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State Representative Avery Bourne was recently named the newest member of ISBE’s (Illinois State Board of Education) Evidence-Based Funding Professional Review Panel. The panel was created with the new school funding formula to annually review data, proposed changes, and the overall implementation of the formula. It is made up of practitioners, experts, legislative leaders, and advocates.

Rep. Bourne stated, “It is an honor to be chosen for the ISBE Panel and I look forward to working with these professionals to make our school funding formula work. School children statewide now have a brighter future because of school funding reform. The work of this panel will make sure the school funding reform is dynamic and continues to provide the best outcomes for students statewide. After our important work to pass school funding reform, now the hard work of implementing it begins.”

The panel will meet on a periodic basis to study specific aspects of the formula. Additionally, they will recommend modifications in the future to continue improving school funding to meet the needs of all students in Illinois. All panel meetings will be open to the public and will include an opportunity for public comment. ISBE encourages members of the public to attend and participate. 

“School funding reform was a landmark advancement for fairness in Illinois,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “The Professional Review Panel is a very important part of our continuing work to tune Evidence-Based Funding to meet the needs of children, families, and communities across the state. Bringing diverse voices to the table will help us identify necessary improvements. We encourage and value public participation to ensure the funding system serves all students.”

The panel will study topics including the format and scope of school districts’ annual spending plans; the “at-risk student” definition; funding for Regional Safe Schools, early childhood education, and other specific investments; and other aspects of the formula. The panel will make recommendations to the State Board, the General Assembly, and the Governor for continual recalibration of the landmark funding system.

The panel consists of 28 members appointed by State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Governor Bruce Rauner, and legislative leaders. Panel membership reflects the geographic, socio-economic, racial, and ethnic diversity of the state, including representatives with expertise in bilingual education and special education.

 
Lawmakers have come together to pass a bipartisan, balanced budget for the State of Illinois, according to State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond). The Senate approved the budget Wednesday and the House passed the budget today. This Fiscal Year 2019 budget is a balanced, full-year budget that relies on no new tax increases and meets the May 31st deadline, ensuring timely enactment on July 1, 2018.

Rep. Bourne stated, “My priorities for a budget have been clear - we must have a budget on time, it must include input from the minority party, and it must be balanced without new taxes. This budget fulfills those priorities. This is the first time in my tenure I have had the opportunity to vote on a balanced budget. In the past, Democrats have proposed budgets that are as much as $8 billion out of balance. This is a step in the right direction. This budget spends $1.2 billion less than if we kept spending at current spending levels.” She added, “This budget invests an additional $350 million for the new K-12 Education funding formula, provides the funding for AFSCME backpay, makes our full pension payments and begins to pay off our bill backlog. I urge the Governor to sign this budget.”

Other items in the bipartisan budget proposal include:

  • $4.3 million for Veteran’s Grant reimbursements for all community colleges
  • Funding for 100 additional cadets with the Illinois State Police
  • $2.5 billion for IDOT’s road program
  • Funding for MAP Grants along with a new 4-year MAP Grant commitment that will give predictability to students who rely on them.
  • Increased funding for Soil & Water Conservation Districts, County Fairs, and for deferred maintenance at Illinois State Facilities and at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
  • Provides approximately $246 million in state capital funding to make needed water system upgrades as well as new construction and improvements at the Quincy Veterans Home
  • Creates, for the first time, an Adoption Tax Credit to encourage Illinois families to adopt

“This budget isn’t perfect. There are items in this budget that make it difficult to support. But, this is a good bipartisan compromise to get state government working again. There’s still more work to be done before our state is back on a strong fiscal footing. That will only come through continued balanced budgets and reforms that will grow our economy and restore public trust in state government. Overall, this is a truly bipartisan budget that's good for the state and for our district.” said Rep. Bourne.
Click here to read about the new laws taking effect on June 1st. 
Gov. Bruce Rauner announced a plan today to invest $11.05 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next six years, including $2.2 billion of state and federal funding in the upcoming fiscal year. The Illinois Department of Transportation Multi-Year Proposed Highway Improvement Program will focus on projects that provide the greatest economic benefit to communities and take advantage of long-term strategies that save money over time.  
State Employees that are owed back pay are one step closer to receiving it after House Bill 4290 passed out of the Illinois House today. The bill, co-sponsored by Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), appropriates the money many state employees were promised in 2011.

