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Illinois House Democrats re-elected state Rep. Mike Madigan to his longtime post as House Speaker Jan. 11.

Illinois House Democrats re-elected state Rep. Mike Madigan to his longtime post as House Speaker Jan. 11.

Madigan is now set to become the longest-serving House speaker in modern U.S. history. By the end of his two-year term in 2019, no American will have held a legislative leadership position for longer.

Madigan won the speakership Wednesday on a 66-51 vote along party lines. All Republicans voted for Burr Ridge state Rep. Jim Durkin. A lone Democrat, Scott Drury of Highwood, voted present. This is the first time a House Democrat has voted “present” for the speaker in 30 years.

The remaining House Democrats cast their votes for Madigan.

“You’ll see a man who works seven days a week to get the job done without putting the focus on himself,” state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, said after seconding the nomination for Madigan as speaker.

This is the 17th time Madigan has been elected speaker. And he has held the post for 32 of the last 34 years, beginning in 1983.

The votes for Madigan are at once stunning and unsurprising.

Illinoisans have a right to be flabbergasted that Madigan drew unanimous support from House Democrats, while nearly two-thirds of registered voters in Illinois disapprove of the speaker, according to polling from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Despite drawing the state’s legislative map, he’s fresh off a loss of his supermajority in the House, losing four Democrat seats on net.

But Madigan’s re-election seemed inevitable, as not a single sitting House Democrat has ever voted for someone other than Madigan for the speakership (setting aside the 1995 vote, when Republicans controlled the chamber.)

The fear of bucking the speaker’s wishes is warranted. He is the most powerful politician in Illinois. And no other state in the country grants as much power to its House speaker as Illinois does Madigan.

If a Democratic House member doesn’t vote for Madigan, he can take away her campaign money, strip her of any leadership roles and even make sure none of her bills get a hearing.

If House Democrats wanted leadership change, one brave lawmaker is all it would take. Madigan and Durkin were the only House members nominated for the speakership.

Lawmakers have faced unprecedented pressure to justify their vote for the speaker in 2017, as Illinoisans are stuck navigating the highest property taxes in the nation and the worst jobs climate in the Midwest. Many people have responded by leaving – Illinois is also home to the worst out-migration crisis in the country.

Instead of addressing to this suffering by changing the guard, House Democrats re-elected a Cook County property tax lawyer to the most powerful post in the General Assembly.


Austin Berg

Writer

Source: Will County News

Homer 33C students experiment with 3Doodler pens

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High

 

Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628

 

For Immediate Release:

Jan. 11, 2017

A Hadley Middle School sixth-grader uses a 3Doodler pen to draw a three-dimensional dog during a Computer Club meeting on Jan. 10.

 

Drawing in 3D

Homer 33C students experiment with 3Doodler pens

 

Imagine being able to draw a three-dimensional replica of the Eiffel Tower or a customized case for your cell phone.

 

That’s what Homer 33C students will be doing as they experiment with 3D pens in the STEAM labs at Homer Junior High School and Hadley Middle School.

Hadley Middle School students learn how to use a 3Doodler pen by creating a three-dimensional cube.

A Hadley Middle School student shows what he was able to make with a 3Doodler pen.

 

Technology teacher Andrew Dole purchased six 3Doodler pens through DonorsChoose, a nonprofit website that helps public school teachers secure funding for learning materials and experiences.

 

“3D printing is one of the most popular and newest tech tools out there,” said Dole, “and we want to learn how to manipulate it.”

 

3D pens are electric pens that write with heated plastic instead of ink or pencil. Users are able to draw three-dimensional shapes that dry and harden within in a matter of seconds.

 

“The ability to build something from nothing is an amazing learning experience that all students need to experience,” said Dole, who envisions students working together in the district’s STEAM labs to create unique, one-of-a kind masterpieces.

 

The pens arrived during winter break and students in Dole’s 6th grade Computer Club were among the first to try them out.

 

“You have to have a steady hand,” said one student as he attempted to draw a three-dimensional cube with the pen.

 

“It’s tricky to get a feel for when to stop it in the air,” said another.

 

The pens are the latest addition to the district’s STEAM labs — interactive learning centers that inspire integrative learning in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

 

Once students have had an opportunity to use the lab’s 3D pens and 3D printers, Dole plans to have them compare and contrast the advantages of each one.

 

“These 3D pens will allow students to experience the freedom that others feel when they are allowed to be creative without boundaries,” he said.

