State Board of Elections Update

I am very concerned about the ongoing investigation into the 2016 election by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, and I know many of you are as well because you have been contacting my office. To keep abreast of the issue and be able to provide you with information, my Constituent Services Staff, Dr. Nicole Anderson Cobb, attended the August State Board of Elections Meeting. 

Here is an update regarding actions taken by the Illinois State Board of Election.

Sincerely,
Carol

Senate Bill 1: School Funding Reform

UPDATE as of 8/2/2017: Here is an analysis of the "bailout" claim and a flow chart to outline possible next steps for SB1. 

FACT-CHECK: DOES THE PROPOSED ILLINOIS SCHOOL FUNDING BILL BAIL OUT CHICAGO’S TEACHER PENSIONS?

UPDATE as of 8/1/2017: Governor Rauner has issued an amendatory veto of SB1. You can read his message here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Bi-iePG1O6RkU1alFvTFR0eTBEODJLcVZlRF9sZzVsWm9R/view

The status of SB1 is critical because the FY18 budget for Illinois determines district funding through a formula. If SB1 is not adopted, the needed formula to calculate how much each school district receives is not identified. Consequently, the State Board of Education cannot distribute the primary source of funding to school districts.

Why We Need School Funding Reform

Illinois currently does the worst job of targeting state money to the poorest students - we spend only $0.81 on low-income students for each dollar spent on non-low-income students. Education stakeholders and members of both political parties agree the current General State Aid formula is not acceptable and has disadvantaged, at-risk students throughout the state for far too long.  There is broad consensus that an Evidence-Based Model (EBM) as provided in SB1 is the best formula to replace the General State Aid.

What SB1 Proposes To Do

The basic premise of SB1 is to focus state dollars on the neediest districts while ensuring no district will have the rug pulled out from under them. Going forward, all NEW state funding will be targeted at the least adequately funded schools. A district that can currently afford to meet all their students' needs will get very little NEW state money, but they will have the security of maintaining the level of state funding they currently receive - in other words: no school district will lose money under SB1.

SB1 recognizes the fact that it takes more resources to educate students that start at a disadvantage and replaces the current funding system with one that calculates money provided to each district based on the needs of the district's students. Districts with higher percentages of at-risk students will receive more state resources.

SB1 and Chicago Public Schools

SB1 is NOT a bail out of Chicago Public Schools. Of the 852 school districts, 267 will receive more per pupil than CPS, and 164 of those districts are in represented by Republicans. SB1 will level the playing field for CPS compared to other districts regarding pensions. Until SB1, CPS has paid the cost of pensions, that for every other district, is covered by the state contribution. Also, CPS won't receive this pension funding until all school districts receive adequate funding under the SB1 formula. CPS will also no longer receive rolling block grants; they will be required to join the application pool like all other districts.

Who Supports SB1

Bipartisan education groups such as the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education, Advance Illinois, Stand for Children, Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, Latino Policy Forum, and many, many more have come out in strong support of SB1.
 

The Status of SB1

Currently, the bill has passed the House and Senate. The Senate has not sent the bill to the Governor yet. Governor Rauner has repeatedly threatened to amendatory veto the line item for Chicago Public Schools. This means he would remove that portion of the bill and leave the rest intact. This would be a devastating blow to CPS and cause a severe funding shortage for Illinois' largest school district. Not only is it short-sighted and unethical to leave children with an underfunded, sub par education, it also speaks to upholding the promise of a pension. If we stand firm that pensions are a promise, that means all state pensions must be protected. Once we begin to pick and choose which pensions we will defend, it's only a matter of time until we lose all of them.

The Governor has called Special Session for the House and Senate for July 26, 27, 28, and 31st. You can watch House sessions here and the Senate sessions here.

If you would like to voice your stance on SB1, please call or email the Governor's office.

Springfield: 217-782-0244
Chicago: 312-814-2121
Electronically Submit Your Opinion

Illinois Has A Budget

On Thursday, the Illinois House of Representatives took a crucial vote to override Governor Rauner’s veto of a vital package of bills that constitute a bipartisan, balanced budget agreement for the State of Illinois. I am proud that today the Illinois House was able to finally come to a compromise where both Republicans and Democrats stood firmly together to end Governor Rauner’s impasse.

Our balanced budget plan is a compromise that cuts state spending by almost $3 billion, includes pension reforms and eliminates layers of bureaucracy. This plan creates these savings while providing greater funding for local schools, funds our state university system, ensures that our elderly, disabled, and most vulnerable can receive services and support they need.

