Rep. Halbrook (center standing) at the signing
of HB 643 by Gov. Rauner at the State Capitol.
Today, Governor Rauner signed House Bill 643, which was co-sponsored by State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) and recieved bipartisan support in both chambers. The bill eliminates a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for fiscal year 2018. The bill also puts a cap on per diems received by legislators during session.

Rep. Halbrook said that passing HB 643 was the fiscally responsible thing to do for Illinois as a whole which is evident by the overwhelming bipartisan support it received.

“It has been clear to everyone involved that signing House Bill 643 into law was the right thing to do,” Halbrook said. “Illinois’ finances are not in order and to think we as legislators should give ourselves a pay raise is offensive to taxpayers. I applaud the Governor for signing HB 643 and both sides of the aisle for showing tax payers the respect they deserve.”

Along with eliminating the cost of living adjustments for FY18, the bill sets legislative per diem rates at $111 per session and mileage reimbursement at $0.39 dollars per mile, which are the same rates that have been used since 2012.

Watch the WAND Channel 17 (NBC) video of the signing here.
Today, State Representative Brad Halbrook (R- Shelbyville), a member of the Government Consolidation & Modernization Committee, joined Governor Bruce Rauner and other members of the House and Senate at Mt. Zion Junior High to talk about modernizing the school aid formula in Illinois through proposed legislation (Senate Bill 1).

“Today is about properly funding our schools…all 852 Illinois districts not just one,” declared Rep. Halbrook. “We have a chance to make sure that all districts receive equitable and adequate funding and that’s why I stand for all the students in Illinois, and particularly central & east central Illinois.”

“Schools in our area suffer under Senate Bill (SB) 1 as it is written because it sends more dollars to a mismanaged Chicago Public School (CPS) pension system. With the Governor’s amendatory veto the 102nd district will see this additional $2 million. Please stand with me to fix SB 1 so students in each school district can thrive. This will make sure school opens on time and that students get the education they need and deserve.”

Rep. Halbrook and his colleagues in the House and Senate are joining with the governor in calling on Democrats to stop holding education funding hostage and release the bill. This is a chance to make sure that all districts in Illinois receive equitable and adequate funding and to help low income students across the state, including those in Chicago, access the quality education they deserve.

You may watch the press conference by clicking here.



The Illinois State Police Merit Board is currently processing applications
for Cadet Class 127, tentatively scheduled for February 4, 2018. In order
to be considered for Cadet Class 127, the Merit Board must receive your
completed application and required documentation by July 15, 2017.

Education Requirement Update
Effective July 1, 2017, Any person who has been honorably discharged who
served in a combat mission by proof of hostile fire pay or imminent danger
pay during deployment on active duty, or has served 3 years of full
active and continuous military duty and received an honorable discharge,
meets the collegiate educational requirement of the Department of State
Police.
Today, the Illinois House of Representatives considered overriding the vetoes by the governor on a budget and a tax hike that would increase personal income taxes 32% and corporate income taxes from 5.25 percent to 7 percent. State Representative Brad Halbrook (R- Shelbyville), a member of the Government Transparency Committee, continued to oppose these increases by voting no on the override motions.

“This is a massive, permanent tax hike that will push more taxpayers out of state and more businesses out of business,” said Rep. Halbrook. “There is not enough spending reductions in this plan…no property tax relief, no regulatory reform to grow jobs and no term limits…I had to support the Governor’s veto of this bad plan,” Halbrook added.

We need reform because we have the worst job growth of any state in the country. Since 2000, we have grown virtually no jobs. If our economy had just grown at the national average the last 17 years, we would have enough money to balance our budgets. People are leaving the state every day and are going to places with jobs and growth like Indiana and Texas. There is no reason we shouldn’t be creating jobs here in Illinois.



State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) released the following statement on the passage of Senate Bills 6 and 9.

“Just hours before session today, Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats filed an appropriations and revenue plan for the fiscal year of 2018. This was not a compromise plan. The budget that passed the house does not reform workers’ compensation, or address our billion dollar pension debt, and it certainly does not provide any relief for property owners.

