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A lot of action in Springfield last week as session resumed

by Beth Camplain | Apr 16, 2018
Highlights include; budget talks, teacher shortage, class size, back pay for public employees, and more.
Week in Review 4/13/18

Lawmakers returned from spring recess last week with a deadline for lawmakers to move legislation out of committee.
Here are highlights:

Leaders meet to talk budget
In an effort to re-assert that he is, in fact, “in charge”, Governor Bruce Rauner called a leaders meeting this week with the other Legislative leaders – House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton, Minority Senate Leader Bill Brady, and Minority Leader Jim Durkin.

Last year, Democrats and Republicans in both houses worked together to pass a budget and required revenue to stop the nearly three-year budget impasse, bypassing Governor Rauner.

Legislative leaders left the meeting with mixed reactions. From the Chicago Tribune this week:

Republicans contended Thursday’s meeting represented “progress,” saying Democratic leaders agreed to appoint lawmakers to work on the budget and adopt an official estimate about how much money the state has to spend.

Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, though, attacked Rauner’s leadership in a statement after the meeting, saying lawmakers “are already at work” on a budget and that Republicans split with the governor last year to approve a spending plan without him.

“If the governor is finally ready to accept responsibility for the management of the state and be an honest partner in trying to pass a budget, we welcome him to this process,” Madigan said.

But the longtime speaker warned that Democrats would not go along with Rauner’s previous calls to cut spending for programs that support women, children and the elderly.

“If the governor’s agenda is to push more of his extreme cuts to health care, senior services, and resources for our most at-risk residents, or if he intends to again move the goalposts and create chaos, he should stay on the sidelines and allow serious leaders to continue working cooperatively to address the challenges facing our state,” Madigan said.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senate President John Cullerton criticized Rauner for both wanting to roll back last year’s tax increase and proposing a state budget in February that would spend the additional money it has brought in.

“It doesn’t square,” Cullerton said. “It’s hypocritical and inconsistent.”


Illinois Senate Approve Equal Rights Amendment
The Illinois Senate this week voted to ratify the Equal Right Amendment (ERA) to the United States Constitution. The measure is SJRCA4. ERA is something that went nearly unnoticed for 35 years. The ERA was drafted in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972. It states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."

After passing Congress, the amendment was sent to the states for ratification, but only 36 of the required 38 states have ratified the ERA. Illinois is one of the 14 states that has yet to ratify.

You can see how your state senator voted here. The constitutional amendment now moves to the Illinois House for consideration. The IFT supports this measure.

Senate Committee approves Manar bill raising minimum salary for teachers
A bill sponsored by State Sen. Andy Manar would raise the statewide minimum salary for public school teachers in Illinois to $40k.

SB 2892 updates the Illinois statue that has not been updated in 38 years. Currently, minimum mandated salaries are set at $11k for teachers with a master’s degree, $10k for those with a bachelors.

Manar says he believes this will be a significant step towards addressing the ongoing teacher shortage in teacher recruitment.

The measure will be debated by the full Senate in the coming weeks. The IFT supports this measure.

Teacher shortage talks continue
Under the leadership of Representative Rita Mayfield, House members have held numerous discussions about policy changes that would alleviate the teacher shortage. The IFT continues to advocate for taking a comprehensive look at recruitment, retention, and equity.

Representative Slaughter advances evaluation best practice
HB 5136, an IFT initiative, requires each school district’s PERA joint committee to convene at least once per year. The rationale behind the bill is to highlight that evaluation is an ongoing process and that continual dialogue between union and management is needed to ensure that the evaluation tool being used is effective and implemented consistently. The bill passed out of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee and is expected to have a full House vote soon.

House committee approves paraprofessional licensure fee removal
A bill, HB 5196, sponsored by State Rep. Latoya Greenwood provides that beginning on July 1, 2018, a licensee who holds a paraprofessional educator endorsement on an Educator License with Stipulations is not required to pay the $100 license renewal fee. 
The full house will debate the measure in the coming weeks. The IFT is in support of the bill.

House committee approves measure to add educator members to ISBE
A House committee approved a measure that would mandate that at least 3 members of the education community must be a represented on the Illinois State Board of Education. Currently, the 8-member board is appointed by the governor with consent from the Illinois Senate. The bill is HB 4284. The measure will move to the full House for debate. IFT supports this bill.

Class size goals measure reaches full House
State Rep. Will Guzarrdi is sponsoring a bill, HB 5481, that would help the state gather better data related to class sizes. The legislation asks the Illinois State Board of Education to report out data concerning pupil-teacher ratios and sets forth class size goals to be achieved by the 2020-2021 school year.

The bill was approved by a House committee and is expected to be debated by the full House. The IFT supports this measure.

CPS would share teacher evaluations with CTU under new legislation
A bill, HB 4927, sponsored by State Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia would require Chicago Public Schools to provide CTU with copies of all teacher evaluations in the same manner as other downstate districts. The bill passed the House Education committee this week. The IFT supports this measure.

Union rights for more graduate employees passes committee
Under current Illinois labor law, research assistants and pre-professional graduate assistants are considered students for unionization purposes. Graduate employees have formed unions at various campuses across Illinois and are members of the IFT. This week the Senate Labor Committee passed SB 2546, which classifies research assistants and graduate students as employees, providing them with all rights and remedies under labor laws including the right to unionize. IFT supports this measure.

Back pay for public employees moves
The Senate Appropriations II committee passed SB 2269, legislation appropriating back pay for public employees. This bill would finally pay off back wages owed to some state employees since 2011. Approximately $60 million is still owed to these employees, including IFT members who belong to the Illinois Federation of Public Employees, Local 4408.

CTU bargaining rights approved by committee
The House Labor and Commerce committee passed HB 4776, legislation that would restore collective bargaining rights to members of the Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1. In 1995, a Republican controlled General Assembly passed legislation that took away the CTU’s right to bargain over class size, third party contracts, school cleanliness, and staffing levels. Recently, a Chicago Sun Times investigation found filthy conditions at 91 of 125 schools they examined.

Public employees defend food safety in House committee
IFT members who keep our food safe pushed back against legislation that had the potential to put harmful meat in the hands of consumers. Illinois Federation of Public Employees Local 4408 member Andrew Neubauer came to Springfield to testify on behalf of state meat inspectors who belong to IFT. They opposed HB 4188, legislation that would have created loopholes for meat processors wanting to bypass inspection standards. The bill was held in committee and didn’t advance.

Bill to stop districts from paying member contributions stopped
HB 4842 would prohibit school districts from paying the member contribution to the Teacher’s Retirement System.  The legislation would increase costs on school districts by removing the ability of school districts to avoid the Medicare contribution of 1.45% on that portion of a teacher’s salary. IFT strongly opposes this legislation. The bill was placed in Labor Sub-Committee. 

Watch Under the Dome for future updates on legislative action.


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