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Legislative update 5.22.15

5/22/2015
This week was IFT LOCAL POWER WEEK, and thousands of IFT members from across the state called, emailed, and lobbied in Springfield to show Governor Rauner and legislators that our voice matters.
 
It is essential that we keep the momentum going! Please keep having personal conversations with coworkers, family, and friends to raise awareness about the ongoing attacks on every day men and women.

This week’s highlights:

Millionaire’s Tax on postponed consideration
House lawmakers came up three votes short of the 71 needed to pass HJRCA26, or the “millionaire’s tax.” House Speaker Michael Madigan put the resolution on postponed consideration, which means he can call the measure for a vote again on a future date.
 
HJRCA26 would provide $1 billion in dedicated education funding by simply asking the wealthiest Illinoisans (who earn more than $1 million) to pay their fair share to help fund our schools. Sixty-three percent of voters supported the concept in the November election.

Read IFT President Dan Montgomery’s op-ed about the “millionaire’s tax” which appeared in the State Journal-Register last week. The IFT will continue to advocate for this measure.


House Committee votes to remove charter cap law

The Illinois House Executive committee panel approved HB 814, sponsored by Rep. Andrade (D-Chicago), which lifts the existing statutory cap on charter schools. This legislation mirrors Governor Rauner’s charter school proposal.

Illinois is far below the cap, with 75 available charter schools in Chicago and 45 available in the rest of the state. But the IFT, CTU, and IEA are concerned that allowing the cap to be removed will increase the industry’s unfettered expansion and reduce resources available for existing public schools.


Governor’s turnaround agenda filed

With just one week remaining this session, Governor Rauner finally filed legislation that includes components of his “turnaround agenda”. His “right-to-work” proposal has not been introduced in bill form, mainly due to union members’ vocal opposition.

The Governor’s agenda includes:
  • SB 1046, sponsored by Sen. Radogno (R-Lemont), and HB 4224, sponsored by Rep. Durkin (R-Burr Ridge), would:

    1. allow local governments or school districts to limit the subjects of collective bargaining
    2. freeze property taxes, which would reduce resources for local schools
    3. allow local communities to ignore the state’s prevailing wage law. The Attorney General has said this would be illegal.

  • SB 994, sponsored by Sen. Radogno (R-Lemont), and HB 4223, sponsored by Rep. Durkin (R-Burr Ridge), makes it more difficult for a worker to be compensated for injuries and limits awards granted by courts.

  • HB 4222, sponsored by Rep. Durkin (R-Burr Ridge), puts limits on the amounts that can be recovered by a party seeking damages for medical care and funeral/burial services, and limits the venue for actions against corporations, partnerships, and insurance companies.


Budget remains uncertain
In February, Rauner proposed a budget that purports to fill a $6 billion revenue gap by slashing funding for higher education and critical services and programs, and “reforming” pensions. Much of those savings are imaginary, because his proposals violate the state constitution or federal policy.

The Governor has said he’s open to finding new revenue to fill the gap, but only if lawmakers agree to some of the harmful proposals in his “turnaround” agenda, including the elimination of collective bargaining and right-to-work. Those proposals have already been overwhelmingly rejected by voters in counties and municipalities statewide.

Proposals for a new FY16 state budget have yet to emerge. The IFT continues to advocate for critical budget priorities, including adequate funding for education and public services.


Advanced Placement coursework applicable for college credit

HB 3428, sponsored by Rep. Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills) and Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill), requires all public higher education institutions in Illinois to grant college credit for any student who receives a 3 or higher on any AP exam. The legislation was amended in the Senate to reflect an agreement between the Universities and the legislation’s supporters. The bill now returns to the House for further consideration.


Parent opt-out bill passes the House

HB 306, sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), creates a structure for parents who wish to opt their children out of PARCC testing. HB 306 also requires schools to notify parents annually about their right to opt their children out of testing. The bill passed on the House floor after a lengthy debate. It now goes to the Senate.


Visit Under the Dome weekly for the latest updates on legislative action.


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