“In reality, all the budget does is raise taxes on citizens across the board without addressing any of the real issues facing the state. Today, Speaker Madigan got exactly what he wanted, a budget that raises taxes and maintains the status quo that has failed the state for 15 years. The budget that passed today is a bad deal for families, it is a bad deal for businesses, and it is a bad deal for the future of Illinois.”
For years the General Assembly has been working on a fix to our state's broken school funding formula. Over time, we have found a better approach known as the "evidence-based model."

This spring we made significant progress on a bipartisan school funding bill through good faith negotiations. Though we were very close on a bipartisan compromise, my colleagues across the aisle chose to walk away from the negotiating table in late May and pass a partisan school funding bill, Senate Bill 1. I could not support this proposal, which once again singled out one school district, Chicago Public School District 299, to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in special deals. In fact, under Senate Bill 1 seven out of every ten new dollars dedicated to school funding would be directed to Chicago.

Additionally, Senate Bill 1 was not adequately funded in the budget passed by Senate Democrats in late May, and without the necessary funding would once again lead to the proration that plagued Illinois schools for years. In fact, the Democrats have not advanced a budget bill that provides the appropriate funding level required to satisfy the simulation they are promoting with Senate Bill 1.

For these reasons, the Governor has promised to veto the plan, and legislators from across the state have made it clear that they will not vote to override a veto of Senate Bill 1. This means the fate of Senate Bill 1 is clear.

However, there is an alternative that reflects a compromise worthy of bipartisan support. One in which all school districts would benefit under the more equitable formula advanced under House Bill 4069. In the spirit of compromise, the proposal adopts the overwhelming majority of Senate Bill 1. In fact, there are far more similarities between the two bills than there are differences.

Both bills utilize the same evidence-based model, as well as the same methods to deliver funding to low-income students, along with identical systems to determine cost differences between districts. In addition, both measures group districts into the same four tiers based on need and use the same local resource calculations. Further, both proposals feature the same safeguards for English learners and special education funds.

In May the sponsor of Senate Bill 1 stated that the two proposals were 95 percent the same. Now, according to the sponsor of House Bill 4069, they are nearly identical, with a few important differences.

House Bill 4069 recognizes that Chicago needs help, and it provides the school district with assistance, based on evidence-based practices and the demographics of their students. What it doesn’t offer are special deals hidden in the formula that are designed to fix the Chicago Public Schools’ broken pension system and pay off their overwhelming debt from years of fiscal mismanagement. Instead, House Bill 4069 relies on the data, and the data alone, to drive resources to the schools that need it most, including Chicago.

House Bill 4069 is good for the 20 districts in our area and for all of our state’s 852 different school districts. Unlike Senate Bill 1, the legislation does not single out one district to pit students from different regions against each other. Instead, all schools are all treated the same under a formula that is the same for everyone regardless of their zip code. In fact, recently released data from the Illinois State Board of Education shows that House Bill 4069 in its current form is unquestionably more equitable for all low-income students in Illinois.
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) opposed the last minute political games played with the school funding formula bill that would bail out Chicago schools by $500 million. Senate Bill 1 had been a bi-partisan effort to bring fairness to the funding formula and bringing relief to property tax payers, but at the last minute was amended to help Chicago Schools more at the expense of Central and southern Illinois schools. It narrowly passed with 60 yes votes and heads to the governor where it is anticipated he will veto the bill.

“It is amazing how blatant the games are to benefit one school district over the rest of our schools and students,” declared Rep. Brad Halbrook. “There was a good faith, bi-partisan effort to bring fairness to the school funding formula and bring relief to taxpayers, but that was lost at the last minutes of the regularly scheduled session. I could not in good conscience vote for SB 1 in its final form that short-changed our students here in central Illinois,” Halbrook added.

The legislature has debated the issue of school funding reform for a number of years, including this past legislative session. Many believe that we need a more equitable school funding formula in Illinois that lessens our reliance on local property taxes while providing that the State make education a higher priority. Right now, Illinois only provides 24% of total education spending.

In addition, Illinois has not had a full budget in two years. This school funding reform proposal requires $350 million in new money even though the State cannot afford to pay schools for current year programs. SB 1 would allocate the monies at a 70% - 30% ratio with 70% for Chicago that has only 23% of the students.