 

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/homer33c?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

 

Source: Will County News

See if Homer 33C’s Little Learners preschool program is right for your family

News Release

Homer CCSD 33C

Goodings Grove   Luther J. Schilling   William E. Young   William J. Butler

Hadley Middle   Homer Jr. High

 

Contact: Charla Brautigam, Communications/Public Relations Manager

cbrautigam@homerschools.org | 708-226-7628

 

For Immediate Release:

Jan. 11, 2017

See if Homer 33C’s Little Learners preschool program is right for your family

Stop by Homer Public Library’s Preschool Round Up on Feb. 1

 

Are you looking for the perfect preschool for your child?

 

Then stop by Homer Township Public Library on Feb. 1 to learn about local preschools, including Homer 33C’s Little Learners program.

 

Special Services Program Coordinator Patrice Ryan will be there from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. to share information about Homer 33C’s unique preschool program for children ages 3-5.

 

Taught by licensed teachers and related services staff, the Little Learners preschool program enables children of all ability levels to get a head start on learning by working on their pre-academic and social skills with teaching professionals.

 

Children meet five days a week during the school year from August to June at Young School, 16240 S. Cedar Road, where they enjoy physical education in the school gymnasium, reading time in the school library and music activities in the school music room.

 

Current tuition is $250 a month.

 

Participants must be district residents, between the ages of 3 and 5 (as of Sept. 1, 2017), toilet trained and pass a preschool screening.

 

While registration is offered year-round, space is limited. Openings will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

For more information, please call Homer 33C at 708-226-7649.

 

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/homer33c?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

 

Source: Will County News

How to Drain the Health Care Swamp

How to Drain the Health Care Swamp

Conservative principles, not political posturing, should guide the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

By Gov. Bobby Jindal for POLITICO

Republicans have been winning elections for years by promising to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Now that the dog has caught the car, we have to know what to do with it. Republicans have captured the White House, and kept the House, Senate and a majority of the governors’ offices. There are no more excuses, and voters are rightfully expecting quick and bold action.

Already, though, the media is beginning to highlight or perhaps even create differences among the Republican victors, with stories about some in the party wanting a quicker timeline for repeal than others. Before we get bogged down by a debate about whether Obamacare should be repealed within two or three years (and I am for sooner than later), it would be helpful to remember why conservatives have opposed Barack Obama’s health law so vehemently. And no, despite the president’s protests, it is not simply because of the name. Articulating our principled objections will help inform how Republicans should replace this flawed legislation.

Obamacare has famously failed to live up to its sponsor’s lofty promises, as evidenced by health-care costs and premiums that continue to rise at an unacceptable rate, as well as millions of Americans losing their preferred health-care plans and access to their physicians. But there are three deeper fundamental failures embedded in the law that must be fully repealed and not transplanted into any Republican replacement.

First, Obamacare involved a massive increase in federal taxes and spending. Our federal government now spends more, and has borrowed more, than ever before. No society has ever taxed, spent, or borrowed its way into prosperity, and we will not be the first. It was wrong to increase government spending, to create a massive new entitlement program, when we could not afford the government we already had. Mortgaging our children’s future to sustain our bloated government could render us the first generation of Americans that leaves behind fewer opportunities than those we inherited from our parents.

Some Republicans want to forfeit this fight before it even starts. They argue it is not realistic to return to pre-Obamacare levels of federal spending and taxation, that any repeal plan that taxes and spends even one dollar less than Obamacare is a victory. Nonsense. If the conservative response to eight years of unprecedented liberal spending is to simply slow the pace, rather than reverse the direction, then we are done. What is the point of winning elections if we are not committed to shrinking government spending and government dependence? Pretending to be cheap liberals has never been a winning strategy; we must instead be honest conservatives. We must repeal all of the new Obamacare spending and taxes, and consider that our baseline against which we measure any repeal plan.

Second, Obamacare made millions of able-bodied Americans newly dependent on direct government assistance for their health care. Whether through a massive expansion of Medicaid beyond its original target populations of poor children, disabled and the elderly, or through exchange subsidies for the vast majority of participants, Obamacare masked the true cost of health care, rather than truly “bending the cost curve down.” Pretending that subsidized health care is affordable without considering the true cost to taxpayers is disingenuous at best.

We must not allow liberals and the mainstream media to define success by the number of Americans dependent on government programs. Republicans should focus instead on market-based solutions that make health care more affordable for all Americans. Targeted, flexible and temporary safety-net solutions, governed at the local level, are preferable to centrally run, top- down, one-size-fits-all subsidies that reduce the incentive to work and make millions of Americans newly dependent on the government. Health-care reform must not continue to be a Trojan Horse for yet another massive liberal redistribution program.

