“Today is a victory for our schools, our students and our communities. It’s also a victory for compromise that I hope we continue to build on. By working together and in good faith, even when we do not totally agree, Democrats and Republicans have created a plan where every school district wins.
“There is more work to be done. As we move forward, it will be vitally important that the Legislature remain vigilant in protecting the funding mechanism passed. We’ll continue to find much common ground, but we will also undoubtedly face disagreements. Those disagreements do not need to be roadblocks. By continuing to work together, we can ensure all students throughout the state are receiving the support they need to be successful.”
* State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith…
“The Illinois State Board of Education is proud to have supported the historic work of the General Assembly and the Governor’s funding reform commission. Our Board Chairman, James Meeks, deserves special recognition for his years of relentless leadership and advocacy that set the foundation for this new agreement. I would like to thank my staff for working through the multiple proposed models to produce the numbers that made approving a more equitable funding formula possible.
“Illinois’ educators and local educational leaders have shown remarkable resourcefulness and dedication to their students and communities throughout this process. We are celebrating progress today. The evidence-based funding formula takes a historic step toward equity and ensuring every student gets the resources they need for academic excellence and postsecondary success. When the students in the greatest need receive the most support, the entire state benefits. I believe equity in education funding in Illinois is an important step to ensuring our long-term economic and civic success.”
* Senate President John Cullerton…
“This is a historic but long overdue first step. Today, this law ensures schools across Illinois open and stay open for the school year. Going forward, it declares our commitment to fairness and equity in funding public education across our great state.”
“Today’s bill signing should not overshadow the fact that Bruce Rauner threatened schools’ ability to stay open with his reckless amendatory veto and political games. During this entire process Governor Rauner divided the state and once again pushed the state into crisis for political gain. But Rauner’s cynical tactics never received any support from state education leaders and Republicans refused to support his amendatory veto. In the end Rauner’s failed leadership only created more financial turmoil for school districts already suffering from his manufactured and destructive budget crisis.”
* Stand for Children Illinois…
“While today is historic and an important moment to celebrate, we must not let this bill signing be the end of the story or the end of the progress we’ve made on education funding reform,” said Mimi Rodman, Executive Director of Stand for Children Illinois. “The signing of this bill should be a call to action: school funding must be equitable, adequate, and, equally important, spent wisely during the implementation of this bill over the next many years. That is the next chapter and the challenge facing us moving forward. We must ensure our schools are safe, teachers are supported, and parents are engaged. We as a state must stay unified and focused on giving every child the resources and support they need to be successful.”
* Part of Gov. Rauner’s release that’s not already posted above…
Flanked by school children and legislative leaders, Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed historic school funding legislation that puts children first and makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come.
“The passing of this historic legislation was no easy feat, but it’s a reminder of the good things we can accomplish when we put politics aside and focus on what’s important: our children and our future,” Gov. Rauner said. “I am proud to sign this bill, which will bring more money to school districts based on the needs of the children, guaranteeing that all Illinois students have access to adequate education funding.” […]
Under the compromise legislation, the majority of education funds will go to those districts that have the largest gap between their adequacy targets and available local resources. The legislation also provides school-choice protection for parents who want the best education possible for their children. This is accomplished by ensuring that district-authorized charter schools receive equal funding and by offering families with limited financial resources better access to private schools through a tax credit scholarship program.
“This new school funding law, born of bipartisan collaboration and compromise, is exactly what Illinois schools need and deserve,” said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington). “I want to commend Governor Rauner, who recognized that if we’re going to improve our schools and ensure every student gets a quality education, then we needed to work together to ensure all 852 school districts in Illinois are treated fairly and equitably.”
This compromise also provides much-needed mandate relief for school districts and presents avenues for property tax relief to homeowners.
“I’ve said for the past two-and-a-half years that we can make progress on the major issues facing our state as long as both sides respect the priorities of the other, and that’s precisely what happened,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “This compromise ensures that all Illinois children will have access to an education that is funded fairly and equitably. It also provides flexibility to school districts and relief to homeowners through lower property taxes and expands opportunities for school choice for children from low-income families. My hope is that, moving forward, this will serve as an example of what can happen when we put partisan bickering aside and negotiate in good faith to get things done for the families of Illinois.”
“This new law finally gives equitable education funding to all students regardless of where they live, making the dreams of our students more possible,” said state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), a chief co-sponsor of the bill. “Our teachers and students will gain critical new resources, which will provide for more opportunities. The mandate relief will give better flexibility for school districts. There is also a mechanism to lower property taxes in districts that are overtaxed. This new law is a win for every student now and for future generations.”
