Click to see the Committee of the Whole's Education Panel answer my questions about SB1's funding of Chicago Public School System at a different level than every other school district in the state.


Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is pushing legislation that will pick up where Senate Bill 1 failed downstate school districts, skewing school funding to first drive money to one school district - Chicago.

Bourne is a Chief Co-Sponsor of legislation, House Bill 4069, that is an attempt to restore truly equitable funding through a restructured school funding formula that drives more funding to low income students and to school districts that need it most. Bourne’s bill was drafted from agreed language in SB 1 before an amendment was added to bail out the Chicago Public School System.

“Legislators have an opportunity to reopen the education funding reform debate and fix the problems with Senate Bill 1,” said Representative Bourne. “Every downstate district would receive more funding through this plan than through Senator Manar’s Senate Bill and no school district in the state loses money. Without the windfall for Chicago, downstate schools will see major gains. Bourne added, “The State Board of Education data clearly shows this bill is the most fair and equitable plan for all students.”

House Bill 4069 incorporates the agreed upon evidence based model while treating all 852 school districts the same. It also ensures that no districts lose money and creates real equity in the school funding system for every student across the state.

Following the proclamation by the Governor, the General Assembly has been called back to Springfield to be in special session June 21-30. These ten days give the legislature the opportunity to reestablish school funding reform discussions and ensure that reforms are passed that provides fair and equitable funding for all children in Illinois regardless of zip code.
 
Yesterday, Governor Rauner delivered what is deemed to be a historic address at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, calling for unity and bipartisanship from the General Assembly to end our state's budget impasse. The Governor urged the members of the General Assembly to vote on the Capitol Compromise, a plan that was introduced by Senate and House Republican leaders that has the Governor's support.

Representative Avery Bourne joined Governor Rauner in calling for unity, emphasizing the critical importance of coming together to work on and pass a budget that will put Illinois on the right fiscal path moving forward.

"Now is the time for working together. With only ten days before our deadline, we must come together, for the people of Illinois, to pass a bipartisan, balanced budget," said Bourne.

The Capitol Compromise Plan includes:

* Balanced Budget with Spending Caps
* Property Tax Relief
* Worker's Compensation Reform
* Government Consolidation (Already Passed House & Senate)
* Education Reform
* Term Limits
* Pension Reform

Representative Bourne added, "While we won't all agree on every aspect of the plans that have been proposed, we cannot wait any longer. This plan is a full year balanced budget that forces the state to live within its means. It also contains good policies that will get our state growing again and represents much of where the Senate Grand Bargain plan found compromises. I am calling on leadership on both sides of the aisle to come together, resolve the remaining issues in a budget deal and get it done."
House and Senate Republicans held a press conference today to introduce a package of bills to end the budget impasse. The bills represent a compromise balanced budget and include reforms that address the priorities of both parties, and urged the General Assembly to return to Springfield to vote on this proposal.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is asking the Democratic Majority in both Houses to call the plan for a vote and, finally give Illinoisans a budget after two years without a budget in place. “Our budget proposal is reflective of where the negotiations between the Senate Democrats and Republicans broke down. This should be our starting point. Our plan includes a balanced budget with spending caps and meaningful structural reforms,” said Rep. Bourne. “We’ve included many compromises that were previously agreed to as well as new concessions. Additionally, this legislation would clean up Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform proposal, to provide fair, equitable reform for every school district in the state.”

“Time is running out before the fiscal year ends, and we must act now! Where is the sense of urgency with Speaker Madigan to end this stalemate? Lawmakers should be in Springfield working around the clock until our job is finished. This comprehensive budget package with structural reforms that we are proposing today is the path forward to breaking the budget impasse,” said Durkin.

The comprehensive proposal includes a truly balanced budget, a four-year hard spending cap, lasting property tax relief, and changes to our regulatory system that will create jobs and grow the economy. The bills also include a $250 million increase for the new school funding formula, and fulfilling commitments to restore child care eligibility to 185% of the federal poverty level and a wage increase to Direct Support Professionals. It also includes term limits on legislative leaders and constitutional officers.

