waiting for services, and will ensure that funding is allocated more efficiently to those who are most in need.

"I urge my colleagues in the Senate to support this bill, which will make a significant difference in the lives of the people we serve,” said Faraci. “This is the right thing to do for children and families that deserve better.”

If passed, Senate Bill 1752 will provide a much-needed solution to the challenges faced by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. It will help to reduce the wait time for critical services, improving the quality of life for those who require assistance.

FaraciSPRINGFIELD - The achievements and accomplishments of Career and Technical Education programs across the state will be recognized this February under a measure supported by State Senator Paul Faraci that passed the Senate Thursday.

“By passing this resolution, we hope to bring additional awareness to the benefits of CTE programs and the high-wage careers that trades offer,” said Faraci (D-Champaign). “Having a skilled workforce is one of the things companies look at when considering new development in an area.”

Senate Resolution 85 declares February as Career and Technical Education Month in Illinois. Under the resolution, high school educators and counselors will be encouraged to assist each student to determine an appropriate post-secondary plan based upon their skills, strengths and goals and help them implement the best practices that improve career readiness after high school so that they can find an appropriate pathway.

CTE offers education and advanced training to support high-wage, high-skill, and in-demand occupations, including careers in trades, health care, information technology, agriculture, finance and education. About 12 million high school and college students are enrolled in CTE across the nation. Advance CTE reports that the high school graduation rate for students who concentrate on CTE is about 90% – 15 percentage points higher than the national average.

“We need to give people opportunity to make a good living, and CTE programs provide bright futures with pathways to good-paying jobs in major industries,” said Faraci. 

Senate Resolution 85 was adopted by the Senate Thursday.

R 012523MB0017CHAMPAIGN - State Senator Paul Faraci has introduced Senate Bill 1439, which would expand the Illinois income tax credit for classroom materials to include educators at public universities, colleges and community colleges.

"Teachers and educators at all levels play a vital role in shaping our future generations, and it is important that we support their efforts in every way we can," said Faraci (D-Champaign). "Expanding the income tax credit for classroom materials to include college educators is a common-sense step towards providing them with the resources they need to enhance the learning experience for their students."

 Under current law, Illinois provides an income tax credit for classroom materials purchased by teachers, instructors, counselors, principals, or aides working in a qualified school, which is defined as a public or nonpublic K-12 school. The credit is limited to $500 per taxpayer per taxable year.

Senate Bill 1439 would broaden the definition of “qualified school” to include public institutions of higher learning, effectively allowing college educators to claim the credit starting in taxable year 2024.

The Illinois income tax credit for classroom materials is a valuable resource for educators, allowing them to offset the cost of materials such as books, supplies and technology. By expanding the credit to college educators, Senate Bill 1439 will help to ensure that all teachers, instructors, counselors, principals or aides who work in a qualified school are eligible for this valuable benefit.

Senator Faraci encourages his fellow lawmakers to support Senate Bill 1439, which will help to support our educators and promote a strong and vibrant learning environment in Illinois.

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