05022017CM0348ELGIN- The 22nd Senate District may be one step closer to reinstating a bipartisan economic development program, thanks to a measure championed by Democratic Senator Cristina Castro of Elgin.

House Bill 162 reinstates the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) program, allowing the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to offer tax credits to businesses that invest in Illinois.

“This bipartisan legislation will help energize our economy and create good-paying jobs for local residents,” Castro said.

EDGE tax credits are an economic development program that helps Illinois attract and retain jobs.

House Bill 162 will require the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to repossess economic development funds if a business granted the tax credit does not fulfill their part of the contract.

That money would then be distributed to the local workforce investment area.

EDGE credit recipients will also be required to submit an annual report to DCEO containing supplier diversity information to help promote diversity in state economic incentives and programs.  

The Illinois Manufacturer Association supported passage of this economic incentive.

“The IMA is pleased that legislators passed a short-term extension of the EDGE tax credit,” Mark Denzler, Vice President & COO of IMA said. “It's an important tool to help attract and retain jobs.”

House Bill 162 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support.

Category: News

03292017AM9159ELGIN – Illinois residents can now tackle eliminating and reducing more than 7,000 units of government.

Senate Bill 3, which allows counties to dissolve certain units of local government through a voter referendum, was signed into law today.

State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) supported the passage of this monumental government consolidation measure to allow local residents to find additional property tax savings by eliminating outdated and impractical government bodies.

“This is a no-brainer,” Castro said. “Government needs to evolve with the needs of the people. This common-sense legislation will empower local residents to be active participants in deciding how government works for them.”

Senate Bill 3 expands the ability of townships to consolidate and create greater efficiencies for taxpayers.

The plan allows adjacent townships to merge, allows townships to take over the duties of smaller township road districts, removes the current cap on township size and allows voters to approve the dissolution of townships that are coterminous with a municipality.
Illinois currently has more units of government than any other state in the nation.

“This common-sense approach to consolidating government services will lighten the load on taxpayers without sacrificing services,” Castro said. “This one small step will make government more effective and efficient.”

Senate Bill 3 passed the Senate and House with bipartisan support. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

Category: News

05312017CM0287SPRINGFIELD- State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) today voted to support community schools.

“Today we passed monumental school funding reform that will allow all our children a chance to be successful regardless of their zip code,” Castro said. “This funding reform will finally give school districts like U-46 essential funding to support our students without taking resources away from students in School District 54, District 211 or any other district in the state.”

Castro praised Senate Bill 1 as a monumental school funding reform bill that is widely supported by school superintendents, educators, advocates and community organizations across the state.

“This was not only the most beneficial reform brought forth this legislative session, it is also the most necessary,” she said.

The state’s school funding formula has not been updated in more than 20 years and is considered one of the worst in the nation. The final step needed to enact SB1 into law was a signature from Gov. Bruce Rauner, yet he refused to advance the historic reform, instead vetoing it and requesting the changes.

Castro’s vote helped the Senate override Gov. Rauner’s that demanded more than 100 changes to the historic measure just weeks before school was scheduled to start. A final vote is needed in the House for a full override.

One of the most impactful changes demanded by the governor was the removal of a hold harmless provision for school districts after three years. Unlike the plan Castro supported, the governor’s proposal could result in school districts such as Districts 54 and 211 losing money at the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Rauner’s veto came despite his approval of “90 percent of Senate Bill 1,” according to his education secretary earlier this year. But instead of enacting this historic reform, he chose to use education funding as leverage in an attempt to further his regressive legislative agenda. Several of the demanded changes weren’t even related to education, including an amendment that would punish schools for their local governments’ economic development efforts.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between providing our children with a good education and growing our economy,” Castro said. “I don’t know why Governor Rauner is trying to force municipalities to make that choice.”

Castro said Gov. Rauner once again showed he was willing to pit Illinois’ communities against one another to further an economic agenda that has largely failed for lack of support in the general assembly.   

“Governor Rauner is using his veto powers to distract the people of Illinois from the real issue at hand: fixing an outdated and unfair school funding system,” Castro said. “We should be searching for the best outcomes for the children of Illinois, yet the governor refuses to meet us at the bargaining table.”

Senate Bill 1 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now moves to the House for consideration.

Category: News

03282017CM0341ELGIN – Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1 could have lasting and staggering effects on the economic development of cities such as Elgin, Streamwood and Hoffman Estates.

Under Rauner’s plan, economic development funds collected in Tax Increment Financing districts (TIFs) would count against the state funding received by school districts even though schools do not have access to that TIF revenue. In turn, a school district that contains TIF districts would receive less state funding because Rauner’s version of the formula falsely categorizes this economic development revenue as money a school district has to spend.

“Businessman Bruce Rauner is advocating for a plan that will not only reduce funding for our schools, but also punish nearly every community in Illinois for utilizing proven economic incentives,” State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) said. “We shouldn’t have to choose between providing our children with a good education and growing our economy. I don’t know why Governor Rauner is trying to force municipalities to make that choice. ”

Rauner’s amendatory veto penalizes hundreds of Illinois communities who desperately need adequate education funding and aggressive economic development tools. Elgin currently has three TIF districts, while East Dundee has seven.  

Superintendent Tony Sanders represents school district U-46, which has $30 million in property tax revenue that is inaccessible because it lies within a TIF district. Under Governor Rauner’s plan, the $30 million in property wealth would be used against the school district, resulting in a lesser investment in U-46 schools from the state than they would have received prior to Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1.

“Our schools, children, educators and parents need stability and predictability,” Castro said, warning that schools may be unable to open on their scheduled start date of August 16. “Senate Bill 1, in its original form, is a plan that will help all of our schools.  There are no losers. We owe it to our children to give them all a chance to succeed, regardless of their zip code.”

Castro approved of Senate Bill 1 after talking to superintendents throughout the district who were in strong support of the proposal. The policy outlined in the legislation gives all of Illinois’ children an opportunity to succeed and brings Illinois one step closer to funding schools at a proven adequate level. For a full listing of TIF districts throughout Illinois, click here: https://illinoiscomptroller.gov/comptroller/assets/File/MunicipalitiesWithTIFDistricts_August2016.pdf

Category: News

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