"These proposals continue the important work already done in the Senate, where we'd seen significant progress on these issues. I am confident there is still an opportunity for bipartisan compromise on a balanced budget, as well as the critical reforms that will bring a much-needed economic boost to our state," said State Senator Karen McConnaughay. "We need to act expediently to get Illinois back on a path to fiscal stability and security."

The summary of the bills are as follows:

Budget Bill: Comprehensive budget proposal that includes real spending cuts and a four-year spending cap, while providing funding to state agencies like the Department of Human Services to care for our state’s most vulnerable and the Department of Transportation to continue important infrastructure projects.

Property Tax Relief: Four-year freeze for all taxing districts, but would allow residents, through voter referendum, to lower or increase their taxes. Allows for an exemption on existing debt service payments as requested by Senate Democrats.

Local Government Consolidation: Strengthens and improves the already passed SB 3, and will allow for citizens-initiated consolidation on units of local government.

Education Funding: Changes to the K-12 education funding formula that treats every district equitably that is consistent with the bipartisan framework of the Governor’s School Funding Commission. Funding for early childhood education, K-12 education, community colleges and universities.

Workers’ Comp: Uses previously negotiated language between Senate GOP and Senate Democrats, like changes to the medical fee schedule, but does not reduce benefits to workers or include a causation standard.

Pension Reform: Accepts SB 16, which has previously passed the Senate, including President Cullerton’s consideration model and the state’s pickup of Chicago Public School’s pension payments.

Term Limits: Constitutional amendment to impose 10-year term limits on legislative leaders in the General Assembly and eight-year limit on Constitutional Officers (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Treasurer, and Secretary of State)

“We all agree that we need to fix our broken school funding formula right now," said State Senator Jason Barickman. "This legislation contains much of the priorities Democrats advanced in Senate Bill 1, provides meaningful help for Chicago, ensures that no districts lose money, and treats all of our schools fairly and equitably under the evidence based model."

“Passing an unbalanced budget like the Senate Democrats did and the House Democrats choosing to not even take up a budget is beyond unacceptable and a complete failure from the majority party,” State Sen. Dale Righter said. “We must return to Springfield, put party differences aside, work together, and pass an actual budget that is not only balanced, but moves Illinois forward economically and fiscally. The fact we need 3/5 vote now to pass a budget is a good thing in that it forces Democrats to finally work with Republicans in complete good faith to pass a true and real balanced budget – one that is good for schools, social services, and taxpayers.”

“The comprehensive balanced budget we are offering today will provide care for our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Deputy Republican Leader Patti Bellock. “With last week’s court ruling on the $2 billion backlog of unpaid Medicaid bills, it is critically important we take immediate action to address this backlog. Our plan includes more than $4 billion in bonding to help pay off old bills. We must address this crisis now. The consequences of not taking action now would be devastating to human services.”

“Our plan will allow for citizens-initiated consolidation of units of local government,” State Rep. Tom Demmer said. “Our nearly 7,000 units of local government contribute to why Illinois residents pay some of the highest local government taxes in the nation, including the 2nd highest in property taxes. On pension reform, we accept Senate Bill 16, which has previously passed the Senate and includes President Cullerton’s consideration model. Pension reform and local government consolidation will save taxpayers billions of dollars.”
My entire time in the General Assembly, I have been working on fixing the school funding formula. What I will not support is a masked effort to rig the school funding formula. This week, House Democrats passed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) - a bill to change the way we distribute state money to our schools.  

This bill was a version of the evidence-based funding model which is an excellent blueprint for us to follow when we discuss overhauling our broken state funding formula. This model, in theory, is significant to Illinois for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was specifically designed to send money to the schools that need it most, first. 

What’s so disappointing, however, and why I could not support SB1 is that the bill sponsored by Senator Manar and Representative Davis corrupts the evidence-based model and skews its results in favor of driving money to one school district - Chicago. 

