SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted today in favor of Senate Bill 1947, a school funding reform measure. The legislation will be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner, who has said that he plans to sign it.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, voted against the measure, citing her disagreement with provisions that would create a tax credit for private school scholarship donors and cut programs.

Holmes released the following statement:

“While I agree that Illinois needs to change its education funding system to be more equitable, I could not vote for this version of the reform. I was a strong supporter of the version of this legislation that the Senate passed months ago. The legislation that the Senate approved today has strayed from our initial vision.

“Yet again, the governor has moved the goalposts at the last minute, adding in provisions that would give away $75 million to private schools and diminish driver’s education and physical education. I cast a vote today to protect these programs and reserve public funding for public schools.”

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SPRINGFIELD – Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed legislation sponsored by State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, to establish a task force investigating electronic notaries.

“With the technology that we have, it is worth looking into whether or not one should need to see a notary in person anymore,” Holmes said. “This task force will look for inefficiencies in our current system and try to fix them with technology.”

Current Illinois law requires physical presence and proof of identity for individuals attempting to get a document notarized. The task force would investigate alternative verification methods including video or audio conference technology that are already in use elsewhere. The Virginia state legislature passed legislation allowing electronic notarization in 2015.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1459, has been signed into law. It goes into effect immediately.

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St. Charles Hospital, which was recently converted into senior housing with the help of the River Edge Tax Credit.

SPRINGFIELD -- Legislation that would increase business development opportunities in downtown Aurora was recently signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner. The governor approved a four-year extension of the River Edge Historic Preservation Tax Credit last Friday. State Sen. Linda Holmes (D- Aurora) was the bill’s chief co-sponsor.

“Through bipartisan cooperation, we passed a law that will improve the small business climate in Aurora,” Holmes said. “By extending this tax credit, we are helping job-creating projects to get off the ground while also incentivizing future business development in empty buildings downtown.”

The Historic River Edge Tax Credit was created in 2011 to provide projects with a tax credit for the redevelopment of historic structures in River Edge Redevelopment Zones.  The credit covers 25 percent of the rehabilitation costs for a business in a historic building. Friday’s bill signing preserves the tax credit through 2021.

In Aurora, the credit helped with the redevelopment of St. Charles Hospital into senior housing. Other proposals include transforming the Hotel Arthur and the Stanley Furniture buildings into a mix of residential and commercial properties.

“The River Edge Tax Credit is an important tool for creating jobs and revitalizing the community,” Holmes said. “I appreciate the local leadership and advocates who made the tax credit extension a reality.”

In addition to Aurora, the tax credit is available in Rockford, Peoria, Elgin and East St. Louis.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1783, is effective immediately.

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted today to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of the legislature’s school funding reform measure. State Sen. Linda Holmes, D- Aurora, was one of the senators to cast a vote against the changes put forth by the governor.

“Today, my colleagues and I voted against chaos, uncertainty and divisiveness by overturning Governor Rauner’s veto of an education funding reform effort,” Holmes said. “After 20 years of work toward a fairer funding model, we are closer than ever to an equitable system that gives millions of dollars in new funding to every school district in the state without creating winners and losers among schools.”

According to estimates from education funding reform advocates, schools in Holmes’ district would stand to gain millions of dollars under the Senate’s version of the proposed education funding law. Aurora East Unit School District 131 would gain over $13 million, Indian Prairie Community Unit School District 204 would gain over $800,000 and Oswego Community Unit School District 308 and Aurora West Unit School District 129 would both receive over $4.7 million in new funding.

Another provision contained in Rauner’s veto would punish municipalities for using tax increment financing districts (TIFs), a tool commonly used by local governments to alleviate blight and create jobs. Rauner’s modifications would account for TIF revenue that is usually unavailable to school districts when dedicating funds, which would result in school districts in municipalities that use TIFs receiving less money from the state.

“The governor reached well beyond the scope of this legislation to include this harmful, anti-business provision in his veto, which makes little sense after all of his talk about bringing good jobs to Illinois,” Holmes said.

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