Week in Review for week ending August 11, 2017

General Assembly to convene next week on education funding reform. The Illinois Senate will convene on Sunday, August 13, to consider a possible override vote on Governor Rauner’s Amendatory Veto of Senate Bill 1, the controversial education funding reform bill.

The Illinois House of Representatives will convene on Wednesday, August 16, for possible action on SB 1 and related legislation.

After the Democrat-controlled Senate waited two months before finally sending SB 1 to the Governor, Rauner acted swiftly to issue an Amendatory Veto of the bill. The Governor’s AV removed controversial “bailout” language for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and their mismanaged teachers’ pension fund, and made numerous other changes to the bill.

Democrats appear likely to refuse to consider the Governor’s AV language and, at least in the Senate, will likely vote to override the Governor’s requested changes.

House and Senate Republicans continue to oppose the Democrats’ last-minute changes to SB 1, which would provide a massive CPS bailout at the expense of suburban and downstate schools. Republicans are urging continued negotiations to reach a compromise that is fair and equitable to all Illinois schools and taxpayers.

Illinois misses state aid payment, but schools still get some overdue funds. The State Journal-Register reports that Illinois missed making a state aid payment to public schools Thursday for the first time ever, although schools still got an influx of more than $400 million that isn’t tied to the school aid formula.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza issued $429 million in “categorical payments,” money awarded to school districts to cover specific costs such as transportation and special education expenses.

The money sent Thursday has actually been owed to school districts since March, but wasn’t paid because the state didn’t have enough cash to cover all of its expenses.

The categorical money is separate from general state aid that provides the bulk of state assistance to school districts. The first school aid payment was supposed to be issued Thursday, but it could not because money in the state budget for general state aid can’t be distributed until a new school funding formula is enacted.

Fortner will not seek reelection. State Representative Mike Fortner will not seek reelection in 2018. Below is a statement from the Representative on his decision:

“Life is lived in cycles. There are cycles due to changes in our personal lives and those of our families. Elected officials are not immune to these cycles. At the end of this term in 2019 I will have served 12 years in the General Assembly – 6 years representing the 49th district and 6 years before that representing the 95th district. Before I was sworn in as a state representative I served 12 years in elected office with the City of West Chicago – 6 years as mayor and 6 years as alderman before that. It has been my honor to serve the public at both the state and local level, but after many months of reflection I have decided that it is time for this cycle to end, and I will not run for reelection in 2018.

As a state representative I have been privileged to use my experience in local government, science and technology to help the people of Illinois. I led the effort to improve our electric power by allowing municipalities to buy power on behalf of their residents. I have been successful in protecting our privacy from unauthorized video recording and unauthorized use of passwords on social media. This year I was successful in helping to negotiate major improvements to the way we recycle electronic equipment, and to improve access to voting registration through automation. However, none of this would have been possible without the support of the people I represent and my colleagues in the legislature.

Twelve years ago a door opened for me when my predecessor decided to seek another position. With this announcement I can open a door to a successor, who I hope will enjoy the same support and success I have in public office.”

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin released the following statement on the retirement announcement of State Representative Mike Fortner:

“I have been privileged to serve alongside Mike Fortner throughout his time in the Illinois General Assembly. He has been a leading voice on important issues such as energy policy, election reform, local government and technology. Mike used his background and expertise to serve the public good and he has been a tremendously effective legislator. We will all miss his professorial intellect, wit and ability to work in a bipartisan fashion to improve the lives of Illinois families. I wish Mike all the best in his future endeavors.”

Leader Durkin appointed Representative Fortner to serve as the Minority Spokesperson for numerous House committees, including: Cities and Villages; Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, & IT; Economic Opportunity; Elections & Campaign Finance; and Tollway Oversight. Fortner has been a member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2007.

Gov. Rauner signs bill to protect Illinois from cyberthreats. On Monday, Governor Rauner signed House Bill 2371, requiring all executive branch State of Illinois employees responsible to the Governor, not including public university employees, to undergo annual cybersecurity training to understand the risks, threats and best practices to defend against cyber threats."

