Senator Syverson’s Week in Review: January 15 – 19

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) informed Senate Republicans this week that implementation of the state’s new school funding law will occur; a new measure would bring high-speed Internet access to rural school districts; a new proposal would give Illinois motorists the option to register their vehicles for more than one year; and Chicago makes Amazon’s top 20 list as they look to build a second headquarters. 

Schools do better under new school funding reform law

Last summer, Illinois lawmakers passed, and the Governor signed, an historic, school funding law. Then, during the fall veto session, the General Assembly (over the objection and no vote of Senator Syverson) passed a trailer bill (Senate Bill 444) making what was said to be only two technical changes dealing with how Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is calculated in the new school funding formula. The trailer bill advanced so the modeling done by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for the new formula matched up with school funding law.

This is unprecedented in terms of school funding, where typically lawmakers get a model of the bill as it was enacted, rather than changing the enacted bill to match the modeling. 

However, it turns out that the concerns raised by Senator Syverson and others were justified. Most Illinois school districts fare much better under the original bill than they will if the trailer bill, Senate Bill 444, becomes law.  For example, Rockford School District will lose nearly $2 million if SB444 becomes law. It is also important that ISBE has noted that “implementation of the new funding law will occur regardless of Senate Bill 444” and they will “allocate tier funding based on the law as written.” 

High-speed Internet for rural school districts

A bipartisan measure introduced during the week would set aside $16.3 million from the School Infrastructure Fund for the expansion of high-speed Internet to rural schools and school infrastructure costs related to the expansion. The legislation would qualify the state for funding matched three to one by the federal government. Cost estimates show that adding broadband to rural schools could cost from $75,000 to more than $400,000 per school.     

Measure would extend vehicle stickers beyond one year

Illinois motorists would have the option to register their vehicles for more than one year at a time under Senate Bill 2293, which would allow motorists, beginning in 2020, to register their vehicles for one or two years. It would also allow those who purchase a new vehicle to register their vehicle for one, two, or five years. The price per year would be the same but an individual would be able to pay it up front and not have to change their sticker every year.

Chicago makes Amazon’s top twenty list

According to Crain’s Chicago, Amazon announced “that it has picked 20 metro areas to move to the next phase of the process as it looks for a home for a second headquarters.”  Making the list was Chicago, which submitted a bipartisan bid last year. 

Dave Syverson

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