IL News Network: Comptroller - State to start paying early intervention providers; Preliminary PARCC exam scores released; and more from INN Radio

By Greg Bishop

September 17, 2015

Comptroller: State to start paying early intervention providers
The state will immediately begin setting up a process to pay providers who help infants and toddlers with developmental disabilities. That’s the latest from Comptroller Leslie Munger. A statement from the Republican says her office and the Department of Human Services agreed that early intervention services were covered by several active consent decrees and will start making payments as soon as vouchers from DHS are received by the Comptroller’s office. The Comptroller had previously said that nearly 90 percent of state spending is already being decided upon by court orders, consent decrees and continuing appropriation while there’s no budget in place and that the state is on pace to have a more than $8 billion deficit. Munger reiterated that the General Assembly should pass a balanced budget so the state can fund its critical priorities.

Preliminary PARCC exam scores released
Preliminary scores from the new standardized test for some of Illinois’ grade school and high school students aren’t great but it doesn’t indicate the state’s students or schools are failing. That’s the message from State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith. Early scores from only online tests show that a only a third of students did well in English and language arts with just over a quarter passing math. Smith said the numbers should provide a baseline and the tests will prove to be a good tool for teachers and parents alike.

“They want to know what can I do? When am I going to get information that’s going to help me help my kids? And that’s what teachers want too. So, I have every reason to believe that PARCC is going to get better the more we do this work.”

Though he said he’s not a staunch opponent of the tests, Democratic Representative Will Guzzardi said the exam is far too fresh a standardized test for the state to trust right now.

“There’s a lot that’s unproven about this test. There hasn’t been any publicly released validity studies of the test to show that it actually does, the scores actually reflect anything meaningful. I think we really want to see that kind of data from Pearsons before we trusted this test anymore than we already do.”

Guzzardi has a bill to allow for parents to opt their children out of the exam that passed the House but remains in a Senate committee. The Democrat hopes the State Board of Education can rework their rules to allow for an opt out system without the law. A letter Superintendent Smith posted late last week said principals and teachers should know the PARCC (park) results are only one of many factors in their accountability system.

Haine: Rule of law weakened by lack of death penalty
The lack of a death penalty in Illinois weakens the rule of law as a deterrent to murders and other crimes. That’s according to a state senator who wants to bring back the death penalty. Democratic State Senator Bill Haine, a former State’s Attorney, said that not having a death penalty, which was abolished in 2011, lowers the bar for all crimes, but most importantly murder. Haine said the death penalty will provide a powerful deterrent.

“That enhances the law in my opinion as a force to be reckoned with in a constitutional order.”

Haine said there still needs to be extensive appellate review of all sentences, including the death penalty. As to the deterrent factor of the capital punishment Democratic Representative Will Guzzardi isn’t buying it.

“Especially not the difference between a life sentence and the death penalty. I don’t think that’s gonna be a tipping point that gonna stop anybody from killing people. And that’s not just me saying this. There’s reams and reams of data.”

Guzzardi says the focus should be other reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, rather than what he characterized as a risky practice. Senator Haine’s measure has not yet been introduced however Republican Representative John Cabello’s House Bill 4059 has been held in committee since February. Former police officer and Republican Representative John Anthony says he supports Cabello’s measure.

Bourne: Millennials have role in politics
The youngest state Representative says the younger generation needs to be included in politics and she’s developing an advisory council to make that happen. Republican Representative Avery Bourne is hosting a Millennial Advisory Council in Litchfield, 50 miles south of Springfield, Saturday. The 23-year-old tells WMAY Springfield that government should have a forward-looking approach instead of just quote “managing”.

“I think the role of government is to create opportunities and that’s what I think my generation wants to see. Especially just give us the opportunity to succeed. Get out of the way for us to do what we think is best and also give us the opportunities to get involved and to be heard.”

Bourne was appointed to her position after former state Representative Wayne Rosenthal was appointed the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Out-of-state foul allowed at fairs
Birds of a feather, and from other states, can once again flock together after the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced the lifting of a ban on out-of-state birds at shows, fairs and exhibitions in Illinois. The ban on out-of-state birds was put in place in early June as a precaution due to avian influenza impacting several states. However, IDOA says no cases of bird flu has been reported nationwide since June 17th. IDOA says they will continue to monitor the disease and continue to educate commercial and backyard producers about the importance of following strict biosecurity measures.

The Illinois News Network is an independent project of the Illinois Policy Institute.