Hackers and cyber criminals continually grow more sophisticated in their attempts to steal sensitive data and infect state computer systems. It is crucial that state employees have knowledge to protect themselves and the state from the impact of cyber-attacks. This legislation is another advancement in the governor's vision for a cyber-secure Illinois to better protect the personal information of state residents and ensure critical state services are not interrupted.

"Employees are our first line of defense," Gov. Rauner said. "Ensuring that our staff is properly trained against cyber threats is vital to protect Illinois' services and information. Cybersecurity is no longer just an IT issue. It is a public safety issue, and we will do all we can to protect the residents and infrastructure of our state."

The Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT) is charged with implementing the training program and recently released the State of Illinois Cybersecurity Strategy. Key objectives include protecting state of Illinois information and systems, reducing cyber risk, providing best-in-class cybersecurity capabilities and ensuring an enterprise approach to cybersecurity. Cyber-awareness training is a key component of the strategy.

Hardik Bhatt, DoIT secretary designate and chief digital officer said, "The State of Illinois' digital transformation is placing Illinois in a leadership role across the nation in areas such as the use of mobile technologies, capturing the value of data and becoming the first state to establish itself as a Smart State. Along with our impressive technological progress comes a responsibility to simultaneously increase our cybersecurity efforts to defend our state from cyber-attacks."

Doug Robinson, Executive Director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers supports the efforts of states to increase cybersecurity. "State employees are on the firing-line of protecting digital assets of the state. NASCIO has repeatedly advocated that states make cybersecurity training and awareness for employees a priority. By mandating cybersecurity training, the leadership in the State of Illinois is making a serious statement about their commitment to reducing risks."

With this legislation, Illinois becomes the 15th state to adopt a mandatory cybersecurity awareness training for state employees. States are increasingly the targets of attacks, and security threats pose a daily risk in the state's ability to serve taxpayers and protect critical and confidential information.

Procurement reform bill signed into law. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 8 this week, a bipartisan bill that makes the state procurement process more efficient and transparent, thus saving money for Illinois taxpayers.

“Procurement rules are often confusing and difficult for vendors, state entities and universities,” Gov. Rauner said. “Reforming the procurement process allows more flexibility for vendors. Removing red tape will make it easier for small and midsize businesses to bid on state contracts. This is a win for our government agencies, for universities, for businesses and, most importantly, for taxpayers.”

Specifically, SB 8 eliminates unnecessary administrative delays for state universities. The bill also permits Illinois to enter into joint purchasing agreements with other units of government, allowing state and local government entities to save money because of their increased purchasing power.

“I want to thank the governor for signing this necessary bill today,” State Sen. Chapin Rose said. “The state’s draconian procurement code has wasted money for far too long. As many know, I have been leading the charge on this issue for several years. This law will save money for taxpayers and drive more money to student services across Illinois universities.”

“This bill finally starts to address unnecessary costs within our procurement code,” State Rep. Mark Batinick said. “Illinois is a state with almost unlimited potential. If we could just get out of our own way, we would be much better off. I hope this is only the start."

State Rep. David S. Olsen joined Governor Rauner on the campus of the University of Illinois for the signing of legislation that will streamline and reform regulations that govern how Illinois buys billions of dollars in goods and services each year.

“These reforms to the state’s purchasing system will ease burdensome regulations and save our public institutions money,” said Olsen, at the bill signing on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s engineering campus. “I am proud to have co-sponsored this pivotal piece of legislation and am pleased that I could join the Governor for the bill signing at my alma mater. The University of Illinois and our other colleges and universities will benefit greatly from the cost-saving measures included in this bill.”

Illinois State Fair opens. The Illinois State Fair kicked off Thursday with the official ribbon cutting and Twilight Parade. The State Fair features musical entertainment, variety shows, rides and attractions, competitions, and festival food. Admission will be charged for all fairgoers above age 12. Separate tickets will be required for parking spots and for entertainment acts at the Grandstand. Central Illinois’ largest fair is being celebrated from Thursday, August 10, through Sunday, August 20. A separate fair in Southern Illinois, the DuQuoin State Fair, will be celebrated from August 25 through September 4 in Perry County, southeast of St. Louis.

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