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Legislative update 5.1.15

Inching closer to the final stretch of the legislative session, lawmakers spent most of their week in Springfield addressing cross-chamber legislation and taking final appropriations testimony from agencies.

There are 22 session days remaining until adjournment, and lawmakers have a lot of work to do.

Highlights of this week’s action in Springfield include:  

Senators to begin discussing revenue
One of the IFT’s highest priorities is tracking the development of the FY16 budget. We want to make sure that proper revenue is available to patch the anticipated $4 billion budget hole, restore the proposed 32% cuts to higher education, ensure that K12 schools receive the addition $290 million proposed by the Governor, and maintain flat funding for state agencies.

The Senate Revenue Committee (chaired by Senator Toi Hutchinson, D- Chicago Heights) plans to hear testimony on May 6th at 2pm from the Center on Tax and Budget Accountability about Illinois revenue needs. On January 1, 2015, the five percent temporary income tax increase was not renewed, returning the rate to 3.75 percent and cutting state revenues by roughly $2 billion in the final half of FY15, and an additional $4 billion in FY16 (which begins July 1). Click here and select 212 to listen to the live committee discussion on May 6th.

Resolution urges districts against using PARCC results for high-stakes decisions
Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Edwardsville) introduced HJR 54, a resolution urging school districts not to use the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment results to make high-stakes decisions, such as students’ future schooling, evaluating educators, or the allocation of resources for school districts from now thru the 2018 school year. The resolution passed through the House Education Curriculum and Policies Committee with bipartisan support and is headed for the House floor.

Bill requires notice to exclusive bargaining agent if district is notified of change to “priority district” status
SB 665, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), requires a school district to notify the exclusive bargaining agent of employees in that district if the Illinois State Board of Education has named that district a “priority district.” This bill passed out of House Education Curriculum and Policies Committee and is headed to the House, where it is sponsored by Rep Barbara Flynn Currie (D–Chicago).

Consumer debt, student loans, identity-theft security added to student curriculum
SB 672, sponsored by Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester), adds the subjects of consumer debt, higher education student loans, and identity-theft security to the list of subjects required to be included in the financial literacy component of consumer education. The bill passed the Senate and is headed for the House, where it is sponsored by Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton).

CPS students encouraged to participate in civics, local school councils
HR 369, sponsored by Rep. Jaime Andrade (D-Chicago), urges Chicago's public schools to further engage students in the local school council process. The resolution will be heard in the House.

House Charter Policy Committee learns about charter school law
The Illinois House Charter Policy panel held a “Charter School 101” meeting for members of the House. The meeting included a presentation on charter school law and comments from Executive Director of the Illinois Charter School Commission, Hosanna Jones.

Legislators questioned ISBE and Jones about how charter schools work, the authorization process, the history of charter schools in Illinois, and how they are funded.

Next week, the committee will hear from the International Network of Charter schools (INCS) on best practices.

Bill allows retired driver’s education teachers to return to work
SB 438, sponsored by Sen. John Cullerton (D–Chicago), provides that the 100-day employment limit exclude days that a teacher teaches only driver education courses after regular school hours. The bill also excludes compensation earned for teaching driver education courses after regular school hours from the $30,000 limit.

Governor convenes legislative “working groups”
The IFT is monitoring seven so-called “working groups” that have begun discussing Governor Bruce Rauner's agenda. The Governor has reported to the media that legislators from both parties and chambers will meet with aides from his office to talk about issues like unemployment insurance, budget implementation, capital projects, transforming government, economic growth, taxpayer protection, and pension reform.

Tier 2 resolutions HR 358/SR 317
HR 358, sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Buffalo Grove), was not heard in House Pension Committee this week. However, SR 317, sponsored Senator Dan Biss (D-Evanston), is posted for a hearing in the Senate Executive Committee on May 6th. The two bills are identical and question the compliance of Tier 2 with Social Security and asks TRS and SURS to request a letter from the IRS that would rule on the issue. The Tier 2 pension plan includes all public employees in state-funded pension plans hired after January 1, 2011.

Local “turnaround” meetings continue
The Governor’s office continued its efforts to strong-arm Illinois communities into passing Rauner’s “turnaround agenda," but IFT members are joining with others and successfully fighting back. Click here for details about upcoming meetings and what has happened in other towns.

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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