SPRINGFIELD - March 13, 2013. After hearing testimony from Lt. Governor Sheila Simon on Wednesday morning, the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee unanimously passed Classrooms First Commission legislation that will make it easier for school districts to voluntarily consolidate. House Bill 2267, sponsored by Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria), now moves to the full House for consideration.

Simon, the state's point person on education reform, served as the chairperson of the bipartisan Classrooms First Commission, which examined ways school districts could reduce duplicative spending and improve educational offerings. Based on the Commission's findings, legislation approved by committee would allow non-contiguous school districts to consolidate, small schools to dissolve voluntarily without referenda and high school districts to tie consolidation dates to capital funding.

"We want Illinois to lead the nation in education performance, not bureaucracy," said Simon. "This legislation will make it easier for school districts to put their students first by dedicating resources to expanding classroom opportunities, and I would like to thank Rep. Gordon-Booth for her continued work to move this bill though the House."

The Classrooms First Commission was comprised of P-20 stakeholders including teachers, administrators and parents and it held public hearings across the state on school district consolidation last year. You can learn more about the commission's recommendations here.


SPRINGFIELD - Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will testify before the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Wednesday, presenting legislation created from her Classrooms First Commission.

Simon, the state's point person on education reform, served as the chairperson of the bipartisan Classrooms First Commission, which examined ways school districts could reduce duplicative spending and improve educational offerings. Based on the Commission's findings, legislation being presented on Wednesday would allow non-contiguous school districts to consolidate and small schools to dissolve without referenda.

"We want Illinois to lead the nation in education performance, not bureaucracy," said Simon. "This legislation will make it easier for school districts to put their students first by dedicating resources to expanding classroom opportunities."

Later Wednesday, Simon will address more than 100 representatives from Illinois' Main Street communities. This year marks the 20th year of Illinois Main Street, a program dedicated to revitalizing local economies through investment and job creation. Simon is the state ambassador for Main Street.

Committee Testimony

DATE: Wednesday, March 13
?TIME: 8:30 a.m.
PLACE: Room D-1, Stratton Building, Springfield

Illinois Main Street Rally

DATE: Wednesday, March 13
?TIME: 11:30 a.m.
PLACE: Capitol Rotunda, Springfield


CHICAGO - Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will be honored by Between Friends of Chicago for her years spent helping victims of domestic violence. The organization will name Simon a "Friend of the Year" at its annual Bubble Ball on Saturday at the River East Arts Center.

"This week, President Obama signed an extension of the Violence Against Women Act, reinforcing the idea that all relationships should be healthy," Simon said. "I have been fortunate to have worked with organizations like Between Friends of Chicago to help the victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives, and we need to continue working to end domestic violence."

Between Friends of Chicago is a nonprofit agency that provides services to domestic violence survivors and their families. Between Friends also provides youth and adult education programs aimed at preventing domestic violence. Proceeds from the event will support the organization's efforts.

"Lt. Governor Sheila Simon exemplifies the mission of Between Friends. For example, Lt. Governor Simon's Virtual Legal Clinic, which uses the Internet and webcams to link domestic violence survivors in underserved areas with volunteer attorneys, is the type of creative thinking we need to helps victims of domestic violence get crucial assistance," says Kathleen A. Doherty, executive director of Between Friends.

Lt. Governor Simon is a former assistant state's attorney who worked with victims of domestic violence and prosecuted domestic violence cases. As a law professor, she helped launch the Southern Illinois School of Law's domestic violence clinic to serve clients and train law students. Since becoming Lt. Governor, Simon has worked with the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) to start virtual legal clinics that connect survivors with attorneys through webcam technology. Simon has also partnered with Verizon and the ICADV to raise revenue and collect used cell phones for survivors, and she worked with Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) on a new law that requires adult entertainment establishments to collect a surcharge that supports programs that help sexual abuse victims.

For more information, please visit www.ltgov.il.gov.

Saturday, March 9

EVENT: Between Friends of Chicago's Annual Bubble Ball

TIME: 7 p.m.

PLACE: River East Arts Center, 435 East Illinois St., Chicago, 6061

SPRINGFIELD - March 5, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon issued this statement today on the death of her mentor, former state Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch. Netsch was the first woman to win the Democratic nomination for governor.

"Dawn Clark Netsch was a hero of mine since the early 1980s and a friend and mentor ever since," Simon said. "We served on the board of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform together and collaborated on reform issues for many years. She was straight forward, a straight shooter and great at explaining state issues. She was not just a public servant, but a teacher. She will be missed."

CHICAGO - February 28, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. House's renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

"The organizations that serve victims of domestic violence do much more than provide a safe haven for women. They offer victims a chance to build a new life free from abuse," said Simon, a lawyer who prosecuted domestic battery cases. "I thank Congress for renewing the Violence Against Women Act, extending federal support for these crisis organizations and expanding protections for vulnerable communities. I welcome this opportunity to continue working to help rape victims, reduce violence on college campuses and end domestic abuse."

Simon's Firearms Working Group, which is examining gun issues in Illinois, met yesterday in Springfield with advocates to learn about the impact guns have in domestic violence.

The Violence Against Women Act was originally passed in 1994 and among other services, it helps support organizations that provide services to victims of domestic violence. The act also strengthened federal law by toughening sentences for individuals convicted of stalking. The act has already passed the U.S. Senate and now heads to President Obama. 

