Not from the HF Area?
Links to our State and County Leagues.
The League of Women Voters encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and works to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Any person, 16 or older, male or female, may join. The LWV is nonpartisan and neither supports nor opposes candidates for elected office but does act on issues after member study and consensus.
Equitable Education Funding Comes At A Price
Finally Illinois has the potential for equity in funding for education. This follows years of intense advocacy by LWVIL. Unfortunately, it came at a huge price - tax credits for people who donate to private school scholarships and other concessions that are still being analyzed. We thank the members of the General Assembly and the governor for passing and signing SB 1947.
The good news is that this law:
- Allows the budget item for General State Aid to Education to be funded for school year 2017-18. Public schools can operate during the current school year with the expectation that state money may arrive in a timely manner.
- Reforms the school aid formula to enable public schools to meet their students needs by using strategies backed by evidence that the strategies work. This evidence-based model removes the one-size-fits all model of the old state aid formula. It asks the question: "What do schools need to provide their children with the education that they need?" The old formula asked: "What money does the state have available this year and how should it be allocated?
- The new formula establishes a framework for improving public education in Illinois.
The bad news is:
- Schools need more money to do their job than the state is providing. More than half of the school districts in the state have been operating at a deficit. The percentage of the state's contribution to education continues to dwindle. The strategies in the evidence-based model will require money to implement. So the new formula will require more money to operate.
- The state budget that passed in July provided the minimum amount of new funding to avoid junk bond status. The state's borrowing and interest costs continue to be very high. The accumulated debt has increased to $15 billion. There may not be enough revenue to fund the spending in the current budget.
- Some school spending, such as special education and transportation, is not covered by General State Aid. The bills for these categories are treated the same way as other state bills. They get paid when the state has enough money in its checkbook.
- As of the end of the 2017-2017 school year, the state still owes schools $1 billion. It has paid some, but not all, of that over the summer.
- Chicago pension costs have been moved into the state system. The state has yet to deal with the pension ramp and the underfunded pension system. So a big mess just got bigger.
- The tax credit program for private school scholarship donors will remove as much as $75 million per year from state funds.
Criminal Justice Reform Expands Opportunity
The League supported these many and varied Criminal Justice reform bills passed during the 100th General Assembly and signed by the Governor:
HB0375 (PA100-0247) - requires probation officer to undergo Crisis Intervention Team training
HB0514 (PA100-0282) - requires Immediate sealing of a record of arrest or charge if result is acquittal or dismissal
HB0698 (PA100-0283) -creates the Prisoner Entrepreneur Education Program to teach business skills and enable successful reentry into society
HB2373 (PA100-0284) - expands record sealing eligibility
HB2738 (PA100-0030)(allows video visitation in prisons to enable those in prison to maintain relationships with loved ones)
HB3712 (PA100-0198) - helps men and women in prison to get access to tablets that will be used expressly to educate, hone skills, and video visit loved ones
SB1688 (PA100-0286) - improves occupational licensing opportunities by creating a transparent and fair licensing process that looks at license applicants' rehabilitation along with criminal history.
SB1781 (PA100-0287) - expungement or sealing fee waiver pilot extended
And these are the bills re: Juvenile Justice League supported:
HB2987 (PA100-0141) - ensures that Illinois youth who are or were homeless, in foster care, or court- involved to have a chance to get the jobs and internships they are qualified for and need
HB3165 (PA100-0157) - requires that training of juvenile personnel include restorative justice courses
HB3817 (PA100-0285) - expands automatic expungement and strengthens confidentiality of juvenile records
HB3903 (PA100-0204) - does not allow a place of detention or criminal processing on school grounds