“I will continue to support a new formula to provide an equitable and adequate education for all two million students in Illinois public schools, and not just a select few,” concluded Halbrook. “I believe we can help schools and help taxpayers at the same time if we show the political will to do the right thing.”

This slide uses Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 as an example from the last year we had a state budget in place.


Many of you have contacted me about your frustration that there hasn't been a full, balanced budget for Illinois in two years now. I share your frustration and want you to see the process as it is supposed to happen under our state constitution. You may click HERE to see the entire power point presentation.



In the visitor's gallery of the Illinois House of Representatives Chamber are (l-r) Michael J. Inman, Mayor of Macomb; Suzanne M. Rogers, Ed.M., Associate Director of Admissions, Univ. of Illinois; Rep. Brad Halbrook;
Tami D. Fruhling-Voges, Mayor-Elect of St. Joseph; and B.J. Hackler, Mayor of St. Joseph.

The Illinois Municipal League members traveled to the state capitol last week to meet with legislators and track legislation that impacts local government. The deadline for passing legislation out of the House to go over to the Senate (and vice versa) was Friday, April 28th. Local officials met with Rep. Halbrook who serves on both the Cities & Villages Committee as well as the Counties & Townships Committee where he is the Republican Spokesperson and is assigned to the Consolidated and the Transparency Subcommittees.

Among the visitors from the 102nd District were the current Mayor of St. Joseph, B.J. Hackler, who will be retiring after 36 years of service, and the Mayor-Elect Tami D. Fruhling-Voges.
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) reported that House Bill 40 narrowly passed the Illinois House on a vote of 62-55 that would create a new law to allow taxpayer funded abortions in Illinois even if ‘Roe v. Wade’ is overturned at the federal level. The bill also expands abortions to include Medicaid recipients and state workers on state-funded insurance plans.

“I know people of Faith can disagree on public policy, but my Faith tells me that abortion is murder and I will always fight for the innocent and defenseless in our society,” declared Rep. Brad Halbrook. “Today’s bill to expand access to abortions and pay for them with our public dollars is offensive and wrong! We cannot even pay for women’s shelters, seniors’ meals-on-wheels, or college grants for students, yet we apparently can obligate the unfunded, non-existent budget for a projected $60 million to kill an additional 30,000 babies. This is a sad day in Illinois,” added Rep. Halbrook.

According to the ‘Workers’ Action Guide published by the Illinois Department of Human Services, Medicaid provides medical coverage for pregnant women who make less than 213% of the federal poverty level. The latest numbers from the Guttmacher Institute, released in May 2016, indicate that 75% of women who receive abortions have income under 200% of the federal poverty level. Based upon this information, and published documentation from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services about the cost and frequency of abortion procedures, the $60 million price tag would decimate the Illinois Medicaid budget.


State Representative Brad Halbrook has been traveling the 102nd district meeting with agriculture leaders, families, seniors, and small business owners about issues and concerns and the number one topic is the state budget. Without a balanced full state budget, schools and universities as well as services to those who really need help cannot plan their budgets and make decisions on what their programs will look like for the next fiscal year.

Click here to listen to the podcast with Scott Beatty on NewsTalk 1400 -WDWS-AM.
The Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and the Illinois Tollway were joined by industry partners and frontline construction workers to remind the public that construction season has arrived and extra caution will be required in work zones. In support of the effort, Gov. Bruce Rauner has proclaimed April 3-7 as “Work Zone Safety Week” in Illinois.

“If you are driving in Illinois this year, you will be driving in our work zones. We are striving to make this construction season the safest one ever and drive traffic fatalities in Illinois to zero,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. “Please, if you are traveling through a work zone, slow down, avoid distractions in your vehicle and pay special attention to your surroundings. One life lost is one too many.”

The theme for this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week is “Work Zone Safety is in Your Hands,” reinforcing the message that driving habits impact the well-being of other motorists, cyclists, workers, and pedestrians. When you choose to put aside distractions, you gain the ability to save a life, perhaps yours. (Read the complete story by clicking here.)


