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Legislative update - Week of 2.10.17

Several key bills included in the Senate’s “grand bargain” took the spotlight in Springfield this week.

Here are the highlights of this week’s actions.
IFT members help stop pension cuts
Thanks to the activism of IFT members and our allies, we stopped unconstitutional cuts to our pensions in the form of SB 11, one of the bills contained in the Senate's "grand bargain" (see more below). The bill would have forced Tier 1 employees in TRS, SURS, and CTPF to make an unfair choice between two cuts. The bill failed overwhelmingly, getting just 18 votes. Check here to see how your Senator voted.
"Grand bargain" loses traction
The Senate did approve three other bills (SB 3, SB 8, and SB 10) that are part of the 13-piece grand bargain package, but only Democrats voted “yes.”

Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) urged Senate Republicans to vote “no” or “present,” insisting that all bills in the package should be voted on together. Many Republicans opposed the bills for that reason, while others did so because they are all linked to a tax increase (SB 9).

Senators Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Grove), Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) filed motions to reconsider the votes on all three bills. This procedure prevents the bills from being transferred to the House.

There was no action on SB 13, the "mandate relief" bill that would eliminate physical and drivers' education and freeze property taxes. Final bill language has yet to be introduced for education funding reform (SB 1).

While defeating pension-cutting SB 11 was a victory, this isn't over yet. Higher education, public services, and our communities are suffering while the Governor fails to lead.

We must work together toward a fair solution, but the “grand bargain” isn't it. Tying the budget to anti-worker “turnaround” reforms is wrong - and unnecessary. Rather than use middle-class families as bargaining chips, we can tax the most wealthy and close corporate loopholes to help fund our state without harming workers.

Read the IFT’s complete analysis of the 13-part grand bargain here.

Ford tries to advance voucher bill
Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) called HB 213 for a Committee vote this week. The bill would create the School Choice Act, a voucher program paid for by reallocating lottery funds to certain communities. The IFT and CTU oppose the bill. HB 213 failed in Committee, but it could be heard again as early as Thursday, Feb. 16.
Senate Ed Committee recaps new education funding report
State Secretary of Education Beth Purvis testified before the Senate Education Committee about the report of the Governor’s Education Funding Commission, which was released last week. No language has yet been filed for related legislation (SB 1), which is part of the grand bargain package (see more above). Many issues remain to be addressed, including special education and bilingual funding and whether to include a hold harmless provision. As has been reported, Democrats have called on the Governor to take the lead and propose a bill.
In the House, Rep. Will Davis (D-East Hazel Crest) introduced HB 2808, which aligns with many of the Commission’s recommendations, but is not a Commission initiative. Discussions will continue.
Looking ahead
The Senate will return on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Governor will also present his budget address that day. Stay tuned.




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