Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: July 31 – Aug. 4

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of education funding reform legislation this week, rewriting it so every school district in the state receives fair and equitable school funding. Republicans are calling for Democrats to accept the amendatory veto, saying it offers a fair way to fund all Illinois school districts. However, if Democrats refuse to accept the Governor’s changes, Senate Republicans say their colleagues must negotiate in good faith on a real solution that helps fund every school district in the state equitably.

Also this week, the Illinois State Fairgrounds continues to see more action as prep work for the Illinois State Fair is in full swing. The more than 160-year-old Illinois tradition kicks off Aug. 10.

Rauner’s amendatory veto makes education funding reform fair and equitable

Gov. Rauner followed through with his promise to alter a school funding bill sent to him early this week, swiftly issuing an amendatory veto of education funding reform legislation on Aug. 1. With his changes, the Governor laid out a plan that benefits every student across the state.

Republicans are urging their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the amended version of Senate Bill 1, saying it is the fairest option for all school districts and will provide fiscal certainty for school districts that are anxiously awaiting their state funding dollars. However, barring an acceptance of the Governor’s amendatory veto, Republicans say they remain open to compromise and working in good faith toward a bipartisan solution. To date, negotiations have failed to produce an alternative plan that bridges the gap between the Governor’s amended version of Senate Bill 1 and the original version of Senate Bill 1.

With Rauner’s changes to the legislation, all 852 school districts across the state would receive fair and equitable funding. Senate Bill 1, as originally passed by the House and Senate, would have diverted hundreds of millions of dollars from rural and suburban districts across the state to Chicago Public Schools.

Rauner finally received Senate Bill 1 early this week. After repeated urging from the Governor and Republican lawmakers, nearly two months after Senate Bill 1 was approved by the General Assembly, Democrat legislators removed a parliamentary hold they had placed on the bill and sent it to the Governor.

Republicans continue to sound the alarm saying time is of the essence with schools opening in a couple weeks. That’s because an “evidence-based” school funding formula must be signed into law before schools can receive their much-needed state funding.

Democrats, who control the House and Senate, have not yet scheduled a date for lawmakers to return to Springfield to take action on this issue. The burden is now on the majority leaders to act, to ensure schools aren’t forced to close their doors due to the lack of funding.

Illinois’ unemployment rate drops, but growth continues to lag

Underscoring the need for economy-boosting structural reforms, Illinois gained 56,600 jobs over the past year, but the state’s jobs growth rate continues to lag the nation, according to the latest unemployment rates from released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES).

Since June 2016, all of Illinois’ metropolitan areas and every county except two have seen their unemployment rates drop. Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped from 6% to 5% over the past year. Despite the good news, Illinois’ jobs gains were only half the national growth rate, and the labor force continues to shrink in most metro areas across the state, according to IDES.

Senate Republicans continue to push for structural reforms at the Statehouse that can boost the state’s economy and create jobs, such as workers’ compensation reform and property tax relief, but Democrat leaders have been unwilling to offer real compromise on the issues, thereby blocking meaningful reforms from Gov. Rauner’s desk. Illinois has some of the highest property taxes and workers’ compensation rates in the country.

To see a breakdown of unemployment rates across the state and where Illinois businesses added/lost jobs, click here.

Illinois State Fair kicks off Aug. 10

The Illinois State Fair, a tradition dating back to 1853, gets underway Aug. 10 in Springfield. The 11-day event, which brings hundreds of thousands of people though its gates, celebrates agriculture, the state’s number one employer and driver of the state’s economy.

The Illinois State Fair also features live music from some of music’s biggest names, harness racing, carnival rides, dozens of food vendors, various entertainers, animal shows, and displays by groups and organizations from across the state.

Some of the staples fairgoers enjoy are checking out The Butter Cow, walking around Conservation World, tasting wines from across the state, sampling a variety of foods in Ethnic Village, watching livestock shows, and seeing automobile and harness racing on the dirt track.

The Illinois State Fair runs August 10-20. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for senior citizens (60+), and free for kids (0-12). For daily schedules and lists of vendors, competitions, attractions, and the Grandstand lineup, check out the Illinois State Fair website. You can also download a free mobile app to receive the same information on your phone.

Dave Syverson

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