Special Session convened today in Springfield where lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted on SB1947, a bill to reform education funding in Illinois. State Representative Bob Pritchard was a chief co-sponsor of the legislation, which sought to provide historic funding levels to all schools state-wide.

The current school funding formula, adopted in 1997, has been largely inadequate. Lawmakers have continually worked to find the best way to both adequately and equitably fund education in Illinois, and today the Illinois House took major steps forward. Representative Pritchard served at the forefront of education funding negotiations, and voiced his support of the compromised bill, one that he believes will move Illinois forward.


SB1947 ultimately passed the House of Representatives today, with 73 lawmakers voting in support of the measure.
Observations and comments about state government by State Representative Robert W. Pritchard.
District Office 815-748-3494 or E-Mail to bob@pritchardstaterep.com

August 18, 2017
In This Issue:
·         Education Funding Reform Pressure Builds
·         House Resolution Condemns Domestic Terrorism in Charlottesville
·         Governor Rauner Signs Bills into Law
·         Uniformity in Property Tax Assessments Discussed
·         Concealed Carry Applications Declining
·         Annual Reading Program Concludes with Celebration

Education Funding Reform Pressure Builds
While schools are opening across the state, there is uncertainty about how long they can operate without state funding.  As you may recall, the state budget contained a provision that school funding could not be released until the new school funding reform bill--SB1--becomes law.  After delaying to send the bill to the Governor for nearly two months, the Senate finally acted on July 31 whereupon the Governor issued an amendatory veto.
The Senate returned to Springfield last Sunday to override the veto but the House now delayed action until next week.  All of these delays add to the anxiety of school officials, teachers, parents and legislators; and build pressure to accept the bill that was modified in late May to benefit Chicago Public Schools.
Until that time I was a major sponsor of the bill to improve the adequacy and equity of funding of all schools so every child receives a quality education.  Neither the Governor nor I could accept those changes and the manipulation of the Evidence Based Model for the benefit of one school district.
I believe the House will fail to override the Governor’s veto and SB1 will not become law.  A group of legislators have been meeting for weeks to negotiate a compromise and we have made significant progress.  The legislative leaders from the four caucuses will meet tomorrow to see if they can finalize an agreement for new legislation.  
Here is what I said on the House floor this week that needed to be changed in the legislation.  A new bill can be passed and signed into law yet this month if the Speaker and Senate President allow a resolution.  There is no reason to put schools through the same financial pressure that the legislature created for our colleges, universities, human service providers and others over the past two years.

House Resolution Condemns Domestic Terrorism in Charlottesville
House Resolution 569 was presented during legislative session this week, to condemn the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.  The Resolution specifically repudiates and condemns white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, and any other group that espouses hate and seeks to undermine the ideals of Illinois and the nation.
The resolution had unanimous support from lawmakers, and referred to the incidents that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend as domestic terrorism.

Governor Signs Legislation into Law
Dozens of bills have been signed into law over the past month at ceremonies large and small around the state.  Here are a few of note.
HB1805--called the Drive for Life Act-- will allow 16- and 17-year-olds to express their wishes to be organ donors.  I was a co-sponsor of this initiative and believe it will help save lives.  This law will give hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents the opportunity to join the organ donor registry each year.  Just in Illinois there are more than 4,700 people on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant.  Being an organ donor can make a positive impact on so many other lives. 
Now that it is law, SB8 makes improvements in the state procurement process that will help reduce costs, red tape and frustration.  The changes were made following input from agencies, universities and individuals who felt the current law unnecessarily restricted purchasing and didn’t affect ethical oversight or transparency.
The criminal justice reform bill--SB 1413-- was signed into law, which allows men and women to receive a copy of their birth certificate without charge upon their release from the Department of Corrections.  This bill removes financial barriers for those seeking a fresh start and trying to get back on track after time in prison.