Pictured are front row (l-r): Abigail Bresnan, Natalie Kirkbride, Kyra Jackson, Sara Stephens, Braxton Vice, Morgan Braden, Ian Cornahan, Chase, Thies, McKenna Sanders, Lauren Bowers, and State Senator Chapin Rose. Top row (l-r): State Rep. Bread Halbrook, Jackson clark, Tyler McLain, Wyatt Henschen, Colby May, Garrett Fritz, Ben Althoff, Marshall Nohren, Zachary Wieland, and State Rep. Avery Bourne.



Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) hosted students from Shelby Electric Cooperative on March 29th at the State Capitol. The students were in Springfield as part of Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day. The Shelby Electric Cooperative serves Shelby, Christian, and Macon Counties.

For over 55 years, the electric and telephone cooperatives of Illinois have given tomorrow’s leaders the opportunity to learn from today’s public officials. Each year, nearly 300 outstanding students get an up close and first hand look at democracy in action when they meet their elected representatives during Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day. Over the years, thousands of students have learned how government works and why it’s important for every citizen to get involved in it. State senators and representatives have the opportunity to inspire and encourage the leaders of tomorrow during this annual event, held in Springfield.
State Rep. Brad Hallbrook (R-Shelbyville) joined State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) in hosting students from the Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative March 29 at the capitol. The students were in Springfield as part of Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day, activities sponsored by the Electric and Telephone Cooperatives of Illinois. Eastern Illini serves Ford, Iroquois, Piatt, Champaign, Douglas and McLean County. Champaign and Douglas Counties are in the 102nd District represented by Rep. Halbrook.

In the photo in the Senate Chambers (from left to right): State Rep. Brad Halbrook; Renae Spannagel, Villa Grove; Lauren Tingley, Bismarck; Bridget McMullin, Loda; Jacob Rietz, Gilman; Claire Bossong, Watseka; Mike Wilson, EIEC; Hannah Warfel, Tuscola; Miranda Fairbanks, Sadorus; Susan Brown, EIEC; and State Sen. Chapin Rose.

For over 55 years, the electric and telephone cooperatives of Illinois have given tomorrow’s leaders the opportunity to learn from today’s public officials. Each year, nearly 300 outstanding students get an up close and first hand look at democracy in action when they meet their elected representatives during Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day. Over the years, thousands of students have learned how government works and why it’s important for every citizen to get involved in it. State senators and representatives have the opportunity to inspire and encourage the leaders of tomorrow during this annual event, held in Springfield.

State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville), pictured far right, joined State Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) in welcoming the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartans Girls Cross Country Team March 29 to the Illinois Capitol for the team’s IHSA Class 1A Girls Cross Country State Championship.

The championship meet was held at Detweiller Park in Peoria on November 5th. This is the team’s second state title in three years and their third consecutive top three finish. The team is coached by Mr. Jason Retz and Mrs. Terri Rein. Their bus driver is Coach Jim Acklin, who is an IHSA Hall of Fame coach and coached Urbana and St. Joseph-Ogden Cross Country Teams.

Congratulations to the team members: Hanna Atwood, Senior; Cassidy Bagby, Sophomore; Hailey Birt, Freshman; Haley Griebart, Sophomore; Faith Houston, Junior; Danie Kelso, Freshman; Kassie Kelso, Sophomore; Samantha Mabry, Junior; Sally Manalo, Sophomore; Ally Monk, Freshman; Angela Palmer, Sophomore; Jillian Plotner, Freshman; Murelle Plotner, Senior; Hannah Rajilch, Senior; and Keely Smith, Senior.

Tyler Harvey (left) and Clint Robinson (right) of Moultrie County Farm Bureau
discuss projects of the Kaskaskia Watershed Association with  Rep. Halbrook.

On Monday, State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) attended the 17th Annual Kaskaskia Watershed Association (KWA) Summit at the Mariners Village Conference Center at Carlyle Lake. The KWA is a group of volunteers that works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve watershed wide issues that include five of the counties in the 102nd district (Shelby, Moultrie Macon, Douglas and Champaign Counties).


