The following was released by the offices of Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-4th):
In 2013, Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford once again demonstrated her commitment to improving education and ensuring that every Illinois resident has an opportunity to find a good-paying job.
Her signature accomplishment for the year was lowering the state’s mandatory school age from 7 to 6, ensuring that all kids get to school before they are old enough to be in second grade. The law will also help schools in their efforts to crack down on the problem of chronic truancy among younger students.
“You learn to read and write when you’re in kindergarten and first grade,” Lightford said. “Those are foundational skills that every student needs. If a child skips those grades or misses too many days, he or she’s going to have a hard time catching up and is less likely to enjoy being at school.”
Lightford also continued to push for better education funding. For the first time in several years, she was able to support the state budget because it did not include any further reductions in school funding. She also introduced a resolution calling for an end to the practice of proration – only providing schools with a percentage of the state funding they deserve – and was appointed to serve on a panel that is reassessing the state’s basic school funding formula.
Back home, Senator Lightford continued her highly successful Saturday University program, which provides tutoring to local students, and hosted a well-attended college fair for high school students looking to continue their education after graduation.
To help ensure that everyone in Illinois has an opportunity to find a good-paying job, the senator passed a law that helps former criminals who committed minor, non-violent crimes turn their lives around by getting their records expunged or sealed. The expunging process helps people who have made mistakes reintegrate into society by finding decent jobs and housing.
Lightford also continued her efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage – a difficult battle, but one that she refuses to back down from.
“The minimum wage should be a living wage,” Lightford said. “If you work 40 or more hours a week, you should be able to keep a roof over your head and healthy food on your table without government assistance.”
Lightford plans to keep fighting for working men and women and Illinois’ children in 2014. VFP