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Legislative Update: Week of May 20, 2019

5/24/2019

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, here’s the latest news out of Springfield, including updates on IFT initiatives and several larger legislative items that await final action as the General Assembly’s scheduled May 31 adjournment nears.


Fair Tax

On Friday May 24, the House Revenue and Finance Committee approved SB 687 (Sen. Zalewski, D-Riverside) establishing a new graduated tax rate structure. Other components of the Fair Tax plan are positioned in various stages of the process: 

Earlier in the week, the Revenue Committee approved SJRCA 1 which allows for a Fair Tax Constitutional Amendment to be placed on the 2020 General Election ballot, and it is now pending a second reading in the House. The measure has already been approved by the Senate and needs a 3/5 majority vote by the House of Representatives. 

Two related bills sponsored by Rep. Zalewski, D-Riverside, are scheduled to be heard in the House Revenue Committee at 8:30 a.m. on Memorial Day: SB 689 to repeal the estate tax and SB 690 to expand the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) to school districts in all counties.


Budget update

The legislative leaders met late Thursday to discuss budget and capital projects, but no final proposal has surfaced.  

Action alert! There is no longer a stand-alone piece of legislation to remove the 3 percent salary cap. IFT educators have seen how the 3 percent cap weakens the teaching profession. Fewer college students choose to teach because they know they won’t be paid like other professionals. To recruit new educators, Illinois needs to show that we value teaching and pay teachers what they’re worth. Call your lawmaker and ask them not to leave Springfield next week without ensuring that the 3% repeal is part of any bill that affects the budget.


IFT initiatives continue to advance

HB 253
(Rep. Guzzardi, D-Chicago and Sen. Fine, D-Glenview) changes the law so graduate research assistants are recognized as employees, as teaching assistants are. Now having passed both chambers, the bill awaits Governor Pritzker's signature. 

SB 28 (Sen. Bertino-Tarrant, D-Plainfield) restores the instructional day/school year language and expands e-learning pilots to all districts with requirements of a public hearing and school board vote. The bill is effective July 1, 2019, allowing school districts with approved calendars to proceed through the length of the approved calendar without challenges. The bill was approved unanimously in both chambers and has been sent to the Governor. 

SB 1952 (Sen. Manar, D-Bunker Hill) bundled together several important solutions to the teacher shortage:

  • Eliminates the basic skills test requirement
  • Removes prohibition to allow student teachers to be paid
  • Refunds the $300 cost of the EdTPA test to educators teaching for one year in a Tier 1 district. 

An amendment was added and approved in the House that removed language repealing the 3% liability cap. The bill now goes back to the Senate for a concurrence and then to the Governor for approval. 

Negotiations were finalized and the House Elementary and Secondary Administration, Licensing and Charters Committee approved SB 1213 (Sen. Stuart, D-Collinsville) this week. The bill creates a local appeal process for unsatisfactory evaluations. A House vote is expected next week. 


A look ahead

The May 31st scheduled adjournment is fast approaching. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives return to their districts Saturday. House members return for Session Sunday evening and the Senate returns to Springfield Monday afternoon. 

A number of key issues are still up for debate: legalization of recreational marijuana, expanded gaming, capital projects, and the Fair Tax. Each of these are important pieces necessary to meet the revenue proposed for the Fiscal Year 2020 state budget.

Watch Under the Dome for the latest updates.

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