Latest News

Have you ever been to the top of the dome of the State Capitol building? In the latest Under the Dome Rep. Jimenez climbs with you to the top to check out the architecture and the view.

I just wanted to take a little time to update you on the latest news from the Capitol as the House has concluded session in recent weeks and we take a break from session until later this year.

Historic Education Funding Reform Becomes Law
Last week, Governor Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-0465 which for the first time in 20 years, reforms the school funding formula in Illinois. For the past 2 ½ years, Republican and Democrat members of the House and Senate have been working to reform the school funding formula to create a more equitable and fair formula to ensure every child in Illinois is provided the resources their school needs to succeed. A bipartisan consensus determined that an evidence based funding formula was the best path toward changing the formula in a way that is fair and equitable to every student in Illinois. The legislation that passed and was signed into law provides additional resources to every school district in the 99th district and treats every district in Illinois the same. Click here to learn more about the details.

Click to learn more about the new Springfield Downtown Discounts program for UIS and LLCC students initiated by Rep. Jimenez's Higher Education Student Advisory Committee in partnership with downtown businesses.

Members of State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez’s Higher Education Student Advisory Committee have partnered with several downtown Springfield businesses to create a new shopping discount program for University of Illinois-Springfield and Lincoln Land Community College students. By simply showing their student ID at downtown businesses displaying the Downtown Discounts decal, students will receive discount deals at many of their favorite local stores and eateries.

“I am so proud of these young men and women on my Higher Education Advisory Committee. They have taken their role beyond discussing legislation to actively working for the betterment of our community. The discount program they have spearheaded will help get young adults involved downtown, and hopefully, develop a relationship that will make them want to stay here;” said Rep. Jimenez.

“This discount program is an example of students and local leaders working together to improve the community for everyone,” said Kaelan Smith, Co-Chair of the Higher Education Advisory Committee. “I hope this program inspires more students to become active partners with community members to enhance the quality of life in Springfield.”

Invest in Kids Act

SB 1947 passed the Illinois House on a vote of 73-34-3 and passed the Senate on a vote of 38-13-4. This legislation fundamentally reforms the school funding formula for the first time in 20 years and provides additional resources to support our schools across Illinois in a fair and equitable way. Here are some of the highlights of the legislation:

• Evidence Based Model: Every district will have an adequacy target based on the needs of the children in the district. 

• Distribution Model:  New funds will be distributed so that those districts that have the largest gap between their adequacy target and local available resources will receive the majority of funds.  Over time, there will be no Tier I districts as more and more districts move closer to adequacy.

• A permanent hold harmless provision per school district to ensure every district in Illinois receives at least the same amount of funding as the previous year

• The legislation recommends an additional $350 million per year be added to the formula to move Illinois closer to fully funding the student adequacy target.

• The Chicago Pension provision that was contained in SB 1 has been removed from the legislation and the school funding formula.

• There is significant mandate and property tax relief for taxpayers including:
o P.E. and Driver’s Ed mandate relief
o A more streamlined waiver process
o A property tax referendum to be put before voters to reduce property taxes for school districts that are above 110% of adequacy.

• A scholarship tax credit for individuals that provide donations for scholarships to private schools in Illinois.
o Eligibility for the scholarships will be for a student whose family is 300% or less of the federal poverty level for the first year and up to 400% after.
o 5 year pilot program

• A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Task Force is created to review current TIF laws in Illinois and propose changes to TIF districts.

Each of these provisions are the result of bipartisan negotiations in the House and Senate and with the Governor to produce the best possible agreement to reform our broken school funding formula. I am pleased to see both parties come together to find common ground so that every child in Illinois has access to great schools.

If you have any questions about the legislation, please contact my office at (217)782-0044.
Two new laws sponsored this spring by State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez will expand the successful Veterans and Service Members Court Program in Illinois, and modernize some record keeping and information sharing at the Department of Agriculture.

Senate Bill 1238, recently signed into law as PA 100-0088, will expand access to Veterans treatment courts to more counties in downstate Illinois so our veterans will be able to take advantage of this program closer to home. In 2010, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Illinois Veterans and Service Members Court Treatment Act. These specialty courts allow for veterans who have committed certain non-violent offenses the ability to receive rehabilitation services as an alternative to the traditional judicial system.

“I am honored to have sponsored this legislation in the House, along with Senator McCann in the Senate, to assist our nation’s veterans who participate in these court programs. We must continue to do all we can to support our men and women in uniform during their service and especially after they return home. This new law is one small act at helping our veterans after their service is complete, Rep. Jimenez said.

Rep. Jimenez was also the chief House sponsor of House Bill 2998, signed into law as PA 100-0111. This initiative allows the Department of Agriculture to do away with its antiquated requirements that physical books be kept on regulations regarding diseased animals, and that paper brochures be printed since all records are now kept and information is readily available online.

“Doing away with requirements for paper books and printed paper brochures makes the Department’s record keeping and information sharing more modern, efficient, and cost-effective for taxpayers. Working with state employees, I’m confident there are many more efficiencies and cost savings we can achieve,” said Rep. Jimenez.