“In addition to this law ensuring that new state funding goes first to the poorest kids who need it most across the state, it ensures that no district loses funding and begins to put tools into the hands of property tax payers in those districts that are overfunded to seek relief,” said state Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “This is an important step in providing both equity in school funding and relief from our fundamentally broken system.”
“For an entire generation of students, we have perpetuated an education funding system that does not send our state dollars to the schools who need it most first,” said state Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “Getting school funding right is the most important thing we can do for our children, for their future and for Illinois’ future. This is a good compromise that fixes the formula and gives the next generation of Illinoisans better opportunities for a high quality education.”
“This was a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our public school funding system adequate and equitable,” said state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), who was a member of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. “I am delighted that we in Springfield stepped up to the challenge.”
“Recent actions from Illinois lawmakers to reduce the amount of physical education kids receive will have a detrimental impact on our children,” said Dr. Karen Larimer, president of the American Heart Association’s Chicago Board of Directors. “Research has proven that fit kids learn better. They perform better in school and have fewer behavioral issues. Physical education not only provides a way for kids to be active every day, but it teaches them lifelong lessons about how to live a healthy lifestyle. Eliminating daily physical education and allowing P.E. three days per week instead of five days a week, while also allowing additional grades to opt-out of P.E. using waivers, puts kids’ health last in Illinois. At a time when one in three children in America are obese and are suffering from conditions like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension, it should be of the utmost importance.”
Point of information: The bill allows school districts to cut PE back to three days per week from five, and allows student athletes to opt out of PE class in grades 7-10. Currently, student athletes who are juniors and seniors can opt out.
Illinois officials have bragged that the state was the first nationwide to require daily PE classes under a decades-old law, something educators argue is more critical than ever with widespread anti-obesity efforts. However, the Illinois State Board of Education says most districts offer only four days a week on average. Schools say they often don’t have staff or facilities.
Just six weeks after hitching his political future and much of his government to a group of hard-line conservatives, Gov. Bruce Rauner and the newcomers are headed to couples counseling and potentially a quickie divorce.
At issue in the separation, which involves not only political control but a reported $30 million in promised campaign donations, is whether Rauner will return to the sometimes moderate style he displayed when his inner circle was compromised of veterans of former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s office or instead follow the more confrontational advice of arch-conservative consultant and operative Dan Proft and of the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian Chicago think tank.
Already, a deal in which Proft and donors closely connected to him were to have big influence in GOP legislative races next year has hit complications, with a top Proft associate stepping down as chief strategist of the governor’s re-election campaign. And some top IPI staffers who went to work for the governor’s office were fired or quit, with others rumored to be on the way out.
Meanwhile, things could heat up even more if Rauner signs a pending bill to guarantee abortion coverage for women on Medicaid and state employees. Doing so might infuriate much of the political right, but that didn’t stop the governor from recently signing an almost-as-controversial “motor voter” registration measure and a bill limiting the ability of local police to arrest illegal immigrants.
The marriage “is over. That relationship is gone,” says one top GOP insider who asked not to be named. “I think (Rauner) quickly realized the error of his ways.” […]
What hasn’t been reported is that around that time Proft and top donors, including industrialist Dick Uihlein, offered to sharply step up activity on Rauner’s behalf.
One source says they agreed to raise up to $30 million for legislative races, something that would allow Rauner to focus his own resources on his own re-election, in which he may end up running against Democratic billionaire J.B. Pritzker. Another source says there was an explicit understanding that, in exchange, Proft would pretty much run the legislative races and IPI staffers would come into senior government jobs. A third source says the $30 million offer wasn’t made until after the July staff shakeup.
I’ve heard the $30 million number, too. Heaven help the governor, because the US Attorney won’t, if there was even an “understanding” that the initial round of staff firings was in any way tied to a $30 million campaign contribution.
Also, Proft called House GOP Leader Jim Durkin a “pansy” on his radio show yesterday. So, things aren’t going well.
* Pete Spitler, the managing editor of the Randolph County Herald Tribune, took this pic last weekend during the Illinois bicentennial countdown kickoff on Kaskaskia Island, the location of our first state capital…
Two Illinois Republican state reps are very concerned about the immigration law enforcement measure Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Monday.
State Reps. John Cabello (R-Rockford) and David McSweeney (R-Barrington) filed a measure Wednesday that would repeal a new law banning law enforcement in Illinois from stopping persons suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
“I swore to uphold the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions when I became a legislator,” Cabello told Illinois Review Wednesday. “As a member of law enforcement, I took a vow to uphold the law. I believe and trust in those oaths, and intend to do all I can to keep them.” […]
Only one Republican House member - Bob Pritchard - voted in support of SB 31 on the House floor. Five Republicans - Althoff, McConchie, McConnaughay, Nybo and Radogno - supported it in the Illinois Senate.
