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Illinois Opportunity Project Response to 2016 State of the State

Matthew Besler headshot 25 retouched

IOP Response to 2016 State of the State

By Matthew Besler


A year ago, Bruce Rauner ended 12 years of one-party rule in Illinois. Those 12 years capped off 40 years of Democrat rule in the Illinois General Assembly. As Governor Rauner took office, Illinois had a huge pile of unpaid bills; the worst-funded pension system in America; a struggling education system; and a ranking of 51 out of 50 states (and the District of Columbia) in providing services for the developmentally disabled. A year ago, powerful political leaders and the entrenched special interests that support them were unchecked and unabashed.


Today, we heard from a governor who has spent a year taking on challenges that most thought were politically untenable. Today, we heard from a governor who has chosen difficult conversations over glib talking points. Today, we heard from a governor who is moving forward on true government transformation, not stalling for political convenience. Today, we heard from a governor focused on improving results, not just spending more money.




Today, Illinois is in a better place than it was a year ago. Better, but not remotely good enough. The governor’s work – and ours – to improve the way Illinois operates at every level is just beginning. Some necessary reforms will take time and require a continued political shift of power, but others are immediately at hand.


Despite the budget impasse, the governor laid out several key reforms on which his administration and the General Assembly should be able to find common ground:


  • Education Reform: The governor stated, “The key to rising family incomes, more high paying jobs, and a higher quality of life for everyone in Illinois is to have a high-quality, fully-integrated education system… To drive that result, we are committed to eliminating wasteful bureaucracy, putting more money into our classrooms and holding our schools accountable for results.” Illinois’ failure to reform its education system has hurt students. An evaluation by the National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that nearly two-thirds of Illinois 4th graders in the state’s public schools do not perform at grade level in math or reading. It is encouraging that Governor Rauner recognizes that Illinois has an education system in which politicians and special interests have too much control, parents and teachers have too little, and students get lost in the shuffle.


  • Commerce and Economic Development: The governor highlighted his commitment to the state’s economic development, with an emphasis on job creation and investment. Many believe the governor should just agree to a budget and leave his pro-business agenda items for another day, but that approach won’t work. In fact, Illinois just completed a four-year case study proving that. Illinois Democrats raised income taxes by 67 percent in 2011, and the tax increase was in place for four years. At the end of those four years, Illinois still has many of the same problems it had before the tax increase was passed. At the end of those four years, Illinois still had a huge pile of unpaid bills. We still have the worst-funded pension systems in America. Our credit has been downgraded to the lowest in the nation. Illinois has trailed most of the nation in the creation of jobs and opportunity. Governor Rauner is aiming to change that.


  • Pension Reform: Governor Rauner has taken an important first step toward pension reform by championing a bill that received the full support and endorsement of our labor unions at the height of the pension debate. Illinois can’t save retirement benefits, social services or any other program without first resolving the pension crisis. And, the state cannot simply tax, borrow, or invest its way out of a $111 billion (and growing) pension liability. The crisis eats up 25% of every tax dollar that goes to Springfield. The truth is that without pension reform, the state cannot move forward and our severely underfunded pension system will swallow up the state budget.


At the Illinois Opportunity Project, we call on Illinois legislators to work with the governor in taking on these issues and the ones that are sure to come. And we will be there to help every step of the way. Together, we must help foster the opportunity that will ultimately improve the lives of every Illinoisan. It is time to demonstrate the courage to finally transform Illinois in ways long imagined, but never realized.

Chaos In Oregon As Feds Kill 1, Arrest Bundy, Prepare For Raid

Chaos In Oregon As Feds Kill 1, Arrest Bundy, Prepare For Raid
Breaking NewsJan 27, 2016
image: http://9953-presscdn-0-37.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/bundylf-700×396.jpg


One person was killed near Burns, Oregon last night after federal agents arrested protesters demonstrating against federal control of state land.

Multiple reports say the government is preparing to launch a raid on the wildlife refuge the protesters have been occupying.

According to The Hill:
“One person was killed and several arrested, including Ammon Bundy, the leader of an armed group occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon, in an incident with law enforcement Tuesday.

Shots were fired when law enforcement agents stopped Bundy and the others while they were driving to a community meeting, The Oregonian reported.

