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Today is a sad day for Illinois. Please keep Judy Baar Topinka's family and loved ones in your prayers.

Legislators completed their Veto Session tasks last week, and we are now back in our home districts until we return to Springfield for the Inauguration of the 99th General Assembly in mid-January.  My office staff and I are available to assist you with issues you may be having regarding state agencies. Please feel free to contact my Palatine office any time at repmorrison54@gmail.com, or at (847)202-6584. The office is typically open from 8:30 to 4:30, but please call ahead of time if you wish to stop by. In observance of the holidays, however, the office will be closed Dec. 24, 25, and 26 and Dec. 31, Jan. 1, and Jan. 2, except by appointment.

I’m pleased to report that there are some key positives that came out of our final week of Veto Session.

No Lame Duck Session: With the banging of the final gavel on Wednesday, the House adjourned sine die, which means “without day.”  This makes it highly unlikely that a Lame Duck Session (when unpopular legislation is typically passed by lawmakers who are leaving office) will take place.  Only a call by Gov. Quinn for special session could bring the General Assembly (GA) back before the 99th GA is sworn in the second week of January.

Citizens will see tax relief in 2015: On January 1, the temporary income tax hike of 2011 will sunset as originally promised. If you recall, the 67% income tax hike was approved during a Lame Duck Session in 2011. Lawmakers who either lost their re-election bids or were retiring by choice were pressured into voting in favor of the tax increase, in many cases in exchange for lucrative post-statehouse jobs. I have been a fierce advocate for the on-time expiration of this irresponsible tax increase.

Senate Bill 16 is Dead: All pending legislation from the 98th General Assembly expires when the 99th GA is seated on January 14, 2015. Among the expiring bills is SB16, the controversial school funding formula rewrite, which sought to strip suburban Cook County school districts of millions in General State Aid. Collar County legislators fought hard to stop the bill, but a real impact was felt because of the massive opposition shown by residents whose school districts would have been unfairly punished through the provisions of the bill. More than 7,000 citizens filed opposition slips on line with the committees that met to gather testimony on SB16, and another 4,700 people signed an on-line petition against it. Additionally, legislators’ offices were flooded with phone calls and emails from citizens expressing their dislike of SB16. I expect the school funding conversation will extend into 2015 and that new legislation will be filed to change the formula. My hope is that the next bill will not pit the collar counties against the Chicago Public and downstate schools. The ultimate reforms need to be fair to all.

While we can celebrate these significant positives, the majority party in Springfield did take advantage of the waning days of the Quinn administration to push through some legislation that I feel is damaging to Illinois taxpayers, hurts businesses, and hinders job creation.

Sweeping Changes to Illinois Voting Made Permanent: Calling the measure “Chicago politics at its worst,” House Republicans opposed SB 172, which allows political workers to bundle absentee ballots, and authorizes election clerks to start processing mail-in votes before Election Day.  It imposes expensive new unfunded mandates upon election authorities, including burdens that will weigh especially heavily upon smaller, rural, and downstate election authorities.  It authorizes election judges to register new voters in person on Election Day. The bill also puts a permanent provision in place that prohibits election judges from requiring voters to show a photo I.D. before voting. While the bill did include a few good components, our caucus was opposed to the permanent approval of these voting changes before we could properly analyze the temporary changes that were put in place as a trial measure for the November 4 election. My colleague Representative Jeanne Ives’ comments during the debate outlined many of our concerns about the bill. You can watch her comments here.

General Assembly Approves Bill to Impose Automatic Savings Deductions upon Illinois Paychecks: The Secure Choice Savings Program Act (SB 2758) passes along yet another unfunded mandate to Illinois small businesses. The Act is based on an assumption that persons age 18 and up who are employed in Illinois should save money with money managers.  The new program will automatically deduct 3% from employees’ paychecks unless they explicitly drop out of the savings program.  The program will apply, as a mandate, to all places of employment that are at least two years old and are without existing savings plans that have employed 25 employees or more throughout the previous calendar year.  Approximately 2.5 million Illinois workers could be affected. I certainly encourage workers to save more for today and for retirement, but many of us who voted NO considered this bill to be a government overreach.  Furthermore, there are still many unanswered questions about how the program will be run and what the tax implications will be for participants.