Third, Obamacare inserts the federal government into the health-care system, reducing the autonomy of patients and providers. In addition to the much-derided individual and employer mandates, the federal government is now involved in micromanaging health-care plans. Some of this is the inevitable result of the government regulating what it subsidizes (another argument against general government dependence). Federal lawmakers and bureaucrats now find themselves trapped in an endless cycle of cutting provider prices, imposing volume caps and restricting access to new, expensive or alternative procedures, yet they still fail to meet budget targets.

Insurance companies increasingly resemble regulated utilities, offering only the veneer of private sector choice and competition, while federal bureaucrats dictate product design and pricing. Just as customers were allowed to buy any color Model T they wanted, as long as they wanted black, Americans today are allowed to buy any health insurance product they want, as long as they want what the federal government allows them to have. Providers are increasingly merging to achieve the economies of scale necessary to comply with increasingly complex federal regulations. Innovation and competition are stifled as big businesses and big government become interdependent in yet another example of crony capitalism. The unintended consequences have included skyrocketing premiums, decreased plan choice and limited provider networks.

Conservative health-care reform should be based on three principles: competition, individual autonomy and local governance. There is no reason to suppose Washington is constitutionally empowered, much less competent, to make our health-care decisions for us. Consumer choice should be expanded within Medicare, the states should have more flexibility in designing and running their Medicaid programs and Congress should stop doing the work of state insurance commissioners. But even more importantly, we must trust patients and their doctors to make decisions for themselves.

This moment is a major test for Republicans. Health care consumes a large and growing share of our economy, involves people at their most vulnerable moments and often has life or death consequences. Republicans have a unique opportunity to demonstrate that our principles are better, that trusting the American people over the bureaucrats is a sure bet every time. Repealing and replacing Obamacare consistent with conservative principles will prove that we are serious about draining the swamp—not just winning elections.

Source: Will County News

Illinois lost an average of more than 10,000 students per year

Illinois Policy Institute 1/6/2017

Illinois lost 150,000 university students from 2000-2014

Misplaced priorities in education funding have driven students out of the state and skyrocketed tuition costs.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently revealed that Illinois, in its third consecutive year of population decline, is losing more people than any other state in the Midwest.

The state has also been unpopular with students since at least the start of the 21st century. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Illinois likely lost more than 150,000 students, on net, to other states from 2000 to 2014. The data, which look at the migration of freshmen or first-time degree seeking students at all institutions each even-numbered year, show that Illinois lost an average of more than 10,000 students per year. Only New Jersey, which significantly lacks enough universities to accommodate all of its students, lost more than Illinois.

illinois outmigration

In addition, the New York Times reported that in 2014, 16,000 students left Illinois to attend public university in another state, while only 2,000 came to Illinois from out of state to attend public university. That means that for each public university student Illinois gained, it lost eight.

Illinois’ public universities have drastically redirected state funding away from students in recent years, choosing instead to spend the bulk of tax dollars on administrators and pensions. Thus, prioritization of state funding, rather than a lack thereof, is largely responsible for diminished investment in higher-education operating costs over the years. The state now spends more than 50 percent of its public universities’ budget for on higher-education retirement costs, up from 20 percent a decade ago.

illinois higher education retirement costs

This same spending conundrum faces all educational funding in Illinois. Investments in students and institutions come second to retirement payouts. State spending on higher-education operations is decreasing while funds are being radically shifted toward higher-education retirement costs. If retirement payments weren’t so out of control – in 2014, the highest-paid pension recipient received more than half a million dollars in annual retirement compensation – universities could perhaps afford to put more money into the classrooms.

Meanwhile, Illinois’ tuition rates have skyrocketed almost 100 percent over the past decade. University of Illinois’ in-state tuition is now almost $6,000 higher than both University of Indiana’s and University of Wisconsin’s, and $8,000 higher than University of Iowa’s. And reciprocity agreements allow Midwestern students to attend certain universities in participating states at in-state tuition rates. It’s no wonder students are leaving Illinois.

Students are no doubt contributing to Illinois’ out-migration woes, but this is not a new phenomenon the budget impasse created. Insufficient state funding is not an adequate explanation for Illinois’ student out-migration. The redistribution of higher-education funds over the past decade is also a major factor.

In order to bring students back to the Land of Lincoln, public universities need to make serious spending reforms, and Springfield must end the uncertainty by agreeing to a balanced budget.

TAGS: higher education, outmigration, pensions, U.S. Census Bureau

Source: Will County News