Springfield Session Week in Review - May 2, 2014

by User Not Found | May 05, 2014
The legislature headed back to Springfield last week after two weeks of district work. This begins the final stretch of spring session.
The legislature headed back to Springfield last week after two weeks of district work. This begins the final stretch of spring session. In the coming weeks lawmakers will take up legislation passed by the opposite chamber and finalize a budget before the May 31st deadline.

The IFT held its lobby day in conjunction with the A Better Illinois coalition to demand that legislators let voters decide on whether this state’s citizens deserve a fair tax. The Department of Political Activities also acted upon several of our own initiatives. Here’s a quick recap of this week’s action in Springfield:    

IFT Initiatives:

SB 3092 – Data Privacy
On May 29, the Senate Education Committee approved two amendments to SB 3092 (sponsored by Sen. William Delgado) that included recommended language at the request of higher education institutions and research organizations, removes all opt-in & opt-out EXECPT in section (e) which asks for written permission for commercial use, marketing products or services, etc. Thanks to the lobbying efforts of our members in conjunction with IFT Lobby Day, Senator Delgado was able to call SB 3092. It passed the full Senate by a vote of 49-4.

SB 3460 – K-2 Assessments
Friday, April 25th IFT attended the Senate Education Hearing testifying in support of SB 3460 (sponsored by Sen. Bill Cunningham) a bill that would limit unnecessary testing of students in grades K-2. Read IFT's complete testimony here.

HB 5330 – Testing Review Committee
HB 5330 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa Lavia) requires the formation of a committee to study the cost, number of assessments at the state and district levels, and instructional time lost. The committee makeup includes teachers, parents, school board members, an early childhood educator and other stakeholders. This bill passed the House by a vote of 97-9-0, has cleared the Senate Education Committee, and awaits a vote before the full Senate.

IFT Lobby Day
IFT Lobby Day was held in conjunction with the A Better Illinois' Citizen Lobby Day. Before heading to the rally, members attended a briefing about key issues, including the need for a fair tax.

No Vote on Fair Tax
The push to allow voters to decide on a graduated income tax stalled this week, coming up a handful of votes short in the Illinois House. The measure had to be approved by this week to make it onto the November ballot. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Don Harmon, said the measure would have to wait until next year. Read more from the Fair Tax Chief Sponsors here.

FY15 Budget Development
In February, the House Revenue Committee adopted the revenue estimates the Illinois House plans to use in crafting the fiscal year 2015 (FY15) state budget. The budget numbers are included in HR 842 and HJR 80. The estimate for total revenue available for the next fiscal year is $34.5 billion – roughly $951 million less than the current fiscal year. The current income tax rates, for both individuals and corporations, will decrease on Jan. 1 – half way through the next fiscal year. The temporary income tax increase enacted in 2011 will drop rates for individuals from 5% to 3.75%. The corporate rate will fall from 7% to 5.25%. This will result in loss of $1.6 billion in revenue.

Appropriations committees in both the House and Senate have continued to meet to craft the FY15 State budget and work through the Governor's initial budget proposal. Nothing definite has been decided at this point. More specifics on the FY15 proposed K-12 education budget can be found on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) website at: http://www.isbe.net/budget/default.htm

The IFT is supporting ISBE’s FY15 budget recommendation, an aggressive ask, that fully funds general state aid and mandated categoricals while seeking an additional $1 billion for education.

Education Funding Reform
In late April, the Senate Executive Committee approved SB 16 (sponsored by Sen. Andy Manar), a bill intended to change the way schools are funded in Illinois. The plan would streamline the current formula funding structure into a single formula that would account for school district variables and most importantly, students’ needs.

The proposal is the result of the Education Funding Advisory Council (EFAC), a panel put together last year to conduct a comprehensive review of the current K-12 education funding system in Illinois and make recommendations for a more fair and adequate system. Some concerns have surfaced pertaining to the Special Education components of the bill. In response, Senator Manar worked with stakeholders to draft amendatory language. Senator Manar has also indicated that the bill will be held on the Senate floor without a vote until ISBE can run data through the new formula so stakeholders can see what the new funding distribution will look like. ISBE announced that it would take at least a few weeks before the estimated distribution impact would be available.

IFT and IFPE Local 4408 Reach an Agreement With the Governor's Office
With assistance from the IFT, IFPE Local 4408 has reached an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to fill 16 positions over the next 2 years. IDOT will hire five mechanics and two storekeepers for FY15, and six mechanics and three storekeepers for FY16. IDOT is drafting a Memorandum of Understanding so we’ll have the commitment in writing. This agreement concludes a multi-year lobbying effort with many lawmakers and the Governor.

House Education Committee – Subject Matter Hearings
  • Safe Passage Program in Chicago Public Schools – April 28th
    Safe Passage is the program intended to ensure secure walking routes from children’s homes to their nearest schools.

    Since the closing of more than 50 elementary schools last year, K-8 students have journeyed up to a mile from their community schools to unfamiliar neighborhoods. This has triggered concerns around the safety of public school students in Chicago, and with good reason. The neighborhoods in which these schools were closed have some of the highest crime rates in the nation.   

    Jadine Chou, Chief of CPS’ office of Safety and Security, and Gregory Sain, of CPS Community Engagement, were both present to answer questions.   

    House Democrats expressed skepticism that Safe Passage was protecting children; they also called into question the intent, planning and lack of community input to CPS’ School Closing policy.

  • Hearing on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness  for College and Careers (PARCC) Assessment and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – Wednesday, May 7th 8:30 AM
    Illinois State Board of Education and stakeholder groups will offer testimony and answer questions on the PARCC Assessment and CCSS.

Senate Education Committee
The Senate took up HB 4440 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa La Via) this week, which modifies the birth-to-three set-aside in the Early Childhood Block Grant to raise the floor of spending from 11 percent to 14 percent. This ensures that the state will continue to fund programs at an appropriate level for families with infants and toddlers. The IFT supported this measure.

Charter Schools
It’s important to note that the Senate Subcommittee on Charter Schools will hold another hearing on next week on Tuesday March, 6th. They are scheduled to hear the following bills:

  • HB 3937 (sponsored by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant) extends the moratorium on the establishment of charter schools with virtual-schooling components in school districts, other than the Chicago, through December 31, 2017 (instead of through April 1, 2014).

  • HB 4591 (sponsored by Rep. Robert Martwick and Sen. Jacqueline Collins) provides that if a charter school dismisses a pupil after receiving a quarterly payment from the school district, the charter school shall return, to the school district, an amount equal to 100 percent of the school district’s per capita student tuition, on a pro rata basis, for the time the student is not enrolled at the charter school.  

SB 2005 (sponsored by Sen. Chapin Rose) has been introduced. This legislation corrects a technical error in State University Retirement Systems (SURS) Money Purchase Plan. Representative Chad Hays is sponsoring this same measure, HB 6225, in the House; neither bill has been assigned to a committee at this point. 

Session resumes in Springfield Tuesday, May 5, 2014.