Cabello and McSweeney’s repeal bill is HB 4091.
UPDATE 8.31. 2017 - Republican State Senator Kyle McCarter and former sheriff Senator Tim Bivins reportedly have filed an identical bill in the Senate. More to come…
Those aren’t going anywhere, of course, but filing legislation does make them look good to their constituencies.
* Gov. Rauner was asked about GOP legislator criticism about the TRUST Act yesterday, but he refused to answer because, Rauner said, it was an “off-topic” question and he was only taking questions about the school funding bill…
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending another $3 million to air a new TV ad backing the controversial penny-an-ounce Cook County tax on sweetened beverages.
The $3 million is on top of $2 million Bloomberg already plowed into a different ad supporting the tax, which went into effect Aug. 1.
Meanwhile, the beverage industry continues an effort to push back. Their Can the Tax Coalition on Thursday took its campaign to Chicago’s Little Village, where the group joined retailers and the local Chamber of Commerce to advocate for repeal of the tax. The event was in the heart of the district represented by Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, who voted for the tax.
A showdown of sorts is set for Sept. 13, when a vote on repealing the tax is expected to take place at a County Board meeting. But passing a repeal and getting it to stick is a tall order.
Board President Toni Preckwinkle in November broke a rare tie vote to approve the pop tax, following an 8-8 tie vote. The late Commissioner Robert Steele was hospitalized and unable to attend that meeting.
Dr. Javette C. Orgain, MD, MPH, FAAFP: Imagine how you would feel if you saw a young child under the age of five so obese that they can barely walk. Soda companies are targeting our children and every day I see the results.
Obesity leads to heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes. It makes me angry and it should make you angry too.
The soda tax will mean healthier kids, healthier families, healthier communities.
Illinois made the right choice this week, becoming the 10th state, along with the District of Columbia, to enact automatic voter registration. The bill, which could add as many as one million voters to the state’s rolls, was signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican who had vetoed similar legislation last year.
Under the new law, all eligible voters will be registered to vote when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agencies. If they do not want to be registered, they may opt out.
“The right to vote is foundational for the rights of Americans in our democracy,” Mr. Rauner said at a bill-signing ceremony on Monday. “We as a people need to do everything we can to knock down barriers, remove hurdles for all those who are eligible to vote, to be able to vote.”
These are incontestable propositions, and yet for most officials from Mr. Rauner’s party, showing even mild support for them is apostasy. […]
What’s really outrageous is the brazenness with which Republican lawmakers continue to hawk their antivoter laws, and their bogus claims of widespread fraud, pretending to care about electoral integrity when what they’re really after is a smaller, whiter electorate that they believe is their ticket to eternal victory.
An Ameren Illinois energy efficiency plan that consumer advocates criticized for falling short on conservation and job goals now faces an uncertain future after being rejected in an early stage of the approval process.
An administrative law judge this week denied the utility company’s request to lower efficiency targets outlined in the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), but a final decision ultimately rests with the Illinois Commerce Commission.
That regulatory agency is expected to render a final decision in September.
“We have put forth the right plan to help working families in our territory to save energy, and we look forward to making our case with the Illinois Commerce Commission,” said Ameren spokesman Tucker Kennedy.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a consortium of consumer and energy conservation advocates that challenged Ameren’s plan, praised the proposed order and urged the full commission to adopt the same stance.
Approval of Ameren’s plan would cost downstate residents nearly 30 percent in savings on utility bills and also jeopardize 7,000 jobs that could be created by the new law, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
But Ameren says that without a lower target, it would need to spend 44 percent more per kilowatt hour of energy saved than ComEd because of “unique circumstances” of Ameren’s service territory, which covers much of rural Illinois.
“Ameren Illinois customers are quite different from Northern Illinois customers: they are more spread out, reside in multiple media markets, have less discretionary funding for energy efficiency and lower education levels,” said Ingrid Rohmund of consultant Applied Energy Group in testimony filed on behalf of Ameren. “The combination of these differences makes recruiting for program participation more difficult and more expensive. Less program participation derives fewer savings and therefore makes achieving the current unmodified savings goals on the aggregate that much more unrealistic.” […]
“Ameren casts itself as a principled advocate for social welfare, accusing the intervenors of wanting to ‘deny measures to those customers who need access to energy efficiency the most,’” the [NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund and Citizens’ Utility Board] wrote in a brief filed with the commission. “In reality, however, Ameren is needlessly diminishing the quantity of savings benefits that could otherwise be made available to low-income customers.”
