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If a service is needed, the people who provide it shouldn’t have to point out how important it is.

So it was telling that the Township Officials of Illinois released a statement Monday on what it sees as the good townships provide — shortly after a House committee discussed a measure that would make it easier for residents to consolidate local units of government.

The statement touted that townships maintain 71,000 miles of roads in the state and run programs that provide food, shelter and emergency general assistance for those in need. The association argued that taxpayers would pay more if the duties of smaller governments were shifted to larger units because they have higher cost structures.

But the statement reflects the mindset found at all levels of Illinois government: If change happens, just make sure it doesn’t affect me (and the unit of government I work for). It’s this “me first” culture that has permeated Illinois government and marooned the state in a financial morass. Read the opinion piece in SJ-R.
There are two school funding plans being considered in the Illinois House of Representatives (HB4069 & SB1) and the distinctions can be a bit confusing. The chart below separates fact from fiction. You can also  download the chart here.

To twist a cliché, when Chicago sneezes, Illinois catches a cold.

Such could be the case with Senate Bill 1, crafted by Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, that tweaks the archaic and imbalanced formula setting how much state money goes to Illinois school districts.

The legislation awaiting approval from GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner has sparked a strong tug-of-war in Springfield — which is really saying something in a state that hasn’t had a proper budget in almost three years.

Supporters say it guarantees any new funding allocated to education be sent to school districts most in need. But critics see the changes as a pure bailout of the Chicago Public Schools, which faces a profound financial black hole and ballooning pension obligations.

In other words, it’s the vintage Chicago-versus-downstate narrative that thwarts so much of our state’s evolution.

Chicago’s sniffles are being heard far and wide, and they might wreck the whole thing. And that’s bad for Decatur schools.

Here’s why: For school districts with high poverty rates, changing the school-funding formula is the clearest solution to making sure money is directed to students in a fair way.

Key Republican Legislators Renew Urgent Call for Compromise Balanced Budget Plan. Upon returning to Springfield for special session on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), Senate Deputy Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), Assistant Senate Republican Leader Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), Senate Republican Caucus Whip Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles), Senator Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), Deputy House Republican Leader Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale), Deputy House Republican Leader Dan Brady (R-Normal) and House Republican Conference Chairperson Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) offered a reminder that a compromise balanced budget with reforms is on the table and ready to be enacted.
All Illinois school districts would benefit from a more equitable distribution of state education dollars under a compromise proposal introduced by State Representative Bob Pritchard (R-Sycamore) to fix the state’s broken school aid formula and end the budget stalemate, according to data released by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The legislation, House Bill 4069, is a true compromise that embraces the priorities of lawmakers from both parties and both legislative chambers, and reflects the recommendations of the Governor’s bipartisan, bicameral Illinois School Funding Reform Commission.
Governor Bruce Rauner today signed a landmark criminal justice bill in his capitol office with Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago), House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), and other members of the General Assembly. The bill is a result of successful negotiations between the administration, City of Chicago and the General Assembly that will crack down on criminals who are repeat gun offenders, safely reduce the prison population, and create a more rehabilitative criminal justice system.
Republican lawmakers Wednesday laid resolution of the state’s budget impasse squarely at the feet of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

At a Statehouse news conference as a 10-day special session was about to begin, Republican lawmakers said the House Democrats are the only group that has yet to lay out a spending and revenue plan to end the nearly two-year budget stalemate.

“Speaker Madigan and the House Democrats will need Republican votes if they want to end this impasse,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. “It is up to them. The time for just having vague, general discussions is over.”

Durkin was referring to the fact it now takes 71 votes in the House to pass bills, including a budget. Democrats hold 67 seats in the chamber.

Republicans have put out a $36 billion spending plan that includes $5 billion in cuts. They have also said they will consider a $5.4 billion tax increase plan approved by the Senate that is needed to balance the state’s budget. Republicans said their support of a revenue plan is contingent on a number of other bills passing the legislature, including workers compensation changes, pension reform, term limits and other items. Read more.