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Legislative update 4.17.15

4/19/2015
LOCAL ALERT: Rauner’s “turnaround” agenda — coming soon to a town near you
Effingham, Naperville, Campton, Vernon Hills, and Wauconda will consider Rauner's "turnaround" agenda the week of April 20 - 24. Click here for details about upcoming meetings and what has happened in other towns.

After a two week break, lawmakers were back in Springfield this week to continue working towards a budget for Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16). Lawmakers and the Governor have a tough job ahead of them. The state currently has a multi-billion dollar deficit. Without new revenue, extreme service cuts will become a reality.
 
Highlights of budget discussions and other action in Springfield this week:

FY15 budget “fix” discussions continue

Late last month, the Illinois General Assembly passed a stopgap budget to patch the $1.6 billion budget hole that was created when Governor Rauner and lawmakers let the temporary income tax rate expire on January 1, 2015. To plug the gap, lawmakers approved a plan that:

  •  cut education funding by 2.25 percent
  • “swept” $1.3 billion from dozens of important state funds (including diversions of funding set aside for teacher licensure, workers compensation, and the road fund)
  • provided the Governor with a $97 million slush fund to “manage the cuts” to K-12 education, with no defined process for accountability. 

The Senate Appropriations II Committee heard from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) regarding the impact of the 2.25 percent cuts and the process they would use to distribute the $97 supplemental appropriation.
 
The same day, ISBE approved their process for distributing the supplemental funds. An explanation of the process and district level breakdowns can be found here.
 

FY16 budget development update

With FY16 beginning July 1, the legislature is focused on refining the budget proposed by Governor Rauner in February. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees are finishing their work and taking testimony from state agencies, Universities, boards and commissions.
 
IFT has been urging legislators to address important revenue options - including the Millionaire's Tax - instead of calling for draconian cuts to services that middle-class families depend on.
 
It’s critical that we continue to discuss with legislators the importance of IFT’s budget priorities and what a balanced, fair budget includes: 
 
  • adequate funding to our K-12 schools , Universities and public services;
  • rejecting cuts to programs like arts and foreign language, After School Matters, and alternative education
  • protecting public Universities from 31.5 percent cuts
  • ensuring proper funding for state agency personnel
  • funding health care - both the Medicaid safety net that serves our most vulnerable and the healthcare provided to state employees
  • rejecting a budget predicated on an unconstitutional $2.2 billion pension savings
  • long term, stable revenue

Click here to sign the petition demanding Governor Rauner stop the cuts and make the rich pay their fair share. ​​


ISBE selects new superintendent

Wednesday, ISBE announced that Dr. Tony Smith has been appointed Illinois State Superintendent of Education.

Most recently, Smith worked as the executive director of the W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation. Prior to joining the Stone Foundation, Dr. Smith led the Oakland Unified School District in California, served as Deputy Superintendent for the San Francisco Unified School District, served as Superintendent of the Oakland Emery Unified School District, and led the Math, Science, and Technology Initiative at the Emeryville Citywide Initiative. He oversaw several major programs at the former Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools, now known as the National Equity Project. Dr. Smith will assume his new post May 1 and will be paid $225,000 per year.
 

IDHA lobby day

On April 15, more than 80 hygienists and supporters gathered at the Capitol to meet with lawmakers to discuss the merits of SB 1464 during the Illinois Dental Hygienists’ Association annual Lobby Day. The measure would increase access to oral healthcare for Illinois’ neediest residents, particularly children and the elderly.
 

Student truancy discussion in House Education Committee

A subject matter hearing was held in the House Education Curriculum and Policies Committee to explore solutions to student truancy and absenteeism among students in Chicago Public Schools. This hearing resulted from the Report on Truancy in CPS submitted by the Truancy Taskforce last July. Rep. Chapa La Via introduced two bills to move forward with the Taskforce’s recommendations:

  • HB 3198 requires all school districts to review and update attendance, absenteeism, and truancy policies every two years, as well as to publicize and distribute them annually.

  • HB 3200 revises how school districts average student attendance. Representatives and stakeholders have not resolved how best to implement the taskforce’s recommendations, but recommendations currently address district, school-based, parental, and community solutions.

Back pay for state employees’ passes

HB 3763, sponsored by Rep. Sue Scherer, would finally pay the back wages owed to some state employees since 2011. A portion of these back wages were appropriated by the legislature last year, but approximately $60 million is still owed to the affected employees, including IFT members in the Illinois Federation of Public Employees, Local 4408. The bill passed the House (88-23-2) and now moves to the Senate for consideration. 
 

Tier 2 pension resolutions

SR 317 and HR 358, sponsored by Sen. Dan Biss and Rep. Elaine Nekritz, questions the compliance of the Tier 2 pension plan with requirements under Social Security. Many experts agree that the inferior benefits under the Tier 2 plan do not result in the minimum retirement protection that is afforded to every citizen under Social Security.    
 
The Tier 2 pension plan includes all public employees in state-funded pension plans hired after January 1, 2011. Going forward, Governor Rauner has proposed (via talking points) enrolling all Tier 1 members into the Tier 2 plan after a specified date. As a result of the questionable status of Tier 2 for new hires and the potential expansion of the plan for current Tier 1 members, the resolution asks TRS and SURS to request a letter from the IRS that would rule on the compliance issue.      
 

Success stories

Each spring, legislators introduce thousands of bills. The IFT reviews every bill and determines whether our union will support or oppose each one. Below are key elements of IFT-OPPOSED bills that remain in Committee:

  •  Driver education
    • SB 72 (McCarter) - is an omnibus mandate “relief” bill that chips away at prevailing wage for school construction, eliminates driver education, and prohibits technology-related collective bargaining agreements.
       
    • HB 2595 (Morrison) - makes extensive changes to driver’s education (DE), including allowing a district to contract out DE, and allows for proficiency exams for the Behind the Wheel portion of driver education.

  • Physical education
    • HB 1330 (Sandack) - eliminates the PE/Health mandate and makes it a “local decision” whether these programs will be offered in a school district.

    • HB 1448 (Harris) - allows a school board the ability to excuse students in grades 9-10 from PE class for certain reasons, such as current participation in a sport or marching band.

    • SB114 (McConnaughay) and HB 2536 (Tryon) - permit a school board to excuse students in grades 9-12 from PE class if those students are enrolled in two or more Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

  • Special education class size
    • SB 1604 (McCarter) – eliminates existing Special Education class size mandates. 

  • Third party contracting
    • HB 1378 (Sosnowski), SB 72 (McCarter), and SB 1198 (Barickman) - would change or eliminate third party contracting protections.
       
  • “Mandate relief”
    • HB 2539 (Tryon) - allows the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to overturn ISBE administrative rules if they are determined to be a new mandate.

    • HB 3535 (Golar) and SB 1507 (Bertino-Tarrant) - provide that school districts may lawfully discharge any unfunded mandate or requirement placed on school districts by the Code or by administrative rules adopted by ISBE by holding a public hearing on the matter.
       
  • Strike authorization vote super majority
    • HB 251 (Sosnowski) - would raise the threshold required to vote to authorize a strike to three-fourths of all bargaining unit members.

    Visit Under the Dome weekly for the latest updates on legislative action, and check the IFT Watch List to view additional legislative proposals the IFT is tracking.

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