* Sen. Daniel Biss has moved from being a liberal wonk with some centrists leanings who worked to cut government pension benefits to apparently choosing a Democratic Socialist running mate…
Democratic candidate for Illinois governor State Sen. Daniel Biss is expected to name Chicago Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa to be his running mate Thursday, according to multiple sources. […]
Ramirez-Rosa was first elected to Chicago City Council in 2015 at age 26, making him the youngest current alderman and one of the youngest ever elected in Chicago.
Representing the 35th Ward on the Northwest Side, Ramirez-Rosa is also the first openly gay Latino to serve on the city council. After running as a political outsider, Ramirez-Rosa joined the council’s Progressive Caucus and was elected as a delegate for Sen. Bernie Sanders to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
He has since changed parties to join the Democratic Socialists of America, and as a former community organizer with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Ramirez-Rosa has made issues surrounding immigration, as well as higher taxes on the wealthy, central to his own platform.
“I’m serious about winning,” said Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, the 28-year-old alderman from Chicago’s 35th ward, who joined DSA and served as a Sanders delegate to the DNC. “I’m not dogmatic and I’m extremely pragmatic. We need to assess how it is that we can win and elect Democratic Socialist values and that’s going to take different forms in different places. In the end, the Democratic Party is not an end unto itself, nor is a third party an end unto itself, a party whether it be the Democratic Party of a third party, is a means to an end.”
If the union successfully challenged the tax credits, the entire school funding measure would be “invalid” under a provision lawmakers inserted into the legislation. That would include the new money authorized for CPS.
Previously, an Illinois Appellate Court in 2001 upheld a state income tax credit of up to $500 for parents for paying “qualified educational expenses” that exceed $250 for the education of children in K-12 private schools.
The credit was challenged based on the state constitution prohibiting government money for religious purposes, including a ban on spending to “aid” or “to help support or sustain any school” that is “controlled by any church or sectarian denomination.”
In its 2001 ruling, the Appellate Court noted that a tax credit “does not constitute public funds” received by the government. Instead, “it merely allows people to keep more of their own money.”
So, if the CTU does file a lawsuit and it’s successful (which seems doubtful, but whatever), then the entire evidence based model would be enjoined and $7 billion in state school funding would be halted.
Over a $75 million pilot project.
*** UPDATE *** ILGOP…
“The Chicago Teachers Union has a long history of brinkmanship and intransigence, and their refusal to accept the bipartisan school funding compromise is no different. CTU’s opposition to a five-year, $75 million tax credit scholarship pilot program is not only unreasonable, it puts the education of millions of Illinois schoolchildren at risk. We implore them to try something different for a change - be reasonable and support compromise.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot
The Chicago Teacher’s Union is threatening legal action over the new evidence-based school funding formula that received bipartisan support just because it contains Illinois’ first-ever school choice pilot program.
If successful, their latest temper tantrum would block Illinois schools from receiving over $7 billion dollars in state funding all in the name of brinkmanship and refusal to compromise.
Democrat gubernatorial candidates are already jumping on board with Chicago Teachers Union in yet another example of Chicago Democrats kowtowing to CTU regardless of how unreasonable they’re position is.
Daniel Biss and Pritzker-running mate Julianna Stratton actually voted against the school funding compromise, opting instead to protect the status quo and their own political interests.
J.B. Pritzker himself has said he would’ve voted no, and Chris Kennedy’s campaign has even been fundraising on taking educational opportunities away from underprivileged kids.
Once again, the Chicago Teachers Union says jump, and the Democrats ask ‘how high,’ all to the detriment of Illinois schoolchildren.
* Bernard Schoenburg: Sen. Manar pushed school funding changes for years: But Manar had known of the problem for a much longer time. It was when he was in college, in the mid-1990s, he recalls, that he accompanied his mentor, the late state Sen. VINCE DEMUZIO, D-Carlinville, to hear a speech on the need for school funding changes from then-Gov. JIM EDGAR, a Republican. It was in 1997 that the last major revision to school funding in the state was passed, Manar said.
* From the governor’s office last Thursday, August 24th…
General Counsel Dennis Murashko will leave the Administration at the end of August to pursue opportunities in the private sector. As part of the legal team’s succession planning, Kenton Skarin will assume the role of Acting General Counsel to the Governor. He currently is serving as the Governor’s Deputy General Counsel and is responsible for managing all aspects of legal operations within the Administration.
