11062017RT0026bRSSPRINGFIELD — Illinois taxpayers may soon have more transparency when it comes to their property taxes thanks to a measure passed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino Tarrant (D-Shorewood), Chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Bertino-Tarrant passed Senate Bill 3190 to require school districts to issue quarterly reports on the available cash on hand, funds in reserves and investments.

Senate Bill 3190 passed the Senate with bipartisan support on Wednesday and now heads to the House for consideration.

“School districts should not levy property taxes beyond their needs,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new measure will require our schools to be transparent with their finances which will give taxpayers and the general assembly a real picture of the economic health of our schools.”

In 2017, the Daily Herald reported an analysis of financial records of 93 suburban school districts that showed 18 school districts had enough in reserve to cover more than a year of operating expenses.

The state board recommends a minimum of 25 percent of annual operating costs be held in reserve, but there is not a limit to the amount. All but eight of the 93 school districts had at least the minimum 25 percent, while more than two-thirds had 50 percent or more.

Last year, Bertino-Tarrant joined the General Assembly in passing monumental school funding reform which would reduce public schools’ reliance on local property tax dollars.

The new school funding mechanism outlined in Senate Bill 1947 established an evidence-based funding formula to dispense state dollars to public schools. The formula institutes a base funding minimum that ensures school districts do not lose state dollars year after year.

Any additional funding the General Assembly appropriates is distributed through a tier-based system that prioritizes the state’s poorest and most disadvantaged schools. The funding plan outlined in the new law includes a minimum funding level of $350 million in additional funding each year, with the goal of meeting the total statewide adequacy target over a period of time.

“As the new funding formula kicks in, we need to work toward ensuring property tax relief for families across Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Funding schools the right way should mean that folks see property tax bill savings.”

20180314 KS 3900 RSSPRINGFIELD – The United States Department of Education has designated Illinois a teacher shortage area, codifying an ongoing crisis that could cause irreversible damage to Illinois’ education ecosystem.

State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is working to combat the crisis by supporting House Bill 5627, a bipartisan, multi-faceted approach to end the shortage.

“Teacher shortages are leading to larger class sizes and inadequate learning experiences for our children. This is simply unacceptable,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “It’s important that we empower educators who want to teach in Illinois by implementing commonsense reforms to cut red tape and streamline the teacher licensure process.”

House Bill 5627 creates a short-term substitute teacher license to allow individuals with an associate degree or 60 hours of higher education coursework to substitute teach for up to five consecutive days.

The measure also creates reciprocity for out-of-state educators who have completed education programs, giving them the opportunity to teach in Illinois without duplicating the licensure process.

“Our hope is this bipartisan measure will help our schools fill these vacancies to ensure our children are receiving the best possible learning opportunities,” Bertino-Tarrant said.  

The Illinois State Board of Education supports House Bill 5627, which passed both chambers with bipartisan support and will head to the governor’s desk for final approval

JBT LibraryGrantsPLAINFIELD — State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is excited to announce libraries in the 49th State Senate District will receive more than $550,000 in technological enhancement grants.

The libraries were awarded grants through the Secretary of State's Public Library Per Capita Grants Program.

The program was established to help public libraries improve and increase library services within their service areas. Grant amounts of up to $1.25 per person served are available annually to all local Illinois public libraries.

"Our public libraries serve as a gateway for learning," Bertino-Tarrant said. "This grant will support our libraries’ mission to expand and upgrade educational opportunities for residents across Will County."

The grant money will help fund library expenses such as materials, personnel, equipment, electronic access, telecommunications and technology, and will help public libraries with a low library tax base.

Public libraries typically have a long history in their community. According to a 2015 Pew survey, almost two thirds of adult Americans say that closing their local library would have a major impact on their community. As Pew found, over 90 percent of adults think of public libraries as “welcoming and friendly places,” and about half have visited or otherwise used a public library in the last 12 months.

"This new grant opportunity will expand access and assistance to guarantee residents have a predictable and productive environment to learn," Bertino-Tarrant said.

For more information about the grants, visit http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/grants/plpc_equalization.html.

13032018KS0485RSSPRINGFIELD –  The General Assembly may soon have a better idea on how to combat the opioid epidemic sweeping the nation.

State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) advanced a bipartisan measure this week that would require the Illinois Department of Public Health to annually report to the General Assembly on data collected concerning opioid overdose related deaths.

“The national opioid epidemic has affected all of us,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “A major component of combating this issue is ensuring that we have a complete picture of this crisis. This new measure will give us additional information to ensure the General Assembly has every tool available to institute meaningful legislation to overdoses related deaths and fight addiction in our communities.”

DPH would be required to report the data broken down by each county. Bertino-Tarrant believes it is important to localize the data as much as possible to work with local law enforcement, mental health providers and school districts to fight this crisis from every angle.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 115 people die every day in the United State of an opioid overdose — about 42,000 in 2016.

“Addiction does not see age, socioeconomic standing or race,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This is a national epidemic that we must work together to fight.  Every life we save is priceless.”

Under House Bill 4331, hospitals must include the age, gender, race and county of residence of each patient that a hospital diagnoses as having an opioid overdose within 48 hours of the diagnosis.

Additionally, in every case in which an opioid overdose is determined to be a contributing factor in a death, a coroner must report the death and the age, gender, race and county of residence of the decedent to DPH.

House Bill 4331 passed the Senate’s Committee on Public Health with bipartisan support.

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