School Funding, Small Business, and the Illinois Bicentennial
A state school funding reform commission held its fourth meeting this week as part of the ongoing effort to identify a better way to fund Illinois schools. Also, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) announced awardees of its prestigious Guardian of Small Business award.
School funding reform commission discusses hold harmless provision
The Illinois School Funding Reform Commission met this week as part of the ongoing effort to find ways to revamp the way the state funds schools. The Commission examined two central issues during this meeting.
First, the Commission explored the concept of “hold harmless,” what hold harmless means and the history of the different hold harmless provisions that can be found in the current school funding formula. They also considered the factors that contribute to losses in GSA, and therefore drive the need for a hold harmless, as well as other factors to consider when implementing a new formula as it relates to the need for hold harmless provisions.
The Commission members learned that one main purpose of any hold harmless provision is to provide school districts with a level of predictability and stability during times of transition to a new or changing funding formula. Senate Republican members of the Commission noted that it will be imperative that school districts are given time to make adjustments in response to changes to the school aid formula. They pointed out that, with a formula change, schools may have to make changes at the local level, which can impact staffing and school programs.
It was also noted during the meeting that hold harmless provisions, while good for phasing-in a new formula, are also a diversion of the amount of available funding from the intended goals of a revised state funding system for education funding. As such, it was emphasized the hold harmless provisions should be reviewed to ensure that equitability of school funding doesn’t become compromised during this process.
The Commission members also went over what is meant by a “distribution model.” They confronted the issue of how to most effectively distribute the limited resources available in Illinois in order to achieve adequacy and equity for Illinois schools. The commission was given a brief explanation of how the state’s current school funding system distributes money as well as how alternative proposals, including the Evidence Based Model (HB 828), distribute funding. Additionally, a brief explanation was provided as to how the FY17 budget (SB 2047) distributes funds to schools.
At the upcoming October 5 meeting the Commission members are expected to explore property taxes in Illinois and their effect on the state’s funding formula.
In July, Governor Bruce Rauner created the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission to make recommendations to the General Assembly to revise the current school funding formula by February of 2017.
The Commission is comprised of 25 members designated by the Governor and the legislative leaders. The Senate Republican caucus is represented on the Commission by Senators Jason Barickman, R-53rd District, Bloomington, Karen McConnaughay, R-33rd District, St. Charles, Sue Rezin, R-38th District, Morris, and Dan McConchie, R-26th District, Lake Zurich.
Senators receive Guardian of Small Business Awards
In recognition of their excellent pro-business voting records, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) has awarded 17 Senate Republican members with their “Guardian of Small Business Award.”
The following Illinois Senators were recognized: Pam Althoff; Neil Anderson; Jason Barickman; Tim Bivins; Bill Brady; Michael Connelly; David Luechtefeld; Kyle McCarter; Karen McConnaughay; Matt Murphy; Chris Nybo; Jim Oberweis; Chris Radogno; Dale Righter; Chapin Rose; Dave Syverson; and Chuck Weaver.
The most prestigious honor that NFIB bestows on legislators, Illinois Senators receiving the award were rated based on key small business votes taken over the last two years. The award is given in recognition of lawmakers’ efforts to help small businesses thrive by advancing a legislative agenda that supports the growth of well-paying jobs in Illinois.
The NFIB is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that acts as “The Voice of Small Business,” representing the interests of small, independent business owners and protecting their rights to operate and grow their businesses.
Governor announces bicentennial commission
Governor Bruce Rauner this week signed an Executive Order to create the new Illinois Bicentennial Commission, as well as the Governor's Office of the Illinois Bicentennial to lead the planning for the celebration of the state's 200th anniversary.
"The Illinois Bicentennial is an incredible opportunity to celebrate Illinois' contributions to the country and the world and plan for our next 200 years of innovation and achievements," said Governor Rauner. "I look forward to the commission's recommendations on how best to move forward to ensure that this will be a celebration to remember."
The order creates the Governor's Office of the Illinois Bicentennial. The Bicentennial Office, with administrative support from the Governor's Office and other state agencies, will develop the strategic vision for the bicentennial celebration and work with the public and private sectors to implement that vision.
The order also establishes a commission with members appointed by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, the Senate Minority Leader, the House Minority Leader, the Attorney General, the Lieutenant Governor, the Treasurer, the Comptroller, the Secretary of State, and the Mayors of Chicago and Springfield.