“This bill will finally set things right for those employees who have been fighting for years to get what they were promised,” said Rep. Bourne. “Back pay has been perennially used as a political issue which is unfair to the workers who were owed it. This bill can put an end to those political games and make good on the State’s promise.”


This issue began in 2008, when a four-year contract was reached with AFSCME that called for total wage increases over the life of the agreement. However, as a result of poor finances, the State and union twice agreed to defer some of the raises called for in the contract. In July 2011, Governor Pat Quinn’s administration said lawmakers did not appropriate enough money to pay for raises and without the appropriation it could not award the raises. As a result, the issue then went to the courts which ruled that the money was owed.

This back pay is the oldest bill that the State of Illinois has on the books. Back pay is owed to about 24,000 state workers in five agencies who are owed an average of $2,500 each. The agencies with employees who are owed backup are the Departments of Corrections, Human Services, Juvenile Justice, Natural Resources and Public Health. This would be immediately effective if passed out of the Senate and signed into law.
OvOver 300 Opportunity Zone census tract recommendations, submitted by the State of Illinois, have been approved by the U.S. Treasury Department. These zones cover more than 85 counties throughout the state and aim to support the future of Illinois through economic growth and investment, by allowing investors to re-invest unrealized capital gains in designated census tracts. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is pleased to announce that three of these zones are located in the 95th District.

“Zones in Macoupin, Montgomery, and Christian Counties are listed,” Rep. Bourne stated. “Our rural areas are in desperate need of jobs, benefiting individuals and communities. This is a great opportunity to bring jobs and investments in the 95th.”

The following are the tract numbers for the zones and their county:
 
           17021958900 - Christian

           17117956900 - Macoupin

           17135958000 - Montgomery

To determine the most effective tracts for nomination, a three-phase approach was implemented to identify need and potential, adequately represent the entire state, and account for local input. Phase one involved need-based indexing depending on factors like poverty rates, specifically those among children, unemployment rates, crime rates and population. These standards highlight the goal of the program in Illinois which is to cultivate potential within disadvantaged communities and invest in our future generations across the state.

Phase two and three were used to further identify the allotted 327 tracts Illinois could nominate under the federal program guidelines. To ensure a statewide benefit, each county with qualifying tracts received at least one zone and towns and cities across the state were limited on the number of zones included.

“Illinois is the epicenter of commerce in the Midwest and, as such, our people and our businesses are uniquely positioned to leverage the state’s assets into enterprise and job creation,” Governor Rauner said today at the announcement. “I hope you are as eager to use the Opportunity Zones as I am to boost our economy and grow jobs in Illinois.”

For more information on Opportunity Zones and specific areas covered visit
https://www.illinois.gov/dceo/Pages/OppZn.aspx

grace's gift memorial fundA bill, Co-Sponsored by Representative Bourne (R-Raymond), designating May 17th of each year as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) Awareness Day passed out of the Illinois House Today. The bill, Senate Bill 2254, declares the day is to be observed throughout the State as a day to encourage the people of Illinois to help increase public awareness of this particularly aggressive type of brain cancer.

“I signed on as a co-sponsor of this bill after Kimberly Skief, from Bunker Hill, contacted me and told me the story of her daughter, Grace,” said Bourne. “Grace fought a courageous battle against this horrible cancer and I am thankful that we could move this bill through the Legislature to honor such a wonderful young lady and all of those other brave children fighting this battle,” she added.
 
Grace Skief was diagnosed on April 29, 2015 with a brain stem tumor (DIPG) and passed away on July 31,2015 as a result of this type of cancer. Kimberly Skief wrote that, “Grace was eleven years old and she loved to bake and cheer others up when they were struggling. She had already learned the value of kindness and compassion and was just coming to an age where she was beginning to bloom into a young lady.”

