Senate Week in Review: October 1-5, 2018

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is seeking input on public education funding for the fiscal year 2020 budget. Three open budget hearings have been scheduled, giving individuals the opportunity to share their funding requests prior to the agency sending its final recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor.

In other action, legislation was filed to keep people who have committed tax fraud from running for public office.

Also during the week, a new report was released showing the number of school districts in Illinois able to access high-speed internet has increased, Governor Bruce Rauner proclaimed October as Manufacturing Month in Illinois, and the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) launched a new, mobile-friendly website.

Open budget hearings scheduled for public education

In preparation of the fiscal year 2020 budget, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has scheduled three statewide budget hearings in an effort to hear funding recommendations for public education. Educators, advocates, and community members are encouraged to communicate their funding requests in person at one of the upcoming hearings.

The open hearings for the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget for public education statewide will take place in:

Springfield – Wednesday, Oct. 17, immediately following the Board meeting, around 11 a.m. in the ISBE Board Room (100 N. First St.)
Mount Vernon – Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 4 p.m. at Dr. Nick Osborne Primary Center (401 North 30th St.)
Chicago – Friday, Nov. 16, immediately following the Board meeting, around 11 a.m. at the Thompson Center in Conference Room 16-503 (100 W. Randolph St.)

Individuals should submit their funding requests by completing the form available at isbe.net/budget and emailing the form to ISBEFY20@isbe.net.

The State Board finalizes its funding recommendations for prekindergarten through 12th grade public education in January and submits them to the General Assembly and the Governor in February.

Legislation filed to keep tax cheats out of public office

Legislation was filed this week to keep people who have been convicted of tax fraud out of public office.

Senate Bill 3636 would require candidates to provide to the State Board of Elections notarized certification that he or she has not been convicted of tax fraud and has not been found by any taxing body or court to have intentionally engaged in acts of fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation to achieve a reduction in the amount of taxes due or to avoid paying taxes that would otherwise be owed.

The legislation would also require the State Board of Elections to provide election authorities with a list of names of these candidates and would be prohibited from placing them on the ballot.

Proponents of the bill say those who defraud taxpayers should not have the right to represent them.

More Illinois schools seeing high-speed internet

In just three years, the number of kindergarten through 12th grade school districts in Illinois able to access the internet at speeds of 100 kbps per student has improved by 25 percent—going from 71 percent to 96 percent. The report, done by EducationSuperHighway, tracks progress toward K-12 connectivity across the United States.

Over the past several years, it has been a top priority in Illinois to increase access to internet speeds to be on par with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) goal of one megabit per second per student. Illinois launched the Illinois Classroom Connectivity Initiative in 2016, in an effort to ensure all districts receive the support and funding to close the school broadband gap. Furthermore, the Fiscal Year 2019 education budget includes a $17 million Broadband Expansion fund to help cover costs of fiber upgrades for school districts.

While Illinois has advanced its school digital resources, work remains. EducationSuperHighway says 407,093 students in 32 school districts across the state still need adequate bandwidth for digital learning. There are also 136 school campuses in Illinois that lack scalable fiber-optic broadband connections.

October is Manufacturing Month

October marks Manufacturing Month in Illinois. The awareness month seeks to recognize the importance of the industry that employs more than a half million workers across the state. Over the course of the month, events will take place throughout the state showcasing the many manufacturing companies in Illinois.

According to the proclamation issued by Governor Bruce Rauner, nearly 20,000 manufacturing firms call the Land of Lincoln home. These companies manufacture a wide range of products including farm equipment and machinery, automotive parts, plastics, pharmaceuticals, biofuels, and food products.

“I want to thank Governor Rauner for his focus on improving Illinois’ manufacturing climate,” said Senator Syverson. “The measures taken the last four years have not only stopped the out-migration of jobs but have helped grow employment in Illinois, with approximately 10,000 jobs being added to Illinois’ manufacturing industry since before the Governor took office.”

Manufacturing Day is celebrated nationwide on the first Friday of the month, Oct. 5.

IDOR launches new website

The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) launched a new mobile-friendly website this week: tax.illinois.gov. The new site features simplified site navigation and enhanced functionality to provide businesses, tax professionals, and the public easier access to information.

Visitors accustomed to the former IDOR website will be automatically redirected to the new website.

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