New ID cards for persons with disabilities. The ID cards, which eligible persons can show to law enforcement, contain an official notification that the bearer is age 16 or older and has a medical condition that may impair his or her ability to communicate with others. The new ID cards will be made available at all Drivers Services facilities operated by the Illinois Secretary of State.
The ID card was developed by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). Approximately 100,000 of the cards have been printed for distribution, matching estimates of the number of Illinois residents who may face challenges if encountered by police officers and other first responders. Persons who are eligible for the card include persons with physical, developmental, visual, hearing, or mental challenges and disabilities. The card application must be cosigned by a physician. An application for the specialty ID card can be found here.
Plan retains reliance on standardized test metrics, but moves away from “No Child Left Behind.” The new plan approved by the Illinois State Board of Education creates a revised grading system to assess public school districts on their performance. While “No Child Left Behind” was widely criticized for its concentration on imposing proficiency guidelines on challenged school districts, the 2017 ISBE plan concentrates on academic growth metrics. Schools and school districts will be positively reinforced for showing healthy movements, including movements from a challenged or low baseline.
The ISBE plan follows the replacement of No Child Left Behind by the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015. Illinois, like other states, has been asked to adopt a plan that sets long-term goals, determine metrics for measuring progress towards these goals, and create a system to identify and support challenged schools and school districts. By 2032, the ISBE plan looks forward to at least 90% of children and adolescents meeting a series of age-appropriate goals. At least 90% of high school graduates should leave school in a state of readiness for college and career.
The ISBE’s reliance on standardized tests will continue to be key factors in determining whether these age-appropriate goals are being met. The ISBE will continue to use standardized tests to determine whether third graders are reading “at or above grade level” and fifth graders are “meeting or exceeding expectations” in math.
Office of the Governor touts jobs through tourism to Illinois. The Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism celebrated the second year of the “Illinois Made” program this week, which highlights products that are craft-made or were invented in Illinois. Illinois products, such as Chicago-based Eli’s Cheesecake, are eligible to be designated “global brands” representing the Land of Lincoln to the rest of the nation and world.
The program also showcases Illinois-experience goods and services, such as restaurants, craft wineries and breweries, and places of historical interest and experience, such as Lincoln’s Springfield, Nauvoo, the Illinois Amish country, and Cahokia Mounds. The Illinois Governor’s Conference convened in Springfield on Monday, March 20.
Free cookout included for all who assist
Community groups, Scouts, students, residents and families are invited to come together for a “One Day” service project targeting portions of the Fox River and nearby Fox Valley Park District locations from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 8.
Volunteers will be utilized at various sites to help pick up litter, haul light brush and assist in the removal of invasive plant species. Volunteers will be placed in parks that are closest to their homes, or can start at the Cole Center (101 W. Illinois Ave.), which will serve as project headquarters.
For those who check in at the Cole Center, transportation will be available to and from the various work areas. Breakfast snacks are provided, and a free cookout will be held for volunteers afterward at the Cole Center.
Portions of the Fox River from Ashland Avenue north to the Cole Center will be covered. Other sites include:
More than 350 volunteers participated last year, and “the goal is once again to gather as many volunteers together to have the biggest impact we can to better our community,” said Debbie Smith, Community Outreach Manager.
The service day project is a combined effort between FVPD, Kiwanis Club of Aurora, Fox Metro Water Reclamation District, City of Aurora, Aurora Township, Aurora University, Volunteer Fox Valley and Waubonsee Community College.
Interested volunteers should contact Debbie Smith at (630) 966-4555 or email@example.com to register.
Revised figure shows 18,700 more jobs in December 2016 than previously thought. The revised number, from the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), indicates that Illinois’ private-sector economy may be in better shape than has been publicly reported. Preliminary figures previously reported by IDES showed a net loss of 16,700 jobs in December, but a revision to these numbers erased this job loss and indicates that Illinois actually gained 2,000 jobs in the same month.