Nationally, one in four women has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.


SPRINGFIELD - February 28, 2013. With the Governor's budget address set for next week, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon announced today that she is voluntarily requesting a 3 percent cut in her fiscal year 2014 budget. Simon, who voluntarily cut the current fiscal year's budget request by 9 percent, will achieve savings by reducing personnel and administrative costs.

"Illinoisans are doing more with less, and state leaders need to do the same," Simon said. "Over the past two years, I've cut my own pay and reduced the office budget by more than $250,000. We can all do our part to preserve funding for vital services such as education and public safety."

For the second consecutive year, Simon is reducing her office's headcount to achieve savings. She will continue to return one day of pay per month to the state and require her senior staff members to take four furlough days within the year. She is also eliminating her grant-making authority, which will save taxpayers up to $50,000 a year and brings her total cut to 5 percent in fiscal year 2014. 

Simon's office will continue to purchase equipment through Central Management Services (CMS) master contracts, which offer discounted prices on office supplies. Though constitutional offices are not required to follow CMS master contracts, Simon instituted the policy after her inauguration in 2011 to save taxpayer dollars. Printing and equipment expenses are also being reduced.

Despite cutting her office budget by 12 percent since fiscal year 2012, Simon continues to be a state leader in education and ethics reform. She recently released a report on game changing practices that will make college more affordable for students, and helped draft legislation that would create the strongest financial disclosure law for public servants in 40 years. Simon also chairs the Governor's Rural Affairs Council, key river and military base committees and advocates for domestic and sexual violence prevention. 

Lt. Governor Simon submitted the reduced fiscal year 2014 spending plan to Governor Pat Quinn in advance of his March 6 budget address. Simon is making the lowest appropriation request for the Office of the Lt. Governor since at least 1992.


SPRINGFIELD - February 26, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon thanked the House Executive Committee today for passing marriage equality legislation in a 6-5 vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), would provide equal marriage rights to all people throughout Illinois.

"Today's vote puts Illinois on the verge of making history, becoming a state that treats all people and relationships equally," Lt. Governor Simon said. "Now is the time for Illinois to become the 10th state in the nation to recognize and protect the rights of all loving couples and their families. I have been a longtime supporter of marriage equality and have worked closely with Sen. Steans, Rep. Harris and members of the House and Senate to send this bill to the Governor and put Illinois on the right side of history."

Senate Bill 10, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), passed out of the Senate Feb. 14 and now moves to the full House for consideration. If passed by the House, the bill would head to the Governor's desk to be signed into law.


SPRINGFIELD - Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will testify at a joint hearing of the Senate and House Higher Education Committees on Wednesday, presenting her findings on affordability at the state's public higher education institutions.

Simon, the state's point person on education reform, recently released "Game Changers," a culminating report on her Affordability Summits at Illinois' 12 public universities this past fall. Coupled with her first-hand experience visiting the state's community colleges, Simon will outline financial barriers to higher education access and completion, and improvements that can help make college more affordable. Among her suggestions is an income tax credit for Illinois college graduates who stay in Illinois to work.

"Higher education affordability is an overwhelming barrier to our students' achievement and our state's economic growth," Lt. Governor Simon said. "Affordable community colleges and universities prepare our students for in-demand jobs and demonstrate our commitment to fostering a highly-skilled workforce."

DATE: Wednesday, Feb. 27
?TIME: 3 p.m.
PLACE: Stratton Office Building Room D-1, Springfield

NOTE: Lt. Governor Simon will hold a brief media availability immediately following her testimony.

?CARBONDALE - February 25, 2013. Lt. Governor Sheila Simon issued the following statement in response to the passing of her friend and mentor, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow.

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Justice McMorrow, someone I have been fortunate to call a friend and hero. I met Justice McMorrow many years ago, because she and my mother, Jeanne Hurley Simon, were the first two women to serve as assistant state's attorneys in Cook County. They remained lifetime friends.

"As a woman and a lawyer, I am inspired by Justice McMorrow's fearlessness in tearing down gender barriers to become the first woman to be an Illinois Supreme Court justice and later the first woman to serve as the court's chief justice. It was truly an honor when Justice McMorrow swore me in as our state's Lt. Governor.

"Illinois has lost a trailblazer and a great leader, but her legacy will live on for years to come."

Fights for equal protection, rights for all Illinois couples

SPRINGFIELD - February 14, 2013. As couples across Illinois celebrate Valentine's Day, Lt. Governor Sheila Simon is thanking the Illinois Senate for passing Senate Bill 10, the marriage equality bill. SB 10 passed the Senate today with a 34-21 vote and now heads to the House.

"It's time for marriage equality in Illinois, and I thank Sen. Steans for her leadership and the Senate for taking this decisive action to ensure equality for all families," said Simon, a longtime advocate for marriage equality and LGBT rights. "People across Illinois recognize the importance marriage plays in protecting and recognizing families, and the Senate has heard that message loud and clear."

Today Simon gave each senator a heart-shaped Valentine cookie decorated with an equal sign. If successful, Illinois would become the 10th state to recognize same-sex marriage.

"On Valentine's Day we all take time to recognize the people we love," Simon said. "It is fitting that today we are one important step closer to treating all loving, committed couples in Illinois equally, throughout the year."