* From last Friday, August 25th…
1 day after @GovRauner says gen'l counsel Dennis Murashko would leave at end of Aug he's escorted out of Thompson Ctr. today. @ABC7Chicago
Lise T. Spacapan has been appointed General Counsel to the Governor to serve as Gov. Bruce Rauner’s top legal adviser. She had been serving the state as General Counsel for the Department of Children and Family Services. Her time at DCFS included a stint as Interim Director last June.
“Lise brings a wealth of legal experience and knowledge to the Governor’s Office,” Gov. Rauner said. “She will bring a fresh perspective to the Office, and she is dedicated to serving Illinois. I always have been committed to bringing top talent into the Office, and Lise fits the bill.”
Spacapan joined DCFS in 2015. Before that, she was a partner at three national law firms, including Kirkland and Ellis (1984-1997), Jenner & Block (1997-2013) and Husch Blackwell (2013-2015). She handled complex commercial litigation and product liability cases for Fortune 100 clients throughout the country. At DCFS, Spacapan managed a law department of nearly 100 employees across the state, and she served as a member of the Executive Staff, advising an agency of more than 2,500 people. In that role, she had regular interaction with the Governor’s Office.
* A text from a friend last night…
Um, so Rauner’s new general counsel was general counsel at DCFS when Sheldon was incentivizing caseworkers to clear their cases quickly with gift cards and making weird insider deals.
David - Last week, we put out a call to action for our August fundraising deadline tonight at midnight, and the response has been truly humbling.
In recent weeks, the efforts to silence our campaign have reached new heights. On an almost daily basis, we learn of attempts to exclude our voice from Democratic forums. What are they scared of? For the first time in decades, there is a campaign that seeks to blow up the status quo and replace it with a government that works for us.
Next week is the unofficial start of campaign season. Help us send the strong message that our voice will not be silenced by those intent on clinging to power. Step up and support our campaign before midnight tonight.
If you stand with us and are ready to seize upon this opportunity, now is the time to act. Our campaign only succeeds when everyday Democrats across the state reject our broken system and make a contribution to our campaign:
Rightwing activists across the US have launched a nationwide campaign to undermine progressive politicians by depriving them of a major source of support and funding – public sector unions.
A network of conservative thinktanks with outposts in all 50 states has embarked on a “breakthrough” campaign designed to strike a “mortal blow” against the American left. The aim is to “defund and defang” unions representing government employees as the first step towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics. […]
The new assault is being spearheaded by the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 state-based thinktanks, or “ideas factories” as it calls them, with a combined annual budget of $80m. As suggested by its slogan – “State solutions. National impact” – the group outlines an aim to construct a rightwing hegemony throughout the US, working from the bottom up.
To do that, it first has to sweep aside the public sector unions and their historic ties to Democratic and progressive politicians. In a 10-page fundraising letter, part of a set of documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and published by the Guardian today for the first time, SPN sets out its mission in frank language that does not disguise its partisan ambitions. […]
The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions”. The long-term objective is to “deal a major blow to the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels. I’m talking about permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle” (emphasis in original).
SPN will be discussing its anti-union and anti-left agenda on Wednesday at its annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Its morning session will look at how “labor reform” can be pursued with renewed vigor under the Trump administration.
A few points.
1) The Illinois Policy Institute is part of the State Policy Network. The Heartland Institute and the Institute for Truth in Accounting are also part of the network.
3) Here are photos of the front and back of what I’m told are a hotel key card used at the Texas conference…
The front of that card is a depiction of the Institute’s John Tillman.
…Adding… I really figured some of y’all would catch on to it, but since nobody has I’ll do it for you. Do you not notice the similarity between the depiction of Tillman on that key card and the Lincoln Memorial in DC?
Illinois residents have watched for years as their taxes go up while public services and schools deteriorate. But GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner will deliver Prairie Staters some good news Thursday by signing into law an inaugural state private-school choice program.
The Democratic legislature this week approved a $100 million tax-credit scholarship program along with a new school funding formula that provides an additional $450 million for the insolvent Chicago Public Schools. The Governor earlier this summer vetoed legislation that appropriated $300 million more for Chicago schools, but Democrats lacked the votes to override him.
Mr. Rauner demanded a private school tax-credit scholarship program in return for his signature, and Democrats ultimately conceded despite union protests. Illinois businesses and individuals will receive a 75% tax credit for donations that support scholarships for low-income kids to attend private schools. […]
As for Chicago, most of the state bailout will go toward propping up the teachers’ pension fund, which is 50% funded.