The problems noted by analysts upon release of the initial December 2016 figures remain in place. In particular, the “Christmas sales season” in job-creating retail activity was affected once again this year by the migration of significant transaction volumes to the Internet.
Although the revised numbers show Illinois’ job market continuing to grow slowly, the Land of Lincoln continues to underperform most other U.S. states in terms of economic growth and activity. Illinois continues to have fewer jobs than it did at its peak unemployment level, reached in September 2000 prior to 9/11 and the collapse of the so-called “dot com” boom. Illinois added 1,700 jobs in January 2017, maintaining its unemployment rate of 5.7%.
House directs Auditor General to audit oversight of group homes for developmentally disabled. The Illinois House of Representatives approved legislation this week directing the Auditor General to conduct a performance audit of the Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs) program administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The resolution (HR 34) sponsored by State Rep. Charlie Meier was introduced in light of the abuse and neglect which took place throughout the state in group homes for the developmentally disabled dating back to 2011.
The tragic reports of abuse and neglect came to light thanks to the Murray Parents Association’s work with the Chicago Tribune, sparking an investigation by the newspaper, then followed by the Tribune publishing its story earlier this year titled “SUFFERING IN SECRET: Illinois hides abuse and neglect of adults with disabilities,” in which the newspaper “identified 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 and determined at least 42 deaths linked to abuse or neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years.”
“The audit unfortunately can’t undo the abuse and neglect which occurred; however this audit will help us learn more about what went wrong and how Illinois can improve the quality of care for our most vulnerable,” said Rep. Meier. “DHS has already made improvements, though I am optimistic this audit will further improve how the State properly cares for the developmentally disabled.”
The Illinois Department of Human Services has seven State-operated developmental centers (SODCs) serving approximately 1,800 residents. Individuals also receive services in community-based settings through Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILAs), which house one to eight residents each, otherwise called “group homes”.
A separate bill, HB 740 from Rep. Patti Bellock, is meant to create a secure “paper trail” for each individual resident of Illinois CILA group home care for persons with developmental disabilities. The paper trail should include a current photograph, personal contact information, family contact information, and a log of off-site overnight visits. The measure was approved by a unanimous House vote on Wednesday, March 15, and sent to the Senate for further discussion and debate.
Illinois House Education Task Force holds first meeting. The 26-member bipartisan Task Force has been asked to develop proposals that can be offered to the General Assembly as legislative language to implement the recommendations of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. Earlier this year, the Reform Commission proposed that Illinois take steps to reduce the dependence of Illinois school districts on property tax revenues. Many Illinois lawmakers, citizens, and taxpayers believe that the current pattern of means used to fund Illinois schools is outdated in relation to other states.
The panel held its first meeting on Tuesday, March 14. Representative Bob Pritchard, the House Republican spokesman on the Task Force, called for key revisions to the Illinois school funding formula. The House Education Task Force is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, March 21.
With one of the highest tax burdens in the nation, property tax relief must be priority. Speaking at a press conference at the Capitol, State Rep. Mark Batinick and his House Republican colleagues drew attention to the number one issue for many Illinois homeowners: the need for property tax relief.
A recent poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute found that 47 percent of registered voters in Illinois say they want to move out, with 27 percent of them citing property taxes as their top reason. The Tax Foundation, the nation’s leading independent tax policy nonprofit, reported just this week that Illinois has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country (third), which contributes to the 5th highest overall tax burden in the nation.
“Families and seniors are being forced from their homes, not because they cannot afford their mortgage, but because they cannot afford their property taxes increasing each and every year,” Rep. Batinick said. “If we’re going to be asked to support a budget package, whatever that may end up looking like, we’re here to say there must be real, significant property tax relief for our constituents.”
The impact of property taxes is not limited to homeowners. Businesses are moving across state lines or closing entirely partially due to the high cost of property taxes in Illinois. The recent Tax Foundation analysis shows that Illinois’ property tax burden ranks as one of the least favorable for businesses, coming in at 46th in the nation.