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Budget discussions, fair tax debate, and more

by Beth Camplain | May 07, 2018
Activity in Springfield last week took place in the Senate; the House was not in session. However, negotiators reportedly met privately last week to begin piecing together an agreement on a statewide budget.
Legislative update 5/7/18

Activity in Springfield last week took place in the Senate; the House was not in session. However, negotiators reportedly met privately last week to begin piecing together an agreement on a statewide budget.

Here are highlights of last week’s action:


Debate on the fair tax begins
The House Revenue and Finance committee heard testimony on House Resolution 1025. The resolution supports a progressive income tax, also known as the “fair tax”. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) testified about their report, which outlines a potential tax rate structure that would cut taxes for 98 percent of taxpayers and raise $2 billion in revenue for public education and state services.

Members of the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC) testified in support of the fair tax, noting that it could provide tax relief to those who need it while requiring the wealthiest Illinoisans to pay their fair share. RBC members also spoke about the state’s huge backlog of bills, drastic cuts to human services, higher education, and more.


New tax deduction would create uncertainty
HB 4237 (Carroll) would give individual Illinois taxpayers a state tax credit for donations to the Illinois Excellence in Education Fund, a state-chartered charity for education. The idea behind the bill is to get around the federal government’s new state and local tax deduction limit of $10,000. The IFT opposes the bill due to lack of clarity about how monies from the fund would be distributed. Conversations continue with the bill’s sponsor.


House measures would benefit retirees
HB 751 (Davidsmeyer) and HB 3080 (Reis), legislation allowing retired teachers to return to work for up to 120 days or 600 hours without suspending their annuity, was approved by the Senate Licensing and Pension Committee. The proposals now move to the full Senate.


House bills poised for Senate approval
HB 5247 (Pritchard) requires ISBE to initiate rulemaking that will allow students of any Illinois high school who are 16 years of age or older to participate in registered apprenticeship programs. Registered programs must provide postsecondary credit toward a certificate or degree.

HB 5771 (Chapa LaVia) establishes a definition of chronic absenteeism and requires state-funded early childhood programs to collect and review absenteeism data in order to determine what resources are needed to engage chronically absent students and their families.

HB 4409 changes part of the definition of school psychologist to a person that holds a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) credential.

HB 4514
(Pritchard) ensures that only individuals licensed and endorsed as a school counselor may use that title.

HB 4706 (Scherer) makes the requirement that substitute teachers must be physically fit a permissive one. The bill defines what can be required to make that determination and requires the hiring school board to pay for the examination.


Senate bills head to House
SB 2527 (Weaver) allows qualified students to enroll in an unlimited number of dual credit courses and earn unlimited academic credits from them if the courses are taught by an Illinois instructor, as provided under the Dual Credit Quality Act.

SB 2428 (Stadelman) creates the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act. The bill requires every school to provide a federally-reimbursable lunch to a student who requests one, regardless of their ability to pay or status of an unpaid meal balance.

SB 2572 (Holmes) requires K-12 students to engage in a course of physical education for at least 150 minutes per week.

SB 3249
(Steans) would require a portion of public school history courses to include the study of LGBT figures and ensure history books are non-discriminatory. Local school districts would still set the curriculum and have control over when the additional subject matter is included. The Senate approved the bill (34-18).


IFT and partners conclude EBM meetings
The IFT and our partners (IEA and IASA) held four learning sessions on the Evidence Based Model (EBM) for school funding during April. The sessions were designed to help union presidents and school superintendents gain a practical understanding of the potential opportunities for local implementation based on a continuum of where to spend potential new dollars. Resource material from the meetings is available here.


A Look Ahead
The House and the Senate return on Tuesday, May 8. Watch Under the Dome for updates.


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