CHICAGO (Aug. 31, 2017) – Flanked by school children and legislative leaders, Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed historic school funding legislation that puts children first and makes lasting changes that will help generations of children to come.

“The passing of this historic legislation was no easy feat, but it’s a reminder of the good things we can accomplish when we put politics aside and focus on what’s important: our children and our future,” Gov. Rauner said. “I am proud to sign this bill, which will bring more money to school districts based on the needs of the children, guaranteeing that all Illinois students have access to adequate education funding.”

This compromise also provides much-needed mandate relief for school districts and presents avenues for property tax relief to homeowners.

“I’ve said for the past two-and-a-half years that we can make progress on the major issues facing our state as long as both sides respect the priorities of the other, and that’s precisely what happened,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs). “This compromise ensures that all Illinois children will have access to an education that is funded fairly and equitably. It also provides flexibility to school districts and relief to homeowners through lower property taxes and expands opportunities for school choice for children from low-income families. My hope is that, moving forward, this will serve as an example of what can happen when we put partisan bickering aside and negotiate in good faith to get things done for the families of Illinois.”
 On Monday State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), a member of the Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education Committee, during the Special Session of the Legislature, supported the final compromise legislation to change the school funding formula in Illinois.

“No School district will receive less than they were allocated last year and this historic change, for me, was about the students and the parents,” said Rep. Cavaletto, a 38-year retired educator. “I promised all along that I would fight for whatever proposal brought the most money to my area without a bailout to Chicago Public Schools pensions.”

Senate Bill 1947 changes the way education dollars are allocated based upon a new ‘evidence-based funding formula model with a minimum funding level (MFL) of $350 million per year. Starting in Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) $50 million will be used for a property tax swap to high-taxed low-wealth school districts so they can reduce their local property tax burden.

There is Mandate relief in this legislation. It replaces Physical Education (PE) requirements to a minimum of three days per week, allows for exceptions for students who participate in athletics and expands to 7th – 12th graders instead of just 11th & 12th. Under this new law, a school district may hold a public hearing on a PE waiver request at a regularly-scheduled board meeting instead of at a separate meeting. Also, a school district may contract with a third-party offering driver’s education without submitting a mandate waiver request. This is a common practice in many states across the country.

With this legislation comes the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Task Force to study the benefits and costs of TIF districts; the interaction of TIF law and school funding; the expenditure of TIF funds; and the expenditure of TIF surplus funds. The Task Force shall submit its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by April 1, 2018.

“This legislation is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direct for fairness in funding for all 842 school districts and it keeps the schools open for our children to get the education they need to be successful in their lives,” added Cavaletto.
State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), Republican Spokesperson for the Fire & Emergency Services Committee, announced today that Governor Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-0270 that allows for the testing of all infectious diseases when a first responder or law enforcement personnel is accidentally exposed to a suspects bodily fluids through being spit upon or stuck by a suspected drug needle.

“The idea for this legislation came from the Marion County Sheriff’s office as a result of multiple incidents where law enforcement personnel were accidentally exposed from drug needle sticks while arresting people,” explained Rep. Cavaletto. “The law in Illinois only allows for testing of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS) and not any other infectious diseases like hepatitis for example. This new law will help protect our first responders as well as their spouses and children from unknowingly being exposed to life-threatening and life-altering diseases,” Cavaletto added.

The incident to bring urgency to this infectious disease testing initiative involved a member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who was assisting local law enforcement on serving a warrant and making an arrest. That officer was stuck by a needle while searching the premises of the arrest and only because the suspect eventually voluntarily agreed to have their blood tested, that it was discovered they carried a contagious virus (not HIV). But by this time the spouse and children of the US Marshall had already been exposed.

“I want to thank Detective Anthony Decker of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department who brought this matter to my attention. I’m sorry it took an incident where innocent family members became exposed through no fault of their own to change and update the law,” he added. “This is an example of common-sense legislation where we worked with a variety of groups from first responders to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to consider balancing individual liberties with public health and safety,” Cavaletto concluded.

In the hearing, no opposition appeared, but a number of groups supporting this legislation appeared as witnesses in favor including the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association, Fire Chief EMS Committee, State Ambulance Association, State Medical Society, and the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing. The bill passed the House and the Senate unanimously on its way to the Governor’s desk.