For months, we have been negotiating, on a bipartisan basis, a new funding model that recognizes the unique characteristics of each school district, sends money first to the schools who need it most, and that appropriately considers the needs of schools across the state - including Chicago. However, the recent legislation that passed the House and the Senate is not reflective of our negotiations. As is often the case in Springfield, at the last minute they added in special deals and went with what was politically expedient instead of what was fair. 

To be clear, I am not denying that students in Chicago need a high quality education too. But, when politicians choose to rig the system to send more money to Chicago, it comes at the expense of every other student in the 850 other districts in the State. That includes us. 
Here is a snapshot of schools in the 95th District under our plan for school funding reform and then after the changes to benefit Chicago: 

All of these numbers seem like a benefit to our schools. You may ask - isn’t something better than nothing? The problem is, if we make all of these deals for Chicago permanent, we will lose money that we deserve every year from here on out. Also, if education funding is cut in the future like we've seen in the past, Chicago will automatically get more while everyone else suffers losses. That is not a system that is “fixed,” that is a system that is rigged. 
Also, let’s not forget about the financial condition of the state. Our schools across the state are already owed $1.1 billion from the state for this year alone. We’re broke. This bill assumes that the state will be able to pay another $350 million more next year than we did this year. Also, while House and Senate democrats wave this bill around as a victory, the House majority failed to even bring a budget up for a vote. That means, so far, not a single dollar is headed to schools next year. 
We truly were close to a historic agreement on reforming the school funding formula, but the House and Senate Democrats sold out to Chicago again. It’s time that Springfield got its priorities right. Let’s truly fix the formula for every school in the state - not rig the system for one school district at the expense of the rest of us.
 

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is the Chief Sponsor of House Bill 3656 that seeks to increase the use of Illinois coal. The bill creates a taskforce to study the costs and benefits of using the latest scrubber technology to allow Illinois coal mined in our home state to be burned here as well. This legislation recently passed out of the Illinois House and is now before the Senate for consideration.
State Representative Avery Bourne(R-Raymond) is challenging local kindergarten through fifth grade students to complete her reading program to earn a free ice cream with the Representative at the end of summer. Students involved in the program are asked to read 8 books during their break from school and return their reading logs to the Representative’s office by August 1, 2017.

“Reading has such a big impact on a child’s future and hopefully this program helps to strengthen their reading skills,” said Rep. Bourne. “I would encourage kids to take my challenge; make time to take a break and get lost in a good book.”
Participants from last year are seen here with Rep. Bourne. These children from the Taylorville area
enjoyed a free cone and then had play time at the local ice cream shop.
Currently, Illinois lawmakers are required to test their knowledge of ethics laws annually by taking an ethics exam - the kicker though, they’re allowed to fail every question. State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is the Sponsor of House Bill 526, a bill that is seeking to change this practice by requiring that lawmakers must pass the test on their first attempt.


State Rep. Avery Bourne today released the following statement on school funding reform upon the House's return to Springfield for the final month of the spring legislative session:

For years, multiple legislative commissions and committees have studied the obvious inequities of Illinois’ school funding system. As it stands now, Illinois has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. That means students are essentially forced to play a zip code lottery that will determine whether they learn in classrooms equipped with an iPad per student or one where students share decades old textbooks. This is a challenge we need to tackle as the legislature, and there is bipartisan agreement that it must happen soon.
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) and First National Bank of Litchfield are partnering to host a free shred event at her district office on Saturday, June 10th.  The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon and all district residents are invited to bring their confidential documents, two bags maximum, to be shredded.

“Consumer fraud and identity theft are a growing problem in our communities,” said Bourne.  “This event is an effort to prevent this type of crime from happening.  This is why I am encouraging are residents to come out and have their personal documents safely and securely destroyed at no charge.” 
 
Bourne’s district office is located at 301 North Monroe Street in Litchfield. Cars will be directed to enter the parking lot across from the post office, on Monroe Street. Participants can leave their documents to be shredded on site or park in the lot while the shredding takes place. This free service is for residential, not business, shredding only and bags will be accepted until the trucks reach capacity. 

Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is sponsoring legislation to help local farm families by repealing the estate and inheritance taxes paid on land transfers upon death.  The legislation, House Bill 432, is an effort to stop double taxation of land transfers for agricultural purposes.

Bourne’s HB432 states that if a farmer gifts his land upon death to a descendant, there is no longer a state tax due on the assessed value of the property. Currently, the rate of taxation may be as high as 51% on estate transfers (35% to the Federal Government and between 7.2% and 16% to the State Government).

Representative Bourne explains, "The estate tax in Illinois, especially at a time when small farms are struggling to stay afloat, often means that families must sell the family farm to meet their tax obligations. This adds to the overwhelming tax burden in Illinois.”  Bourne states, “This proposal grew out of a suggestion from my Agriculture Advisory Board and I am proud to bring it forward as just one more way we can make Illinois more competitive and compassionate."

The legislation would be effective immediately upon being signed into law. Currently, 18 states impose an estate tax and 32 states (including neighboring Indiana) do not.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) operates several Small Business Development Centers around the state to provide information, training, and resources for start-ups and existing small businesses. Recently, the Illinois House unanimously passed legislation recently that would add marketing and networking to those services.

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is a Chief Co-Sponsor of
House Bill 1813, which directs DCEO to create a Networking for Success program within its Small Business Development Centers to assist small businesses with strategic market research, geographic information systems, web design, search engine optimization, and social media marketing.


“This bill modernizes, through the digital expansion of services that DCEO offers, and creates a network of assistance that I hope businesses in the area will utilize,” said Bourne. “Current business incentives and assistance programs mainly focus on large companies. House Bill 1813 is a way to assist small businesses within our communities so they, too, can be successful and flourish.”

Currently, such services are often out of reach to many Illinois small businesses because of the cost. This program would make such services accessible to small businesses – the very businesses that employ so many of our neighbors and generate so much economic activity in our communities. The bill is now awaiting action in the Senate.

State Representative Avery Bourne joined fifteen of her colleagues from the Illinois House of Representatives calling for Comptroller Susana Mendoza to pay Illinois school districts with the almost $600 million dollars she currently has sitting in the general revenue fund to spend. The Representatives are urging Mendoza to pay for the services, mandated by the state, that were already provided by the districts, such as transportation.
 
These payments would give much needed relief to districts that are struggling. The timing of these payments is at the discretion of the Comptroller alone. The Representatives are asking that she makes schools a priority instead of stalling on their payments, which are presently up to a year behind.
 
The following is the letter delivered to Comptroller Mendoza on Thursday:
 
Dear Comptroller Mendoza,
 
In light of recent comments made by your office, we write to express our concern over your decision to delay mandated categorical payments for Fiscal Year 2017 to all Illinois school districts until later this spring.
 
As you are well aware, these services, which are required by state law, are major cost drivers for our school districts. Delaying these payments, for services which have already been provided, disproportionately hurts our downstate and rural school districts, as transportation costs specifically are a huge burden for our schools.
 
Due to recent comments and proposals in the Illinois House to spend “surplus money,” we are requesting that you utilize the money available to make good on the promises we have already made for the needs of our school children.

As of today, your office has more than $587 million on hand that could be used to begin making these payments. We ask that you please reconsider and begin to make these payments immediately.
 
 
In response to the national nursing shortage, and in particular the need for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) at assisted living facilities, Representative Bourne (R-Raymond) has proposed legislation to allow CNA’s to fulfill their training at assisted living facilities. 

Across the nation, we are facing a nursing shortage. The Illinois General Assembly has looked at various proposals to help provide incentives for people to enter the nursing field and to make it easier for nurses to become certified while still upholding the quality of care necessary.

“This legislation will help assisted living facilities attract CNA’s and will allow those training to become CNA’s another path toward fulfilling their clinical requirement,” said Bourne. “As an example of how our legislative process should work, an idea was brought to me by an assisted living facility facing a CNA shortage. We worked together to develop a solution to their problem by offering amendments to the bill to make it better. The bill then passed the House with bipartisan unanimous support. We need more commonsense bipartisan solutions like this.”

