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Legislative update 5.9.16

5/09/2016
With just a few weeks left of scheduled session, activity in the Capitol continued to ramp up last week.

Budget discussions for FY16 and FY17 continue in small working groups of legislators. The IFT continues to reiterate to legislators that as these budget discussions occur, the rights of all working men and women must be maintained.

Here are the highlights of this week’s action:

Fair Tax dies without a vote
The House adjourned this week without considering HJRCA 59, the Fair Tax amendment. The proposal would have given Illinois voters the chance to amend the state Constitution and pave the way for a fair tax structure that generates more money for schools and services while cutting taxes for 99.3% of taxpayers.

The IFT is a member of the Responsible Budget Coalition (RBC), which issued a statement criticizing the lack of action and Rauner’s efforts to effectively block the measure despite it’s overwhelming popularity among voters.

What happens next? Our state still needs additional funding for public education and state services, and now must pay off the additional debt amassed during the budget impasse the Governor has created for the last 11 months. Click here to learn more about possible revenue options lawmakers may consider to address these challenges.

Senate approves more stopgap funding for higher education
The Senate passed SB 2048 (Cullerton, D- Chicago) on Thursday. The bill would appropriate $454 million to colleges and universities and provide dollars to fund Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants for needy students.

The bill is the latest higher education stopgap measure passed by the General Assembly. Last month, lawmakers approved, and Governor Rauner signed, a bill that provided $600 million from the Education Assistance Fund to help colleges stay open through the summer. That temporary measure provided only 30 percent of their state funding for the fiscal year. The additional money in SB 2048 would get higher education institutions to just 60 percent funding levels.


Manar school funding measure held in Senate

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), sponsor of the school funding reform proposal SB 231, expected to receive a vote in the Senate this week, but the bill was held.
 
Like Manar’s original SB 16 school funding plan, SB 231 would collapse special education funding into the General State Aid (GSA) formula so those dollars would also be distributed based on need. The new plan would include a hold harmless provision to guarantee that no school district would lose funding in the first year. The new formula would be phased in over four years to allow districts that would eventually receive less state funding the opportunity to plan ahead. The proposal would also eliminate block grant funding for Chicago Public Schools, but provide the district $200 million annually to support the teachers’ pension fund.

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) did a full breakdown of the measure to determine how each district would be impacted under the new formula. IFT is analyzing this new data before taking a position on this legislation.


PSRP recall rights bill to receive hearing in Senate

HB 6299, an IFT initiative that would provide recall rights for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs), is set for a hearing in Senate committee next week. The measure requires that if a PRSP is called back to work within one year of the time they were subject to a reduction in force (RIF), they will maintain any rights and benefits accrued. Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) is sponsoring the bill in the Senate. The proposal passed the House with bi-partisan support in April.


IFT bill to close PD “blackout” window moves to Senate committee

During their license renewal year, Illinois educators currently cannot enter professional development hours earned from April 1- June 30. This is an unfair lost opportunity. HB 6181, an IFT initiative, would close that “professional development blackout window.” The measure unanimously passed the House and will be heard in Senate Education committee next week.


Testing opt-out bill heads heads to hearing

HB 306, (Sen. Delgado, D-Chicago and Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago) creates a structure for parents who want to opt their children out of standardized testing. The bill requires schools to notify parents annually about their right to opt out, and educators are not allowed to encourage or discourage opting out. The measure passed the House with bi-partisan support and will be heard in the Senate Education committee next week.


A look ahead

Both chambers are scheduled to return Tuesday, May 10. Watch Under the Dome for updates.

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