Compromise legislation included equitable funding for districts, more school choice for families

CHICAGO (Aug. 31, 2017) – Flanked by school children and legislative leaders, Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed historic school funding legislation that puts children first and makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come.

“The passing of this historic legislation was no easy feat, but it’s a reminder of the good things we can accomplish when we put politics aside and focus on what’s important: our children and our future,” Gov. Rauner said. “I am proud to sign this bill, which will bring more money to school districts based on the needs of the children, guaranteeing that all Illinois students have access to adequate education funding.”
State Representative Brad Halbrook (R- Shelbyville), is pleased that a school funding plan has finally passed the Illinois House and now goes to the Illinois Senate for consideration. It took two tries but finally Senate Bill 1947 passed which is a compromise piece of legislation to provide adequacy and fairness for all school districts in Illinois.

“I know this proposal is not perfect but it will give some mandates relief to school districts and expands school choice for parents and students,” Rep. Halbrook said. “This legislation finally puts the state on a path to equitable school funding and no one loses in this compromise legislation. Also, the proposal to bail out Chicago Public Schools’ pension costs was taken out of this funding formula.”

This legislation would give the four legislative leaders the power to expedite those waivers. As well, physical education (PE) requirements would be rolled back from five days per week to three, and more students who play sports can be exempted from PE. Drivers' education can be outsourced to private providers, which is common in many states.

This legislation would allow local voters to reduce their districts' educational property tax levy by up to ten percent, but only if the levy wasn't lowered below what's considered to be 110 percent of "adequacy." Ten percent of all registered voters in a school district would have to sign a petition to get the measure on the ballot. The new private school scholarship tax credit program in this historic piece of legislation is expected to be a big benefit for many schools. This tax credit program is a pilot program that would need to be renewed in five years when it's due to sunset.

“I am pleased with the compromised legislation that includes a pilot program to allow for a tax credit program to allow for scholarships to low-income children to be able to attend a school of their choice,” added Rep. Halbrook. “There is also an opportunity for taxpayers to receive property tax relief and this is a good thing for the over-taxed people of Illinois,” concluded Halbrook.

Project would come through Shelby County in the 102nd District

The planned 3,500-megawatt high-tension power line has been proposed to deliver electricity from Kansas to western Indiana. Crossing Missouri and Illinois, the projected 780-mile-long Grain Belt Express would be used to deliver wind-generated energy from the Great Plains to the northeastern United States. Beneficiaries would include electricity suppliers and their customers in places like Ohio and western Pennsylvania where power has traditionally been generated from burning coal. Many Illinois residents, along the route to be followed by the Grain Belt Express high-tension line have expressed concern about health threats that the electric line could generate. The line would run through many counties and small cities in central and southern Illinois, including Alton and Effingham.

In a move that is significant to the entire length of the projected line, the Missouri Public Service Commission (Missouri PSC) has rejected the application by Grain Belt Express to run the line through the “Show Me State.” This move marked the second time that Missouri PSC has rejected Grain Belt’s application, and the repeated position places completion of the line, may now be under some pressure to change the parameters of its proposal, or to drop the project altogether.