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Switzerland Davos Forum

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making free college a priority in his second term. Tuition is driven up by pension costs, which Pritzker routinely ignores.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is making affordable college a priority in his second term, but so far he’s ignored the surest way to ensure it can happen: pension reform.

“It’s also our obligation to make college more affordable by removing financial barriers. That’s why we need to bring down the cost of higher education. Since I took office, we’ve increased scholarships by more than 50%. Now let’s focus on making tuition free for every working-class family,” Pritzker said.

The biggest barrier to affordable college in Illinois is pensions. Rising pension costs push up Illinois tuition, forcing students to pay the difference.

Pension Costs Education

It’s why Illinois has the fourth-highest in-state tuition and fees for public universities in the nation at $14,455 a year. Pritzker boasts increased scholarships, but scholarships are like a coupon: they help people but do nothing to change the price tag.

Other big states keep their universities affordable. Public colleges in California, New York, Texas and Florida all cost under $9,000 a year for residents.

Read more here.

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IEA-logo

Press Release:

SPRINGFIELD – Today, the unions representing teachers and support staff in 52 school districts across Illinois will file a motion to intervene in a Sangamon County lawsuit in an effort to protect the safety of the workplaces and the health and lives of students and employees by keeping the governor’s student mask mandate in place.

In October, attorney Tom DeVore filed a lawsuit against 145 school districts across the state on behalf of parents and their children at a price of $5,000 per district, plus filing fees. Those cases have all been consolidated into one in Sangamon County in front of Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow.

The suit asks that the students not be required to wear a mask or be excluded from campus, and that students not be excluded from campus if they were “close contacts” with a COVID positive person, without the local health department weighing in on each individual case.

The court filings today were made on behalf of 75 IEA-affiliated locals, which represent more than 29,000 members of the Illinois Education Association who serve more than 214,000 students. Each of those locals made the independent decision to intervene in the lawsuit.

“Almost all of our members are vaccinated or complying with the vaccinate-or-test order. We are all wearing masks. We want students to wear their masks and stay home if they were close contacts of someone with COVID. We believe in keeping staff, students, all of the families of our staff and students and all of our communities safe,” said Andrew Frey, president of the Triad Education Association. “Things were looking good for a while, but here we are again. This is a worldwide pandemic. We are not immune in Illinois just because we want to turn our heads. So, we won’t. And, we’ll work to keep our schools safe.”

A status hearing is set in the case for next week. Should the judge grant the IEA locals’ motion, they would be able to take part in that hearing and in court proceedings going forward.

“We have been saying all along that it is our goal to keep students and staff in buildings as long as it is safe,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the IEA. “Our locals are respectfully asking the court to respect the educators’ wishes who have asked their local to intervene on their behalf, to ensure that we can continue in-person instruction in a safe and healthy environment. We believe the governor has worked hard to provide a safe educational environment for students and that districts have been following his executive orders because they are guided by science and are focused on keeping our students and staff safe. That’s the best we can ask under these circumstances.”

As of Dec. 9, nearly 1.9 million Illinoisans have tested positive for COVID-19, of which nearly 400,000 are under the age of 20. There have been 30,000 confirmed or probable COVID deaths. At least four Illinois public school employees died of COVID during the 2019-20 school year, at least eight in the 2020-21 school and at least one this school year. Currently, there are 163 active “youth outbreaks” in the state. Between June and August of this year, the Delta variant resulted in a five-fold increase of child hospitalizations, and between July 3 and Oct. 30, the case rate for those under age 20 increase from 17 per 100,000 to 142 per 100,000.

As of Dec. 9, all 102 counties in Illinois are coded red for high transmission on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Community Transmission Map – the most critical rating.

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The vast majority of taxing bodies potentially affected by a proposed $21 million tax refund for a development in western Hoffman Estates dislike the idea so much they rejected it twice Tuesday.  Members of the joint review board for the tax increment financing district requested by the developer for a 184-acre site at routes 59 and 72 first voted 7-1 against approving the eligibility for such an incentive, then voted 7-1 to actively reject its eligibility.

But even with two such votes against it, the proposal legally receives a 30-day period for the developer to adapt the request before the joint review board meets again at 1:30 p.m. April 18 at Hoffman Estates village hall.  And if the ultimate vote is still against the TIF district, the Hoffman Estates village board can still approve it with a supermajority.

The full text of the Daily Herald can be read here.

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PlumFarmAerial Momentum may be shifting against the proposed Plum Farms mixed use development at the northwest corner of Higgins and Route 59 after today’s Village of Hoffman Estates meeting of the Joint Review Board (JRB). The JRB, composed of representatives of taxing bodies and parties of standing, is tasked with hearing and determining if a tax increment financing district (TIF) should be established for the property. If approved, it could mean $22.5 million of incentives for the developers.

The JRB does not have any planning or zoning authority and is limited in scope to making a decision on the TIF qualifications only. JRB members present at the meeting represented Elgin Community College, Barrington Township, School District 220, School District 300, with Cook County attending via telephone.

Also present were Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin, South Barrington President Paula McCombie and Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod. In addition, a number of board members from D220, D300, South Barrington, Barrington Hills and Hoffman Estates attended, as did 50+ members of the public. Of note, McLaughlin along McCombie were not invited to the table to be seated nor were they allowed to make any statements, as neither village has legal standing as previously noted due to the disconnection of the land in 2010.

The developer’s attorney made a presentation describing why they believe the project fits the conditions to qualify as a TIF. Attorneys for D200 and D300 disagreed and said that it does not apply by not fulfilling the criteria established with regard to agricultural land, vacant land and chronic flooding.

The definition of vacant land for a TIF is land that has not been used for commercial or agricultural purposes in prior years, or land divided into 3 or more parcels that could be deemed as subdivided.

Both sides differed on if the land had been divided, over the amount of agricultural usage and if there is chronic flooding of the property. The issue of a gas pipeline traversing the property which would restrict further residential development was also raised.

The property needs to be subdivided into three lots if they want their application to be strengthened, but that hasn’t happened yet. The subdivision application was submitted in October, but no decision has been made yet, and this has to occur before TIF can be considered.

The discussion dissolved into a “he said, she said” exchange.  And, obviously these matters will likely be taken up in court, as usual, by overpaid attorneys, with the taxpayers on the hook no matter the eventual outcome.

But President McLaughlin was given the opportunity to speak on behalf of Barrington Hills and entered his opposition based upon the offer from Hoffman Estates of $22.5 million, as did South Barrington’s McCombie. Trustee Fritz Gohl and candidate Bob Zubak attended but chose not to speak.  A representative of a D220 taxpayers’ group also spoke.

The Joint Review Board voted on two different motions on the TIF, with the bottom line being that the majority of the board disapproved of the TIF.

There will be no business on this matter until 30 days pass. The next meeting is scheduled for April 18th.

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The Cirque de la Musique gala was a record-raising event for the Elgin Community College Foundation, netting $59,444, according to a news release.

That is the highest total ever for an ECC Foundation event.

The gala was Sept. 26 at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills, and 280 people attended.

http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2009/10/23/r_icllblpiqgeqqtsk3ohjw/

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