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50th District Update: January 19

Senator McCann sponsors a new measure that would bring high-speed Internet access to rural school districts, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) informed members of the Senate Republican caucus this week that  implementation of the state’s new school funding law will occur; and a new proposal would give Illinois motorists the option to register their vehicles for more than one year. 

McCann continues push to bring high-speed internet to rural areas

New legislation sponsored by Senator McCann would offer significant help to schools struggling with unreliable and slow internet.

“Too many of our schools are unable to obtain reliable, high-speed internet access, leaving their schools on the wrong side of a digital education divide,” said Senator McCann. “This legislation is a promise to students that we will do everything in our power to make sure they have access to the tools they need to succeed.”

The bipartisan plan was introduced at Capitol press conference by chief sponsors McCann and Senators Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). The plan sets $16.3 million aside from the School Infrastructure Fund for the expansion of high-speed internet to rural schools and school infrastructure costs related to the expansion. The legislation would qualify the state for funding matched three to one by the federal government. Cost estimates show that adding broadband to rural schools could cost from $75,000 to more than $400,000 per school.

“We can’t expect our children to compete for jobs in a 21st century workforce with a 20th century education,” said Senator McCann. “All students should have an accessible on-ramp to the information super highway.”

The legislation is part of larger push from Senator McCann to make high-speed internet accessible to schools, families and businesses in rural areas. He is also the sponsor of legislation that would increase the standards for current rural internet providers.

“The internet is how information flows in today’s world, whether it be for educational purposes or commerce,” said Senator McCann. “”Fast, reliable broadband is a major part of the infrastructure that we rely on to improve our communities. Schools need it for curriculum, businesses rely on it to conduct transactions, just as an adult taking classes at their local college needs access to help them improve their chances for future employment.”

Most schools do better under new school funding reform law

Last summer, Illinois lawmakers passed, and the Governor signed, an historic, school funding law.  Then, during the fall veto session, the General Assembly passed a trailer bill (Senate Bill 444) making two technical changes dealing with how Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is calculated in the new school funding formula.  The trailer bill advanced so the modeling done by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for the new formula matched up with school funding law.

This is unprecedented in terms of school funding, where typically lawmakers get a model of the bill as it was enacted, rather than changing the enacted bill to match the modeling. 

Unfortunately, ISBE pointed out the discrepancy too late.  However, as it turns out, Illinois school districts fare much better under current law than they would under Senate Bill 444.  It is also important that ISBE has noted that “implementation of the new funding law will occur regardless of Senate Bill 444” and they will “allocate tier funding based on the law as written.” 

Measure would extend vehicle stickers beyond one year

Illinois motorists would have the option to register their vehicles for more than one year at a time under Senate Bill 2293, which would allow motorists, beginning in 2020, to register their vehicles for one or two years. It would also allow those who purchase a new vehicle to register their vehicle for one, two, or five years. The price per year would be the same but an individual would be able to pay it up front and not have to change their sticker every year.

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