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Legislative update 3.4.16

3/04/2016
This week, both the House and Senate focused on legislation regarding the FY16 budget, beginning discussions on the FY17 budget and starting to address substantive issues through the committee process.

Below is an overview of legislation discussed this week:
Chicago elected school board legislation passes Illinois House nearly unanimously
The Illinois House passed legislation that would allow Chicago to have an elected representative school board in nearly unanimous fashion. HB 577, sponsored by Rep. Robert Martwick (D-Chicago), passed the House by a 110-4 vote. The legislation provides for a nonpartisan election of the Chicago Board of Education at the general primary election in 2018. Under the proposal, the City of Chicago shall be subdivided into 20 electoral districts by the General Assembly for seats on the Chicago Board of Education. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. The IFT strongly supports this legislation.
State employee arbitration bill passes Senate
The Illinois Senate passed legislation that would allow state employee unions to use binding arbitration as a fair alternative if they can’t come to an agreement on a contract. HB 580, sponsored by Rep. Chris Welch (D-Westchester), by 38-17 vote. The legislation now goes to the Governor, who has vowed to veto the legislation (again).  The IFT and our members of Local 4408 (Illinois Federation of Public Employees) support this bill.
Higher Education Lobby Day
A large contingency of the University Professionals of Illinois, Local 4100, traveled to Springfield for a lobby day in support of funding for higher education and Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants. Members spoke with legislators about the negative impact the budget crisis created by Governor Rauner has had on their students, communities, and working families.
Monetary Award Program funding
Despite a Senate override, SB 2043, sponsored by Sen. Donne Trotter (D-Chicago), failed to receive the 71 votes necessary in the House to override the Governor’s veto. The legislation would have provided tuition assistance for low-income students and funding for community colleges that continue to suffer due to Governor Rauner’s failure to provide a budget.
Human service and higher education appropriations
Two pieces of legislation, HB 2990, sponsored by Rep. Fred Crespo (D-Chicago), and HB 648, sponsored by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), were introduced immediately following the failure to override SB 2043. This legislation allows for appropriations to various human services programs, MAP, and higher education and would provide partial funding for this spending by allowing the forgiveness of repayment for special funds that have previously been used in fiscal year 2016.
Pensions
Testimony on two pieces of legislation, HB 4427 sponsored by Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and HB 5626 sponsored by Rep. Robert Rita (D-Chicago), that would allow for a pension buyout for retirees in state pension systems were heard this week in the Pension Committee. The bills provide for buyouts of a member’s pension benefit given certain criteria. The House Pension Committee has scheduled two future meetings regarding the issue in the upcoming weeks. We are currently reviewing the proposals.
A look ahead
The Senate is schedule to return on Tuesday, March 8. The House is recessed until April 4. Keep watching Under the Dome for important updates on legislative action.
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