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BUDGET
COGFA reports on November State tax revenues. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA), the General Assembly’s nonpartisan budget-forecasting arm, constantly monitors Illinois State tax cash flows. Public reports are published monthly.

The revenue report for November 2019 reflects continued increases in Illinois incomes and the payments of income taxes to the State. Income tax payments in November 2019 were $201 million higher than they had been in November 2018, with $114 million of the increase being paid in individual income tax and $87 million in corporate income tax. Overall State general funds-related tax receipts increased by $153 million in November 2019 relative to the year-earlier month, and total revenues including transfers-in were up by $124 million in November 2019.
Tully Monster 3D model. Photo from the Illinois State Museum. 
What exactly is a Tully Monster?

“We still don’t know what he is – or was,” then-Field Museum curator Mary Carman, a leader in the effort to designate the Tully Monster as the official Illinois State Fossil, told the Chicago Tribune in 1987. “He makes a brief appearance in the fossil record and suddenly disappears. He didn’t evolve into anything, nor was anything ancestral to him, but he is a one-in-a-million fossil. That is why he would make a great state fossil for Illinois. People come here from all over the world to hunt for their own Tully.”

So, what’s a Tully Monster? And where did it come from?
EDUCATION
Outcry against misuse of “seclusion rooms” by schools across Illinois; State takes action. Many school districts use “seclusion rooms” and “isolation rooms” as places where students whom an educator believes to be disruptive can be sent for time-outs. News reports this week suggest that some schools are misusing seclusion rooms, or using them in the wrong circumstances and on the wrong students. Some students have behavioral or emotional problems that make isolation and seclusion a cruel punishment to inflict upon them. Many parents want to believe that their schools know what they are doing when they punish a schoolchild in this way, but an investigation has found that there very few cases where a school examines and diagnoses a student’s psychological state before sending the child to an isolation room. Worse, in some cases the school should know that this act is inappropriate – and they do it anyway. Following publication of this investigative report, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) issued emergency rules to ban the isolation of a student in a locked quiet room. Based on the new rules, students who are assigned to “time outs” will be monitored rather than isolated.
Thanksgiving celebrations come with a healthy dose of 17th-century Pilgrim imagery. They are in recognition of what is generally considered the very first Thanksgiving in America – the feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1621.

The concept of holding a special celebration to give thanks is one which appears throughout American history. Settlers in Virginia wrote of having a feast of thanksgiving as early as 1610. President George Washington called for such an occasion in 1789, shortly after his inauguration. Different states, principally in the Northeast, marked these occasions at different times throughout the year, but usually tied to the harvest season.
ETHICS REFORM
House Republicans call for passage of sweeping ethics reform package. In the wake of even more federal corruption investigations entangling multiple layers of Illinois government, House Republicans continued to press the case for comprehensive ethics reform. Tuesday morning, members of the House Republican caucus held a Capitol press conference to call on the General Assembly to take up a sweeping package of legislation to tackle the long overdue problem. This is the third such press conference to call for ethics reform in as many weeks.
With public corruption scandals at never-before seen levels in Illinois, lawmakers had an opportunity during the Fall Veto Session to enact meaningful ethics reforms to address glaring instances of public abuse of power. Since January, House Republicans have filed 26 different ethics reform bills. While these robust, common-sense measures languished in the House Rules Committee and were denied consideration, majority party lawmakers filed two watered-down measures in the middle of the night leading into the final day of session, and limited floor action to only these two bills.

The approved measures do nothing to prohibit lawmakers from also serving as paid lobbyists. They do nothing to prevent committee chairpersons from blocking bills his or her campaign donors don’t like. They also do not prevent committee chairpersons to lobby agencies whose budgets they control, or prohibit legislators who resign from office after being arrested on federal corruption charges, from having significant voting power over selecting his or her successor.

House Republicans stood united and voted against adjourning Veto Session, asking that lawmakers remain in Springfield until meaningful ethics reforms were approved and sent to the governor. Members of the Democratic Caucus instead voted to go home without passing anything substantive to improve ethical conduct in the legislature.
Generals gather at the Army of the Potomac Headquarters in Virginia. 
Gettysburg is the most famous battle in American history; and the largest ever fought in the western hemisphere. The small town in south-central Pennsylvania is remembered for the three-day clash of armies in July 1863, and for the November remarks of Abraham Lincoln, quite possibly the greatest Presidential speech ever delivered.

But while its aftermath, in which Illinois’ favorite son spoke of those who gave “the last full measure of devotion,” is well-known, the battle’s origin is not such common knowledge. It began with a group of six Illinois cavalrymen standing in front of an advancing army and setting in motion the events which would turn the tide of the Civil War and save our nation.