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Springfield Session Week in Review - May 16, 2014

Lawmakers headed home for the weekend but will return on Monday, May 19 with a full schedule and plans to be in Springfield every weekday until the May 31st deadline.
Here's a recap of this week's action in Springfield:

IFT Initiatives
No significant movement was made on IFT initiatives SB 3092SB 3460 or HB 5330, this week.

Lawmakers Consider Extending Current Income Tax Rate
The effort to give voters the choice to move to a fair, graduated income tax structure was put on hold earlier this month due to lack of support in the Illinois House. Now, lawmakers have turned their attention to making the temporary income tax increase permanent.

The legislature approved the temporary increase to the state’s individual and corporate tax rates in 2011. Individual rates increased from 3 to 5 percent while corporate rates went from 4.8 to 7 percent. Both temporary increases are scheduled to expire on January 1, 2015. If not made permanent, the state's income tax rate will drop from 5 percent to 3.75 percent. The corporate rate would fall from 7 percent to 5 percent. Together, the reduction would result in an estimated $1.6 billion loss in state revenues.

Both House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have voiced support for making the tax rate permanent in order to avoid drastic cuts to all areas of state government, most notably education. A sharp drop in income tax revenue would mean an estimated $967 million less for education overall, including a $450 million reduction in General State Aid to schools.

rally is planned for May 22nd at 1 p.m. in Springfield. Please join us to call on legislators to maintain the 5 percent individual income tax rate.

FY15 Budget Development
In February, the House Revenue Committee adopted the revenue estimates the Illinois House plans to use to craft the Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) state budget. The budget numbers are included in HR 842 and HJR 80. The estimated total revenue available for the next fiscal year is $34.5 billion – roughly $951 million less than the current fiscal year. The current income tax rates for both individuals and corporations are set to decrease on Jan. 1 – halfway through the next fiscal year.

The Illinois House passed 73 appropriations bills Thursday comprising an FY15 state budget totaling about $38 billion in General Revenue Fund spending. The bills generally comprise the "recommended" version of Governor Quinn’s budget as presented in March. The IFT urged lawmakers to support this plan that would fund education with:

  • $132 million increase for General State Aid which will result in a 90% proration of the foundation level;

  • $54 million increase in Transportation Reimbursement which will result in a 83% proration;

  • $11 million increase in Special Education Reimbursement to meet federal maintenance of effort ;

  • $17 million increase in Assessments that includes funding the ACT;

  • $25 million increase in Early Childhood Education; and

  • $12 million increase in Bilingual Education.
The bills also provided the Governor’s recommended funding for other areas, including state universities and other higher education agencies.

Expect further budgetary action and updates next week.

Charter Efforts Inch Closer to Approval
Three measures impacting charter schools are pending approval in the Senate:

HB 3937 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant) extends the moratorium on the establishment of charter schools with virtual-schooling components in school districts other than the Chicago Public Schools through December 31, 2017 (instead of April 1, 2014). The measure will most likely be taken up by the full Senate Education Committee next week.

HB 4591 (sponsored by Rep. Robert Martwick and Sen. Jacqueline Collins) provides that if a charter school dismisses a pupil after receiving a quarterly payment from the school district, the charter school shall return to the school district an amount equal to 100% of the school district’s per capita student tuition, on a pro rata basis, for the time the student is not enrolled at the charter school. This measure passed the Senate Education Committee and awaits a full Senate vote. 

HB 3754 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Sen. Kimberly Lightford) abolishes the State Charter School Commission and transfers all of the powers, duties, assets, liabilities, contracts, property, records, and pending business of the Commission to the State Board of Education as the Charter Appeals Board. The bill, as amended, is expected to be heard by the full Senate next week.

In addition, Senator Jacqueline Collins, Representative Chris Welch, and other stakeholders continue their efforts to draft legislation that will provide additional accountability and transparency measures for charter schools. The IFT is hopeful that the legislation will move forward next week.

Court Halts Implementation of Pension Theft Law
Earlier this week, the Sangamon County Circuit Court granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction, as requested by our  We Are One Illinois coalition and plaintiffs, halting the implementation of Senate Bill 1 (Public Act 98-599).

This stays the legislation in its entirety so that the pension systems and other defendants are enjoined from implementing or administering any provisions of the act until further order of the court or the court issues a final ruling on the merits of the act’s constitutionality.

The court found that we have shown a likelihood of success on our contention that the law violates the Pension Protection Clause of the Illinois Constitution.

Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) Calls for Further Investment in Education
After convening last month to begin work on its recommendation for adequate education funding, IFT President Dan Montgomery along with other members of the Illinois Education Funding Advisory Board (EFAB) voted unanimously to update the recommended foundation level to reflect inflation. This would increase the state’s per-pupil foundation Level to $8,767 for Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15). Based on current forecasts of General State Aid (GSA) funding for FY15, this recommended foundation level would require an additional $4.8 billion in state funds for K-12 education. Additionally, EFAB urged state legislators and Governor Quinn to take action to maintain state revenues for schools and to consider directing more resources to the State Board of Education to distribute to districts.

The full recommendation can be found here.

Minimum Wage Referendum Advances
HB 3814 (sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan) would allow a non-binding question on the November ballot: "Shall the minimum wage in Illinois for adults, over age 18, be raised to $10 an hour by January first, 2015?”

After much discussion the bill passed the House Labor Committee by a vote of 12-7-1. The bill will be heard by the full House next. The IFT supports this measure.

House Education Committee Updates
Two bills of interest were discussed this week:

SB 2793 (sponsored by Sen. Toi Hutchinson and Rep. Art Turner) requires the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and local school districts to make a number of changes involving student discipline. ISBE must prepare a report analyzing the racial breakdown of students who were suspended or expelled, or who experienced school-based arrests or criminal citations. This report must include the number of instructional days students were excluded from class. ISBE is required to post these findings on-line. Under this measure, school districts are required to prepare a school improvement plan that will include strategies to reduce discipline and racial disproportionality in disciplinary measures. After considerable discussion, the measure passed on a partisan vote; the sponsor and opponents agreed to work towards consensus in an amendment. IFT was neutral on this measure in the House.

SB 2972 (Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant and Rep. Fred Crespo) would qualify administrators who have served in a general administrative position for two years to enter superintendent licensure programs. Currently, candidates for superintendent licensure must have served as a full-time principal, director of special education, or chief school business official in the public schools. IFT was neutral on this legislation. SB 2972 passed in committee and is headed for a vote before the full House.
Session will resume Monday, May 19, 2014.






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