Senator Martwick outlines local allocations to PAA, other groups and for street resurfacing in 45th Ward and tree plantings in 38th Ward
by BRIAN NADIG
The Polish American Association is among the local nonprofits benefitting from recent state budget allocations, while funds also have been earmarked for public infrastructure improvements on the Northwest Side, according to state Senator Robert Martwick (D-10).
The 100-year-old association, located at 3834 N. Cicero Ave., is receiving about $250,000, Martwick said. The senator discussed local grants and the overall Fiscal Year 2024 state budget at the May 31 meeting of the Jefferson Park Neighborhood Association.
The PAA provides a variety of bilingual and bicultural services for Polish and other diverse immigrant and refugee communities. Those services cover areas such as employment, education and social well-being.
In addition, $300,000 is being set aside for a cultural attraction, such as a sculpture walk, that will be used to promote the theaters and museums in the Six Corners and Jefferson Park business districts, Martwick said. Those venues include the Filament and Gift theaters at 4041 N. Milwaukee Ave., the Copernicus Center at 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., and the Ed Paschke Art Center, 5415 W. Higgins Ave.
Arts Alive Chicago is helping to work on the project, Martwick said.
Another allocation awards about $5,000 to the Maryville Crisis Nursery, 6650 W. Irving Park Road, Martwick said. The 24-hour nursery provides emergency childcare for a parent who for whatever reason is “about to break” and needs some time away from their child to sort things out, he said.
Other allocations in the area include $1.3 million for street resurfacing in the 45th Ward and about $200,000 for the planting of trees in the 38th Ward, Martwick said.
The state also is allocating $335,000 to Lutheran Social Services, which does homeless outreach, Martwick said.
Governor JB Pritzker recently signed the $50.6 billion state budget for Fiscal Year 2024. It includes a surplus of $183 million.
Martwick said that the economic stability of the state is on the rebound, as Illinois has had eight credit rating upgrades in recent years — a far cry he said from when the state went more than two years without an approved budget while Bruce Rauner was governor. The state’s “rainy day” fund is set to surpass $2 billion.
The budget includes funds for teacher retention and recruitment and the development of early childhood education throughout the state, Martwick said.
The budget also increases Monetary Award Program funding for college students by $100 million, for a total of about $700 million. This funding is the latest step in a 75-percent increase for MAP since 2019.
Martwick said that in recent years he has heard too many stories of college students having to drop out of school because they could not pay their tuition and that he hopes the additional MAP funding will have a significant impact on keeping students in the classroom.
The budget also includes an additional $200 million pension payment beyond what is required, as the state continues to get a better handle on addressing pension issues, Martwick said.
Martwick said that Mayor Brandon Johnson recently reached out to him to discuss how the city can get a better handle on its under-funded pensions. “Chicago has been a particularly bad actor in the pension world,” Martwick said.
The mayor seemed sincere and determined about wanting to address the crisis sooner rather than later, Martwick said.
The budget also includes $450 million to pay off rail-splitter bond debt, saving the state $60 million in interest and virtually eliminating all short-term and medium-term debt, according to Martwick and the Illinois Senate Democrats office.
The budge also includes funds for the hiring and training of 200 new state troopers and $15 million for the Violent Crime Witness Protection Act.