Rauner Chicagoist - June 21, 2017 | original article

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner took to television and Facebook live Tuesday evening to deliver a three minute speech promoting his version of “compromise” on a solution to the state’s almost three-year long budget impasse.

Addressing an empty room in Springfield’s Old State Capitol, the governor opened by referencing Abraham Lincoln’s famous “house divided” speech, which took place in the same building in 1858. Rauner however, is no Abraham Lincoln, and his speech resembled a bad pitch from a used car salesman rather than an address from a man who would later become America’s 16th President.

“Right now our state is in real crisis, and the actions we take in the days ahead will determine how history remembers us,” said Rauner.

The governor’s address came the night before lawmakers in Springfield are set to convene for a special 10-day legislative session, which Rauner called to address the budget crisis. If a deal isn’t reached, Illinois will begin its third year without a budget. Since the impasse began, Rauner has blamed Democratic legislators—particularly House Speaker Michael Madigan—for the impasse. Lawmakers and others opposed to Rauner’s agenda in turn have put the blame on the governor, particularly because some of his demands “reforms” are non-budgetary in nature. Caught in the middle is the rest of the state—particularly social services and any other entity that’s done business with it...

...Rauner’s critics however, weren’t buying any of what he was selling, and some even made statements to that effect long before he delivered his speech.

“Tonight we’ll hear yet another speech about a state budget from the Governor, the fourth like it he’s given,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Since he’s taken office all he’s done is give speeches and run TV ads — and he’s passed zero budgets. Under Governor Rauner today Illinois is dead last in education funding, Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in the history of the country, and for three years running Illinois is the only state without a budget. Talk is cheap. Actions matter.”

“Rauner has done everything in his power to divide, not unite,” said State Senator Melinda Bush in a press release. “With just 11 days left in the fiscal year, the governor is calling for unity while running attack ads on Democratic legislators? It's absurd. The Senate Democrats already did the hard work of passing a balanced budget with the non-budgetary reforms the governor demanded and he still refuses to end the impasse.”

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Category: In The News

Daily Herald - June 21, 2017 | original article

By Dan McCaleb, Greg Bishop and Cole Lauterbach

Almost two full years into a budget impasse that has Illinois' debt soaring and its bond rating plummeting, Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling on state lawmakers to approve his preferred budget plan during a 10-day special session that begins at noon today.

In a public address less than 24 hours before the extra session was to begin, Rauner said he would sign into law the plan introduced by House and Senate Republicans just last week that would require more than $5 billion in tax increases to pay for spending capped at $36 billion...

...A family with annual income of $60,000 would pay the state an additional $720 a year under the GOP income tax hike proposal, with their state tax bills spiking to $2,970 from $2,250.

Suburban Democrats in statements criticized Rauner's call for unity, saying lawmakers almost had a deal three months ago and Rauner had Republicans back out of it.

"Now, with just 11 days left in the fiscal year, the governor is calling for unity while running attack ads on Democratic legislators? It's absurd," said Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake.

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Category: In The News

Senator Melinda BushDaily Herald - June 12, 2017 | original article

By Melinda Bush, guest columnist

In the few cases where I’ve disagreed with the Daily Herald’s editorial opinions, I’ve done so understanding the arguments made and the clear reasoning behind them.

In the case of the recent editorial on school funding reform (this year’s Senate Bill 1), I have to admit I am mystified as to how the Herald reached the conclusion that this version of school funding reform is nothing more than a bailout of the Chicago Public School System.

The Herald attacked supporters of funding reform for going along with a plan that would supposedly benefit Chicago at the expense of our districts. This could not be further from the truth.

(1) The formula is evidence-based and distributes funds in a fair and equitable manner.

(2) The legislation is written so that no school district will receive less money than it has received under the current funding formula.

(3) The reform will support our neediest districts. The largest share of new funds will be delivered to districts furthest from the adequacy target, according to the model published by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

(4) The $70.8 million going to Chicago, according to the ISBE model, is going to a school district with almost 500 schools and more than 390,000 students, based on numbers from the Illinois Report Card.

Zion Elementary School District 6, which has a comparable number of low-income students (based on DHS calculations) and similar progress towards the adequacy target will receive $1.6 million for its 2,773 students, according to numbers from ISBE.

Similarly, Round Lake Unit District 116 will receive an additional $5.5 million in funding for its roughly 7,297 students.

(5) Funding Illinois’ Future reports that the school funding reform passed reflects the core principles of the Governor’s School Funding Reform Commission. If Gov. Rauner vetoes this legislation, he will be acting against the recommendations of the bipartisan commission he formed.

(6) Chicago does not gain the most per pupil from this funding reform. In fact, 268 school districts gain more per pupil than Chicago Public Schools, according to the ISBE model.

At its most basic, the legislative intent of this bill is to remove the politics from education funding. The prior formula was simply not equitable, nor based on evidence. This bill bases education funding on a formula that evidence shows is equitable.

This formula, and indeed this legislation, is supported by hundreds of superintendents, school districts, community organizations and churches from all corners of the State of Illinois.

As a lifelong resident of Lake County and a parent of a child who went through the Lake County school system, I can finally see progress with the way the State of Illinois is funding education in my district. This is real reform that moves the needle towards ensuring every student in Illinois gets a quality education regardless of their zip code.

Category: In The News

Belleville News-Democrat - June 8, 2017 | original article

By Casey Bischel

Like many states, Illinois passed legislation trying to control the opioid and heroin epidemic.

The Heroin Crisis Act, which took effect Sept. 9, 2015, included a series of changes to the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program, a statewide database maintained by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

The PMP records prescriptions for opioids and other potentially addictive drugs when they are filled at pharmacies. Through the program, medical providers can see what their patients are taking and help catch people seeking fraudulent prescriptions, a practice known as “doctor-shopping.”...

...In 2017, State Sen. Melinda Bush, D-Grayslake, sponsored legislation that would make PMP checks mandatory for prescribers or people they designate to.

“It’s indefensible and reprehensible (not to check),” Bush said on the Senate floor before her bill passed without a single “no” vote.

The bill then sailed through the House Human Services Committee unanimously, but it was held for an amendment by state Rep. Michael Zalewski, D-Riverside, after the ISMS voiced concerns. Zalewski said he asked the organization twice before the legislative deadline for the amendment it wanted to submit, but ISMS didn’t send it.

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Category: In The News

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