AI Illinois1On Thursday, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to override Governor Rauner’s veto of the state budget. With both chambers overriding the veto, the state budget has now become law. Included in that budget is a $1.173 million grant to Agudath Israel of Illinois for school transportation.

The State of Illinois has been without a budget for over two years as a political impasse has all but paralyzed the legislative process. In the years prior to the gridlock, Agudath Israel was awarded a school transportation grant due to the herculean efforts of Rabbi Yehiel Kalish and his work with legislative leaders, most notably, House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-Chicago), along with Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie) and Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago).

“While the political environment remains highly polarized,” said Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, Director of Government Affairs for Agudath Israel of Illinois, “it was encouraging to see that leaders on both sides recognize the priority of ensuring the safe transport of as many students as possible.”

Agudath Israel of Illinois is most grateful to Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, Michael J. Madigan, for ensuring the restoration of AI Illinois3the school transportation grant. Agudath Israel also thanks Governor Bruce Rauner for expressing his support of the program, and for acknowledging the need for the safe transportation of both public and private school students.

While there still are serious challenges and much work to be done before the transportation program is implemented, this is a very positive development.

Agudath Israel applauds the inclusion of this vital program in the budget and thanks the many individuals who helped make it happen.