Effective July 1, the budget passed today restores a portion of the income tax rate in effect from 2011-2015, for individuals, the income tax rate will go from 3.75% to 4.95% and from 5.25% to 7% for corporations. It contains spending cuts of $3 billion in several areas and will close numerous corporate loopholes, generating more revenue for the state. The budget will increase funding for K-12 education over FY17 levels by approximately $700M, relying on a more equitable school funding formula that benefits low-income school districts.

It’s important to compare the Illinois tax rate to our neighboring states. Even with the increase, our average income tax rate will be less than Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky, and Ohio and will put us in the middle of the pack nationwide. The current tax rate is the same as it was in 1989, even though costs have dramatically increased since then. Additionally, unlike the majority of states, Illinois does not tax retirement income or services. We are one of the few states which still has an antiquated flat tax.

Cuts alone won't do it. After the State expends on hard costs, i.e. bond payments, pensions; the majority of discretionary state spending goes to health care, social services, education, and public safety.

As far as bringing jobs and real economic investment to Illinois, checking a list of "political wins" won't put Illinois back on track financially. Businesses large and small consistently say that stability and predictability will keep them creating and retaining jobs in Illinois. Passing a balanced budget will finally bring that much-needed stability to Illinois after two long years.

While Governor Rauner has taken the easy road of rejecting solutions but not proposing any, members of the legislature made sacrifices and negotiated a bipartisan, balanced budget plan that will ensure that this state will not continue down the path to absolute financial ruin. If we had not completed the veto override, there would have been catastrophic consequences for Illinois families. Our state would have been downgraded to junk bond status, schools wouldn’t have been able to open in the fall, and at least 25,000 Illinois workers would have been out of a job.

Although there is still work to be done, this budget override was a huge step in the right direction for the state of Illinois.

Tax Talk

On April 3rd Representative Ammons hosted two tax talk events with Ralph Martire from the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. Issues covered during the event were the ineffectiveness of the proposed budget by Governor Rauner and the four core areas which took the most cuts in the past fiscal year; public safety, healthcare, public services, and education. Martire debunked myths about fixing the budget solely through cuts and emphasized the necessity to balance the budget through tax increases and bureaucratic adjustments. Martire explained the inefficacy of the pension fund plan and how much of the deficit it is contributing; taking from K-12 and higher education. 

For further information check out the powerpoints from the event here. 

Intern with State Representative Carol Ammons!

Representative Ammons is in her second term as a state legislator. She took office in January of 2015, following two hard-fought victories in which she and her team demonstrated their activism, hard-work, and progressive values. Representative Ammons is now putting these principles into effect at the Capitol. Please take advantage of this opportunity to be part of a group that values community engagement and participation and utilizes grassroots relationships for political change.

The office is close to the U of I campus. A time commitment of 10 hours per week is needed.  All majors are eligible to apply and we have a strong interest in students from the following majors: Political Science, Communication, Community Health, Education, New Media, Urban Planning, Marketing, Economics, Public Policy & Law, African American Studies, Latina/Latino Studies, Journalism, and Gender & Women’s Studies.

How To Apply For An Internship

Email a resume and essay to jasmine@staterepcarolammons.com.  In no more than 250 words combined, answer the following:

  • Tell us about an impactful political, volunteer, or employment experience.

  • Why do you want to intern for Representative Ammons specifically?

Deadline is rolling but preference goes to applications received first.  Your major will not disqualify you in any way from the application process.

SUMMER 2017 INTERNSHIP POSITION: Legislative Aide

Responsibilities include:

  • responding to constituent correspondence

  • researching solutions to constituent issues

  • collaborating with the Constituent Services Director to plan educational workshops for constituents

  • develop content for Facebook, Twitter, and website

  • write and format newsletters

  • develop, plan, and execute issue-based social media campaigns

  • researching legislation

  • engaging in correspondence with constituents

  • represent the office at various events and community meetings

Requirements of the position:

  • experience working with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and basic website platforms

  • strong writing and editing skills

  • experienced in researching issues quickly but accurately

  • ability to work with people of all ages and backgrounds

  • strong interest or background in research

  • ability to work well independently and ask questions when necessary

  • ability to facilitate open discussion and encourage a variety of viewpoints

  • strong writing and communication skills

  • ability to serve the public in a friendly manner strong writing and editing skills

FALL 2017 INTERNSHIP POSITIONS:

Community Advisory Panel Legislative Aide

Rep. Ammons’ advisory panels meet weekly to discuss proposed legislation and advise Rep. Ammons on the community and statewide effects of these bills. The aide is responsible for organizing and facilitating meetings and providing research on pending legislation.  The types of panels are Business, Trade, and Labor, Education, Environment and Energy, Government and Taxes, Health and Human Services, Judicial and Criminal Reform, and Transportation and Utilities.