The Kaskaskia Watershed Association has been instrumental in securing a US Army Corps of Engineers ‘Handshake Partnership Program’ award of $20,000 to improve the pollinator habitat around Lake Shelbyville. This project will convert 100 acres of old field habitat choked out with invasive species into a diverse pollinator mix, vital to numerous insect species which pollinate native Illinois plants.

“I would like to thank the Moultrie County Farm Bureau members who attended and participated in a panel discussion about how framers are working with the Kaskaskia Watershed Association to improve water quality through better efficiencies in fertilizer applications and various crop planting strategies,” commented Rep. Halbrook, a member of the Counties & Townships Committee. “It was encouraging, also, to hear members of the public suggest that we should pursue private donations as matching monies for the federal dollars that are already approved and waiting to be used for the various projects as soon as there is a 50-50 match,” added Halbrook.
The Youth Police Program was developed by the Department Safety, Law & Order Committee, in conjunction with the Illinois State Police in a meeting at the State Police Academy in October of 1971. Both males and females ages 14 through 16 are eligible to participate.

The primary purpose of the Youth Police Program is to establish an inter-personal relationship between the youth of our State and Law Enforcement Officers, in order to create a better understanding of the problems and attitudes of both groups, and to develop a rapport between youth and the police.

It is our intention that the youth attending this program need not necessarily be interested in a career in Law Enforcement. In fact, we feel that those youths who do not seem to have vocational or scholastic direction may benefit the most from this program. It is really our desire to recruit the average youth representing all communities and cultural backgrounds in the State of Illinois in an effort to rekindle in our youth the fading respect for persons empowered with the responsibility of enforcing the law at all levels of government.

This goal can be better accomplished by exposing these youths to Law Enforcement with an opportunity to objectively witness the rigid training and standards set forth in law enforcement today. 

It is our desire that each participant returns to their community with a clearer understanding of the police and their problems.

Applications must be received by the American Legion Division Chairman, Delmar Buske (4th Div., 21st Dist.) at 904 N. Van Buren Street, Litchfield, IL 62056.

If you have any questions, Mr. Buske may be contacted at 217-556-9555 or by e-mail at delmarbuske@yahoo.com.
In light of the severe storms that came through Illinois last night, this is a reminder that we need to be prepared in case of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) encourages people to stay aware of local forecasts and be prepared to act quickly if storm warnings are issued. The month of March is designated as "Severe Weather Preparedness Month" to remind residents about the resources available in the case of an emergency.

IEMA suggests that people have storm radios on and wireless emergency alerts enabled on their smartphones in case more storms roll through.

Seek shelter immediately if a tornado warning is issued for your area. The best shelter is in a basement or cellar. If an underground shelter is not available, find an interior room or hallway on the lowest level, such as a closet, small interior hallways and bathrooms without windows.

You can download a disaster kit checklist HERE to help you and your family be better prepared.

Champaign County Clerk, Gordy Hulten (seated center), testifies to the Elections and Campaign Finance Committee at the State Capitol on Friday, February 24, 2017.

The testimony from Mr. Hulten and several other county clerks and election authority personnel, focused on a wide range of issues from outdated voting machines and voter fraud concerns to same-day voting challenges.
I was happy to host the first "Page-for-a-Day" from our area this week, Elizabeth Hess, the morning personality for NewsTalk 1400 on WDWS-AM radio out of Champaign, IL. The "Page" program allows for people who are interested in the legislative process to experience and observe first-hand the workings of the Illinois House of Representatives.
Springfield…Governor Bruce Rauner began his third budget address since taking office by quoting President Abraham Lincoln, said State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville).

“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion… We must think anew and act anew. We must think anew and act anew,” quoted Gov. Rauner of Illinois’ own Abraham Lincoln.

“I agree with workers comp and pension reforms, and common-sense changes in regulations that the governor outlined in his speech today,” commented Rep. Halbrook, who serves on the Government Consolidation & Modernization Committee. “I continue to be ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move our state forward and grow more jobs,” concluded Halbrook.

If you would like to review the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget proposed by Governor Rauner today, please click HERE.

