Black History Month FB

As we celebrate Black History Month, I want to recognize and remember people whose influence on me was personal and memorable. Certainly, there are many other significant African Americans with Peoria connections to mention, but I wanted to focus on those who are no longer with us and those whose impact I can testify to first-hand. I’ve had the privilege of serving alongside and building relationships with numerous African-American leaders who called our city home, namely Dr. Romeo Garrett, John Gwynn Jr., Annie Jo Gordon (mother of Rep. Jehan Gordon Booth) and Frank Campbell. During the course of my work as a young community organizer and staff person for Peoria Friendship House on the Near Northside, I had the opportunity to work alongside each of these individuals on numerous occasions. They not only inspired the community with their dedication to making life better for all Peorians, but they inspired me to get involved and to try and make a difference. Though they have passed on, their contributions to the rich history of our community, state, and country continue to endure.

Additionally, I want to highlight a man whose contributions to the Civil Rights Movement have, in my opinion, been underappreciated. A. Phillip Randolph is known for being the leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union, but he was also one of the most significant leaders of the 1963 March on Washington. Randolph and the NALC (Negro American Labor Council), which he led, were the initiators of the famous event that featured Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. His work inspired me, and though I was too young to attend the 1963 March, I jumped at the chance to attend the 20th Anniversary March in 1983 where I felt the presence of Randolph, Dr. King, and all of those who had sacrificed so much in the fight for racial justice. The experience served as a sobering reminder that while we had come so far in the decades prior, there was still work to be done and progress to be made. This sentiment was conveyed beautifully by a wonderful young reporter from the Peoria Journal Star named Pam Adams, who sent daily reports back home, giving all Peorians the opportunity to keep tabs on history in the making.

My attendance of the 20th Anniversary March followed a transformational period in my life. After graduating from Yankton College in my home state of South Dakota, I enrolled for my first year of seminary school at Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. Payne is an AME (African Methodist Episcopal) seminary, which meant I would be joining a majority African American student body. I was invited to the seminary by Dean Handley Hickey, who I encountered for the first time at a Consultation on Church Union meeting that took place in 1970, or thereabout. I was a youth delegate for my denomination, the United Church of Christ and while we sat together for numerous small group discussions, a valuable friendship was forged. My experience as the only white student at the school proved to be pivotal in the development of my outlook on the world. I will fondly carry the stories I heard, the things I learned, and the people I met with me for the rest of my life.

While the names above represent just a few of the remarkable African American leaders that touched my life in a significant way, this month is about placing a focus on the stories of all African Americans that are too often overlooked. I hope you will join me in celebrating history made, as well as history still in the making.

Happy Black History Month!





Dave Koehler

State Senator | 46th District

Category: News

3Koehler FB

SPRINGFIELD – Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s annual budget address, State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) offered praise for the administration’s priorities. He released the following statement:

“Overall, I’m pleased with where the governor is proposing we focus our attention fiscally. “By prioritizing these initiatives, we are meeting our mandate to provide quality services people can rely on: cleaning up coal ash waste and creating a program to provide access to training for careers in infrastructure and trade industry.

Though this is certainly only the beginning of what promises to be a complex negotiation process, I look forward to working with the Pritzker administration to continue improving the lives of Central Illinoisans.”

Category: News

10062018 Koehler Ecycling 650

PEKIN – Hundreds of residents were able to clear their homes of obsolete computers, dusty old televisions, broken video game systems and small appliances that went kaput long ago thanks to an electronics recycling event hosted by State Senator Dave Koehler Saturday.

Some people waited upward of an hour and a half to responsibly dispose of unwanted electronics during the free annual event.

“This is a good thing to do. We came all the way from Washington (Illinois) to do this,” one participant said. “It’s worth the wait.”

10062018 Koehler Ecycling 6 650

The event took place at Area Recycling in Pekin with the help of Kuusakoski Recycling, an e-waste recycler with a site in Peoria. Numerous employees of the companies were on hand to unload pickup trucks, trailers and car trunks of electronics waste and haul it away in the eight semi-tractor trailers that were made available for the event.

