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The stopgap State budget, enacted and signed into law on Thursday, June 30 in Springfield provides a full 12 months of funding for Illinois K-12 public schools. This plan will fully fund the foundation level for the first time in many years, ending the unfair practice of proration and will ensure that all school districts get at least as much funding from the State as they received last year. Every school district within the boundaries of District 66 will see an increase in funding.

The school aid includes both general State aid (GSA) and a series of categorical grants provided to many school districts to cover parts of the costs of mandates imposed by the State and other costs of school district operation. In addition, the FY17 K-12 education bill appropriated $361 million over what was distributed last year in FY16 for the 2015-16 school year. It also allocates $250 million for a new statewide equity grant that will be distributed to school districts based on the State Board of Education’s low income grant formula. The plan also includes a $75 million increase for early childhood education. It does not include a state bailout of Chicago Public Schools.

This chart illustrates the estimated increase in funding that District 66 schools will receive for 2016-2017:

New FY17 Spending Bills will Enable Full K-12 School Operations for Entire School Year
The General Assembly took action on June 30 to fund K-12 Education for Fiscal Year 2017 at record-high funding levels. By contrast, however, the legislation funds most other State operations only through December 2016. The “stopgap” bills do not balance the budget and do not solve Illinois’ fiscal woes. The State’s leaders believe that the current Springfield policy gap has achieved dimensions great enough that only the voters of Illinois, in the November election, can choose which path the State should follow. The key bill that actually appropriated money for FY16 and FY17 was SB 2047. Some elements of the package appropriated money so that it could be legally used to match spending/spending commitments made in FY16, which ended on Thursday. Other bills in the package contained “substantive” legislation, effective starting on Friday, intended to implement the FY17 portion of the package and match State law to appropriated spending. 
The stopgap budget package was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner before the end of the day and prior to the start of FY17. The measures include funding to ensure that Illinois schools, including the troubled Chicago public school system, will reopen on time. Money is included to resume or maintain operations at Illinois state universities and other essential public facilities. Funds are earmarked to enable the fulfillment of this summer’s construction schedule for the repair and maintenance of State roads, bridges, and mass transit facilities. Some money is provided for community social services. The House vote on SB 2047 was 105-4-1. After unanimous approval in the Senate, the appropriation bill became law as P.A. 99-524.

District 66 Schools to Receive Record-High Funding in FY17
One key element of the funding package approved on June 30 allows every Illinois School District to open on time in the fall with record-high levels of funding. In fact, for the first time in seven years, funding sent through the state aid formula will not be prorated. Every District 66 School District will see an increase in funding for the 2016-2017 school year. The chart below shows an estimate of how each of my school districts will benefit:

Comptroller’s Count Shows Illinois Now Owes More Than $7.8 Billion in Past-Due Bills
The running count, which is frequently updated, is included in the public website operated by Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger. As Illinois’ cash-flow superintendent, Munger is informed daily of the due-bill situation facing the State. The total of $7.81 billion, counted as of Wednesday, June 29, counts vouchers tabulated by the Comptroller’s office and payable from Illinois general funds that are classified as “backlogged” – vouchers on file for significant periods of time without State payment. The Comptroller’s office currently counts 66,971 backlogged State vouchers. These numbers are constantly changing as funds move in and out of various State coffers.

The $7.8 billion figure does not represent the totality of debts owed by Illinois and its taxpayers. Additional debts owed by Illinois included monies obligated by ongoing State programs but not yet billed to the State. In addition, pension actuaries warn that Illinois’ unfunded pension debts now total more than $110 billion. Illinois Republicans, led by House Republican leader Jim Durkin and Governor Bruce Rauner, point to these mushrooming debts and obligations. They continue to insist that the State enact structural reforms to its laws governing job creation and public-sector labor relations.

Chicago Board of Education Could Approve Massive Property Tax Hike for Owners of Chicago Real Property
The Chicago school board move, expected to raise $250 million annually, was authorized as part of SB 318. This measure, which was amended with the tax-hike language and passed by the Illinois House on Thursday, June 30, was part of the end-of-fiscal-year package to enact spending measures for FY17 and enable Illinois schools to open on time. The Chicago Public Schools budget gap necessitated action to enable the city to raise an additional $250 million/year from local resources.

If the School Board adopts this property tax increase, statewide taxpayers outside Chicago will not be responsible for this $250 million. Rejecting a “bailout” of the troubled Chicago system, House Republicans took the lead in rejecting the push by Chicago lawmakers to impose this burden upon the suburbs and Downstate. Part of the budget gap comes from a massive increase in the level of unfunded pension liabilities borne by Chicago Public Schools, and the Illinois House enacted the amendment in such a way as to require that the money raised by the tax hike must be deposited directly into the pension fund and cannot be diverted or used for any other purpose. Chicago Public Schools currently owes a $669 million pension payment to the teachers’ pension fund. The House vote to enact SB 318 was 82-29-0. Senate approval by a vote of 40-14-0 allowed Gov. Rauner to sign the measure into law as P.A. 99-521.

Governor Signs Enhancement to Open Meetings Act Spurred by College Turmoil
The new State law will require that any and all available minutes and verbatim recordings of meetings closed to the public must be made available to a newly elected official who has been selected to fill a seat in a public body. The new law grants a “level playing field” to access to confidential board-of-directors information to newly chosen members of the body’s board of directors. This is significant when a newly chosen member or members have been chosen as part of a reform effort aimed at questionable or improper actions affiliated with the previous board.