Sweeping Changes to Jury Structure and Pay Approved: Current law provides that in most cases tried under the Code of Civil Procedure, a 12-member jury shall be empaneled.  SB 3075 reduces this headcount, in almost all cases, from twelve jury members to six jury members. The only remaining twelve-member juries would be those agreed to by both parties prior to the start of the trial.  SB 3075 also contains language that increases the daily rates paid by counties to their jury members.  The new jury pay schedule mandates that jury members be paid at least $25 and up for each day of service.  The actual pay rate will be determined by a sliding scale based on the population of the county where the jury member is empaneled. House Republicans were deeply concerned about the political way this proposal was abruptly unveiled in the House and passed, in violation of norms that call for changes in court procedure to be extensively discussed by diverse legal practitioners before adoption.  As a bloc we voted against the measure.


I wish each of you a very happy and blessed holiday season this year and hope you are able to enjoy time with friends, family and other loved ones.  
I am extremely concerned about a committee hearing that has been scheduled in Springfield to gather testimony about SB16, a bill that would strip millions away from suburban Cook County schools and channel the money toward Chicago Public Schools and other downstate school districts. Today I am asking you to take an active role in helping me to stop this detrimental bill by taking a few minutes to formally file your opposition to SB16 with the committees that will hear testimony next week.

When legislators in the collar counties were holding SB16 information meetings over the last month, we were repeatedly promised by the Chief House Sponsor of SB16 that she would not be calling it for a vote anytime soon. The sponsor even went so far as to contact local superintendents who were attending our local forum on October 21 in Arlington Heights to share her promise. With a new General Assembly to be seated in less than two months, the timing of this hearing is very concerning. It suggests that the bill may be brought for a vote in the upcoming lame duck session.

Specifically, the school districts located within the boundaries of legislative House District 54 stand to lose the following amounts of General State Aid if SB16 is approved:

  • Community Consolidated School District 15: $11,125,664 loss per year
  • Township High School District 211: $7,955,584 loss per year
  • Barrington School District 220: $5,391,021 loss per year
  • Community Consolidated School District 59: $5,923,650 loss per year
  • Township High School District 214: $7,471,089 loss per year
  • Arlington Heights School District 25: $3,286,613 loss per year
The bill has been scheduled for a 3:00 PM subject matter hearing on Tuesday, November 18, before a joint meeting of the Appropriations- Elementary & Secondary Education Committee and the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee. Filing opposition to the bill is a simple process that only takes a few minutes. If you are interested in having your voice heard on this bill, please use these directions:
  1. Go to www.ilga.gov
  2. Scroll down the page and click on GA Dashboard (in red ink along the left side of the page)
  3. Click on the Register icon and fill in your information (registration is recommended but not required)
  4. Click on House, Committee Hearings, and then on the “Month” tab
  5. Click on the piece of paper icon to the right of the listed hearing (November 18th, Appropriations- Elementary & Secondary Education)
  6. Click on Create witness slip
  7. Fill out the form
  8. In the area marked “Representation,” put “taxpayer” or “School District taxpayer” or some other identifying wording
  9. In the “subject matter” portion click “opponent”
  10. Under “Testimony” you can have your written comments supplied to all board members. This is optional. Emailed testimony is not accepted. You may fax your written statement to 217-557-2165 or you may mail it to Illinois State House, Room 426, 401 S. Second Street, Springfield, IL 62706. Make sure that your written testimony is clearly marked at the top of the page: SB16 Testimony, and your name.
  11. Fill in verification code
  12. Click the box to accept the terms
  13. Click Submit
A “Frequently Asked Questions” document is available for those who have additional questions about the process. That document is available at: http://my.ilga.gov/Home/FAQ .

