A letter to the editor by State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor)
We are days away from the end of the spring legislative session. We cannot allow another session to end without a budget. Illinois’ social service providers, our schools, our universities, and our job creators are suffering and need the certainty of a balanced budget.

Throughout this process, I have argued that we must change direction in crafting a truly balanced budget. We cannot pass an unfunded, loosely organized budget that repeats the mistakes of the past that have led to billions of dollars in debt and unfunded pension liabilities of $130 billion that equate to 10 percent of the entire nation’s pension debt.

How can we say that we care about schools, but refuse to overhaul a funding formula that sees Illinois contribute the least of any state to local schools, leaving our children’s futures overly reliant on severely stressed property taxpayers? This is what the old way has given us and we must change course, so we can provide quality service in a way that improves education and stops the rot of skyrocketing taxes that drive families and job creators out of Illinois. We can change this; we can stop the flow of businesses, seniors, families and college graduates out of Illinois by acknowledging the failures of the past and striving to come together.
From SWALCO: The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) will be hosting a one day only special electronics recycling collection event for broken and unwanted electronics. This one-day special event will be held on Thursday, June 8, 2017 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Gurnee Public Works Facility located at 1151 Kilbourne Road in Gurnee.

Recycling fees will be assessed for televisions and cathode ray tube monitors ($35 for TV’s 21” and larger, $25 for TV’s 20” or smaller, and $25 for each cathode ray tube monitor) all other acceptable electronics will be collected at no cost. Cash, check or major credit cards are accepted for payment of applicable recycling fees.
You may have seen an article circulating in a local paper recently that claims 37 Lake County school districts will lose money under the developing proposal to reform how Illinois funds our schools. Unfortunately, the content of this article was based on inaccurate and misleading information.

As its source, the article cited an Illinois State Board of Education analysis to claim that Lake County schools would lose funding. However, that analysis was not for the proposal currently being developed; it was based on old legislation from a previous General Assembly, Senate Bill 231. I was opposed to that legislation and it was never called for a vote in the House.
In an effort to advance the state budget process, State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor), along with 39 other House colleagues, has sent a letter to Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The letter, which was sent last week, calls on the Attorney General to use the power of her office to force the Illinois General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate prior to the filing and passage of any spending bills. Jesiel and her fellow signatories are seeking the Attorney General’s action to prevent further damage to the state’s finances and the many social service providers who serve the most vulnerable.

In the letter, Jesiel and her co-signers cite several prior court rulings and instances which set precedent for the Attorney General to intervene to ensure the Illinois Constitution is upheld. Both the Constitution and state law require the General Assembly to adopt a revenue estimate on which to base a balanced budget for the forthcoming fiscal year. This action has not occurred in either of the past two years and has not been done for the forthcoming fiscal year either.

“The Illinois Constitution makes it very clear that a revenue estimate must be adopted in order to appropriate funding for a budget,” said Jesiel. “Without an estimate, any proposed budget is merely guess work that further exacerbates our financial problems since we won’t know if we have the funds necessary to meet the anticipated appropriations. This is backward budgeting that will only perpetuate the uncertainly already facing our social services network, taxpayers and job creators.
Every year children die of heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia, while unattended in vehicles. Young children are particularly at risk because their bodies can heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults.

The auto industry is spreading the message on the dangers of heatstroke and working to educate parents and caregivers about the risks of leaving children unattended in a vehicle — even for just a few moments.

Together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Safe Kids Worldwide, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers offers information and tips to help prevent these tragedies from happening. Click Here to find out more.
From the Better Business Bureau and ComEd: With the return of warm weather, deceptive door-knockings and utility scams are kicking into peak season.

The Better Business Bureau and ComEd, which have a long standing business alliance of more than 90 years, are teaming up to warn consumers around the Chicago and Northern Illinois areas to watch out for fraud.

According to the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker Risk Report “Home Improvement Scams” were the #1 riskiest scams in the USA.

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of BBB Chicago and Northern Illinois says, “Consumer safety is at the core of our mission and deceptive door-knockers often con consumers into agreements for shoddy home services or make attempts to steal money and I.D. information with false claims regarding their alarm, cable, or electric services.”
By State Representative Sheri Jesiel (R-Winthrop Harbor)
It is time to act on school funding reform before the regular legislative session ends on May 31.



For years, multiple legislative commissions and committees have studied the obvious inequities of Illinois’ school funding system. I served on the two most recent incarnations. What we know for certain, Illinois has the most inequitable school funding system in the nation. Due to this, students are essentially forced to play a zip code lottery that determines whether they learn in a classroom equipped with an iPad for every student or one where students share decades-old textbooks. This zip code lottery is essentially determined by the property wealth of the school district, creating a huge disparity in the quality of education between the property-rich and property-poor districts. The challenge needs to be tackled by the legislature, and there is bipartisan agreement that it must happen soon.

The Illinois House reconvened this week for a two-week period dedicated to the consideration of Senate bills in the House. The Senate has sent 345 bills to the House, less than 16% of the 2,209 bills filed in the Senate this spring. These bills have been assigned to House committees for further discussion and debate. Under normal House rules, Senate bills have to get out of House committee no later than Friday, May 19, in order to be eligible to become law this spring. In a few cases, a few Senate bills may be granted extended deadline consideration, but this should not be counted on. The current status of all of these bills can be tracked on the General Assembly website, ilga.gov.
Illinois Auditor General Frank Mautino, age 54, is currently under investigation. Allegations include reports that Mautino, who prior to his appointment was a state representative, used or allowed associates to use campaign funds for non-campaign purposes. 

