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Legislative update 2-20-15


Rauner’s proposed budget balanced on the backs of the middle class

Action in Springfield revolved around the budget address this week. Traditionally, the State of the State address gives an overview of the vision. The budget speech gives the roadmap to that vision.

On Wednesday, the Governor presented to the General Assembly what his administration calls the “IL Turnaround Budget.” It was yet another example of his attacks on workers and families.

Immediately following the budget address, IFT and other unions responded to the billions of dollars in unconscionable cuts the Governor proposed.

Here are some of Rauner’s budget recommendations:

Public employee pension & health care reform
The Governor’s proposal relies on over $2 billion in savings from his pension “reform” plan, which would move teachers, university employees, and state employees into the insufficient Tier 2 pension plan beginning July 1. This change is unconstitutional, thus making the savings fictional.

Under the proposal, Rauner said workers hired before 2011 could "take a buyout option - a lump sum payment and a defined contribution plan in return for a voluntary reduction in cost-of-living adjustments."

In addition, the Governor seeks to eliminate the Teacher Retirement Insurance Plan (TRIP) and the College Insurance Program (CIP) and to reduce state employee group health insurance by $400 million.

Higher education
The Governor proposes cutting higher education funding by 31 percent, or $387 million. This would leave funding levels equal to those from 30 years ago. The Governor would also cut funding to the Illinois Board of Higher Education in half, and eliminate nearly all the board’s grant programs.

Social services
The Governor recommends cutting Medicaid - the health insurance program that provides coverage for one out of every two children in Illinois - by $1.5 billion. Examples of Medicaid coverage include reimbursement rates for hospitals, nursing homes, and breast and cervical cancer programs.

Mental health providers would see an $88 million cut under the Governor’s proposal. These services include grants for mental health rehabilitation, integrated care, psychiatry, placement and support.

Rauner would also cut family and community services by $230 million, leaving supportive housing, addiction, homeless, and early intervention programs with inadequate funding to help our most vulnerable citizens. Alcohol and substance abuse programs would be slashed by $35 million.

Local governments
The Governor proposes a 50 percent cut ($600 million) to the state’s municipal revenue sharing program, which would force cash-strapped local government to find additional revenue sources or eliminate programs.

K-12 education
The Governor proposes a $300 million increase to General State Aid support to schools, and an additional $25 million for early childhood education. However, this “funding increase” is disingenuous and comes at the expense of all other services in the state budget. In fact, if Rauner freezes property taxes, his proposed increase would barely cover one-third of that lost revenue, thus making it a cut.

Privatization Privatization is one of the greatest threats facing paraprofessionals. A wide variety of companies and corporations are attempting to take over virtually all the work traditionally performed by school district employees, from teaching to providing student transportation to cooking meals to cleaning and maintaining school buildings and grounds. The IFT is strongly opposed to privatization because of the threat it poses to the quality of education, the accountability of public schools to the communities they serve, and to the well-being of children in school.

That’s why in 2007, the IFT worked tirelessly to pass PA 95-241. This bill increased protections for non-instructional service personnel employed by school districts. Since the bill’s passage, unsuccessful attempts have been made to deconstruct these protections. To date during this session, three bills have been introduced that would change or eliminate these protections: HB 1378 (Sosnowski), SB 72 (McCarter), and SB 1198 (Barickman). IFT position = OPPOSE. 

A select group of legislators are set on eliminating mandates. Several bills have been introduced to chip away at the Physical Education (PE) mandate - including HB 1448 (Harris), HB 1330 (Sandack), SB 114 (McConnaughy). HB 2595 (Morrison) would eliminate Driver’s Education. We also expect legislation to be filed that will allow for a local decision making process to “waive” out of mandates. IFT position = OPPOSE.

House education committees
The Elementary and Secondary Education Committee from past legislative sessions has been divided into three committees; these new committees will consider legislation that address charter school initiatives, licensure changes, and curriculum and school policy issues.

Elementary & Secondary Education: Charter School Policy Committee
Two initiatives are currently posted to this committee, scheduled to meet Wednesday, February 25th.

  • HB 397 (Welch) - This bill amends current statute to disallow the State Charter School Commission from reversing a school board's decision to deny, revoke, or not renew a charter. IFT position = SUPPORT.

  • HB 1360 (Gabel) - This measure requires a charter school to comply with all health and safety requirements applicable to public schools under state law. The measure provides that a charter school is not exempt from local school board health, safety, and wellness policies. IFT position = SUPPORT.

Elementary & Secondary Education: School curriculum and policies
A subject matter hearing on the PARCC assessments is scheduled for Wednesday, February 25th at 4 pm. Senate Resolution 89 has been introduced, urging a delay of PARCC implementation pending technology upgrades so districts statewide are prepared for the new assessment. IFT and other education stakeholders will offer testimony. IFT position = SUPPORT.

The House returns on Wednesday, February 25. The Senate is scheduled to return on Tuesday, March, 3.




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