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Legislative Update 2.7.2015

2/07/2015

Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State speech to members of the General Assembly on February 4th.


State of the State
The Governor repeated much of his rhetoric from the campaign trail, blaming unions for the state’s ills and offering no real solutions for the state’s fiscal challenges.

Key points of Rauner’s speech related to education and working families were:

  • He wants to take away union power in the form of so-called "right-to-work" zones, falsely claiming they will make Illinois more competitive with neighboring states.

  • He wants to ban citizens from making political contributions through their union, claiming there is a “conflict of interest.” He did not comment on his new $20 million political action fund.

  • He wants to raise the minimum wage by only $2 dollars over the next seven years with workers compensation reforms attached.

  • He wants school choice in the form of vouchers and no caps on charter schools.

  • He wants to increase education funding but provided few details about how he would raise revenue without increasing property taxes.

Reactions to the speech were mixed. Many lawmakers did not agree with much of what Governor Rauner proposed, setting up an interesting dynamic for the upcoming session.
 
IFT President Dan Montgomery immediately issued a response to the Governor’s remarks:

“….So-called “right-to-work” or "employee empowerment" laws won’t make our state “competitive," and cutting the salaries and fundamental rights of hard-working Illinoisans isn’t “compassionate.”

News outlets have outlined the impact of right-to-work polices. From the News-Gazette:

“Since laws that hurt unions shift the balance of power from employees to owners, they tend to erode wages and lead to a more uneven distribution of the gains of economic growth," Moody's said. "Consequently, even if the impact of right-to-work laws is positive in the short run, it can diminish over time because of the downward pressure on incomes."
 
Read more about Rauner;s attacks on working people here.


Legislative action
This week the Illinois Senate passed SB 11 to raise the state's minimum wage to $11 an hour by 2019. SB 11 would also allow Chicago to maintain its plan to raise the hourly minimum wage to $13 by 2019. The bill, which passed by an 35-18-1 vote, would bump up the minimum wage in Illinois to $9 an hour on July 1, increasing it 75 cents from the current $8.25 hourly wage. The legislation would also put a tax credit in place for companies with less than 50 employees. The House is expected to discuss the legislation later this spring.
 
IFT is closely monitoring many of the nearly 3,000 bills that have been filed to date.

Some key bills include:

  • HB 121 (Flowers) Calls for a school nurse pilot program in the Chicago Public Schools.

  • HB 152 (Willis) An initiative of the State Fire Marshal, requires each school building in a school district be equipped with approved carbon monoxide alarms.

  • HB 247 (Willis) Creates the offense of criminal street gang recruitment on school grounds.

  • HB 251 (Sosnowski) Would raise the threshold and require three-fourths of all bargaining unit members to vote to strike. This applies to all educational employees under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA).

  • HB 403 (Franks) Eliminates the 50% tuition waiver for university faculty and staff. 

The Illinois Senate sent SB 273, an appropriations shell bill, to the House. While the purpose of this bill is uncertain, it is expected to be used for a potential supplemental appropriations bill for the childcare program. It may also provide additional legislative authorization for the Governor to manage the FY15 budget.


State Board of Education to meet next week
The State Board of Education is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, February 10 in Springfield. It will be the first meeting for newly appointed ISBE members Lula Ford, Craig Lindvahl, Roberta Parks, and Eligio Pimentel.


Lawmakers in both the House and Senate are out next week and will return February 17th. The Governor will give his budget address on February 18th.
 
Watch www.ift-aft.org for the latest news from Springfield.

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