Legislative update 5.15.15

by Beth Camplain | May 16, 2015
House action heated up Thursday when lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected Rauner’s “right-to-work” proposal and a bill that would have frozen property taxes.
ALERT: Watch for email updates on IFT LOCAL POWER WEEK from May 18-22.

Lawmakers spent extensive time in committees this week discussing pensions, property taxes, and education funding. House action heated up Thursday when lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected Rauner’s “right-to-work” proposal and a bill that would have frozen property taxes. The Governor’s secretive workgroups continue to meet during the final two weeks of session, while stakeholders continue to be denied a place at the table.

Next week, Speaker Madigan has scheduled votes on the Millionaire’s Tax (HJRCA 26), Tort Reform, and Worker’s Compensation. Be sure to watch your inbox and ift-aft.org for action alerts and updates.

This week’s highlights:

House rejects Rauner’s ”right-to-work” proposal
“Right-to-work goes down in flames in Illinois House with zero yes votes,” was the headline in the Chicago Sun Times on May 15. Governor Rauner refused to provide legislation on his so-called ”right-to-work” (RTW) proposal, even though he’s been traveling the state to promote it as his top priority. House Democrats said RTW was standing in the way of progress on budget negotiations, so they introduced legislation and brought it to the floor. The vote was 72 (no), 0 (yes), and 37 (present). This sends a clear signal to the Governor that it is time to stop the attacks on everyday men and women and get to work to craft a responsible budget that funds education and the critical social programs and public services Illinoisans rely on.

Rauner pension proposal             

The House Pension committee took testimony from the Rauner administration on their proposal to freeze the benefits of current Tier 1 members and to enroll them into the lesser Tier 2 system moving forward. The Governor continues to support this illegal plan, despite the recent unanimous Illinois Supreme Court ruling stating that pension benefits are guaranteed under the state Constitution.

Property tax freeze bills stalls

Four amendments that would freeze property tax rates beginning with levy year 2015 were filed this week by Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion) and Rep. Jack Franks (D-Woodstock).
HB 677 and HB 695 would put all taxing districts under PTELL (Property Tax Extension Law Limit), including home rule units of local government. Though the extensions would be frozen, the bill would allow voters - via referendum - to lift the freeze.
HB 696 and HB 699 would apply PTELL to all non-home rule units of government.
All four bills were discussed and approved in the House Revenue Committee, with members noting that they were responding to Governor Rauner’s proposal to implement at least a two year freeze on property taxes. On Friday, the House voted to adopt an amendment to HB 695, but procedural actions have stalled the bill.

ISBE discusses proration and a capped, per-pupil cut

This week ISBE discussed ways to address the concerns surrounding these two key issues.

Proration: When General State Aid (GSA) funding is insufficient, ISBE must prorate available funds to districts. Though on the surface proration would seem to impact all districts equally, in reality it causes much more harm to districts with a greater reliance on state funding due to lower property tax wealth and more low income students.

Capped, per per pupil cut: By moving to a capped, per pupil cut amount, districts that are less reliant on state funding don’t have time to anticipate a loss in funding.

A full analysis of district impact on these issues, calculated using the Governor’s Introduced FY16 budget at a 95% proration, can be found here (on pages 5-53).  

The IFT is hopeful that a comprehensive school funding reform proposal that addresses these and other critical funding issues will be acted upon in Springfield soon.

Assessment Review Task Force extension

Last session, Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia (D – Aurora) sponsored HB 5330, an IFT initiative that created the Assessment Review Task Force. The group was charged with conducting a comprehensive study of the impact, effectiveness, and cost of standardized assessments in Illinois schools. The task force was expected to issue a report to the General Assembly in May 2015, but ISBE and stakeholders have agreed to extend the reporting deadline until December 2015.

Student misbehavior and discipline bill moves to House

SB 100, sponsored by Sen. Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Westchester) and Rep. Will Davis (D-East Hazel Crest), attempts to address underlying causes of student misbehavior. The bill requires districts to develop a memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement that clearly defines law enforcement’s role in schools. The measure also addresses suspension and expulsion policies. SB 100 passed the Senate and is expected to be heard in the House before the close of session.

Visit Under the Dome weekly for the latest updates on legislative action.