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Alliance Legislative Report 99-55

Distributed via Email: November 9, 2016


After hard fought political campaigns with astronomical spending from both parties, Illinois Republicans seemed to have emerged with the edge after Tuesday’s general election. In the Senate, the GOP went into election night knowing they were gaining at least one seat as former State Representative and Lieutenant Governor candidate Jil Tracy(R-Mount Sterling) was running unopposed for the seat vacated by Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville). The other Senate Republican gain came from southern Illinois where former Harrisburg mayor Dale Fowler defeated Gary Forby (D-Benton). Longtime incumbent Forby was a regular target of the Republicans, but had always been able to retain the 59 th District seat until this week.

Many politicos will probably predict that the “Trump wave” that helped to defeat Forby in deep southern Illinois also helped to defeat State Representative John Bradley (D-Marion). President-Elect Donald Trump won big in this traditionally Democrat part of the state as he carried Franklin County (71% for Trump), Williamson County (68% for Trump), and Pope County (79% for Trump). As with many races across the state, Bradley’s close connection to House Speaker Michael Madigan(D-Chicago) was used as campaign fodder against him. Bradley, the House Revenue chairmen, lost to Dave Severinof Benton. House Republicans picked up five seats in total, but GOP incumbent Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) lost resulting in a net gain of four seats.   

Even with losses in the House and the Senate, Illinois Democrats still have a firm grip on control of both legislative chambers with a 37-22 edge in the Senate and a 67-51 advantage in the House. However, with the GOP gains in the House, Speaker Madigan no longer boasts a veto-proof majority. The question now will be does the composition of the new Illinois General Assembly lead to cooperation between the Democrat controlled legislature and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner or further stalemate? Only time will tell.

Illinois House Democrats did have some positive results. The Republican gains were mainly confined to downstate Illinois as Democrats were able to defeat Republican challengers all throughout the Chicago suburbs. Another Democrat bright spot came nationally when Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth soundly defeated Republican Incumbent Mark Kirk for one of Illinois’ seats in the United States Senate. Duckworth out-performed the early expectations of a tight race and opened a commanding lead over Kirk in all polling heading into Election Day. And Democrat Susana Mendoza defeated Rauner ally Leslie Munger for state comptroller. Mendoza, the Chicago City Clerk, challenged in the special election to fill the final two years of the term of the late Judy Baar-Topinka.

The 2016 election cycle was long and expensive, but now it is time for the newly elected officials to prepare to govern. The newly elected legislators will be sworn into office on January 11, 2017, so those members currently in office will be serving until that time. This includes those members who were defeated in Tuesday’s election or are retiring at the end of the term.

In the meantime, the General Assembly will be convening for the Veto Session November 15-17 and November 29-December 1. A “lame duck” session is also expected later in December or early January as lawmakers will be working to finish a state budget for the second half of the fiscal year.


Voters approved 12 of the 26 local school funding increase referendum questions on Tuesday’s

general election ballot, including ten bond issues and two tax increase proposals. Many school districts will also benefit from the seven countywide sales tax referenda approved for school facility purposes.

The largest of the district finance propositions adopted was in Champaign CUSD 4, where $183 million in new bond revenue is to be raised after voters approved the district’s bond issue. The proposal asked voters to endorse borrowing to fund various school additions and renovations, and to completely replace one school building.

In addition to Champaign, other districts to benefit from the adoption of local bond issues are:

  • Central CUSD 301, Burlington, a $22 million bond issue to renovate a high school
  • CCSD 181, Hinsdale, a $53.3 million proposal for building two new schools
  • Deer Creek-Mackinaw CUSD 701, a $5.89 million bond issue for facility repairs and   improvements
  • East Prairie SD 73, Skokie, a $47.4 million plan to replace one old school
  • LaSalle-Peru THSD 120, $38 million for building improvements
  • Palos CCSD 118, Palos Park, a $6.5 million proposition to build an addition to an elementary school
  • Paxton-Buckley- Loda CUSD 10, a $31.4 million proposition to construct a new elementary school
  • Rankin District 98, a $2.25 million plan for an addition to an elementary school
  • Salt Creek SD 48, an $8 million plan for repairs to four buildings

Tax increase proposals, per se, appeared on the ballot in five school districts, but voters approved none of them. Specifically, tax increases were voted down in:

  • Aviston Elementary SD 21, a proposed 45-cent tax increase for every $100 of EAV
  • Deer Creek-Mackinaw CUSD 701, a 30-cent tax increase per $100 of EAV
  • Edwardsville CUSD 7, a 55-cent tax increase for every $100 of EAV
  • Maroa-Forsyth CUSD 2, a 50-cent tax increase per $100 of EAV
  • Metamora CCSD 1, a 31-cent tax increase for every $100 of EAV

Increases were sought under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL), also known as tax caps, to authorize increasing property taxes in five other school districts. Voters approved tax increases under PTELL in LaGrange SD 102, a .42 percent hike, and Newark CCSD 66, a .70 percent hike in the PTELL limit. Voters rejected such increases in Carlinville CUSD 1; Central City SD 133; and Norridge SD 80.

In addition to the school district tax propositions, countywide sales tax proposals to benefit schools won approval countywide in at least eight counties: Coles, Edgar, Jackson, Lee, McDonough, Peoria, Rock Island, and Wabash. Since the state law on this topic took effect in January 2008, 47 counties have now adopted the retailer occupation and service occupation tax (sales tax) for the benefit of school facilities.

Other education-related proposals on the November ballot included two school district consolidations. One of the two was approved, combining Dimmick CCSD 175 and Cherry Grade School District 92. Meanwhile voters turned down the consolidation proposal for Kewanee CUSD 229 and Wethersfield CUSD 230. The latter proposition failed because voters in the Wethersfield district overwhelmingly voted no, even though Kewanee voters approved the idea.

There were five miscellaneous propositions, all of which passed, including four to authorize the at-large election of school board members. One other miscellaneous proposal received voter approval of an alternative revenue plan for using a state allocation of Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax (CPPRT) funds to construct a new school in Laraway CCSD 70-C (Joliet).

Finally, four of the six non-binding advisory questions on the ballot regarding education were approved. Those approved ranged from one question put to Chicago District 299 voters about whether the state should provide full and equitable funding for the Chicago Public schools, to one asking voters in Waltham CCSD 185 (Utica) whether the district should make every possible effort to use funding sources to build one new Waltham School Building without increasing property tax rates. Meanwhile voters in the same district said no to an advisory question on whether to build one new Waltham School Building to replace the current Waltham North and South school building.

Voters also approved advisory questions in portions of two Chicago wards when asked about placing a limitation on any new charter schools in their area. But a question about expanding use of charter schools in Chicago was voted down by a wide margin in every precinct where it appeared on the ballot in Chicago Wards 1, 25, 26, and 27.

This legislative report was written and edited by the lobbyists of the Illinois Association of School Boards to provide information to the members of the organizations that comprise the Statewide School Management Alliance.

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