WATCH LIVE: Governor Rauner Delivers Budget Address


Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his annual Budget Address to a joint session of the 100th General Assembly in Springfield at Noon today. You can watch the speech LIVE from the floor of the House of Representatives by clicking HERE and entering password “budget”. Session is scheduled to begin at 11:30am.
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) announced today that he has established four advisory committees to involve local residents in the democratic process.

“I believe that government closest to the people is more responsive and accountable,” stated Rep. Halbrook who serves on the Government Transparency Committee in the Illinois House. “These advisory groups will allow our neighbors and friends to have input on key topics because we know that all of the good ideas to help Illinois don’t just come from Springfield,” added Halbrook.

You may sign up to serve on one of the advisory committees at www.RepHalbrook.com.



State Representative Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) has been named to five committees in the Illinois House of Representatives for the 100th General Assembly. They include Cities & Villages, Counties & Townships, Elections & Campaign Finance, Government Consolidation & Modernization, and the Government Transparency Committees. Rep. Halbrook has been named the Minority Spokesperson for the Counties & Townships Committee.

“I am honored to be asked to serve on these committees and particularly to be named spokesperson for the Republican Caucus on the Counties & Townships Committee,” commented Rep. Halbrook. “These committees are all ones that I can work with to advance the common themes of ‘efficient government practices’ and ‘accountability to the taxpayers’ which directly impact moving our state forward with balanced budgets and reforms to turnaround our state,” Rep. Halbrook added.

The Illinois House currently has forty-five standing and eleven special committees. The committees are intended to hold hearings on proposed legislation that addresses the various topics of the committees. From these hearings, committees can help shape the language of the proposals with amendments, and either agree to move the legislation to the full House for consideration or the committees can advise that the proposed bills are not fully vetted and should not advance to the full House for consideration.

People may follow the progress of legislation and watch or listen to live debates of the General Assembly on-line at www.ilge.gov.
Gov. Rauner on the Illinois House Floor.
“I am encouraged by the governor’s speech and his continued determination to change the way we do business in this state to entice companies large and small to stay and return to Illinois.”



Springfield…Wednesday, Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) joined his colleagues in both the House and Senate to hear Governor Rauner’s third State of the State address during a joint session of the General Assembly.

For those who were not able to log in and watch or listen live on-line, here are some excerpts from the governor’s speech:

“When it comes to the budget, we all can agree Illinois HAS to do something different. Our Administration has offered many proposals to achieve a truly balanced budget with changes that fundamentally fixes our broken system. We must remember that to keep budgets balanced in the future, our rate of economic growth must be higher than our rate of government spending growth. It’s just simple math.”

“We need changes to the worker’s compensation system to prevent misuse and abuse, and attract employers and good jobs. Property tax relief to reduce the immense burden felt by our families and businesses – and to give them reason to stay here. Term limits and redistricting, where voters pick their representatives and not the other way around, in order to restore the confidence of job creators and working families in our state.”

“As a small businessman in the agricultural sector of our economy, I understand what it takes to create jobs and meet a payroll,” commented Rep. Halbrook. “I am encouraged by the governor’s speech and his continued determination to change the way we do business in this state to entice companies large and small to stay and return to Illinois.”

The governor talked about our need to build a future where our economy booms and job creation soars. Where people around the country say to themselves, you know what – we want to live in Illinois – that’s where we want to build a business, that’s where we want to start a family, that’s where we can achieve the American dream.
Dear Employees:

By now you've heard the shocking news that Attorney General Lisa Madigan went into court late yesterday to petition a judge to halt state employee pay.

It's disappointing to see any move to stop employee pay and disrupt government services, especially now as the Senate is on the verge of a bipartisan agreement to enact a balanced budget with changes to create jobs and lower property taxes. The Attorney General's court filing seeks to directly harm thousands of employee families and even more who rely on your hard work every day.

Our Administration will use all available legal options to continue employee pay and avoid any disruption to government services. I am hopeful Comptroller Mendoza will stand with state employees - just as Comptroller Munger did previously - and support our legal arguments to continue employee pay.

No matter what, we will work tirelessly on your behalf to stop this attempt to undermine good-faith bipartisan negotiations in the Senate - ensuring employee pay continues, government services remain intact and the General Assembly enacts a bipartisan balanced budget with changes to our broken system.

