Governor's changes ensure all school districts receive equitable state funding
An amendatory veto August 1 by Governor Bruce Rauner, changing education funding reform legislation will ensure every school district in the state receives fair and equitable school funding; however, if lawmakers refuse to accept the Governor’s changes, they must be ready to negotiate in good faith on a real solution that helps fund every school district in the state equitably.
Also during the week, prep work at the Illinois State Fairgrounds is in full swing, as the State Fair kicks off August 10.
Making education funding reform fair and equitable
Governor Rauner followed through with his promise to alter a school funding bill sent to him July 31, issuing an amendatory veto to Senate Bill 1 on August 1. With his changes, the Governor laid out a plan that benefits every student across the state.
Republicans are urging their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the amended version of Senate Bill 1, saying it is the fairest option for all school districts and will provide fiscal certainty for school districts that are anxiously awaiting their state funding dollars. However, in the event lawmakers do not accept the Governor’s amendatory veto, all lawmakers must remain open to compromise and work in good faith toward a bipartisan solution.
With Governor Rauner’s changes to the legislation, all 852 school districts across the state would receive fair and equitable funding. As originally passed by the Senate and House of Representatives, Senate Bill 1 would have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from rural and suburban districts across the state to Chicago Public Schools.
Nearly two months after it was approved by the General Assembly, and after repeated urging from the Governor and Republican lawmakers, Democrat legislators removed a parliamentary hold they had placed on Senate Bill 1 and sent it to the Governor on July 31.
Time is of the essence with schools opening in a couple weeks. That’s because an “evidence-based” school funding formula must be signed into law before schools can receive their much-needed state funding. Democrats, who control the House and Senate, have not yet scheduled a date for lawmakers to return to Springfield to take action on this issue. The burden is now on the majority leaders to act, to ensure schools aren’t forced to close their doors due to the lack of funding.
Illinois’ unemployment rate drops, but growth continues to lag
Underscoring the need for economy-boosting structural reforms, Illinois gained 56,600 jobs over the past year, but the state’s jobs growth rate continues to lag the nation, according to the latest unemployment rates from released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).
Since June 2016, all of Illinois’ metropolitan areas and every county except two have seen their unemployment rates drop. Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped from 6 percent to 5 percent over the past year. Despite the good news, Illinois’ jobs gains were only half the national growth rate, and the labor force continues to shrink in most metro areas across the state, according to IDES.
We must have structural reforms at the Statehouse that can boost the state’s economy and create jobs, such as workers’ compensation reform and property tax relief, but Democrat leaders have been unwilling to offer real compromise on the issues, thereby blocking meaningful reforms from reaching Governor Rauner’s desk. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes and workers’ compensation rates in the country.
To see a breakdown of unemployment rates across the state and where Illinois businesses added/lost jobs, click on the IDES Web site.
Illinois State Fair runs August 10-20
A tradition dating back to 1853, the Illinois State Fair kicks off August 10 in Springfield. The 11-day event celebrates agriculture, the state’s number one employer and driver of the state’s economy.
The Illinois State Fair also features live music from some of music’s biggest names, harness racing, carnival rides, dozens of food vendors, various entertainers, animal shows, and displays by groups and organizations from across the state.
Some of the attractions fairgoers enjoy are checking out the Butter Cow in the Daily Building, walking around Conservation World, tasting wines from across the state, sampling a variety of foods in Ethnic Village, watching livestock shows, and seeing automobile and harness racing on the dirt track.
The Illinois State Fair runs August 10-20. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for senior citizens (60+), and free for kids (0-12). For daily schedules and lists of vendors, competitions, attractions, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website or download a free mobile app.