House Bill 481 amends the Nursing Home Care Act. The legislation states that the Department of Public Health will now allow an individual to satisfy their supervised clinical experience requirement, needed for a CNA to be placed on the Health Care Worker Registry, through supervised clinical experience at a licensed assisted living establishment. This measure, House Bill 481, passed unanimously in the Illinois House this week.
Representative Avery Bourne is proud to announce the winners of her annual Illinois Themed Art Contest. The Art Contest was open to all children who live or learn within Illinois’ 95th House District. Bourne hosted the contest in an effort to promote the arts and recognize the artistic talents of local students.

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners were selected in two groups; kindergarten through 4th grade and 5th through 8th grade. The first place winners in each group will have the opportunity to spend the day with Rep. Bourne at the Statehouse and all winners will go on a tour of the Capitol Building. Additionally, winning artists will be recognized in the House Chambers and then have their work displayed in Rep. Bourne’s office.

Winners are announced by name, grade, school, and title of their work:

K-4th Grade Winners
1st-, Olivia Handshy, 4th grade home schooler from Litchfield, “Illinois Nature”
2nd- Easton Page, 1st grader at Beckemeyer, "Capitol Building"
3rd- Sheridan Stangle, 4th grader at Ben-Gil Elementary, “Cardinal In Spring”

5-8th Grade Winners
1st- Chloe Pastrovich, 8th grader at Zion Lutheran, “What Makes Illinois”
2nd-Skylar Swan-Henson, 7th grader at St. Peter’s Lutheran, “Land of Lincoln”
3rd- Joseph Cisler, 7th grader at Zion Lutheran, “Land of Lincoln”



Olivia Handshy "Illinois Nature"
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) is joining her fellow House Republicans in an appeal to Speaker Madigan and his House Majority to cooperate and compromise. House Republican Leader Durkin held a press conference at the Capitol calling for both parties to come to the table to resolve the ongoing budget stalemate.

“It’s time to stop stalling and pass a budget. We need a General Assembly that works together to pass an on-time, balanced, responsible budget. Additionally, we need a General Assembly that addresses the factors that have led to our massive debt and culture of overspending. We, as House Republicans are willing to compromise and work together. We need the majority and the Speaker to come to the table,” said Rep. Bourne. “House Republicans have repeatedly called for action but those efforts have been met with silence.”
Representative Bourne testifies to successfully pass HB2534, targeting synthetic drugs, from the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. She was joined by Illinois State Police Bureau Chief, Tim Tripp.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) has aggressively been pursuing legislation to curb the synthetic drug problems facing central Illinois. Her latest bill, House Bill 2534, crafted in conjunction with the Illinois State Police passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on March 28th. This bill is the result of meetings and recommendations from local law enforcement, community drug prevention organizations, and statewide experts.
In an effort to make interstate travel easier for concealed carry gun owners, State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) has signed on as Chief Co-Sponsor of House Bill 405. The legislation would allow concealed carry gun owners from other states to carry in Illinois, if following the laws of our state and legally registered in their home state.
Illinoisans may soon be able to carry their hunting licenses electronically if legislation proposed by State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) passes through the General Assembly. This bill, House Bill 3093, has passed through the House Agriculture and Conservation Committee and heads to the House for a full vote this week.
 
This proposal, to allow an electronic version or the physical copy of the license, was drafted in response to the increased number of people who are taking pictures of their license and displaying it on their phone.
Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) co-sponsored legislation, House Bill 643, to reject the automatic Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase for legislators set to take effect for Fiscal Year 2018.  HB643 passed out of the Illinois House this week on a vote of 98-3 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Bourne co-sponsored similar legislation every year since taking office to reject COLAs. “Given our lack of budget and the record debt that Illinois has accumulated through years of mismanagement, raises should clearly be off of the table,” said Bourne.
Representative Avery Bourne, (R-Raymond) co-sponsored House Bill 771, which was unanimously approved by the Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill allows volunteer firefighters to purchase tires through at a discounted rate - the same price as the State’s purchasing contract.