In order to protect the integrity of campaign funds, substantial reporting requirements are placed on campaign committees. They have to report substantially all of their larger contributions and spending. The reports are contained in mandated filings that must be deposited with the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBEL). 

As part of the overall investigation, questions have been asked about the reports filed by former Rep. Mautino and his campaign committee. An ISBEL hearing officer officially found this week that the Mautino committee willfully violated the informational requirements that surround at least one of these required filings. The hearing officer had the right to recommend that the State Board of Elections impose a fine on the campaign committee, which remains in existence pending conclusion of the investigations. The ISBEL will consider this recommendation and take final action. 
A joint statement from the bipartisan group:
"The finances of the state of Illinois are in crisis, and we must do better. The time for resolution is now. We are a bipartisan group of House members committed to seeing that happen.

There have been many ideas submitted both inside and outside the Statehouse. The key question for any of them is 'do they have the votes to pass?' The Senate offers one set of ideas in the form of a grand bargain negotiated by both Democrats and Republicans in that chamber.

We believe a solution that can pass the House and Senate and be signed by the Governor needs to include a package of bills that fundamentally addresses the needs of the state, and most importantly provides a normal, full-year budget for our state agencies, schools, and social service providers.
Governor Bruce Rauner announced today that Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Minority Leader Jim Durkin have filed legislation that will direct all future property tax receipts from the redevelopment of the James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) to Chicago Public Schools. The bill numbers are SB 2209 and HB 4044

"The JRTC is sucking up valuable space, time, and money," Governor Rauner said. "No one likes working here. It's expensive to maintain and it's a drain on taxpayer resources. The legislation introduced today gives us yet another reason to move swiftly in selling this building. Every day of delay just postpones Chicago's ability to earn millions in property taxes."
An Illinois based not-for-profit, the Computer Banc, is an organization that takes donated computers and refurbishes them for low income families, schools, veterans and others in need of digital technology. In the past year, the Computer Banc started a program to work with the State of Illinois to take surplus government computers, refurbish them and sell them to schools at drastically reduced cost for use in the classroom. The pilot program recently provided three central Illinois schools with 140 computers. The state is now working with Computer Banc to provide state and federal surplus computers to expand the program.

For the upcoming 2017-2018 school year, the program is expanding to provide 2,000 computers to schools across the state for only $85 per computer:
  • 2,000 computers at $85 each are available for August 1 delivery. Additional computers will be available on a monthly basis on the first of each subsequent month. Each computer comes with a 1-year warranty. 
  • The computers come preloaded with Google Chrome, Testnav functionality for required assessments, as well as offline curriculum featuring over 1,500 eBooks, Illinois State Museum modules and early learning educational games. 
  • For additional information, visit www.ComputerBanc.org, or contact Executive Director David Fowler at (217) 528-9506 or director@computerbanc.org.
The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) announced this week that six firms have responded to their request for information on who would be interested in developing an airfield in southeastern Will County. The initiative, which was not a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) process, was explained as a way for IDOT to gauge continuing interest in the project. Since 2001, the State of Illinois has acquired more than 4,454 acres of land northeast of Peotone, Illinois. Most, but not all, of the land needed to build a modern airport has been acquired at a cost of $95 million. 

While development proponents have long dreamed of reducing Illinois’ air traffic congestion through the construction of a third Chicago-area airport, hopes have faded somewhat during the sixteen years that the “Peotone airport” has been under development. The airline industry has sharply reduced its positive attitudes toward new U.S. airport development. Major passenger carriers operating in Illinois have moved their focuses toward more efficient usages of existing runways and gates at Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare International Airports. 
The “fun state” gauge used aggregated data on the availability of options for entertainment, nightlife, restaurants, and other leisure-time activities, adjusted for population. Tourism-oriented states such as Nevada (ranked #1 of 50) and New York (#5 of 50) tended to do well. Illinois outdid all of the states that border it, with the nearest nearby rival, Wisconsin, scoring 21st. The Prairie State’s overall 16th slot was an aggregate of its score on “entertainment and recreation” (10th of 50) and its score on nightlife (24th of 50). By contrast, Indiana scored 47th in entertainment and recreation, and 45th overall. Numbers were released on Tuesday, May 2.
From SWALCO: The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) will be hosting a one day only special electronics recycling collection event for broken and unwanted electronics. This one-day special event will be held on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Mundelein Public Works Facility located at 440 East Crystal Street in Mundelein.

Recycling fees will be assessed for televisions and cathode ray tube monitors ($35 for TV’s 21” and larger, $25 for TV’s 20” or smaller, and $25 for each cathode ray tube monitor) all other acceptable electronics will be collected at no cost. Cash, check or major credit cards are accepted for payment of applicable recycling fees.
The new program aims to create home-visiting opportunities for newborn babies and their families. The first support visits implemented by the pilot program will be carried out by the Stephenson County Health Department, which is based on the northwestern Illinois city of Freeport. 

Home visits are a way to help children remain healthy and thrive by providing personal contacts between a mother and a trained professional who can answer questions. The program, which is being coordinated by the Illinois Home Visiting Task Force and by FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport, will be implemented by community nurses. Visitation times will be as soon after birth as possible, to enable these questions to be rapidly asked and answered. Illinois Family Connects also plans to create wellness checks for the baby and family, and to put the family in touch with any supportive resources that may be helpful.