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Legislative Update: Week of May 13, 2019

by Beth Camplain | May 18, 2019
Lawmakers rushed to move the remainder of their legislation as the scheduled session adjournment date nears.

Lawmakers rushed to move the remainder of their legislation as the scheduled session adjournment date nears. After Monday, the General Assembly has just 11 session days to put in place the FY20 budget and move other big initiatives like gaming, adult-use recreational marijuana, and a capital bill.

Act now on these two important issues

Fair Tax – The Fair Tax legislation (SJRCA 1, Harmon-D, Oak Park) has already passed the Senate and is scheduled to be heard in the House Revenue and Finance Committee on Monday May 20. It is critical that lawmakers continue to hear how the Fair Tax will fundamentally change the state’s ability to fund education, higher education and vital state services.

3% Repeal – There is no longer a stand-alone piece of legislation moving the would remove the 3% salary cap. IFT educators have seen how the 3% cap weakens the teaching profession. Fewer college students are entering teaching because they know they won’t be paid like other professionals. To recruit new educators, Illinois needs to show that we value teaching and pay teachers what they’re worth. Call your lawmaker and ask them not to leave Springfield this month without ensuring that the 3% repeal is part of any bill that will implement the budget for the next fiscal year.

Budget discussions continue

Revenue proposals are beginning to take shape including:

  • legalized adult use marijuana (SB 7, Sen. Steans, D-Chicago) expected to increase revenues by approximately $500 million annually when the program is fully matured, fiscal year 2020 revenue estimated closer to $56 million. The most recent draft allocates 2% of the revenues to public education.
  • graduated tax on video gaming ($89 million) and
  • legalized sports wagering ($212 million) are still in discussions.

It’s anticipated there will be additional General Assembly action on these bills in the days ahead as well as work to finalize the FY20 state budget.

Update on IFT legislative initiatives for spring 2019

HB 253 (Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago and Sen. Fine, D-Glenview) changes the law so that graduate research assistants are recognized as employees, as teaching assistants are. The bill is positioned for final passage in the House.

HB 921 (Rep. Stuart, D-Collinsville) Recall rights for PSRP’s. This bill passed the House and Senate with almost unanimous bipartisan support; next step is the Governor’s desk.

SB 1213 (Sen. Lightford, D-Westchester) As introduced, the bill would have streamlined evaluation ratings to effective/ineffective, made student growth permissive and created an appeals process. As amended the bill creates a local appeals process for unsatisfactory evaluations. The bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Negotiations are ongoing in the House.

SB 28 (Sen. Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) Instructional day restoration. In addition to restoring the instructional day/school year language. The bill now expands e-learning pilots to all districts with requirement of public hearing and school board vote. The effective date of the bill is July 1, 2019 allowing school districts with approved calendars to proceed through the length of the approved calendar without challenges. The bill was approved by the Senate unanimously and is awaiting final passage in the House.

SB 1226 (Sen. Holmes, D-Aurora) Abolishes the State Charter School Commission. Transfers state authorized charters back to ISBE. Appeals would be made via judicial review and local control over charter approvals is restored. The bill is pending final approval in the House and will need additional Senate approval before heading to the Governor’s desk.

SB 1952 (Sen. Manar, D-Bunker Hill) bundled together several important solutions to the teacher shortage:

  • Eliminates basic skills test requirement.
  • Removes prohibition to allow student teachers to be paid.
  • Refunds the $300 cost of the EdTPA test to educators teaching for 1 year in Tier 1 districts.

SB 1952 passed the Senate with bipartisan support. An amendment was added in the House that removed that language that would have repealed the 3% liability cap. Once that language was removed, the bill was advanced and currently sits on 3rd reading in the House.

Despite opposition, consolidation proposal inches forward

The Senate Government Accountability and Pensions Committee unanimously approved HB 3053 (Rep. T. Cullerton, D-Villa Park) which would create a commission charged with recommendations to reduce the number of school districts by 25 percent. The bill is now pending on the Senate floor with commitments from the sponsor that amendatory language will be negotiated and brought back to committee. IFT is opposed to this bill in its current form.

Governor announces build up capital plan

After months of discussions, the Governor announced the Build Up Capital Plan Friday. As proposed the program totals $41.5 billion and supports transportation, education, public health, and other infrastructure projects over six years, funded by a host of new or increased taxes and fees.

Education is estimated to receive approximately 14% of the funding. Highlights include:

  • $2.4 billion in higher education, including deferred maintenance and new projects at public universities and community colleges
  • $3 billion for school construction
  • $111 million for early childhood education
  • $400 million for school maintenance

A look ahead
Both the House and the Senate are scheduled to return to Springfield Monday, May 20.

Watch Under the Dome for additional legislative updates.


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