Bundy’s brother, Ryan Bundy, suffered a minor gunshot wound and was among those arrested. At least three others traveling with the Bundys were also arrested, as were two members of the group who were in Burns, Ore., site of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

They face felony charges of conspiracy to impede federal officers.”

The man said to be killed, LaVoy Finicum, allegedly had his hands up when he was killed by federal agents.

image: https://scontent-dfw1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-0/s526x395/8171_10205759277365392_7815815270873568070_n.jpg?oh=3fecabe6322ea1e360b3d72058abe577&oe=5738F25D

Read more at http://conservativeintel.com/2016/01/27/breaking-chaos-in-oregon-as-feds-kill-1-arrest-bundy/

Source: Will County News

Massive cyber attack on Israel’s power grid

Cybersecurity and cyber espionage have been of growing concern to governments the world over. (Flickr photo by somemixedstuff https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Israel’s energy minister confirmed his country experienced a massive cyber attack on its power grid Monday.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister of national infrastructure, energy and water resources, confirmed a “severe cyber attack” on Israel’s power grid Monday while speaking at a cyber security conference in Tel Aviv Tuesday. Steinitz claimed that the attack was being managed by his ministry in coordination with Israel’s National Cyber Bureau.

“The virus was already identified and the right software was already prepared to neutralize it,” Steinitz told the crowd. “We had to paralyze many of the computers of the Israeli Electricity Authority. We are handling the situation and I hope that soon, this very serious event will be over … but as of now, computer systems are still not working as they should.”

Israel is currently undergoing some of the coldest weather in recent memory,driving electrical demand to record levels.

Source: Will County News

Homer District 33C School Board Meeting January 26, 2016

Summary of Homer District 33C School Board Meeting January 26, 2016


Veterans Day 2015 Hadley school


The Board of Education recognized the 7th grade girls basketball team for earning 4th place at State. It was the first time a girls basketball team from Homer received a medal in the State tournament.


Superintendent Kara Coglianese recognized Homer Junior High Industrial Arts teacher Phil Ackland for receiving a $5,000 grant from the Dart Foundation to purchase a 3-D printer, CNC machine and pneumatics/hydraulics unit for the junior high’s Industrial Technology program.


Superintendent Kara Coglianese recognized students and staff at Butler

School for promoting local and global connections by collecting school supplies for teachers and less fortunate students at nearby Taft School.


Superintendent Kara Coglianese recognized Big R for its community support by extending a discount to teachers and staff who purchased clothing and other items for families in need this past holiday season. The discount enabled them to purchase more items than anticipated.


Superintendent Kara Coglianese announced Homer 33C was awarded a FY2016 School District Library grant in the amount of $2,189.54 by the Office of the Secretary of State. The grant will be used to purchase books for the school libraries.


Board Vice President Angela Adolf presented an update on the recent Finance and Operations Committee meeting, which discussed:

  • The district’s food service program and the possibility of serving healthier items
  • The formation of a committee to examine extracurricular activities, ensuring all students are treated equitably and activities relate to the Future Ready initiative
  • The district’s Cash Flow and Fund Balances and how much cash we should have on hand to meet financial obligations at low points in the tax cycle.


Superintendent Kara Coglianese recognized the district’s partnership with emergency personnel, including the Will County Sheriff’s Department, the Lock- port Police Department, the Northwest Fire Protection District, the Homer Town- ship Fire Protection District and the Lockport Township Fire Protection District. The departments not only serve as community advisors to the district but work with our students and staff to promote safety. Examples include:

  • Reminders to change batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Classroom visits through an Adopt-a-Firefighter program
  • Basic Aid Training (BAT) for junior high students
  • A babysitter training program for junior high students
  • CPR classes
  • Smokehouse demonstrations
  • Career discussions



Superintendent Kara Coglianese announced a partnership with the Village of Homer Glen and Olivet Nazarene University to bring an institute of higher learning to our community. Olivet is opening a satellite campus at Young School and will offer education and business programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Classes will be held in the evenings. Homer 33C employees (as well as Village of Homer Glen employees) will enjoy a 20 percent discount on tuition. Those pursuing their doctorate will receive a 10 percent discount. Pro- gram offerings include:

  • Master of Arts in Education: Reading Specialist
  • Master of Arts in Education: Curriculum and Instruction
  • Teacher Leader Endorsement
  • English as a Second Language Endorsement
  • Middle School Endorsement
  • Master of Arts in Education: Library Information Specialist


For more information, visit the district website and click on the “Employee Page” tab on the left side of the screen. There, you will find a link to the Olivet Nazarene University informational flyer.