Uniformity in Property Tax Assessments Discussed
Property owners often question the work of Township Tax Assessors and the fairness and accuracy of their valuations.  The topic also came up this week in school funding discussions about the uniformity of the property assessment process across the state.
The work of local assessors is reviewed by the County Assessor and the Illinois Department of Revenue.  The Taxpayers Federation of Illinois recently released its monthly Tax Facts Report with an article about the uniformity of tax assessments.
The report, based on the latest data from the Department of Revenue, reveals a wide variation in property tax assessments across Illinois.  The conclusion is drawn by looking at the Coefficient of Dispersion (COD), which compares the assessment ratio for properties sold with the median level of assessment.  In simple terms the smaller the COD number, the closer to the median and more uniform the assessment.  A perfect score would be zero.
The 2015 data found that McClean County was the most uniform while Alexander County was the least uniform.  For our area, Kane County is ranked 6th most accurate in the state with a COD of 12.05, Boone 12th with a score of 18.27, and DeKalb 16th with a score of 19.29.  
The COD is not entirely dependent on the quality of the work done by assessing officials.  A low COD is highly correlated to the homogeneity of property within the taxing district.  It is easier to achieve a low COD in taxing districts with large numbers of similar properties than in districts which have a mix of properties or in areas where values are fluctuating. 
The report shows that the average assessment uniformity is trending upwards, and will continue to improve with aided stabilization in the real estate market.  The uniformity of assessments matters because without it, the property tax system cannot be fair.  
This week, State Representative Bob Pritchard urged colleagues in the House of Representatives to continue working toward the right solution to school funding reform. Pritchard noted that SB1, in its current form, is not yet right due to the last minute changes that benefit one school district at the expense of all other in the state. 

“We’re very close,” said Pritchard. “Delaying votes and delaying meeting dates, only delays the goal that we have of helping our students learn.”


The House of Representatives will resume session next week, in the hopes of moving forward on a compromised solution.
State Representative Bob Pritchard recently participated in a panel discussion with fellow lawmakers on possible solutions to the education funding formula and the current legislation on the topic.

Illinois is a crucial turning point for education funding. With a many schools throughout Illinois already in session, pressure is building on lawmakers to pass legislation with the necessary funding to keep all 852 school districts in Illinois open.

The panel discussion surrounded how the state can best change how education is funded, when such reform efforts have been ongoing in the General Assembly for over a decade. The state has not adequately funded education costs, which as Representative Pritchard noted in his remarks, is the most important service the state can provide.

You can hear more of Representative Pritchard’s views on the status of education funding, the evidence based model that the legislation is based on, and more here.
Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed HB2371 into law, which will help improve Illinois’ cyber-security efforts.

The Governor created the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) through an Executive Order issued at the start of the 100th General Assembly. The State Agency was created to protect the large scope of data that our state has and continues to acquire, but also to support the infrastructure and future of Illinois.

Rep. Pritchard was a chief co-sponsor of the legislative measure that through DoIT, will provide for the training of state employees on the importance of cybersecurity. This will help improve and protect state computer networks, by giving employees the tools and knowledge to understand the risks of cyber threats and learn the best practices to defend state systems against such attacks. The areas the training program will cover include: identity theft, detecting phishing scams, preventing spyware infections and preventing and responding to data breaches.

Pritchard advocated for the bill to help arm the state against cyber threats, and provide better security to the state’s information and to all Illinois residents. Cybersecurity is a public safety issue, and this legislation provides one further step to help ensuring the safety of all residents and the state infrastructure.

The bill was signed by the Governor at a ceremony in the DoIT Innovation Center in Chicago, and becomes effective January 1st, 2018. Through this bill, Illinois becomes the 15th state to adopt mandatory cyber-security awareness training for state employees.

State Representative Bob Pritchard recently hosted a senior fair in partnership with State Senator Dave Syverson and the Family Service Agency.

The fair provided information to area seniors on the countless resources available to them in the DeKalb community. At the event, 80 vendors from the areas of state, county, and local government, health, and wellness organizations were present to help serve the over 350 seniors who attended.

The fair brought many vital services and information to seniors in one space, to make it convenient for area seniors to discover what’s available to them.

Family Service Agency who also sponsors the event has worked with area seniors in the DeKalb community for over 50 years. The organization holds countless programs to help seniors maintain physical, emotional, social wellness, while also promoting senior independence.

Rep. Pritchard’s office is available to help assist seniors with state related issues, and can be reached at (630) 748-3494.

Rep. Pritchard's annual senior fair always draws a large crowd, and this year welcomed over 350 guests.