HB 4630, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeanne Ives, was approved unanimously by both houses of the General Assembly this spring. It was inspired by recent management events at DuPage Community College and the election, by local voters, of a “Clean Slate” who took a majority position on the college’s board of trustees. Governor Rauner on Thursday, June 30, signed HB 4630 into law as P.A. 99-515.

House, Senate Vote to Waive Vehicle Sticker Delinquent Registration Renewal Supplemental Late Fees if No Warning Mailed
The waiver is only effective if the Secretary of State has not previously mailed a motor vehicle license sticker-renewal notification to the affected motor vehicle owner. These notification letters, which had been familiar elements in the mailboxes of Illinois drivers, were suspended in 2015 due to Illinois’ budget situation. Many Illinois residents have complained about no longer getting the letters and then facing penalties for late sticker-renewal actions. In addition, police are authorized to stop motor vehicles with expired stickers.

The supplemental late-fee waiver bill was approved by the House on Thursday, June 30. The House vote on HB 4334, as amended, was 111-0-0. As the Senate had previously approved the final language of the bill, the House vote marked the final legislative step necessary to send the measure to the desk of Gov. Bruce Rauner for final action.

Happy Independence Day!
Lastly, as we enter this long holiday weekend, I hope everyone has a very safe and happy Independence Day. Whether your plans take you to the Lakeside Festival in Crystal Lake, to another community festival or to a gathering with family and friends, please take a moment to appreciate the freedoms we enjoy, and offer a word of thanks to the men and women of our military, past and present, who have defended or are currently defending those freedoms.

The final item considered by the House of Representatives on the evening of May 31 was a wildly out-of-balance K-12 education bill which included a massive bailout for Chicago schools and pensions. HB 2990 would have spent roughly $1 billion more than available funds, including at least $500 million for Chicago schools and pensions.

During his floor comments which encouraged a "no" vote on the bill, State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) outlined the current inequities in how properties in Cook County are assessed compared to how they are assessed in other Illinois counties. You may listen to his floor debate with House Democrat Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie by clicking here.

In spite of the fact that 60 House districts include all or portions of the City of Chicago, HB 2990 failed 27-92 in the House.
Legislation that passed unanimously in the Illinois House today would prohibit candidates from serving as a county-wide elected county board chairman and as a regular county board member simultaneously. The legislation, sponsored by State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), was filed in direct response to a McHenry County candidate’s decision earlier this year to serve in both roles at the same time.

“When the county board created the stand-alone position of county board chair, board members wanted the new chairman to preside over the county as a whole and not be beholden to any specific county board district,” said Tryon. “Serving in both positions at the same time would lead to conflicts of interest and the people of McHenry County and all of Illinois deserve to have a county board chairman who is free from conflicts.”

According to HB 6418, the restriction on serving in both roles simultaneously applies to all Illinois counties, but in counties with a population of between 300,000 and 3 million, the chairman may vote to break a tie. Current law extends that tie-breaking voting authority only in counties with populations between 400,000 and 3 million.

The House vote on HB 6418 was 116-0-1, with State Representative Jack Franks (D-Woodstock), who is running for McHenry County Board Chairman in November, voting present. The measure will now move to the Senate for consideration.
Today at the Capitol, State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) made a plea on the House floor for Democrats to stay in Springfield over the weekend and continue working toward a balanced budget before adjournment on May 31. In spite of Tryon’s passionate speech and similar comments made by several other House Republicans, their call for continued budget negotiations was ignored. Session was adjourned at 1:30 PM on Friday and a Saturday, May 28 session day that was on the original session calendar was cancelled. Lawmakers will return to Springfield on Sunday, May 29 at 3:00 PM, just two days before adjournment of the spring session.

You may listen to Tryon’s floor speech by clicking here.
Legislation that was filed as a direct response to the intense legal battle between Crystal Lake-based School District 155 and the City of Crystal Lake over bleachers that did not adhere to the city’s zoning code is on its way to Governor Rauner for his signature.

State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) served as the Chief House Sponsor of SB 2186, and said the provisions of the bill should prevent a similar issue from occurring in the future. “This was a highly charged issue in Crystal Lake, and the legal battle was very costly,” said Tryon. “On one hand you had the District 155 school board and the Crystal Lake South administration, parents and students, who felt the new, larger bleachers were needed to accommodate large crowds at sporting events, and on the other hand you had the city and the nearby property owners, who felt the district was not exempt from its regulations and that property values were diminished by the bleachers which encroached above their property lines.”

In 2013, District 155 constructed a new set of home bleachers near the Crystal Lake South football field, and the new bleachers sat only 41 feet from neighboring property lines. Crystal Lake zoning ordinances require a 50-foot setback. The bleachers and press box were also of a size and height that would require zoning variances from the city. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which affirmed lower court decisions that school districts are subject to local zoning laws.

“To remove any level of doubt moving forward, Senator Althoff (R-McHenry), who carried this bill in the Senate, and I wanted to clarify the expectations in the statutes,” Tryon said. “Taxpayers were on the hook for both sides of the law suit, and we wanted to make sure this type of fiasco never happens again.”

SB 2186 will require school districts and their school boards to adhere to the zoning requirements of the municipality, county or township where the pertinent part of a building, structure, or addition is built. The bill further states that municipalities will make efforts to streamline the zoning process and ensure that any fees or costs tied to the review will be reasonable and not burdensome.

Once signed by the governor, the new law will take effect immediately.
This month in  Springfield, State Representative Mike Tryon sat down with Elle Pai Hong of Comcast Newsmakers to discuss the Diabetes epidemic in Illinois and across the nation, and to explain some of his personal legislative initiatives to improve Illinoisans' access to to care, information and healthy food choices. You can listen to the interview by clicking on the image to the left.