Union representative Terri Pellizzari introduced the district’s fourth-grade teachers. Teacher Ellen Buckley spoke on behalf of the group and shared how teachers have created a virtual learning environment with the social studies curriculum.


Mrs. Kathleen Robinson, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, presented an informational report on School Report Cards, School Improvement plans and PARCC. Results show:

  • 50 percent of Homer 33C students are proficient or meeting state standards in English Language Art The state average is 38 percent.
  • 45 percent of Homer 33C students are proficient or meeting state standards in Math. The state average is 28 perce


Parents received information about the PARCC exam results with their child’s report card on January 25th.


The Board of Education approved a Benefits Coordinator job description. The position will:

  • Assist in meeting the demands of the Affordable Care Act and ensure the district is compliant
  • Manage district insurances (i.e. Medicaid, Cobra, e)
  • Promote a higher level of service to employees
  • Assist with collective bargaining
  • Analyze insurance packages and costs


The position will replace the recently vacated Wellness Coordinator position.




Special School Board meeting slated for Feb. 11, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.

Source: Will County News

James Marter is the best Candidate for Illinois Senate

Kirk Among 12 GOP Senators To Vote To Confirm Another Radical Obama Judge

Sen.Mark Kirk(R-IL)Sen.Mark Kirk(R-IL)

Tuesday night the Senate voted 58-36 to confirm Wilhelmina Marie Wright as a federal Judge for Minnesota.  Twelve Republicans joined with the Democrats to confirm the radical Obama nominee.  Those 12 Republicans include Illinois’ Mark Kirk as well as Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, along with Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, Kelly Ayotte(NH), Shelby Capito(WV), Dan Coats(IN), Susan Collins(ME), Jeff Flake(AZ), Orin Hatch(UT), David Vitter(LA), and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, and Bernie Sanders did not vote.
Wright, an associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, is of the belief that the Reagan administration was bigoted and that property rights are racist.
In a 1989 UCLA Law Review article Wright, a student at the time at Harvard Law, explained why she held such racists views, via The Daily Signal:

Wright accused Chief Justice William Rehnquist and President Reagan of aiding “white people [who] are running and hiding” from desegregated public schools.
While a third-year law student, Wright wrote about the demographic shift of white families leaving cities for the suburbs:
Their mad scramble is aided by a Chief Justice who owned racially restrictive property and a Presidential administration that believes bigotry, poverty, and poor educational opportunities for most public school students are the unavoidable fruits of a ‘thriving’ free market economy.
Later in the same law review, but while addressing a different topic, Wright wrote that “the sanctity of property and the belief in the hierarchy of races” undergird racism in America.
Property rights, she continued, are “firmly protected by the words and action of the Constitution.”

Wright has not changed her views on matters of race and property rights, just her language.
That Sen. Kirk would vote for such a radical to be on the federal bench is yet more evidence of why conservatives and Tea Partiers across the state of Illinois have been flocking towards the insurgent candidacy of Kirk’s primary opponent Oswego businessman James Marter and why Kirk has a F rating from Conservative Review.
Marter this week was endorsed by Arizona congressman Trent Franks. In making his endorsement Franks said, “It is clear he(Marter) has the will, instincts and integrity to work repairing the contemporary damage done to the first principles built into our institutions by America’s Founders. When no one else in Illinois would, Mr. Marter has stepped up to oust an incumbent out of touch with the people of Illinois who has repeatedly voted against his constituents and his party, harming the people’s liberty protected by the United States Constitution.”
In recent months Senator Kirk was the lone Republican to vote against defunding Planned Parenthood and sanctuary cities and has been censured by at least three prominent Chicagoland GOP organizations over his extremely liberal voting record and no Illinois voter can forgive Kirk for backing “Little” Dick Durbin’s reelection in 2014 over Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis.
The Illinois primary is March 15th.

Source: Will County News