Responsibilities include:

  • researching bills for the panel discussion

  • facilitating panel meetings

  • taking thorough notes of at the meeting

  • engaging in frequent correspondence with panel members regarding upcoming meetings

  • writing a weekly memo for Rep Ammons detailing panel discussion and opinions of bills

  • one night of weeknight availability (at least an hour and a half) is a requirement, as that is when the panel meetings take place

  • attending related community meetings

Requirements of the position:

  • 10-12 hours per week

    • 30 minutes bi-weekly for individual supervision meeting

    • 1 hour for weekly community advisory panel meeting

    • 1 hour for weekly meeting with all other interns

    • 1 hour for weekly meeting with other legislative aides

    • 2 hours attending community meetings (equivalent to attending and documenting 1 meeting)

    • 5 hours researching bills, writing memos and agendas (50% completed in the office)

  • ability to work with people of all ages and backgrounds

  • strong interest or background in research

  • ability to work well independently and ask questions when necessary

  • ability to facilitate open discussion and encourage a variety of viewpoints

  • strong writing and communication skills

Communications Coordinator

This positions is responsible for developing and directing all aspects of the social media campaign for the office of State Representative Carol Ammons and managing the Communications Team.

The Communication Coordinator will be supervising the Communications and Media Aides, whose internship responsibilities include: develop content for Facebook, Twitter, and website, write and format newsletters, develop, plan, and execute issue-based social media campaigns, and research other politician’s social media, websites, and newsletters for effective communication strategies.

Responsibilities include:

  • Develop and build the branding of the Office of State Representative

  • Train, supervise, and direct 3+ Communications Interns

  • Develop a social media style guide for the office

  • Facilitate weekly meetings of Communications Team

Requirements of the position:

  • Management ability

  • 10-12 hours per week

  • experience working with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and basic website platforms

  • strong writing and editing skills

  • Knowledge and understanding of using social media as a marketing tool

  • Ability to train and educate others

Communications and Media Aide

This position will focus on growing Representative Ammons’ online presence and engagement through social media platforms, website content, email newsletters and updates.  

Responsibilities include:

  • develop content for Facebook, Twitter, and website

  • write and format newsletters

  • develop, plan, and execute issue-based social media campaigns

  • research other politician’s social media, websites, and newsletters for effective communication strategies

  • attending related community meetings

Requirements of the position:

  • 10-12 hours per week

    • 30 minutes bi-weekly for individual supervision meeting

    • 1 hour for weekly meeting with social media team

    • 1 hour for weekly meeting with all other interns

    • 2 hours attending community meetings (equivalent to attending and documenting 1 meeting)

    • 6 hours on various social media tasks (75% complete in the office)

  • experience working with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and basic website platforms

  • strong writing and editing skills

  • experienced in researching issues quickly but accurately

  • knowledgeable in correct citation of secondary sources

Constituent Services Aide

This position works closely with the full-time Constituent Services Director. The Constituent Services Aide interacts with constituents to answer questions, assist with issues, and provide general assistance to community members.

Responsibilities include:

  • responding to constituent correspondence

  • researching solutions to constituent issues

  • collaborating with the Constituent Services Director to plan educational workshops for constituents

  • attending related community meetings

Requirements of the position:

  • 10 hours per week

    • 30 minutes bi-weekly for individual supervision meeting

    • 1 hour for team meeting

    • 2 hours attending community meetings (equivalent to attending and documenting 1 meeting)

    • 6 hours of constituent services tasks (100% completed in the office)

  • ability to serve the public in a friendly manner strong writing and editing skills

CourtWatch Archiving Intern

CourtWatch is a volunteer-staffed program that aims to support defendants and their families by attending court hearings and attorney conferences. The goal of CourtWatch is to monitor the court’s due process and educate ourselves, defendants, and the community about the legal process in Champaign County. The Archiving Aide for CourtWatch will assist in collecting, organizing, and editing notes from court watching and compile and refine into complete case reports for CourtWatch to disseminate as seen fit.

Responsibilities include:

  • Collect notes of all forms from CourtWatch members

  • Transfer handwritten notes into typed, case-specific reports that document the case in a logical structure

  • Check local newspaper for articles related to defendants and file them with the corresponding case

  • Tag completed case reports with identifiers determined by CourtWatch Steering Committee

    • Will need to recommend identifiers and tagging structure to Steering Committee for feedback

Requirements of the position:

  • 12-15 hours per week

    • Includes a 30-minute weekly supervision meeting with CourtWatch Steering Committee

  • strong writing and communication skills

  • highly organized and detail oriented

  • strong interest or background in research

  • ability to work well independently and ask questions when necessary

  • ability to travel within the Champaign-Urbana community (car not necessary)