We all need to work together to preserve the education funding that our suburban school districts receive, and I would appreciate your participation in this important Call to Action.
Northwest Suburban Cook County lawmakers joined area superintendents and education experts on October 21 for a Senate Bill 16 Impact Forum at the Metropolis Performing Arts Center in Arlington Heights. Close to 150 people attended the informational event.

The panel outlined how suburban Cook County school districts would lose millions in General State Aid if SB16 is approved and signed into law as currently written. State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) said the school districts located within the 54th Legislative House District would lose a combined $40.1 million per year through SB16.  “School funding reform is a critical issue, but SB16 is not the answer,” Morrison said. “It simply creates a new list of funding winners by taking GSA away from the districts whose taxpayers already shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of educating kids in this state. Funding reductions at the levels included in SB16 would be a game-changer in how children in suburban Cook County are educated.”

Morrison was joined on stage by Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and State Representative David Harris (R-Mt. Prospect). Other speakers included State Superintendent of Education Chris Koch, Benjamin Boer from the Advance Illinois Education Advocacy group and Superintendents from several area school districts.

Attendees were encouraged to get involved in the effort to stop SB16 by calling the Governor, Speaker Madigan, SB16 Sponsor Senator Andy Manar and area legislators to let them know that the provisions of SB16 do not solve school funding issues and are unfair to suburban taxpayers. “Those of us who live in the suburbs need to be unified in our support of our local schools,” Morrison said. “We need to send a loud message downstate that stripping GSA away from our districts is unacceptable.”
Metra Chief Calls for 68% Fare Hike over 10-Year Period
On October 9, Metra Chairman Martin Oberman presented a proposal to the Metra Board for a 68% fare hike to be phased in over the next ten years. Funds from the fare hike, according to Oberman, would cover a variety of fiscal challenges, including the replacement of much of the system’s rolling
stock. The plan calls for:
  • Purchasing 52 new locomotives
  • Rebuilding 85 locomotives 
  • Purchasing 367 new passenger cars 
  • Rehabilitating 455 passenger cars 
The proposed fare hike would create financial backing to borrow $400 million in debt, which would be an essential element of an overall $2.4 billion financing plan. More than half of the required funds, $1.3 billion, would come from the State of Illinois. I worry that further tax and fee hikes could be required to cover the State side of this program. The Board approved the fare hike package by a vote of 10-1.

I am aware of Metra’s equipment needs, but am deeply concerned with the level of the proposed fare hike. I believe most riders who rely on Metra for their daily travel to and from work would find the kind of increases Metra is proposing to be excessive and unaffordable. When I see Illinois spending hundreds of millions on higher speed rail that makes minimal improvements to travel times between Chicago and St. Louis, I must wonder if that money could be better-spent on Metra’s improvement needs so that the riders’ impact could be minimized.

Crain’s Chicago Business has more information on the fare hike request.

Legislators to Host Senate Bill 16 Impact Forum
Tonight I will partner with Senator Matt Murphy and Representative David Harris for a public forum on Senate Bill 16, a proposal that rewrites Illinois’ school funding formula and strips General State Aid (GSA) away from most suburban school districts.

The forum will take place from 6:30-8:30 PM at Metropolis Performing Arts Center, 111 W. Campbell Street in Arlington Heights. Local school superintendents and school administrators will join us to talk about how SB16 will specifically affect their district budgets and operations.

SB16 passed in the Illinois Senate in May and is now pending in the House of Representatives. As written, this bill diverts millions in General State Aid away from local schools and channels it toward Chicago and many downstate schools. It’s an unfair redistribution of funds with every one of my school districts losing large amounts of funding. The school districts located within the boundaries of the 54th legislative House district would lose the following amounts of GSA if SB16 is passed (estimates provided by Illinois State Board of Education):
  • Community Consolidated School District 15: $11,125,664 loss per year
  • Township High School District 211: $7,955,584 loss per year
  • Barrington School District 220: $5,391,021 loss per year
  • Community Consolidated School District 59: $5,923,650 loss per year
  • Township High School District 214: $7,471,089 loss per year
  • Arlington Heights School District 25: $3,286,613 loss per year
Those who attend the forum will be given the opportunity to submit questions or concerns to panel participants.