“This legislation is a common sense way to way to provide cost savings for our volunteer firefighters,” says Bourne. “Not only do these men and women give their time and expertise, they respond in their own vehicles. This bill will help mitigate the cost of the extra wear and tear on their tires.”

Representative Bourne attended the 2017 West Central Illinois Agronomy Day on Tuesday, February 14 at Lincoln Land Community College in Litchfield, hosted by the University of Illinois Extension.

The conference featured six researchers who discussed the latest developments in crop sciences, as well as challenges facing farmers in 2017. Herbicide resistance, crop rotation management to prevent disease, and the uncertainties of the commodity markets were major topics of discussion at this year’s event.
A St. Clair Judge has denied Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s controversial motion today to end state employee pay without a budget in place. Madigan’s motion would have ended payment to state employees beginning February 28th, 2017. After hearing of the announcement, State Representative Avery Bourne released the following statement in response:


"This decision today, to continue state employee pay, reinforces how inappropriate Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s actions were to stop state employee pay. I am glad that the court decision protects state employees and their families and will avert a government shutdown. However, we cannot rest on this decision alone. To ensure that state employees and their pay are never used as pawns in these political games again, I urge my colleagues in the House to debate and vote on our permanent, bipartisan solution to make state employee pay a continuing appropriation."

 
Rep. Bourne is sponsoring House Bill 2803, in response to Attorney General Madigan’s motion, which would make continuing appropriation to state workers a permanent change. It has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.

This week, the Illinois House of Representatives returned to Springfield and began legislative hearings for the new 100th General Assembly. Members of the House and Senate were given their committee assignments prior to this week’s start of hearings based on their areas of expertise and previous legislative experience.

State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was appointed by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) to serve on the following committees in the Illinois House: Aging; Agriculture and Conservation; Appropriations-Elementary and Secondary Education; Elections and Campaign Finance; and Judiciary-Civil. Additionally, Bourne was appointed to serve on the Legislative Research Unit, the chief general research agency for the Illinois General Assembly.
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) filed House Bill 1787 today that would make state workers’ salary payments a continuing appropriation, guaranteeing payment during a budget impasse. This measure would keep workers paid and prevent a government shutdown.

This has become a particularly urgent issue due to Attorney General Lisa Madigan filing a motion in court to end payment to state employees beginning February 28th, 2017. In response, there has been talk of a similar bill that would provide for a short term appropriation for state worker salaries. However, a stop gap appropriation would be a temporary fix and would leave state worker pay vulnerable to future attacks. This proposal is a long-term solution to the problem of state worker pay being held hostage in a larger political fight. 
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) joined her fellow members of the General Assembly as they gathered in the House Chambers for Governor Bruce Rauner’s annual State of the State Address. The Governor’s State of the State Address comes at the beginning of the historic 100th General Assembly and as the state continues to grapple with a budget impasse that has now extended 18 months. 

“I appreciated the Governor’s tone of bipartisanship. Respecting our differences and working together is the only way we are going to be able to move Illinois forward. Like the Governor, I am encouraged by the recent discussions from the Senate on a budget proposal. While the Senate proposal is not perfect, and details are still being hammered out, this bipartisan cooperation is a step towards a fair and balanced budget,” said Representative Bourne.
Senate Joint Resolution 57 was unanimously adopted recently by the Illinois House and Senate.  The Resolution designates Illinois as a “Purple Heart State”, honoring our combat wounded veterans for their service and sacrifice. Representative Avery Bourne was a co-sponsor of the legislation brought forth by Senator Bill Brady of Bloomington and Representative Tim Butler of Springfield.


State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) was sworn-in as Representative for the 95th District of Illinois on Wednesday at a ceremony that marks the historic 100th General Assembly. The Inauguration ceremony took place in Sangamon Auditorium at the University of Illinois in Springfield. All 118 State Representatives took the oath of office following successful elections in November. This swearing in marks a shift in the numbers in the House, with Democrats holding only a simple majority with 67 members and Republicans with 51 members, a shift of four seats since the 99th General Assembly.