The McDermed Dispatch for April 16th


EBF Money Distributed
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) just finalized the numbers for the evidence-based funding formula for FY18. The State Comptroller was then able to start sending out the new money promised by the tier funding portion of the formula to the most under-resourced districts. 
The EBF formula defines an adequate funding target for each school district, based on enrollment numbers and the cost of 34 factors proven to deliver the greatest positive impact to students. The formula compares each district’s current resources to its unique adequacy target. Increases in state education appropriations go to the most under-resourced districts. An additional $367 million dollars was distributed to schools this year. Lincoln Way SD should see an addition half a million dollars and New Lenox and Mokena should see an additional $130k and $30k respectively. Calculations for all 852 school districts can be found on ISBE’s website.

This new funding formula is ambitious and to fully fund it will require significantly more resources, possibly as much as $7.2 billion dollars, which the state ultimately doesn’t have. To put this in perspective, the state currently spends around $9 billion on education. 


Governor Rauner Frames Spring Goals
Governor Rauner last week outlined his legislative priorities for the remainder of session. The primary focus is a truly balanced full year budget. His goals included lowering taxes by enacting pension reform, providing mandate relief to schools and local governments, reviving the EDGE tax credits to spur economic growth, increasing public safety by reducing gun violence, and strengthening public trust in government through legislation targeting sexual harassment and conflicts of interest. All of these elements of his legislative agenda are designed to achieve a balanced budget. There has been some talk in Springfield by Democrats of a partial 6 month budget in the hopes that they can wait out Governor Rauner should he lose in November. This would be an incredibly irresponsible and shortsighted move. 

The state’s four legislative leaders and the Governor met last Thursday to discuss the budget and Democrat leaders agreed to certify FY19 revenues. This is an important part of insuring we are spending within the state's means, so there is some hope that a bipartisan effort could produce a full year budget. 

Shortly after the meeting, Governor Rauner left for a trip to Poland and Germany to lead a trade and jobs mission encouraging European investment in Illinois. Illinois has the second largest Polish American population in the country, coming just shy of New York. 

Tax Freedom Day     
You may have already paid your taxes this year, but you’re not yet free from your taxes. At least that’s what the think tank, Tax Foundation, has calculated. Every year they determine the date when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay its total tax bill for the year. In 2018, Americans will pay $3.4 trillion in federal taxes and $1.8 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total bill of $5.2 trillion, or 30 percent of the nation’s income. According to the Tax Foundation, America will spend more on taxes in 2018 than it will on food, clothing, and housing combined. National Tax Freedom Day this year is April 19th. However, it doesn’t arrive in Illinois until April 29th, putting us at 47th in the nation. TFD_charts_2016.pngIn response to a vague proposal by gubernatorial candidate JB Pritzker, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin filed a resolution last week in opposition to any progressive income tax. I gladly signed on as a co-sponsor. Illinois already has the highest effective state and local tax burden in the nation, according to a report by WalletHub. Studies have shown that states with progressive income taxes create even more of a tax burden on the middle class and dissuade economic prosperity. This kind of change to our tax structure would require a constitutional amendment and could take years to enact.

Protecting our Youth
Last fall the country was rocked by scandals that erupted regarding the USA gymnastics and swimming programs and the coverup of years of abuse by those in positions of power. More recently our own community was stunned by some news concerning Providence High School. 
In the face of overwhelming evidence that there is a systemic problem in children’s athletic programs and a tendency towards covering it up instead of taking action, it is vitally important that the Illinois House take steps to strengthen the Illinois Child Abuse and Neglect Act. 

My bill, HB 5131, increases the criminal penalty for any person who knowingly violates reporting requirements of abuse or neglect from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony. It further states that anyone who does so as part of a cover-up or to protect a person from prosecution commits a Class 3 felony. The bill also requires recreational or athletic program personnel, who are required to report child abuse, to complete mandated training on recognizing and reporting child abuse. We cannot allow these heinous crimes to be ignored or covered up to protect an institution's image. 

#ENDTHEBACKLOG
Today, the Joyful Heart Foundation, is holding a Day of Action to help promote awareness to #EndtheBacklog. The effort is to encourage action by states on the hundreds of thousands of rape kits that sit untested across the United States. You can learn more about the Day of Action here.

Legislation that I shepherded in to law last year should help us lessen the backlog here in Illinois. The law created the Sexual Assault Evidence Tracking and Reporting Commission, a group that has been working to create a rape kit tracking system and develop guidelines for sexual assault evidence tracking. The commission brings together relevant actors from the state police, testing labs, local law enforcement, the court system, hospitals, and victim’s rights groups to discuss how to handle transfers of evidence, testing, payment for testing, and other important factors.

The long, arduous process of testing can be disheartening for victims, especially when they don’t know the status of their case. Not only will a tracking system help ease their anxieties, but transparency and accountability in the evidence process is key to decreasing the likelihood of error, lessening the state’s rape kit backlog, and bringing more offenders to justice.

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