Weekly Update: School Funding & Other Important News



EDUCATION FUNDING

Gov. Rauner issues amendatory veto to ensure school funding bill is fair, equitable for all students. Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto to Senate Bill 1, the school funding bill. The matter now heads to the Illinois General Assembly, where the governor has respectfully requested that lawmakers uphold his changes. If these changes are upheld, Illinois will achieve historic education funding reform.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or who your family is. With a great education, you can go anywhere in life and be whomever you want to be. You can grow up, get a good job and provide for your family. That’s why the changes I have made to the education funding bill are so important,” Gov. Rauner said. “With my changes, our state ensures that enough resources flow to children in the poorest and most disadvantaged school districts across the entire state. And my changes ensure that the education funding system in our state is fair and equitable to all students in Illinois.”

More than a year ago, Gov. Rauner established the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. This group came together on a bipartisan basis to study the way Illinois funds its public schools, and to chart a path to a fairer and more equitable system.

“These changes included in my amendatory veto reflect years of hard work by our education reform commission and our ability to overcome our political differences for the good of our young people’s futures,” Gov. Rauner said. “I urge the General Assembly to act quickly to accept these changes and let our students start school on time.”

The governor’s amendatory veto makes the following changes to ensure an adequate and equitable school funding formula:

• Maintains a per-district hold harmless until the 2020-2021 school year, and then moves to a per-pupil hold harmless based on a three-year rolling average of enrollment.

• Removes the requirement of $350M in spending every year.

• Removes the Chicago block grant from the funding formula.

• Removes both Chicago Public Schools pension considerations from the formula: the normal cost pick-up and the unfunded liability deduction.

• Reintegrates the normal cost pick-up for Chicago Public Schools into the Pension Code where it belongs, and finally begins to treat Chicago like all other districts with regards to the State’s relationship with its teachers’ pensions.

• Eliminates the PTELL and TIF equalized assessed value subsidies that allow districts to continue under-reporting property wealth.

• Removes the escalators throughout the bill that automatically increase costs.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Governor signs bill to prohibit pay raises for General Assembly members. Co-sponsored by 20 House Republican members, HB 643 amends the Compensation Review Act to prohibit what would otherwise have been automatic pay hikes for State government legislative and executive elected officers and appointees, including members of the General Assembly. The new law also freezes the reimbursements that lawmakers can ask to cover the costs of their lodging, meals, and mileage while on State business.

The freeze on taxpayer-funded pay and benefits covers all of Fiscal Year 2018, and will be effective through June 30, 2018. The pay/benefits freeze bill was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner on Wednesday, July 26.

ECONOMY
Illinois-based firms post second-quarter gains. Illinois’ economic recovery from the 2008-09 “Great Recession” has been held back for almost a decade by slow demand for revenue-generating goods and services from the private sector. In a roundup of second-quarter financial reports, however, Crain’s Chicago Business reports many of these firms are now reporting healthy sales gains that outstrip inflation. Examples of second-quarter revenue hikes at Illinois’ publicly-traded firms include Caterpillar (+10%), McDonald’s (+7%), Deere (+5%), and Illinois Tool Works (+5%).

Revenue hikes are used by many firms to finance expansion opportunities and capital investment. Not all Illinois firms are showing increases in revenues, with makers of consumer-oriented packaged goods (such as shelf-stable groceries) continuing to be challenged in the current economic environment. For firms following a standard calendar reporting year, the second quarter ended on June 30, 2017.

Unemployment rates decline in most Illinois metro areas. New figures for June 2017, released on Thursday, July 27 by the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), showed largely positive jobs figures in many key Illinois metro areas.

The numbers included jobless rates of 5.1% in Chicago, 5.0% in the metro-East region east of St. Louis, 4.8% in Elgin, and a local approach to 4.0% “full employment” marked by a 4.3% unemployment rate in Lake County north of Chicago. Several Downstate metro areas continue to suffer from significant jobless rates, with 5.9% in Decatur and 6.8% in Danville. The industry sectors recording job growth in the majority of metro areas included Professional and Business Services, which recorded job growth in 11 of 14 Illinois metro areas, Leisure and Hospitality (up in 10 regions out of 14) and Government (up in 10 regions of 14).

The metro area rates are calculated on a not-seasonally-adjusted basis and reflect net new job creation since June 2016, twelve months earlier. The Chicago-area unemployment rate has dropped 1.1%, from 6.2% to 5.1%, during this twelve-month period from June 2016 to June 2017.

ILLINOIS STATE FAIR

Preparations in place for Illinois State Fair in Springfield. The annual celebration of Illinois statewide crafts and culture will be held from August 10 through August 20, 2017, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. The fair will feature music, entertainment, rides, attractions, competitions, and festival food and souvenirs. Details can be found on the State Fairgrounds website.   

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