Legislative Update: May 17, 2017

With only two weeks remaining in the General Assembly’s spring session, lawmakers in the House are now reviewing Senate Bills that have now moved over to the House for consideration. Similarly, members of the Senate are deliberating on House Bills that were approved prior to our April 28 deadline. Since the first step for all bills is a thorough vetting before a substantive committee, right now we are spending most of our time hearing bills at the committee level.

We still have not reached agreement on a balanced budget, so I was shocked last week on Wednesday when it was announced that the Friday, May 12 scheduled session day would be canceled. With the House, Senate and Governor all in Springfield, we should have remained at the Capitol. One of my freshman colleagues, Representative Tony McCombie of Savanna, IL, urged action on a balanced budget during an excellent floor speech. I agree with Tony 100%. If you would like to hear her speech, click here. We’re in Springfield again this week and as of this writing we are scheduled to be in session until Friday afternoon. Let’s hope Speaker Madigan doesn’t cancel any more session days. We have a job to do and we need to stay in Springfield until we get it done.

Reick Welcomes Family of Cindy Harris to Springfield for Passage of Honorary Resolution
One of the many things that makes McHenry County such a great place to live is the strong commitment of 4-H to our young people. 4-H is a presence throughout the county, and it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t have the best county fair in the state without the tremendous work done by the McHenry County 4-H.

On May 15, I welcomed the family of Cindy Harris to Springfield so they could be in attendance as the House of Representatives paid tribute to a tremendous community volunteer. For over 35 years, Cindy Harris gave freely of her time and talents to McHenry County 4-H, as a member, club leader and volunteer coordinator. She exemplified all the best of volunteerism and community service, and was the embodiment of 4-H in every aspect as she personified its motto: “To make the best better.” In recognition of her devotion to 4-H programs, he was inducted into the Illinois 4-H Hall of Fame in 2012.

Cindy passed away on February 11 of this year, but the work she did will continue through those that she helped as they sought their own path to service. She will live on through those she served. You can read the honorary resolution here, and you can watch my floor comments on HR 292 here.

Reick Attempts to Jump-Start Budget Process by Co-Sponsoring Three Revenue Estimate Resolutions
Nothing is more important in Springfield right now than the adoption of a full and balanced budget. Budget implementation is a multi-step process, and step one involves lawmakers coming to agreement on a revenue estimate. To that end, last week I signed on as a Chief Co-Sponsor of three pieces of legislation that provide revenue estimates that can be used as the starting point for the creation of a full budget.

The Illinois Constitution is clear; the responsibility for crafting and adopting a budget rests with the General Assembly, and that process begins with the approval of a revenue estimate that tells us how much money we have to spend. HJR 49 uses the non-partisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) FY2018 revenue estimate of $31.147 billion, HJR 50 uses the FY2018 estimate published by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) of $31.476 billion, and HJR 51 utilizes an average of the COGFA and GOMB revenue estimates, or $31.312 billion, as the starting point for the creation of the FY2018 budget. Our schools, colleges and service agencies are relying on legislators to do their jobs and get a balanced budget put in place prior to our scheduled adjournment date of May 31. We need to take this first step without delay.

Hundreds of Elementary Students Visit Springfield for TECH Day 2017
On Tuesday, May 9, hundreds of students from across the state spent the day in Springfield for TECH Day 2017, where they showcased projects that illustrate the critical role technology plays in today’s educational environment. I had an opportunity to view displays and visit with students from a few schools located in Illinois’ 63rd District. In this photo, I’m shown with Jennifer Bigler and students from her class at Prairiewood Elementary School in Woodstock.

Technology is a vital tool that helps prepare students to succeed in the digital world that awaits them when they enter the work force as adults, and the projects on display at the Capitol last Tuesday offered students throughout the state an opportunity to demonstrate innovative uses of technology in their schools. It was clear from the several booths I visited that technology expands the boundaries of classroom learning, while allowing students to refine collaboration and critical thinking skills. I was truly impressed with the quality of the work on display.

Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) to be Expanded to Cover all Schools
As research evidence expands to show the importance of early education on adult outcomes, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is rolling out implementation of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS) program. The ISBE received approval for the administrative rules that will implement the KIDS expansion from a General Assembly rules coordination panel on Tuesday, May 9. This clears the way for the KIDS rules to become part of Illinois administrative law.

Under the KIDS program, early childhood educators are trained to observe, assess, document, and report on children’s development, using objective measuring sticks. Much of the training is done by taxpayer-friendly webinars. The goal of the KIDS program will be to collect data for all kindergartners to measure their readiness to start the educational process. Preschools, home child care centers, Head Start centers, family homes, and every other provider of life training for kindergartners are urged to participate in the KIDS assessment process, with the focus being on group-preschool care settings and the professionals who staff them. The KIDS rules were developed with continuing advice and input from First Lady Diana Rauner, a leading advocate of early childhood education.

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