10062018 Koehler Ecycling 3 650

Koehler said it’s quite an effort and complimented the crews for keeping the popular event running like clockwork.

“It’s really important to not only the environment, but we hear from our township supervisors a lot. What happens is, if people don’t have somewhere to store their TVs they throw them in a ditch. So the townships are constantly sending crews out to pick up TVs, and that costs taxpayer dollars,” Koehler said.

“So this is a nice way of disposing of TVs and knowing that they’re going to be recycled, and I think people appreciate it.”

10062018 Koehler Ecycling 2 650

Koehler said he intends to continue hosting the event – which always takes place the first Saturday in October – as long as there is a need.

“Every year – until there are no more TVs to be thrown out,” he said.

10062018 Koehler Ecycling 7 650


10062018 Koehler Ecycling 8 650


10062018 Koehler Ecycling 5 650


Category: News

053116CM1472Now that we have a budget for the first time in over two years, it is important to me that you truly understand how this budget came together and what is included.

To start off, it is important to keep in mind that without this budget, the State was spending at the same level we were spending at when we had a 5% income tax. We have not had a 5% income tax since January 2015, when it dropped back down to 3.75%. So, without this budget, because of court-ordered spending, Illinois would have been spending roughly $39 billion while only taking in approximately $32 billion.

Nobody wants their taxes raised, including myself. Before we considered any new revenues, we worked on cutting state spending. In the end, we cut almost $3 billion in state spending. It was only after we cut what amounts to almost 10% of spending that we looked at new revenues.

Many of those spending cuts were cuts that our Republican colleagues requested. Despite that, this budget, in many ways, was the budget the Republicans wanted. Unfortunately, the governor still told them not to vote for it.

Under the new budget, the income tax will increase from 3.75% to 4.95%. When the governor took office, he asked the General Assembly to allow the tax hike passed under Pat Quinn to go down from 5% to 3.75%. Since he has taken office, the governor has never proposed a truly balanced budget that makes up for the lost revenue. 4.95% is the figure Governor Rauner and the Republicans wanted.

Our budget even spends less than the unbalanced budget the governor proposed in February. When he proposed that budget, he endorsed the Senate's efforts in passing the "Grand Bargain" which relied on new revenues to balance the budget.

The governor has also stated that he did not sign the budget because we did not pass any reforms. We enacted pension reforms that governor asked for that will save the taxpayers' money. We passed school funding reforms which will guarantee that all public school students go to a school that is fairly funded. We passed procurement reforms that will cut red tape and save the state money. We passed local government consolidation reforms that will make it easier to decrease the number of local governments. In addition to these reforms, both the Speaker and the President of the Senate have agreed to continue working on additional reforms to continue to move Illinois forward.

Additionally, we increased funding for K-12 schools and fully funding colleges like Illinois Central College and Spoon River Community College. We fund critical human and social services like domestic violence shelters. We balance the budget and provide financial stability so we can begin rebuilding our state's credit rating which will also save us money.

I understand that most people will be upset that their taxes were increased. However, the alternative of not having a budget was simply not an option. Our state's finances could have been permanently damaged and taxpayers would have been on the hook for even more in the future. Our universities could have lost accreditation and been forced to close and many public schools could have not opened in the fall.

We finally have a budget, but we must continue working to pass reforms that will make the state competitive without hurting workers. I stand firm in my commitment to work with my Republican colleagues to move in Illinois forward and make sure we never go through this again.

Category: News

Unemployment FAQ


eNewsletter Signup
  1. First Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  2. Last Name(*)
    Invalid Input
  3. Your Email(*)
    Please let us know your email address.

Contact Info

Springfield Office:
323B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8250

Peoria Office:
1203 East Kingman Ave.
Peoria Heights, IL 61616
(309) 677-0120

Bloomington-Normal Office:
216 N. Center St.
Bloomington, IL 61701
(309) 808-2345