UNI BEP FY17CHICAGO – Members of the Illinois Senate Special Committee on Supplier Diversity began the process of figuring out why the state does a poor job of including women and minorities in state contracts and looking for ways to reform the Business Enterprise Program Tuesday.

Many public universities, including the University of Illinois, Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University, did not come close to meeting the goal to spend 20 percent of their contract dollars with businesses owned by minorities and females last fiscal year.

State Senator Martin A. Sandoval (D-Chicago), the committee’s chairman, called the meeting to find out why universities failed to meet the requirements of the Business Enterprise Program, what is being done to make up ground and how the state could better force compliance.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” Sandoval said. “We have to be accountable to the people we serve and we have to more power as a legislature to determine these goals and to look at whether state agencies are meeting their goals.”

Sandoval said Central Management Services did a poor job of explaining the Business Enterprise Program to the committee, which came to the conclusion that reform is needed.

State Senator James Clayborne Jr. (D-Belleville), a long-time advocate for supplier diversity along with Sandoval, forcefully questioned the CMS and university leaders and demanded better as well.

“For years I’ve been asking why the state can’t include minorities and women and I always get the same excuses: ‘We’re working on it, it’s difficult to do, we already have established relationships with most of our vendors,” Clayborne said. “We need solutions – not excuses – for these failures. We need accountability and creativity to include minorities in state contracts.”

“CMS had an hour and a half to explain this program to us and they said nothing,” Sandoval said. “CMS is in charge of this program and it’s kind of like the wolf guarding the henhouse. There is no oversight except from a volunteer council.”

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Chicago), a former CMS employee that worked with the BEP, had strong sentiments for CMS and the universities as well.

“You’re not doing a good job in identifying African American and Latino business owners, period,” Lightford said. “There are no deadlines, there’s no accountability. It’s a vicious cycle and it is continually happening throughout the state of Illinois. There are always excuses when it comes to minority vendors. If there is something we could do on the legislative end, please let us know. We will work on it.”

Sandoval ended the four-hour meeting by informing the universities that he would be visiting their campuses to examine practices and help them find ways to improve on their BEP numbers.

Category: News

Lightford072418SPRINGFIELD – More than 400,000 people living with diabetes in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will have a new tool available through the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center, a dedicated helpline that will assist people who need help paying for their insulin.

Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) urges all who struggle to afford their insulin to take advantage of the new helpline that will be up and running by Aug. 1.

“While diabetes is a manageable condition, the medical costs can be financially straining for those who are uninsured or have lower incomes,” Lightford said. “I want to spread the word about the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center, and I strongly encourage those in need to use the service when it becomes available.”

A customized suite offering solutions for all Lilly insulins, including for Humalog® (insulin lispro), will be used by helpline operators to find answers that best fit the personal circumstances of patients.

Among the multiple solutions being made available through the helpline are short-term and long-term options for people with immediate needs for insulin and how people with lower incomes can access Lilly insulin through free clinics. Lilly is donating Humalog and Humulin® (insulin human injection) to three relief agencies – Americares, Direct Relief, and Dispensary of Hope – to supply nearly 150 free clinics across the U.S.

Until the new hotline launches on Aug. 1, more information can be obtained by calling The Lilly Answers Center customer service line at (800) 545-5979.

Category: News

Lightford062518SPRINGFIELD- Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) released the following statement after a Supreme Court ruling that allows non-union workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying dues:

“The SCOTUS today just dismantled the fundamental concept of a contract. In siding with Mark Janus, the court sets up a classist system where union workers must pay the bill for workers to receive the hard-fought wages, benefits and job protection rights that come from collective bargaining.

This decision is, without a doubt, a substantial attack on organized labor and the equality and fairness that generations of union activists have shepherded. Make no mistake, this is an example of just how much harm one greedy, ideological decision of “activist judges” can inflict on millions of Americans – especially hard-working people of color.

Organized labor thrives when the wealthiest and greediest among us have the arrogance to systematically limit the opportunities for the majority of us. And I’ll stand anywhere I can to help organize with teachers, laborers, social service workers, moms, dads, neighbors and friends who are ready to fight for economic dignity.”

Category: News

Lightford053118 3SPRINGFIELD – While obtaining a college degree is increasingly vital to career advancement, low-income, racial minority and first-generation college students often struggle to transition into a college or university’s culture.

A plan led by Illinois Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) that was approved by the Senate seeks to ease the transition into college by allowing Illinois’ public universities to establish bridge programs. These programs would provide access, academic support and financial aid to underrepresented students.

“Our universities should be equipped to ensure the success of all students,” Lightford said. “Bridge programs create an opportunity for students who may have a tougher time adjusting to college by offering them support in areas often overlooked.”

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Category: News

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