SB 2254 unanimously passed out of the Senate and House. It now awaits the Governor’s signature before becoming law.
 

“State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) met with two local pharmacists, Brian Sullivan of Sullivan’s Pharmacy and John Dal Pozzo of John’s Pharmacy, and discussed the progress of House Bill 3479. This bill aims to provide independent pharmacies with a fair and reasonable reimbursement rate from Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). The bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Bourne, just successfully passed out of the House and now is in the Senate for consideration.”
Recently, a fair map initiative was filed in the Illinois House for this General Assembly and Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) signed on as a co-sponsor. House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment (HJRCA) 43 was filed to amend the Illinois Constitution in order to put an end to Congressional and legislative gerrymandering in the Land of Lincoln. Representative Bourne has pushed for years to put an end to the unfair political remapping process in Illinois and she is calling for the Illinois General Assembly to take up the issue to ensure fair districting maps so that every Illinoisan truly has a voice.

CHANGE Illinois, as a part of the Illinois Redistricting Collaborative, spent months drafting this amendment and worked with Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) to get it filed in the Illinois General Assembly.

“Our redistricting reform amendment establishes an independent redistricting commission to draw Illinois’ maps and make it clear that the public not politicians should control the process,” said Brad McMillan, Co-Chair of CHANGE Illinois and the Illinois Redistricting Collaborative. “With this amendment now filed, Illinois voters around the state can ask their members of the Illinois House and Senate if they’ll support this specific, concrete solution to end gerrymandering.”

“For years, Illinois politicians from both parties have proliferated gerrymandering for their own party’s advantage. It’s time to end this rigged political process where the majority party picks districts for politicians. This is a major concern of people in my district and reform on this issue is long overdue. This constitutional amendment will bring fair representation to Illinois and will return power back to the people,” said Representative Bourne. She added, “Redistricting reform is what the people want and it must be called for a vote.”



In response to the teacher and substitute teacher shortage in Illinois, State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) signed on as Chief Co-Sponsor of House Bill 5627. The legislation will make it easier for educators coming from other states to teach in Illinois and to make it simpler for substitute teachers to meet licensure requirements.

Representative Avery Bourne stated that the bill is the result of recommendations brought forward by the Illinois State Board of Education in an attempt to address the shortage and said, “With this change in state law, the amount of red tape will be cut significantly. Our rural school districts are suffering and this will alleviate the struggles and allow many qualified teachers and substitutes the freedom to do what they were trained to do-educate.”

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, there are currently 2,013 unfilled positions in the state. The total includes teachers, administrative staff, and school support staff. If this bill becomes law, it will address this deficiency by making the following changes:

·       Creates full reciprocity of out-of-state applicants for a Professional Educator License (PEL). This will allow out-of-state licensed educators to teach in Illinois without meeting additional requirements.

·       Makes an individual with a PEL eligible to substitute teach without a Substitute Teaching License, enables an individual with a lapsed PEL to be able to substitute teach, and provides that any individual who has completed 60 credit hours of coursework is eligible to receive a Substitute Teaching License.

·       Provides that an Alternative Educator Licensure Program should be a one-year program instead of a two-year program.

·       Clarifies that professional development may be completed at any time during after issuance of the license.

On April 6th, Governor Bruce Rauner signed Senate Bill 863 into law. It is another piece of legislation that will address the teacher shortage by making it easier for teachers with out-of-state credentials to get licensed in Illinois.

The new law also alleviates an immediate problem for a significant number of schools who hired out-of-state Speech Language Pathologists (SLP), only to find that the state’s licensing process was prohibitively burdensome. As a result, many of the SLPs could not begin work.

The two provisions allow for out-of-state teachers to become licensed in-state by [1] providing evidence of completing a comparable state-approved educator prep program, or [2] holding a comparable and valid license with similar grade and subject credentials from another state.