In response to the revival of SB16, I have joined several of my House colleagues in sponsoring a House Resolution in opposition to the bill. You may read the text of HR1276 here, and you may access the on-line petition here.

For additional information about the October 21 event, please contact my Palatine office at (847) 202-6584.

State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) will join Senator Matt Murphy (R-Palatine) and State Representative David Harris (R-Mt. Prospect) on October 21 for a public forum on Senate Bill 16, a proposal that rewrites Illinois’ school funding formula and strips General State Aid (GSA) away from most suburban school districts.

The forum will take place from 6:30-8:30 PM at Metropolis Performing Arts Center, 111 W. Campbell Street in Arlington Heights. Local school superintendents and school administrators will join the legislators and talk about how SB16 will specifically affect their district budgets and operations. 

“SB16 passed in the Illinois Senate in May and is now pending in the House of Representatives,” said Morrison. “As written, this bill diverts millions in General State Aid away from local schools and channels it toward Chicago and many downstate schools. It’s an unfair redistribution of funds with every one of my school districts losing large amounts of funding.”

According to Morrison, the school districts located within the boundaries of the 54th legislative House district would lose the following amounts of GSA if SB16 is passed (estimates provided by Illinois State Board of Education):

·         Community Consolidated School District 15: $11,125,664 loss per year
·         Township High School District 211: $7,955,584 loss per year
·         Barrington School District 220: $5,391,021 loss per year
·         Community Consolidated School District 59: $5,923,650 loss per year
·         Township High School District 214: $7,471,089 loss per year
·         Arlington Heights School District 25: $3,286,613 loss per year

“School funding reform is a critical issue, but SB16 is not the answer,” Morrison said. “It simply creates a new list of funding winners by taking funding away from the districts whose taxpayers already shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of educating kids in this state.”

Those who attend the forum will be given the opportunity to submit questions or concerns to panel participants.

In response to the revival of SB16, Morrison and several of his colleagues in the IL House have sponsored a House Resolution stating their opposition to the bill, and they have posted a petition against SB16 on their web sites. You may read the text of HR1276 here, and you may access the on-line petition here.

For additional information about the October 21 event, please contact Representative Morrison’s Palatine office at (847) 202-6584.


State Representative Tom Morrison (R-Palatine) has posted an on-line petition in opposition of Senate Bill 16, a bill that would strip millions away from hundreds of Illinois school districts and channel the money toward Chicago and other schools.

The petition is available on Morrison’s legislative web site at www.repmorrison54.com, or through a direct link at http://www.ilhousegop.org/sb16_petition.

SB16 is a massive rewrite of the school funding formula that determines how General State Aid (GSA) is distributed to Illinois’ school districts. It does not add any additional funding toward education.  As written and approved in the Senate, the bill uses a weighted formula that is punitive to most suburban school districts.

“My school districts will lose most of their GSA if SB16 is approved in the House of Representatives and signed into law by the Governor,” said Morrison. “The bill does not solve funding inequities in Illinois. It only redistributes existing state resources in a way that creates a new list of education funding winners and losers.”


Morrison is a co-sponsor of House Resolution 1276, a measure that denounces SB16 and encourages a comprehensive and fair funding reform process that is inclusive of all stakeholder points of view. “I support equitable and reasonable reforms to school funding, but SB16 is not the answer,” said Morrison. “House Resolution 1276 encourages lawmakers to halt all efforts to pass that bill and to engage in a process with all stakeholder groups represented at the table, so that ultimate reforms benefit all students and not just some of them.”