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Local News

Simon talks education spending, economic disclosure with Joliet Rotary

Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon speaks to Rotary Club members Tuesday at Hollywood Casino in Joliet.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon speaks to Rotary Club members Tuesday at Hollywood Casino in Joliet.

JOLIET – Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon spoke to Rotary Club members Tuesday about two projects she's working on.

Simon, a downstate Rotary chapter member, said finding the most effective ways to spend state money for education has required meetings all over Illinois.

"School consolidation sounds threatening to many, especially people (in) small towns," Simon acknowledged.

While many districts want to keep their current positions, "virtual consolidation" has become a frequent recommendation. While they maintain separate school boards, virtually consolidated districts have bought textbooks and health coverage together, Simon said.

Virtual consolidation also allows districts that can't separately afford a teacher for an art or music program to share one.

"I don't think it saves money, but it allows every district to be more efficient with the money it has," Simon said.

The lieutenant governor is also trying to replace the current economic disclosure form elected officials are required to fill out.

"It's a 40-year-old form that really doesn't disclose much at all," Simon said. "Two pages and most of us can just mark 'non-applicable' on the questions. It doesn't provide any useful information."

Besides showing any current conflict of interest, the new "Statement of Economic Interest" would require information about future income an elected official anticipates.

"Surprisingly, this was not greeted with open arms in Springfield," Simon told Rotary Club members.

Simon said the economic disclosure bill that passed the Senate and is in the House is "not the dream bill," but it is still a significant improvement. She hopes it will pass during the next veto session.

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