Sincerely,

Governor Bruce Rauner

Today at 12:00 noon, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner will deliver his third 'State of the State' address to a joint session of the Illinois General Assembly. You may watch or listen live from your home or office by clicking here.
Arthur Grade School is one of the many schools in 102nd District
that could be impacted by a new school aid formula.
(Exerpts from the Phil Kadner Opinion piece in the Chicago Sun-Times)

Progress apparently is being made on one of the long-term issues facing the state: The School Aid Funding Formula.

The Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, created by the governor in July, is less than two weeks away from Rauner’s deadline for issuing a report.

The 25-member commission includes elected officials from both parties appointed by the four Senate and House leaders and others selected by the governor. Its deadline to finish up its work is Feb. 1.

What everyone in Illinois should realize by now, and the governor has emphasized, is that Illinois relies more heavily on property taxes to finance public education than any other state in the nation. The disparities in education between rich and poor school districts in Illinois also are among the greatest in the nation. Elected officials representing both political parties have promised for decades to change the school funding system.

But just as the state’s pension funding crisis was created over decades, governors and lawmakers for more than 30 years allowed the local property tax burden to mount while ignoring their constitutional responsibility to provide funding for the schools.

Expect to hear the words “evidence-based funding” repeatedly as the commission’s work nears completion. This is a school financing theory developed by two professors that says a formula can be created that establishes an adequate level of funding for every student, while demanding results in exchange for money spent.

It’s the popular theory. It sounds good because it would mean well-financed schools that provide a quality education. I’m a skeptic.

After one special panel was tasked with solving the school funding problem, it resulted in the state creating the Education Funding Advisory Board, which sets minimum mandatory foundation levels of per pupil funding for students. That has nothing to do with adequate funding, just the bare minimum the state should provide given financial constraints.

The state has failed to meet that minimum foundation level since 2003.

(Read the full article by Phil Kadner of the Sun-Times by clicking here.)
The fourth Saturday in January is designated as Eagle Day in Illinois
Every winter, Illinois presents visitors with the opportunity to see more than 3,100 bald eagles in their natural habitat - more wintering American bald eagles, in fact, than in any other state outside Alaska. The first eagles of the season are spotted in Illinois in December and remain in residence until they migrate back north in March, with January and February the optimal time for visitors to see eagles.

To accommodate visitors who want to take advantage of the opportunity to experience the bald eagles' majesty and glory, towns and parks across much of the state will host specially planned eagle observation programs and exhibits throughout the prime-viewing season. For anyone interested in American history, bird-watching and the environment, bald eagle season in Illinois is a not-to-be-missed opportunity.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is pleased to highlight a number of eagle-watching locations and events planned for this winter:

Lake Shelbyville Eagle Day
February 11 (9:30-2:00)
  • Lake Shelbyville Visitor Center (off of Route 16 East of Main Dam) 9:30 - 2:00
  • Bald Eagle Program for Kids 10:00 - 10:30 (seating is limited)
  • Eagle Talk & Gawk (Q&A/pictures) 11:00 - 12:00
  • Birds of Prey Program 12:30 - 1:30 (seating is limited)
  • Tickets are first come, first served and can be reserved by phone or in person at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Shelbyville Project Office Monday - Friday from 8:00 - 4:30. Remaining tickets will be available the day of the event.
  • Free Admission
  • For more information call (217) 774-3951or http://www.mvs.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/643699/lake-shelbyville-eagle-day/
Wednesday, Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) was sworn in as the State Representative for the 102nd House District. Rep. Halbrook served previously in the 110th House District when he was appointed to fill out the term of a retiring House member in 2012.

“I am excited to rejoin the legislature and continue my fight for the people of this area,” said Rep. Halbrook. “The Governor’s goals to turn around the Illinois economy by lowering property taxes and reforming the workers’ compensation system to include causation are goals I share. I look forward to serving the families of our area.”

Residents are encouraged to contact Rep. Halbrook if you have questions or concerns about state policies and programs by signing up for legislative updates. The 102nd District includes all or portions of Champaign, Douglas, Edgar, Macon, Moultrie, Shelby and Vermilion Counties.