New process now in use for drivers’ license renewals
Illinois drivers looking to renew their licenses should take note of some new processes now in place at the Secretary of State’s office. One key change, mandated by the federal government, is an end to the practice of presenting each driver with a new license on-site when the renewal procedure is completed. The REAL ID law requires all new drivers’ licenses to be manufactured in guarded, secured facilities. In Illinois, drivers who successfully renew their licenses at a Driver Services facility will get their old license back with a hole punched through them, accompanied by an additional 45-day paper slip of successful renewal. The old license will remain temporarily valid through the 45-day period. The driver should carry both the old license and the paper slip.

As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106 (Watseka).

Despite bad news, some accomplishments in the past year
We have all heard the bad news out of Springfield on an almost daily basis: budget standoff, credit downgrades, the unpaid bill backlog. But there has also been some good news to report from the past months. While we still have a lot of work to do, there have also been some successes.

As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106) Watseka.

New School Funding Reform Commission Appointed

The commission will be composed of five designees from the Governor’s administration and each of the four legislative leaders. Secretary of Education Beth Purvis will serve as chairperson.  

There’s no question that our current school aid formula is outdated and leads to large funding inequities from district to district. The overreliance on property taxes is also a tremendous burden on local homeowners.  The new Commission is charged with coming up with a recommended comprehensive solution to reform Illinois’ school funding formula.  A report is to be presented to the Governor and the Illinois General Assembly by February 1, 2017 with action to be taken in time for the 2017-2018 school year.

As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106) Watseka.

443 bills passed both houses this spring
Since the beginning of the year, the House and Senate passed a total of 443 bills to Governor Rauner’s desk, almost evenly split between bills originating in the House and bills originating in the Senate. These included large bills affecting every corner of the state; like the budget agreement reached on June 30; and small bills that only impact one program or one community. Some were bipartisan agreements which passed with large majorities, and others were more controversial and passed on party line votes.

As always, you can contact me via webform at www.repbennett.com, or by phone at (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac) or (815) 432-0106) Watseka.

State K-12 budget will enable schools to open on time, stay open all year
On the last day of the fiscal year, the House and Senate came together to pass a budget bill which included full funding of Illinois schools for the first time in seven years. This will allow every school district in Illinois to open on time this fall, and to stay open for the full school year.

In addition, it ends the unfair practice of “proration” which reduced the level of General State Aid which schools have been receiving over the past seven years. This year’s K-12 budget provides record funding for elementary and secondary education, an increase of $520 million compared to last year.